Category Archives: herbs

gaia+herb, know+your+herbs, gaia+farm, herbal+supplements, meet+your+herbs

Producer Spotlight–Gaia Farm Tour

What a Gorgeous Farm!

 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
Have you ever wondered how those herbs get in the extracts, the tinctures, the capsules, the bulk boxes, and the tea bags?  We had the amazing opportunity to visit the Gaia Farm in North Carolina recently.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs

 

With the morning sun gently shining, we looked out over the ginko trees to survey some of the 350 acre farm.  The temperate weather influences and land formations of this area provide a unique habitat–ideal for growing many herbs for their products.  The diverse red clay to black loam soils also provide a fertile landscape.  Gaia Farms grow about 20% of their herbs right here in this beautiful farm.  For the rest of their herbs they scour the world for the best, most ethical, and “clean” producers and gatherers.  

 

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs

 

This is Ric Scalzo, the owner, CEO, Herbalist, and Naturopath at Gaia Herbs.  He took us throughout the farms for two days, explaining the herbs that they are growing.  Here he is showing us the Ginko trees.  Ginko is great for mental alertness (in fact, Gaia has a formula called “Mental Alertness” which contains Ginko!) 

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Gingo, Mental+Alertness

 

These leaves will be harvested for greatest potency when the edges begin to have a golden edge.

From Seed to Shelf

At Gaia, the herbs are cultivated carefully from seed to harvest.  

 

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
Here are thousands of Echinaea seedlings in their greenhouse.  They beging to plant seeds in February. Once they get bigger and stronger, the seedlings are taken outside to the Hoop Frames where the plants get acclimatized to being outside, and are allowed to grow bigger and stronger.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
The plants in the foreground are ready to be planted in the fields.  
 
Everything grown at Gaia, as well as all of the herbs they get from sources around the world, is certified organic, according to Oregon Tilth standards, and recertified every year.  Gaia also does yearly soil analysis as well to be sure the soil has all of the nutrients needed for plant strength.  In the winter they grow crops to be tilled back into the soil to increase the nitrogen level in the soil, and it is amended in the spring with fish, kelp, and seaweed amendments, as well as compost, of course.  Pests and fungi are managed organically–no chemicals!  They use wasps to control the Japanese Beetle.

Knowledge

lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Hawthorn+Buds, Hawthorn+Leaves
 
Here is the group learning about Hawthorn buds and leaves, which were being harvested right behind us.  Hawthorn is a great source of flavanoids, which are extracted right at the Gaia plant.  Hawthorn is a great heart support.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
This was the view we had (perfect photo-op area!) as we walked to the fields.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs 

Experience

Ric actually had us taste some of the herbs as he explained their use.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Gotu+Kola
 
Some of us even planted some Gotu Kola plants from the trays and into the ground.  Here are a couple of rows that had just been planted.  Ric said that Gotu Kola can “calm an overanxious mind.”  Some of us who have a hard time turning off our brains at night could use some of that calming!
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Gas+&+Bloating
 
We tasted some lemon balm herb, one of the ingredients in formulas for gas and bloating. 
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
The fields were so well maintained are beautiful.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs
 
I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the beautiful herbs!
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Stinging+Nettle
 
This is Stinging Nettle.  Gaia farm is allowing it to go to seed this year so that they can harvest 500 lbs of seeds.  Stinging Nettle is an Anti-inflammatory, among other uses.  The seeds, the leaves, and the roots are all used in herbal medicine.  

Purity.  Integrity.  Potency.

Gaia Farms has partnered with several universities, as well as international groups to conduct research on herbs.  They recently did some research on Tumeric with Auburn University.  One thing that I was very impressed with was Gaia’s committment to quality.  They test their own products, as well as the herbs they recieve from other sources, to make sure that they have the purest and most potent products possible.  On their own herbs, they will take a sample to the lab to make sure the plant has the best potency before they harvest.  If it doesn’t, they will wait a few days or longer while the plant continues to grow.  They test again, and will not harvest until the plant has reached the target potency.  
 
Gaia does the processing of the herbs–they generally receive the herbs as raw material.  They test it to make sure that it is not only what the supplier says it is, but that it is the target potency.  They make sure there is no pesticide or herbicide residue.  Gaia has a beautiful lab and plant where quality is job #1.  
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, Valerian+Flowers
 
Valerian Flowers–the root of the beautiful and sweetly-fragrant plant is a sedative for insomnia, as well as muscle pains and spasms.  It is found in the Gaia Sleep formulas.
 
lassensloves.com, Lassen's, Lassens, Gaia+Herbs, St.+Jphn's+Wort, Thyroid+Support, Sleep+Thru
 
Gaia has an amazing website, where you can literally “Meet Your Herbs.”  You can enter the ID number on the box or bottle of product, and the website will give you the history of the herbs in your product.  You can also learn about herbs what they are good for, and how your health can be enhanced by using herbal products.  There you can see how Gaia supports local and global concerns as well.  You can find their website here.
 
Thank you Gaia, for a great tour!
 
love,
 
Lassen’s
knock+off+ranch, ranch+dressing+recipe, ranch+dressing+knock+off, salad+dressing, easy+salad+dressing+recipe

Mom’s “Good Stuff”

In Honor of Our Little Mommy

 
This is my mother, Mary.  She passed away in 2009 at the age of 87, about six months after this photo was taken.  
 

Mom was born in 1922, the oldest of 5 children.

 

Look at that incredible, curly hair!
 
Mom’s sister Jinny was so jealous of her hair that, the story goes, Jinny poured honey all over it!
 
Mom graduated from college, got married and taught 3rd grade for a year.
 

 

I think this is her college yearbook picture.

And then she proceeded to have seven children and teach High School English and Drama for about 20 years.  She was a 4’11” 105-lb force of nature. 
 

 

Doesn’t she look like a high school English and Drama teacher?

Mom had so many amazing qualities:  Incredible singing voice (into her 80s she didn’t have the little-old-lady voice at all!), amazing organizational abilities, was a loving friend, was a helpful and caring mother, fun grandmother and great-grandmother, and creative in everything that she did.  She even learned how to water ski in her mid-40s!  And she was frugal.

And Boy, Did She Have Great Taste!

And by that, I mean she could TASTE.  Yes, she had great taste, too, but she could try something absolutely new to her, and she would tilt back her head, close her eyes, and pronounce, “Fennel.  And thyme.”  She could pick flavors out of anything.
 
So when she tried Ranch dressing for the first time, it was not really rocket science for her to figure out what was in it.  And her frugality would not let her pay for pre-made dressing from the store!  So here is mom’s recipe for ranch dressing, commonly called “Good Stuff” at our house, since my little brother remarked, “This is good stuff!”  

Mom’s Good Stuff

Ranch+Dressing
 

You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 cup of buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil, crushed
  • 1  1/2 tsp dried parsley, crushed
I like to use a shaker bottle, but you can just use a bowl and a wire whisk, too.
 
Ranch+Dressing

Put the mayonnaise in the shaker container, and then add all of the spices.

 

Ranch+Dressing

Make sure you crush the basil and parsley before adding.

 

Ranch+Dressing

Blend thoroughly with a spoon.  

 

Ranch+Dressing

Measure 1 cup of buttermilk.

 

Ranch+Dressing

 

Add the buttermilk, a little at a time, and stir to get the big lumps blended in well.

Ranch+Dressing

Then put the wire into the jar, and shake!

 

Ranch+Dressing

Partially blending with a spoon gets rid of the biggest lumps.  The shaking gets rid of the little ones!

 

Ranch+Dressing

Now you can enjoy ranch dressing goodness made fresh at home!

 

Ranch+Dressing

You can also substitute 2 cups of sour cream for the mayonnaise and buttermilk for a thicker dip.

Now, obey your mom and eat your vegetables!

love,
 
Lassen’s
herb+garden, diy+herb+garden, grapefruit+gardening, windowsill+garden

It’s Almost Spring! Time to Get Your Hands in the Dirt!

Nothing Like Getting Dirty! 

 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
I love going into garden centers and seeing all of the little plants; It takes me back to when my mom and dad (with a lot of forced kid labor!) would plant a great big garden each spring.
 
And checking out all of the neatly lined-up packets of garden seeds–Oh!  The possibilities!  We would start the tomatoes from seed in egg cartons, and I loved checking to see if the little leaves were pressing their way through the soil.
 
So in honor of impending Spring, here is a fun idea to start your garden, kitchen herbs, or flowers.
 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
Since we’ve been eating a lot of grapefruit lately (it is SO delicious!) we have plenty of grapefruit rinds.  You could also use orange or lemon rinds, too.  I pulled the membranes out of the rinds, but that isn’t necessary.
You’ll need some potting soil–or just some rich dirt–and some seeds.  Lassen’s has just stocked a large variety of organic garden seeds.
 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
Fill the rind with some soil.  Doesn’t that feel good?
 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
I decided to plant Sweet Basil, since I cook with it every week.
 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
Sprinkle a few seeds over the soil, and then add 1/4 inch more of soil on the top.  Water lightly (it doesn’t take much in this little planter, 
and you don’t want the rind to get moldy!)
 
Place in a warm sunny place, and watch for the sprouts!
 
grapefruit+rind+garden
 
There’s nothing like using your own fresh herbs!
 
You can start tomatoes or peas or beans or other vegetables in the citris rinds, and when it is time to plant in your garden (or larger containers), you can just put the whole thing in the ground.  The rinds will decompose and enrich your garden soil!  You’ll be both gardening and composting!  Now, doesn’t that make you feel green?
 
Happy Gardening!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s