Herb pestos – easy, tasty, healthy

This week, I introduced my evening class attendees to a few ways to include more herbs in our diets, in quanitity rather than as a garnish. One simple way is to make fresh herb pestos or salsas. While pesto makes most of us think of the classic Pesto al Genovese (basil, olive, oil, garlic, pine nuts, parmesan cheese), there are many recipes so I thought I would share 2 of my favourites.


A wonderfully creamy Greek garlic dip, bringing all the antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and circulatory benefits of garlic together with good fats (olive oil, or an omega 3 rich oil like walnut) and the mineral and vitamin-rich parsley, which helps neutralize “garlic breath”. traditionally served with fried or baked cod, it also works well accompanying meats, vegetable kebabs or as a dip.

Garlic  - good for blood, bad for vampires!
Garlic – good for blood, bad for vampires!


  • 7-8 garlic cloves
  • 1 pound of potatoes
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt

Peel the potatoes cut in cubes and boil in water until soft.  Once boiled, strain and mix with a hand mixer/potato ricer until very smooth.  In a food processor process the garlic cloves and parsley with a bit of salt until it is a paste.

Add ½ of the olive oil in the food processor and continue mixing.  Add the garlic paste to the potato and mix with a wooden spoon.  Add the rest of the olive oil gradually, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing until oil is absorbed.  Add a bit of red wine vinegar or lemon juice for taste, mix well.

Skordalia with Bread

Follow the same recipe but instead of using potatoes, use 10 ounces of stale bread (without the crust) soaked in water and vinegar. Squeeze well and then mix and whizz the mixture with the garlic paste in the food processor until it is well combined,  adding the olive oil gradually.


This is taken from Dennis Cotter’s Cafe Paradiso Cookbook, but is open to much alteration depending on what fresh herbs and dried spices you have to hand. The basic pattern of blending fresh herbs with good quality plant oils and other ingredients, producing a smooth paste is very adaptable!

Parsley - full of minerals and vitamins A, B, C and D.
Parsley – full of minerals and vitamins A, B, C and D.


  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 50g fresh coriander
  • 100g fresh parsley leaf
  • 30g fresh mint
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tsps paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (dried powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • rind of 1/2 lemon and 1/2 orange, grated
  • 300mls olive oil


Toast cumin and fennel seeds in frying pan over low heat for a few minutes, then grind in pestle and mortar or electric grinder (I have a coffee grinder I keep for herbs and spices). Put fresh herbs and garli cin food processor and chop them finely, then add remaining ingredients, trickling in olive oil slowly while blending, to achieve a thick pesto-like consistency.

This is fantastic stirred into coucous or rice, spread on bread or accompanying potatoes.  The fennelseeds,  cumin seeds and mint will relax and improve digestion, the parsley and coriander are high in anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins and will support kidney detoxification, while paprika and cayenne stimulate circulation and warm the body.

Making herbal remedies for the home

5 week course, running mornings or evenings in Blackrock, Cork. Tuesday night, starting February 3rd 7.30-9.30pm
Friday mornings, starting February 6th 10am-12noon

Macerated oils by sun method

Ever wanted to use gentle natural remedies for yourself, family and friends but not known where to start? Starting in February, I’ll be teaching you how to make and use simple, effective herbal remedies from your kitchen and garden.

Each week will cover a different health topic (e.g. immunity, skin, digestion, nerves and sleep). You will learn about several relevant herbs and make one or more remedies (teas, oils, salves, creams, tinctures vinegars…). Notes and samples of the remedies made will be available to take home.

Cost: €50 including herb teas, notes and samples

Location: Blackrock Herbal Clinic, Beaumont Lawn, Cork.

For more information, contact Jo Goodyear on 085-7276738                    or email blackrockherbalclinic@gmail.com


Cold and flu season help

Well, the weather has turned and coughs and colds are starting to get passed around and linger. So how to help keep you (& your family and friends) healthy? Good hearty soups, stews and sauces rich in garlic, ginger and onions will certainly help, but my kids refuse to eat them! The solution? Elderberry syrup! Its sweet and tasty, bursting with Vitamin C and phytochemicals that improve your ability to resist infection (with a similar action to Echinacea), eases an irritating cough and has some direct anti-viral activity. Research (Zakay-Rones et al, 1995) has shown that elderberry syrup reduces the duration of a ‘flu infection. Take 1 teaspoon (5ml) per day to prevent illness and 1 teaspoon every 1-2 hours in acute infection.

Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)
Elderberries (Sambucus nigra)

Elderberry syrup is available from the Blackrock Herbal Clinic dispensary, together with other herbs good for improving immunity, such as Rosehip Syrup and tinctures of Astragalus and Echinacea. It is also simple to make:

Elderberry syrup recipe

50g dried / 100g fresh elderberries

750ml water

10g cloves / cinammon stick (optional, increases the anti-viral warming action if your kids like the flavour)

500g sugar / honey (honey is antibacterial and soothes the throat)

Simmer the elderberries (and clove / cinammon if using) in the water for 20 mins, until the volume is reduced to around 500ml. Strain and return to pan with an equal weight of sugar or honey (1 millilitre liquid to 1 gramme). Heat gently until the sugar / honey is dissolved and a thin syrup forms. Pour into sterile jars (15 min in 140 degree C oven should do) and keep in fridge for up to 6 months. Ours never lasts that long! Its great diluted for hot cordials, or served with sparkling water or prosecco for a delicious drink…

About the herb: Elder (Sambucus nigra) is often called “Nature’s medicine chest” – every part of this shrub/small tree can be used medicinally. The flowers (June/July) treat hayfever and cold symptoms, while the berries boost immune response and fight viruses. The leaf and bark are strongly anti-viral but can be purgative (cause diarrhoea and vomiting) in overdose.


Zakay-Rones Z, Varsano, N, Zlotnik M, Manor O, Regev L, Schlesinger M, Mumcuoglu M (1995) JInhibition of several strains of influenza virus in vitro and reduction of symptoms by an elderberry extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an outbreak of influenza B Panama. J  Alt Complement Med 1995 Winter; 1 (4): 361-9

Herb Talk in Midleton, 7th October

Here’s an opportunity to meet me and ask any herbal questions you may have!

I’ll be talking about “Be Winter-ready – herbs to boost immunity” and offering recipes for and samples of simple herbal remedies you can make at home to boost immune function and ward off (and treat!) colds and flus.


Autumn Foraging Walk Dates

jo-foraging-poster-SOI will be leading two foraging walks at Waterfall Farm, Drimoleague this autumn. Come and join me to explore the beautiful countryside and the many edible and medicinal plants that grow there! Taste foraged teas and learn recipes for syrups, jams and more!

For more information and bookings, contact me on 085-7276738 or blackrockherbalclinic@gmail.com

Foraging in West Cork 2nd & 9th August 2014

Foraging Walk
Waterfall Farm, Drimoleague, Co. Cork
1030 am Saturday 2nd & 9th August

Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)

Join Jo Goodyear, botanist & herbalist, to explore the beautiful plants on this farm walk and learn to use them for food and medicine. We will taste teas made from foraged plants at the end of the walk (approx 2 1/2 hours). Tea & coffee provided, bring packed lunch. Come and meet the animals of Waterfall Farm after lunch. €12 .

Contact Jo on 0857276738 or blackrockherbalclinic@gmail.com
or Emma (Waterfall Farm) 028-31953

I will email directions when you book your place.


Plant Walk 15th June Beaumont Quarry

Wildflowers in Beaumont Quarry
Wildflowers in Beaumont Quarry

For those of you who couldn’t come to my last plant and forage walk, relax! There’s another one just around the corner. This time we’ll be meeting in Beaumont Quarry, Ballintemple to explore the beautiful wildflowers and find out more about the plants that share our world. And of course we’ll be looking at what you can safely eat, drink or otherwise use to improve your life and health.

Beaumont Quarry
Beaumont Quarry

Meet beside SPAR on Beaumont Drive at 11am, Sunday 15th June (bus #202 stops here). To be followed by a picnic in the quarry, hopefully the sun will smile on us!

Contact me on 085-7276738 or corkbranch@gmail.com for more info.

Location of Beaumont Quarry shown in red
Location of Beaumont Quarry shown in red

This is a FREE event on behalf of the Irish Wildlife Trust. For more information about Beaumont Quarry and the work that the Cork Branch of the Irish Wildlife Trust are doing there, see  http://iwt.ie/2014/04/beaumont-quarry-a-wildlife-refuge-in-the-heart-of-cork-city/