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Garden Secrets: Feeding Your Mojo

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A recent trip to Botswana to visit family tapped into a host of passions I have for Food, Plants/Gardening and Herbs.

One of the most memorable moments was a tour around my Aunt and Uncles exciting garden, packed with a host of plants with so many stories to tell. My Uncle, who is Sri Lankan and quite a character (as you’ll see for yourself in the video below), also has a passion for plants and their medicinal and culinary uses. My Aunt is one of the best cooks I’ve ever come across, so together they are a couple filled with a wealth of knowledge and stories (often funny) to share.

So I thought I’d share with you a plant I came across which I nick-named the “Mojo-Plant”. Why I gave it this name, is about to become obvious…

Welpenel

It’s called Welpenela, botanical name.. Cardiospermum Halicacabum (Sapindaceae). It’s also known as the Ballon Vine, Black Liquorice, or Heart Seed.

 

 

dried_seed

 

I think this may be due to the pattern on the dried seed which resembles a heart, but also looks like a face. My Uncle informed me that the children of Sri Lanka use the seeds as eyes for dolls.

BENEFITS:

It is reportedly good for treating Back Pain, Joint Pains and General Body Aches, the Immune System, Hemorrhoids, Nervous Disorders, Chronic Bronchitis, Headaches (leaves crushed and inhaled), fever skin diseases – sores & wounds (as a poultice)… and increasing Sexual Libido. The power of the plant lies in the leaves, although the entire plant is often used in Ayurvedic medicine.

The ‘ache relief’  part of the benefits really piqued my interest as I have a host of ‘aches’ that could do with some attention. In my youth, I was very active, playing a host of sports and taking part in a selection of fitness activities. Over the years the lack of so much activity and sport in my life has left my body complaining. An unforgettable moment was when I had an epidural administered and the anaesthetist made the comment that I either swam a lot or was into horse riding in a big way, as she was having trouble getting the needle into my spinal nerve – not the most pleasant of sensations with regular labour contractions! She was correct on both! Essentially my back muscles were very developed.

Anyway, I digress… basically, over the years my body has been letting me know that my muscles are not too happy with the lack of activity in my life. They had been trained otherwise!

Leading a VERY busy life has also brought to my attention the importance of a healthy immune system. So all in all, a plant worth introducing into my diet.

Add to this, the fact that my Uncle took Welpenela when recovering from a bad injury to his leg and was able to abandon his crutches in 2 weeks instead of 6, the associated aches and pains relieved… essentially he had his Mojo back in record time, to the surprise of his GP!

TASTE:

I’ve only eaten Welpenela raw, adding it to a salad as suggested. It’s very similar to the plethora of salad leaves available today in your local supermarket. It does though have a slightly bitter and slippery feel to it on the palate.

PREPARATION:

Now, I have to admit that during my research this came up a lot to be taken as a herbal tea, which I will be trying out.

The plant can be eaten raw in a salad (watch the video below), made into a porridge with rice, soya, coconut milk, garlic and ginger or prepared using the following method:

  1. Wash the entire plant (except roots perhaps!)
  2. Heat in a pan with red onions and ghee (or Olive oil if you’re watching the cholesterol levels) till cooked.
  3. Serve with a BIG Smile!

Oh yes… as far as the Libido benefits go… No Comment!

Watch this video…