When Reece Carter, aka Herb-Nerd-Reece isn’t modelling in front of a camera in Sydney or New York, he’s pursuing his passion for Naturopathy and walking the walk on all things herbal and healthy – from the garden to the pantry to the kitchen. He describes herbal medicine as “something that was once a household skill, but years of running to the pharmacy for a sniffle or to the supermarket for a scratch has left us without the know-how to brew a tea or infuse a tincture to manage those daily health complaints”.
With a huge following, Reece Carter is making a lot of sense to a lot of people. Last year he chose Bellingen as the location for shooting images for his book, The Garden Apothecary (out now at all good bookshops and online). We caught up with Reece for a quick Q&A just before his 30th Birthday and only a few weeks out from his second book release…
What is your background and how did you find your way into the food arena?
I grew up in country WA with a mum who loved cooking and a pop who loved gardening—particularly herbs, vegetables, and fruit trees. When I grew up, and after much globetrotting, I arrived in Melbourne to get my degree: a Bachelor of Health Sciences (Naturopathy). Over time I combined my natural health qualifications with the hobbies I’d developed in the kitchen and garden. Now here I am!
For your first book, The Garden Apothecary, you choose Bellingen as the location of your images shoot. Why Bello?
Bellingen and its beauty blew me away! It was a part of Australia I’d never been to before, but my publishers showed me photos and it seemed like the perfect location. In real life though, it was even more spectacular! I think for a book on a topic as earthy and ‘honest’ as this one, you couldn’t wish for a better backdrop.
As an expert in Naturopathy, what struck you about the Bellingen Shire?
I was particularly impressed by the organics industry in the Bellingen Shire. It was such a delight, in particular, to turn up in the middle of the garlic harvest!
Can you please explain ‘apothecary’
Apothecary is an old term that basically means ‘chemist’ and can be applied to both the person who made the medicines, or the place where they were made. Of course, the way we use herbs now is in gentle, daily wellbeing management: teas for stress, creams for irritated skin, that kind of thing. There’s a sense of nostalgia to the word apothecary that I really like. It drums up visions of concocting remedies from plants, and understanding the subtle ways organics work in the human body, beyond simple nutrition.
Can you talk us through a few easy-to-access herbs n spices (either in the garden or the pantry) and how they benefit our health?
Did you know your local farmer’s market can become your pharmacy and your pantry can morph into a medicine cabinet? I’ve laid out ten of my must-have herbs n spices in my book The Garden Apothecary, but here are a couple that most of you would have heard of:
Ginger: This is my absolute favourite option when feeling nauseous. You can also use it for bloating, colds, nausea, period pane, motion sickness and even hangovers!. A simple infusion is the easiest way to use ginger and having it as a steaming mug of tea maximises its heating effect on the body. Fresh is best so take a rhizome, peel and grate three teaspoons and add to boiling water.
Tumeric: The king of anti-inflammatories, terrific for arthritis and joint pain and IBS (irritable Bowel Syndrome). It doesn’t have any nasty side effects, leaving your gut lining happy. You’ll probably find it at a local grower’s market or green grocer but it’s also available on the supermarket spice shelf as a powder. Because of its earthy flavour it lends itself to curries and rice dishes. The curcumin in tumeric is believed to make it work in the same way as pharmaceutical anti-inflammatories. But because it’s a large molecule and not readily passed into the bloodstream, add a pinch of black pepper. Tumeric is also cropping up in chai tea recipes and combines well with other spices and honey.
Is there a yummy recipe you can share with us while describing its benefits?
Of course! How about “busting a bad mood” with this Maca-Macadamia Chocolate Bark Recipe (makes 12 serves)…
You will need
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- 155 g (1 cup) macadamia nuts
- 1⁄2 cup coconut oil
- 125 g (1⁄2 cup) coconut cream
- 1⁄4 cup raw cacao powder 9 teaspoons dried maca
- root powder
- 9 teaspoons (45 millilitres) rice malt syrup
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1⁄4 teaspoon dried chilli powder
- 1⁄4 cup shredded coconut
- Slice the vanilla pod lengthways, then scrape out the seeds using the back of a knife. Discard the pod and keep the seeds.
- Roughly chop the macadamias in half, and place to one side for later.
- Melt the coconut oil in a large mixing bowl over a water bath.
- Remove bowl from heat and stir through the coconut cream, cacao, vanilla seeds, maca, rice malt syrup, sea salt and chilli powder. Whisk until smooth.
- Add half the macadamias and half the coconut. Stir through with a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Line a baking tray with baking paper, then spread the mixture over evenly.
- Top with the remaining macadamias and coconut.
- Refrigerate until set, then break into twelve pieces roughly the same size. To store, layer the pieces in an airtight container, separated by baking paper. Keep refrigerated or—if like me you prefer it with a little more snap to it—in the freezer.
What’s your favourite tea?
I love a simple calming brew of crushed lavender heads in hot water. The taste can put some off, but nothing helps lull me to sleep quite like lavender!
What’s your favourite thing to do to relax & unwind?
It’s so easy to turn to alcohol or unhealthy food when stress takes over, so my way to avoid slipping into vices like that is regular massages! I can justify the indulgence because I walk out knowing that it’s better than comfort eating something my body doesn’t need. If I’m on the run and only have a short break, I’ve found deep ‘belly breathing’ exercises to be helpful to switch me out of ‘fight or flight’ mode and into ‘rest and digest’.
Thanks Reece. We look forward to digesting your next book soon!
The Garden Apothecary: The Happy Gut will be available April 23 where all good books are sold, RRP $39.99, published by HQ Non Fiction. You can pre-order your copy online now: http://bit.ly/2rglM9t
Follow Reece Carter on Instagram: @herbnerdreece for regular tips.
Images shot by local photographer: Stuart Scott Photographer