Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Soup

Fresh Tomato Basil Cream Soup


8-10 medium sized fresh tomatoes (chopped)
½ onion (chopped)
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup fresh basil (chopped)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup half/half cream
1 teaspoon Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, sauté onion and garlic until lightly brown.
Add  the tomatoes, basil, butter, salt/pepper and chicken broth.
Mix well and let it simmer on low/medium for about 45 minutes.

Pull pot off the stove, add cream, and blend the tomato mixture with a stick blender or blender until smooth.
Sprinkle top with freshly chopped basil and parmesan, (optional)
Serve and Enjoy!

5 Natural Products to use in the Barn

5 Natural Products to use in the Barn

By Sara Stewart Martinelli

This post was originally posted on the blog of the Boulder County Horse Association

Many of us are searching for ways to increase the use of natural products in our lives. Sometimes we forget that some of the simplest and most basic household products offer a wide range of uses in our favorite sanctuary: The Barn.

Apple Cider Vinegar 

Apple cider vinegar is one of the most useful things to stash in the barn and can be used for a multitude of purposes. Horses also seem to love the taste, though some take a little longer to embrace it. It’s high in potassium and minerals, so adding a little to feed or water is beneficial and offers a nutritional boost. When added to water it also destroys harmful bacteria, and can help improve the flavor of the water, enticing your horse to drink more. Internally, it helps to improve digestive function.   Externally, it can be used on all kinds of skin conditions, including scurf and dry patches. It will neutralize bacteria on the skin and coat and will bring out the natural shine of your horse’s coat.   It can also be used as a natural fly spay. (Try infusing it with one of the herbs in the section below). On the hoof, it can help prevent and minimize thrush.

How to use it: the recommended dosage is about 1 cup in a 50-gallon water tank, or about ¼ cup in feed a day. For skin and coat conditions, dilute the vinegar in a ratio of 1:1 with water and apply directly to the affected area.

Flax Seed
Flax seed is high in omega 3 oils, which is one of the few vegetable sources of this essential fatty acid that cannot be synthesized in the body. Adding flax to your horse’s diet can improve a wide range of health issues, including reducing inflammation in joints and connective tissues, skin, coat and hoof issues, general stamina, condition, and athleticism, and reducing excitability.

It’s believed that it can improve the recovery time from injury or exercises by allowing faster removal of toxic metabolites. Flax helps to regulate thyroid function and is highly nutritive. It is high in mucilage and soluble fiber, so it helps to hydrate the digestive tract and can help to prevent impaction colic. Essential fatty acids have been shown to improve respiratory conditions and help to fortify the skin, coat, and hooves

Many sources will tell you that you need to freshly grind flax seeds daily to ensure freshness and complete absorption. However, research done shows that although some seeds are still seen in manure when fed whole, the majority of them are completely used in the digestive tract.  New manufacturing methods now offer flax that is ground in a way to reduce its propensity to go rancid, and it can be purchased in bulk livestock grade to reduce cost.

How to use it? Flax should be gradually introduced into the horse’s diet over the course of a week or two, allowing the digestive tract to adapt to the newly added fat. Start with about ¼ cup per feeding, and gradually increase this over a two-week period until you are feeding up to ½ cup per feeding (maximum 1 cup per day). Check with your veterinarian for accurate amounts to feed and to ensure that flax is suitable for your horse.

Herbs for Fly Control

There are a number of herbs and flowers that can be planted around the barn to help keep flies to a minimum. Lavender (Lavendula ssp), Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), Peppermint (Mentha piperita), Catnip (Nepeta cataria), Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium), Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and Marigolds (Tagetes ssp) are just some of the plants that can be used to provide both beauty and insect control. In addition to planting them near the barn and pastures, cuttings of these can be cut, tied together, and hung throughout the barn as attractive fly repellents. (Keep out of reach of horses, though. The horses will eat them, and although not toxic, if they eat the bundles, then you won’t be able to repel flies!)  Dried, powdered herbs can be sprinkled in the stalls to help control flies and mosquitos.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great option for all the scents and odors that happen in the barn. Use it as a natural stall deodorizer by sprinkling on the ground lightly when you muck. For added power, include some dried, powdered herbs from the section above for both scent and fly control.

Baking soda can also be made into a paste with a little water to use as cleaner for stall doors, walls, and feeders, as well as metal horse bits. To clean grooming tools, add 1 cup of baking soda in a bucket of water, and soak your tools overnight. Rinse well in the morning. Baking soda can also be used to deodorize horse blankets in the laundry. Add about a cup to the laundry water.   An open box of baking soda can be placed in tack trunks to keep away odors.

Finally, a little paste made of baking soda is a great remedy for bugs bites for both horses and humans, and will help with both itching and inflammation.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has been shown to be safe for use for horses both internally and externally.   Coconut oil has many benefits and is a perfect thing to be kept in the barn for everyday use. It has many antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, so it’s a great, quick salve for minor scrapes and bites.   It can be used directly on the mane and tail to provide deep conditioning (although avoid use right before needing to braid, it can make the hair so silky that the braids don’t stick). Use coconut oil as a hoof conditioner too – you can rub it directly on the hooves to moisturize dry, cracked hooves. Dry skin patches can be treated with coconut oil, and it can be useful in cases of rain rot as well as bacterial or fungal infections on the skin. Internally, coconut oil is an energy dense supplement and are believed to provide energy without affecting behavior. It can be used to support immune function and regulate blood sugar levels and metabolism. It may help to improve digestion and absorption of nutrients, and many horses like the taste so it entices them to eat.

How to use it: if you choose to add coconut oil to your horses feed ration, start small. Mix ¼ cup into their grain, and gradually increase to ½ cup per day over a week or so.   Coconut oil tends to be very stable at room temperature, so unlike flax, it will resist going rancid for several months. There are also commercially made, powdered coconut oil supplements available for horses too. Remember, check with your veterinarian before adding any supplement to your horse’s diet.


Additional References:

The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bariraci Levy, Faber and Faber, Inc., London, 1952

Complete Holistic Care and Healing for Horses, by Mary L. Brennan, DVM, Trafalgar Square Publishing, Vermont, 2001

A Healthy Horse the Natural Way: A Horse Owner’s Guide to Using Herbs, Massage, Homeopathy, and Other Natural Therapies by Catherine Bird, The Lyons Press, 2002

Horse Care: Natural and Herbal Remedies for Horses by Dr. A Nyland, 2015

A Modern Horse Herbal by Hillary Page Self, Kenilworth Press, 2004

Three of my Favorite Wild Flowers

Three of my Favorite Wild Flowers

(Published in Wellness Times, June 21, 2012)

Svioletweet Violets – Viola odorada

Little sweet violets are the perfect harbinger of spring, with their quiet, humble purple faces cheerfully appearing amidst their heart shaped leaves.   Native to Europe, violets are now found throughout the world and are known as sweet violets, English violets, wood violets, or common violet. Traditionally, violets are considered to “gladden the heart”, and their sweet aroma and flavor are unique and so very recognizable. Often used in cosmetics and perfume, the violet is also used in both culinary and medicinal ways. Violets are often candied and used in gourmet pastries, and both the leaves and the flowers can be added to salads. Violets have been used traditionally to promote relaxed sleep and bring mental balance and good cheer. Medicinally, it’s long been used as a cough remedy, especially useful in the treatment of bronchitis. An old recipe for Violet Syrup calls for taking 1 pound of fresh violet flowers and add 2 ½ pints of boiling water. Infuse this for 24 hours in a glass vessel, and then strain the liquid. Add double the liquid weight in fine sugar, and heat it into syrup, being careful not to let it boil. This syrup can be used for both medicinal and culinary purposes.

yarrowCalifornia Poppy – Eschscholzia california

This popular perennial flower is the official state flower of California (and it is illegal to pick it wild in California). It can be found growing both wild, and in the garden. Wild, it is found throughout California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico and Texas. The leaves are a feathery blue-green, and the flower color ranges from a vibrant orange to a pale yellow. This member of the poppy family is considered to be safe and non-addictive, while still possessing some of the sedative properties of it’s far more powerful cousins. California poppy has been used widely and safely with children of all ages to help combat over-excitedness, and promote health sleep patterns.   It’s also an anti-spasmodic herb, and can be used effectively to treat stomach or bowel upset or cramping.   Carefully dry the aerial parts, including the stem, leaves, and flower, and make a gentle tea of a cup of boiling water poured over 1 teaspoon of the dried herb. Allow this to steep for about ten minutes, add a bit of honey, and drink this at bedtime for a night of restful sleep. Dosage is one or two cups a day, as an excess can create feelings of lethargy the next day.

yarrowYarrow – Achillea millefolium

Also known both in wild places and in the garden, yarrow is a delicate plant with feathery leaves and a beautiful head of bunches of tiny flowers. Cultivated varieties can be light or dark pink, but the best yarrow for medicinal purposes is the wild white. Yarrow has been known for centuries as a plant to assist in the healing of wounds, and was considered “the soldiers’ woundwort” for its ability to stanch the bleeding of wounds of battle. This ability led to its being named after the legendary warrior, Achilles. The Highlanders of Scotland make an wound ointment from the plant. The feathery leaves can be placed directly on a superficial cut or scrape as a “natural” band aid. Yarrow was also called “Nosebleed”; the leaves rolled up and placed in the nose are reputed to immediately stop the bleeding. Yarrow has also been traditionally used to aid the body in dealing with fevers by being a diaphoretic (creating perspiration), and is useful as a tea in early stages of colds and flu. A famous old recipes calls for equal parts yarrow, boneset, peppermint, and elder flower as the most effective anti-fever tea. It dilates the blood vessels and is effective in stimulating the digestion. The above ground parts of the plant are used, and should be harvested when the flowers are at their peak in summer. These can then be dried and used as a tea. Along with it’s many medicinal uses, yarrow has been used in many cultures as a tool of divination. The long stalks are dried and used in the I Ching, and the leaves, when placed under the pillow, are said to bring visions of one’s future spouse.


Farm Fresh Broccoli Quiche

Farm Fresh Broccoli Quiche

Broccoli Quiche


2 deep dish pie crusts, either frozen or freshly made

8 farm fresh eggs

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup whole milk

4 cups broccoli florets

½ onion, diced fine

1 tsp salt

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350°

Spread about ½ cup of the shredded cheese into the bottom of each of the pie crusts, so that it covers the bottom fully.   Prebake the crusts until the cheese melts, and the crusts just begin to brown on the edges, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli florets for about 5 minutes until just tender. (you can also sauté them if you choose)

In a large bowl, add the eggs and milk. Whisk until fully blended and just beginning to get frothy. Add the onion, salt, pepper and garlic. Stir Well.

Add 2/3 of the remaining cheese to the egg mix. Stir well.

Remove the pie crusts from the oven and spread the cooked broccoli evenly between the two crusts.

Pour the egg mixture evenly between the pie crusts.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the quiche.

Bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes, or until the egg sets and the top just begins to brown.

Southwest Butternut Dip

Southwest Butternut Dip

Here’s another great recipe using our favorite squash, the Butternut.  This flavorful recipe offers a delicious, rich dip with all the healthy benefits of the butternut squash, and none of the fat of traditional creamy dips.  It’s a great choice for a fall gathering.

Southwest Butternut Dip


1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 butternut squash
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Sugar
1 tsp crushed red peppers
1 – 2 chopped jalapeno pepper (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice


To roast the squash:

Preheat oven to 400F.
Remove the stem and split the squash in half from top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds.
Brush the squash with the olive oil, and dust with salt, pepper.
Lay the halves, flesh side down, on a parchment paper-lined half sheet pan. Roast for about 30 – 45 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can be easily removed.
Remove the squash from the oven, and allow it to cool for about 15 – 30 minutes or until it’s cool enough to handle.
Using a large spoon, scrape the roasted flesh of the squash from the skin and put it in a large mixing bowl.
In a sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
Add the tomato, garlic, and onions and sauté for about 3 minutes, or just until the onions start to turn translucent.
Stir in the squash, salt, sugar, spices, and jalapenos.
Cook for 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Serve either hot or cold. Can be served with bread, crackers, or veggies.