Experience the Plants

Herbal Recipes for Springtime!

Get started with Maria’s home recipes. This page features seasonally inspired recipes for culinary, medicinal, or body care herbal delights. Check back every few months for new themes and recipes!


Detox Basics

While there are many variations on doing a "cleanse" or "detox," I'm  using the term loosely and am focused on eating really clean, nutrient-dense foods for one to four weeks as a way to support normal detoxification processes in the body and limit the junk that bogs it down. You can easily adjust a detox to suit your needs. Here are some common concepts of a detox diet:


Generally Avoid

Sugar, artificial anything, processed and refined foods, alcohol, caffeine (especially coffee). Gluten/wheat, dairy, cross-reactive grains (corn, oats), soy, and eggs may also be avoided with gluten and dairy being the most common. Sometimes exceptions are made for miso (soy), yogurt (dairy), etc. Some also avoid meat. Many people feel eggs and oats are fine during a detox.


Focus On:

Lots and lots of vegetables! Ideally 6-10 servings daily!

Protein (important for liver function) from plant protein powder, nuts, seeds, beans and lentils, soy (if included), cooked mushrooms, low-mercury fish, eggs, beans, poultry, wild or pasture-raised/grass-fed meat

Slow-Burn Carbs from root vegetables, winter squash, seed grains (quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, wild rice), non-white rice, possibly oats, corn, etc.

Healthy Fats from extra virgin olive oil, unrefined coconut oil, sesame oil, nuts/nut butter, seeds, avocados, coconuts 

Fermented foods like kimchi, kraut, and yogurt (dairy or nondairy like coconut) 

Herbs & spices used liberally

Healthy drinks like water (lots!), carbonated (flavored with citrus, herbs, natural flavor extracts like vanilla), herb tea, maybe green tea (especially organic naturally decaf), homemade broth or soup, unsweetened coconut or almond milk, low-fruit fresh juices, unsweetened smoothies

Fruit, particularly low-sugar fruit like apples, citrus, and berries

Sweets are kept to a minimum and primarily stevia, low-sugar fruits, naturally sweet herbs (cinnamon, fennel, star anise, anise, fenugreek, Korean licorice mint, anise hyssop...) and the occasional super dark chocolate. Vanilla extract makes things taste a bit sweeter. Fruit juice, honey, and maple syrup might be ok in very small amounts to flavor vegetables, salad dressings, etc.

Organic is best for everything, especially the Dirty Dozen produce items, grains (wheat, millet, corn...), soy, meat, and dairy. These are the most likely sources of pesticide and herbicide exposure.

Note: If you don't tolerate it, then avoid it. Beans, eggs, fermented foods, grains, fruit, nuts, and meat are examples of foods people might not tolerate.


You should NOT cleanse or detox if you are pregnant, nursing, have a history of eating disorders, and/or are overly thin. Consult with a practitioner and use extreme caution cleansing if you have a history of kidney, liver, or other serious disease, if you have ulcers or acid reflux, if you are diabetic or hypoglycemic, and/or if you take pharmaceutical drugs. Always listen to your body while cleansing - not all body types tolerate detoxification well. There are MANY ways to cleanse, some of which may or may not be appropriate for an individual.


Seasonal & Detoxifying Recipes



Herbal Teas


Almost Coffee

No, this won’t exactly replace that tasty brew, but it’s pretty darn close, much more nutritious, and caffeine-free. The roots in this tea are nutritious, diuretic, and great for the liver. For some people, it may help maintain healthy blood pressure (through its diuretic effect) and blood sugar levels (by improving the action of insulin).

1 part dandelion root (raw or roasted)

2 parts burdock root

1 part cinnamon chips

1 part chicory root (roasted)

Simmer for 20-30 minutes or put through a grinder and make in the coffee machine. Strain and add 1 tsp of blackstrap molasses per cup of tea (optional and a source of sugar, but adds to the coffee flavor and provides iron, calcium, and magnesium). This tastes great with dairy or nondairy milk/cream.


Candida Killing Chai

This surprisingly good tasting chai features pau d’arco, and immune herb best known as an antifungal for yeast and candida infections. Potent antimicrobial, antioxidant, and antifungal spices cinnamon, clove, and cardamom provide flavor and increased therapeutic action. Cinnamon makes it sweet on its own.

2 parts pau d’arco

1 part cinnamon chips

1 part chai mix: cloves, nutmeg, star anise, cardamom, allspice, garam masala, licorice

Simmer 20-30 minutes, strain.


Lemon Liver Flush

Both Carolyn Kelley and Christopher Hobbs recommend the lemon liver flush first thing in the morning during a cleanse. Wait about an hour and then follow it with a cup or two of PolariTea. You can make extra and refrigerate a few day’s worth. It will become gelatinous but you can add some hot water to liquefy it before drinking.

1 lemon, including rind, ends and seeds removed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 ounce of grapefruit juice (optional)

1/2 inch chunk of fresh ginger (optional)

Blend all of the above in a food processor, and drink.



Any blend of the following herbs will work. Peppermint and spearmint improve the flavor of the more bland nutritional herbs. This tastes good iced, too. Be warned, it is diuretic.

2 parts nettle

1 part horsetail

1 part red clover

1 part red raspberry leaf

1/2 part calendula flowers

1/2 part peppermint

1/2 part spearmint

1 pinch stevia per cup (optional, to sweeten)

Steep 1 tablespoon per cup hot water for 10-30 minutes. For a more mineral-rich brew, simmer the herbs instead of steeping.


Gourmet Herbal “Soda”

Plain seltzer is a great refreshing beverage. Just put the herbs in the seltzer bottle and let sit for at least 15-30 minutes before serving. (Leave some headroom in the bottle in case it’s very fizzy.) Try the following herbal flavors:

Fresh, chopped fennel fronds, Korean licorice mint, or other licorice-y herb

Mottled fresh mint (spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint...)

Mottled fresh spearmint with fresh lime wedges

Fresh lemon verbena or other lemon-y herb

Fresh basil and a few raspberries

Whole, dried hibiscus flowers and orange wedges

Cucumber slices and fresh, mottled apple mint

Fresh ginger root and a cinnamon stick

Whole, dry star anise


Recipes for Cleansing: Soup

What’s the weather like? If it’s hot out, you’ll want to gear yourself more towards juices and raw foods. If it’s cold out, incorporate soups, broths, and cooked vegetables. This will help you feel more balanced during your cleanse.


Ginger Lemon Miso Soup

Soups made from miso (fermented soy bean paste) help to fortify if you feel too cold or hungry during a cleanse. This one is my favorite & takes less than 2 minutes to make. Ginger and lemon both help stimulate detoxification in the liver. You can also just use miso and hot water with no other ingredients.

  • 1 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 slice fresh lemon
  • 1 cup hot water

Pour hot water over the other ingredients, stir until well mixed.


Wakame Barley Miso

Barley miso is saltier and heartier than white miso. It almost looks and tastes like beef broth. Seaweed contains sodium alginate, a substance that appears to bind to heavy metals to help eliminate them from the body. (Try to buy from less-polluted areas, though.) This is Shannon’s favorite miso recipe.

  • 1 Tbsp barley miso
  • 3 strips of wakame, broken up
  • 1 cup hot water

Pour hot water over the other ingredients, stir until well mixed.


Post-Roast Poultry Soup

After you roast and consume turkey, chicken, or goose, save the carcass for a tasty soup! Only use organic or local, hormone & chemical-free meat. You can freeze a carcass for about 6 months before using. Simmer the carcass(es) and mushrooms down for three hours in water and vinegar, pull out the bones, add veggies. If desired, cook and add brown rice to the soup once the veggies are done. Brown rice is ideal if you are allowing carbs on your cleanse: it tastes great with poultry, doesn’t get as mushy as white rice, and is a whole grain. Makes 2-3 gallons. Freezes well.

  • 1 turkey or goose carcass or 2 small chicken carcasses
  • 1 handful fresh maitake and/or shiitake mushrooms, chopped (optional)
  • 1 handful of dried pieces of astragalus and codonopsis roots (optional, for immune health)
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar or “fire cider”
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • 3 cups brown rice, cooked (from 1 1/2 cups dry rice) (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, celery salt, spices to taste

Simmer all ingredients for 3 hours. Strain and use as a broth (drink on its own or use as a base for soup). If desired, remove bones and put all other ingredients back in the broth.



This recipe comes from herbalist Christopher Hobbs, who is an avid fan of fasting and cleansing.

  • 1 part rice
  • 3 parts water
  • 1 part mung bean sprouts
  • 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds (optional, will add maple/licorice flavor)
  • 1/2 part lentils (optional)
  • Tamari/soy sauce/Bragg’s Liquid Aminos to taste

Cook the rice, water, fenugreek and lentils 30 to 60 minutes until soupy. Add bean sprouts shortly before serving.



Recipes for Cleansing: Snacks


You can buy this sesame seasoning in the macrobiotic section of health food stores. Or you can buy the hulled sesame seeds in bulk and make it yourself for about $1. Use in place of salt to add fiber (lignans), healthy oils, and flavor to a dish.

  • 1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt

Lightly toast on medium/high heat in a skillet until light brown and aromatic. Let cool on a separate sheet before pouring into a container.


Fresh Avocado Salsa

This 3 ingredient salsa is always a hit. I bring it to parties with a bag of tortilla chips, but it can be eaten with celery stick “scoops” as well. It’s also an impromptu, filling lunch when the avocados and roma tomatoes are ripe at the health food store. Meat lovers can add precooked, cubed chicken breast.

  • 1 avocado, chopped small
  • 2-3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 Tbsp green chili salsa (my favorite is Desert Pepper brand)

Mix together and mash slightly. Serves 2-3 people. Does not store well.


Tangy Hummus

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 4 slices dehydrated tomato
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil

Saute garlic in olive oil until light golden. In a food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve with carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks.


Savory Flax Crackers

Local raw foods enthusiast Meeghan Guarino taught me how to make these delicious, fiber-rich crackers. Feel free to experiment with different vegetables, fresh or dried herbs, and spices.

  • 1 cup whole brown and/or golden flaxseeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeño pepper, chopped (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

Soak the flaxseeds in water for 10 minutes or until they become gelatinous. Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend all the vegetables, salt, pepper, and cumin. In a large bowl, mix the flax and water gel with the pureed vegetables and spices. Once well mixed, spread approximately 1/4 inch thick on a dehydrator sheet or wax paper. Let sit in the dehydrator until completely dry and crisp. Break it up and use as a snack. Shelf stable for a week, several weeks in the fridge. Oils in the flaxseed eventually become rancid, so eat up while they’re fresh!


Bean Dip

  • 1 can refried beans
  • 1 cup salsa
  • Oregano, cumin & black pepper to taste.

Mix and serve with tortilla chips or carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks.



Recipes for Cleansing: Side Dishes & Small Meals

Beautiful Beet Salad

  • Raw salad greens (ie: arugula, spinach, radicchio, dandelion)
  • Roasted, sliced beets
  • Goat cheese, sliced (if it’s on your cleanse-ok list)
  • Light salad dressing of choice (non-creamy) or fresh squeezed orange (ex: whisk together 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp fennel-infused vinegar, 1 tsp orange juice, salt & pepper)

Peel fresh beets, slice into desired size, toss (or spray) with just a little olive oil, and roast at 350 until tender (about 15 minutes). Remove from oven and arrange on fresh greens. Dress & serve.


Variation Beautiful Beet Salad

  • Raw salad greens (ie: arugula, spinach,radicchio, dandelion)
  • Roasted, sliced beets
  • Shaved parmesan or manchego cheese (if cleanse-ok)
  • Blood orange (or regular orange), sliced in sections
  • Light salad dressing of choice (non-creamy) or fresh squeezed orange (ex: whisk together 1 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp fennel-infused vinegar, 1 tsp orange juice, salt & pepper)

Same preparation as above. If you want to be fancy, cut the peel and white pith around the whole orange, then slice out each section leaving the membrane between the slices behind. If using parmesan, shave it with a regular vegetable peeler.


Arugula Grape Salad

  • Arugula greens
  • Red grapes, sliced in half
  • Sweet/sour salad dressing (ex: whisk together 1 tsp olive oil, garlic chive blossom vinegar and 1 tsp Two Sisters Garlic garlic-ginger-rosemary jelly OR use fennel vinegar with fresh squeezed orange juice and olive oil)


Simple Salmon Salad

  • Raw salad greens (ie: arugula, spinach, radicchio, dandelion)
  • 1/2 can wild-caught salmon
  • Balsamic dressing

Mediterranean Salad

  • Raw salad greens (ie: arugula, spinach, radicchio, dandelion)
  • Roma tomato, sliced
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Hot pepper, chopped fine (optional)
  • Chickpeas, drained
  • Avocado, diced
  • Leftover chicken, canned salmon or sardines (optional)
  • Feta, goat cheese, or other cheese (optional, if cleanse-ok)
  • Balsamic dressing


Steamed Greens

This recipe can be adapted to any type of greens you have available. It’s helpful to blend bitter greens like dandelion with milder ones like kale or chard. Consider topping it with Sweet & Sour Marinated Roots.

  • 1 cup of chopped dandelion, mustard, and/or beet greens
  • 2 cups of chopped kale, chard, collards, and/or spinach greens

Lightly steam until bright or dark green (personal preference).


Love Your Brussels Sprouts

They’re good for you. And they can taste good, too. Amazing what butter and garlic will do.

  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, top layer peeled off, chopped in half
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil, olive oil, or butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • Salt & pepper to taste.

Sauté everything together until lightly golden. Takes 5 minutes to cook. Serves 2-4.


Buttery Asparagus

So, most people wouldn’t include butter in a cleanse, but I think this little bit won’t hurt, and it takes asparagus to new heights and haute cuisine. Use butter made from organic, pasture-raised cows (ie: Organic Valley or a local farm) - it makes a difference!

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • Salt & pepper to taste.

In a medium cast-iron skillet, place your butter and asparagus in the pan and sprinkle with just a little salt. Put on a tight lid and cook it over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the asparagus is bright green, tender-crisp, and browning just a little on the ends, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and prop the lid just partway over for a few minutes longer, then serve.


Sweet & Sour Marinated Roots

These yummy fresh veggie sticks are great on their own or atop steamed greens. My favorite version of this was made with infused-herb chive blossom white vinegar and anise hyssop honey.

  • 1/4 cup EACH of daikon or radish root, carrots, and beets, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of white or rice vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon of honey

In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar/lemon juice, and honey. Mix in the vegetable sticks, cover, and let sit in the fridge overnight.


Pan-Roasted Parsnip Ribbons

Another decadent yet healthy and super simple side dish! Reminiscent of Terra Chips. Serves 2.

  • 2 medium-size parsnips, shaved lengthwise into ribbons with a potato peeler (woody cores discarded)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of olive, tea seed, or organic canola oil

Bring a large cast iron pan to medium heat, add oil, then add the parsnip ribbons, stirring to lightly coat them in oil. Be sure there is adequate space in the pan to allow the ribbons to roast-dehydrate and not steam. Cook, uncovered and tossing every minute or so, until they are mostly cooked, not mushy, and browned in some spots. You can probably replicate this in the oven (ideally on stoneware or cast iron) at 400 degrees using tea seed or organic canola oil.


Raw Vegetable “Pasta”

My raw-foods coworker taught me to use thinly sliced fresh vegetables in place of pasta. It tastes surprisingly good. You can use the noodle maker kitchen gadget (A Market sells them for $20). Or for less money and aesthetics, use a grater or peeler. Especially nice treat in hot weather or as a light lunch.  All of the following make tasty noodles.

  • Zucchini
  • Summer Squash
  • Carrot
  • Bell pepper
  • Sweet potato
  • Beet
  • Daikon
  • Radish

Serve with tomato sauce or whatever other type of sauce you’re serving.



Meal in a glass! Use your home blender to prepare smoothies to taste.

  • Raspberry “Ice Cream”: Frozen raspberries, plain yogurt, milk, maple syrup, vanilla extract (only if dairy is cleanse-ok for you)
  • Green Smoothie: Kale (ribs removed), watercress, sunflower sprouts, orange juice, banana
  • Purple Smoothie: Frozen blueberries, kale (ribs removed), ground chia seeds, 100% purple grape juice (this will stain your teeth)
  • Orange “Julius”: Fresh-squeezed orange juice, avocado, maybe some fresh parsley
  • Funky Monkey: Banana, cocoa powder, protein powder/nut butter/yogurt/milk/water/coffee (dairy and coffee may not be cleanse-ok for you, so blend some tempting protein with some liquid)



Here are some good detox fruits and vegetables to consider juicing. Apples and carrots are popular for juicing because they taste good, but keep in mind that they are high in sugar, especially when you remove them from their fiber.

Beet root & greens - Kale - Parsley - Burdock root - Broccoli - Broccoli sprouts - Cabbage - Italian Herbs - Dandelion Greens & Root - Burdock Root - Ginger - Turmeric - Pineapple - Bok Choy - Fresh Fennel - Chard - Wheat grass - Blueberries - Cranberries - Pomegranate - Daikon - Nettles - Purslane