Herbal Horchata for Immunity + Lung Health

Mmmmm Horchata.

Horchata is a cool, sweet, plant-based drink made throughout Latin America (but with North African origins) from rice milk, cinnamon, sugar and delicious additions depending on the region such as sesame seeds, coconut, and licorice flavored semilla de jicaro. Our version is sweetened with date and full of medicinal herbs to bolster immunity and respiratory health.

Medicinal herbs such as marshmallow (Althaea officinalis) and mullein (Verbascum thapsus) can tone the epithelial lining of the nasal cavity, trachea and bronchi. Keeping this mucosal tissue healthy allows for balanced production of secretory IgA…a powerful antibody that can protect against viral infection.  Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) acts as an adaptagen to strengthen functions of the immune system.

This recipe is quite simple but it requires you soak the first four ingredients overnight.


  • 1 cup organic brown rice (or rice of choice)
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/4 cup marshmallow root (chopped root or powder)
  • 3 cups water (or medicinal tea of choice..we suggest mullein)
  • 2 Tbs astragalus powder
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 cup almond milk (or milk of choice…we also like coconut and oat)


  1. If using tea in place of water, start by making a strong batch of mullein tea by covering mullein leaves in freshly boiled water.  Let stand and cool about 1/2 hour. Strain out leaves.
  2. Soak the rice, almonds, cinnamon sticks and marshmallow root in the tea (or water) 6-8 hours or overnight.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a high-speed blender along with all of the remaining ingredients except for the almond milk and blend for 2 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more dates for more sweetness if needed.
  4. Pour the blended liquid through a fine mesh strainer to remove any solids. Once strained, add the almond milk to the liquid and mix throughout.
  5. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  6. Serve in glasses over ice.

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De-La-Gente Fire Cider

The People’s Fire Cider: Your Kitchen Your Power!

This recipe truly represents the power of the people to take health into their own hands. It’s powerfully anti-viral ingredients which include garlic, onion, ginger, and apple cider vinegar are easy to source in these times of thinly stocked grocery store shelves and have been used in our kitchens for thousands of years to fight infection. Ask your grandma….she knows all about this. And check out the inspiring people’s victory in which the medicine could not be trademarked www.freefirecider.com

Every fall we make this medicine in the community garden before flu season….but it is the perfect remedy for our current crisis and your kitchen. While there is no set recipe for Fire Cider, there are a few generally agreed upon ingredients: garlic, onion, ginger, hot peppers, horseradish, apple cider vinegar, and raw honey. You can adjust ingredients based on palate and desired effect. For example, do you need help raising core body temperature, so your body can better fight viral incursion? Add more ginger and cayenne. Extra thick congestion? Horseradish goes a long way here. Or a tendency towards secondary bacterial infection of the lungs or sinuses after a cold? Heavy on the garlic and turmeric.

Ingredients (based on a quart-sized jar)

  • 10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 small-medium onion, chopped into 1/2-1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated horseradish root
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger (dried ginger is significantly hotter than fresh; use 1-2 tsps if fresh is unavailable)
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) grated turmeric (or 1-3 teaspoon(s) dried)
  • Zest and juice of 1-2 lemon(s)
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, slivered and seeds removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Local, raw honey


Pack all ingredients in the quart jar, and cover with vinegar. All vegetable/herb material should be submerged. Cap with a plastic mason jar lid, or use wax/parchment paper between the metal lid and the jar. (The vinegar will corrode an unprotected metal lid.) Shake well.

Store in a cool, dry place (no need to refrigerate) for 4 weeks, shaking frequently (daily is best!). Strain, squeezing the macerating vegetables/herbs in a cheesecloth to get the best extraction. Whisk in 1/2 cup raw honey, taste, and add more honey by the tablespoon until you reach your desired sweet/tart/hot ratio.

Other possible additions:

  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Peppercorns
  • Hyssop
  • Fennel seed
  • Star anise


Take 1-2 tablespoons every few hours when illness threatens…this stuff will get you sweating and secreting so your body can do its best to fight infection. Get into a hot bath, wrap up, and let yourself rest!

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Respira Tranquila Melita

Love our lungs! According to Traditional Chinese Medicine grief is housed in the chest. Take a deep breath….that tightness you might feel can be associated with the emotions of sadness, fear and stress. This resonates with us right now in the time of COVID-19 when those with compromised respiratory health are at heightened risk of infection. What can we do to reduce inflamed respiratory passages and breath a little easier? Here is a simple remedy using elderflower + orange peel + local raw honey which is known to relieve allergy symptoms (runny nose, itchy throat and eyes) and reduce the inflammatory histamine response. We love to stir this blend into a cup of nettle tea for strong anti-histamine action.


  • 16 oz raw local honey
  • 1 cup Elderflower (fresh blossoms or dried)
  • 1 cup Orange Peel (finely chopped fresh or dried)


Fill the Mason jar with herbs, cover and fill to the top with honey. Let stand for 1 month. Strain if you like or leave the herbs in for a stronger medicine. The blossom and orange peel are delicious, especially when covered in sweet honey!

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¡Sí se puede! Hand Sanitizer

Mutual aid = Make your own + some for your neighbors!

It’s simple….keeping your hands clean is one of the most effective remedies to avoid exposure to viruses. This recipe was passed onto us by The Herbalista and is approved by the World Health Organization.

 RECIPE for 8 oz (240 mL) 

  • 180 mL Isopropyl Alcohol (99.8%) *If alcohol is only 60% or 70%, leave out the water portion
  • 26 mL Water Portion  (Distilled Water, Rosemary Hydrosol, Aloe Juice, etc.)
  • 10 mL Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • 3 mL Glycerine
  • 40 drops Essential Oil (optional)                  

PREP: After blending ingredients and pouring into bottles, quarantine them for 72 hours, to give time to destroy any spores that might be present in the bottles.

USE: Apply a dime sized amount of hand rub and rub thoroughly over all surfaces until dry.

CONTRA: For external use only!

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Plant-Based Cleaning with ALMAS

We are so excited to partner with ALMAS Alianza de Mujeres Activas y Solidarias (Women’s Action and Solidarity Alliance) of The Graton Day Labor Center in the creation of a non-toxic, plant based cleaning guide.

The synthetic chemicals, specifically those included in product fragrance, are unregulated, not required to be listed on product labels, and many suspected to be harmful to our health.  Diethyl phthalate (pronounced tha-late), or DEP, is one ingredient widely used in fragrances to make the scent linger. The European Commission on Endocrine Disruption has listed DEP as a Category 1 priority substance, based on evidence that it can interfere with hormone function, cause obesity and insulin resistance in men, and cause liver and kidney failure.  In addition, DEP is considered a Priority and Toxic Pollutant under the U.S. Clean Water Act, based on evidence that it can be toxic to wildlife and the environment.

Here are a few simple recipes that help us break free from dependence on products that endanger our health.  !Sí se puede! Essential oils and other non-toxic plant based cleaning supplies are not only safe and effective but can be therapeutic.  Mixing lavender, citrus or pine essential oils into simple formulas using castile soap, hydrogen peroxide, lemon, vinegar and baking soda can calm the nerves, uplift the mood, and promote respiratory health.

Disinfectant Spray:

  • ½ cup Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • 1 cup water
  • 20-40 drops essential oil (optional)
  • Sprig of Rosemary (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a dark colored spray bottle (the dark color plastic or glass preserves the Hydrogen Peroxide). Spray on surface and wipe with a clean cloth. Store in a dark cool place. If using essential oils on the surface of a tub, rinse before bathing as some essential oils can irritate sensitive skin. Do not use on dark stone or hardwood surfaces as it may cause discoloration.

All-purpose Cleaner:

  • 32 oz spray bottle
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 teaspoon Castile soap
  • 4 cups water
  • 20 drops essential oil (optional)
  • Sprig of Rosemary (optional)
  • Mix all ingredients in a spray bottle. Apply to surface and wipe with a clean cloth. In cleaning hardwood or stone surfaces, leave out the vinegar.

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Yolanda’s Anti-inflammatory Agua Fresca

We like the whole ingredients of this agua fresca that include nopales, antioxidant rich parsley and pineapple. Nopales or nopalitos are the pads of the nopal or prickly pear cactus, well known for its high antioxidant, vitamin, mineral, and fiber content. Nopales contain quercitin, a highly anti-inflammatory flavonoid specific for the treatment of allergies. And they are traditionally used throughout Mexico to lower blood sugar in type II diabetics. Pineapples contain digestive enzyme bromelain, which aids in the digestion of fats and acts as a natural anti-histamine.

Yolanda brought some of her agua fresca, which she drinks daily for allergy relief, to the community garden to share. With pollen counts high in the late spring air we were thankful for the anti-inflammatory refreshment!

  • 1 nopal (de-spined*, edges peeled)
  • Parsley, small bunch
  • Spinach, 1 cup fresh leaf
  • Celery, 1 stalk
  • Pineapple, 4 slices
  • Apple, 4 slices
  • Cucumber, 1 small cucumber
  • Chia seeds, 1 tsp.

Blend all in the blender. Easy and done!
* see Angeles’ Nopales Asados recipe for instructions on handling those spiny nopales

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Norma’s Avocado Salsa

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The wonders of raw garlic are countless. Abuelita’s (Grandma’s) cure-all remedy is rich anti-biotic and antiviral properties. Daily inclusion of raw garlic in your diet can regulate blood sugar, reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, improve digestive health and enhance immune function. But what about it’s bossy flavor? The bright cilantro and smooth, rich avocado in Norma’s salsa soften the intensity of the raw garlic and let you enjoy it’s big nutritional benefits drizzled on fish tacos or Angeles’ nopales sandwich.

  • 2 lbs tomatillo, peeled and core removed
  • 1-3 serrano chiles (depending on the spice you like)
  • ½ med yellow onion
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 cloves raw garlic
  • 1 avocado
  • salt to taste
  • ½ lime

In a covered shallow pan, steam tomatillos, serranos and onion in 1 cup of water. Let cool and add to blender with cilantro, garlic, avocado, lime and salt. Enjoy this salsa right away as the avocado will brown with time (though the lime with help with this).

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Georgina’s Emollient Tonic

In the highlands of Peru, where Georgina was born, this beverage is prepared every morning in large batches and sent with the men into the fields to sustain wellness during long workdays. The corn silk and horsetail nourish kidney, liver and prostate in the reduction of water retention and the elimination of toxins. The Peruvian, wide-leaf plantain, is Georgina’s go to remedy for promoting the health of mucosal membranes throughout the body, specifically in the respiratory tract.

  • 24 oz water
  • 1 tsp. barley, toasted
  • 1 tsp. flax seeds
  • 1 cup pineapple skin and core, chopped
  • ¼ cup horsetail
  • ¼ cup plantain leaf
  • ¼ cup corn silk
  • ¼ cup alfalfa
  • stevia or local raw honey to taste

To make 1 small pitcher: In covered pot, simmer barley, flax, pineapple, horsetail, corn silk in 24 oz water for about 20 min. Remove from heat and add plantain leaf and alfalfa, and let steep for an additional 20 min. Stir in stevia or honey to taste.

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Linda’s Verdolagas a la Mexicana

Verdolagas, or purslane, often considered a common weed, is an annual succulent that pokes up in the summer garden. Owing up to its “superfood” title, verdolagas contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acid that supports brain function, bronchial heath, and our body’s ability to respond to stress in a healthy way. High in minerals like zinc, phosphorus, manganese, copper and calcium, verdolagas can optimize immune function and reduce inflammation throughout the body. Verdolagas also have the highest levels of Vitamin A then any other leafy vegetable, which is great for your eyes, bones, cartilage and epithelial tissue.

Linda is well known for her magic in the kitchen. She remembers harvesting verdolagas from in between rows of corn and beans on her family farm in Hidalgo, Mexico. We are saving seeds this year in the community garden so that she can grow verdolagas in her backyard.

  • ½ medium yellow onion, chopped in crescents
  • 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 lbs tomatillo or tomato, peeled and core removed
  • 1 cup water (organic, free range chicken broth for more flavor)
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 serrano peppers* optional
  • salt to taste
  • large bunch of verdolagas (purslane), clean + dry

In a deep pan with lid, steam tomatillos in water or broth, add garlic cloves and serrano peppers. Once tomatillos/tomatoes are soft, let cool and blend mixture into a salsa. In a separate deep pot, sauté onions in oil until lightly browned, pour salsa into pot and add salt to taste. Add verdolagas to the pot. As the verdolagas cook they give off a lot of water and reduce in size. You should start with enough liquid salsa in the pot to steam the verdolagas, turning them into the salsa with a spoon as they cook until just soft. Add more hot water/broth if needed in the process. Serve over rice or alongside your favorite protein!

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