We had the pleasure of (virtually) sitting down with NYC-based herbalist Rachelle Robinett, founder of Pharmakon Supernatural. We discussed transitioning into spring with herbs and movement, physical and mental “spring cleaning,” Rachelle’s favorite spring meals, and so much more. Grab a cup of Rasa and dive into this spring-inspired interview!
Hey Rachelle! I love the way you embody herbalism in your day-to-day life. Herbalism is so heavily rooted in the seasons and what’s growing around us. What does it look like to you to prepare your body heading into this season of renewal?
It’s true! I’m always proclaiming the holistic-ness of herbalism, which means not only using herbs as remedies but considering everything that we take in through our senses all day long. Light, food, scents, sounds, temperature changes, sleep rhythms, activity levels, and even ideas are all part of the equation. Another way to see and say this is that we are a part of nature, whether we’ve forgotten that or not. The more tuned in we can be to our own systems, and to the ecosystem we’re living in, the more balanced we’re going to be.
For this season change, food is getting lighter—more raw and steaming, less roasting. More fruit and fresh, fewer roots and preserved, perhaps. Our tea choices can change to support immune health for allergy symptom prevention, maybe some cleansing which is traditionally done at season changes and especially in the spring.
I also find season shifts to be an excellent time to reshape habits. That is: Break an old one and make a new one. Any time things are changing, it’s an opportunity to work on a couple of intentional adjustments. Maybe that’s adding morning pages, a walk, swapping your second cup of coffee for Rasa, or a book instead of a screen before bed.
Overall, the theme is one of coming out. Reemergence, shedding some winter layers, freshening, and lightening, up.
How do you bring the energy of spring renewal into your space? Any favorite spring rituals or traditions?
I love change and really try to take advantage of it even when it’s uncomfortable, though spring is usually a pure joy for me since I’m so obsessed with being outside. I don’t have any official rituals other than a great spring clean, getting the Brooklyn garden going, and finding ways to be out in the sun and air as often as possible. I start fresh vegetable juicing again in the spring. My bikes get a tune-up, maybe some new running shoes, and we always sign up for a CSA in the spring, which lasts all year. Also, sleeping with the windows open.
Sleeping with the windows open is such a delight! You mentioned spring cleaning. What does that look like for you—physically, emotionally, environmentally, and beyond?
Cleaning—conceptual or literal—is something I do pretty regularly (like, maybe weekly?!) in order to stay focused and on track. I find it really important, and helpful, to keep my workspace, to-do list, and brain uncluttered. So, it looks like lots of throwing away (or donating, recycling, selling), rigorous prioritization (there is no such thing as inbox zero over here), digital detoxes, and doing away with whatever is not in service of the commitment to a fulfilling life. My old apartment was once likened to an Apple store, haha. I like white walls, clean counters, and a blank page — all the better for creative visualizing.
Totally. Which foods and activities shift in and out of your routine when you move from winter into spring?
My juicing habit returns in the spring. Also, smoothies! Though I’m not sure how I’m going to give up the warm smoothie bowl that got me through this winter. More fresh greens — those are a multiple-times-a-day thing. Fewer squashes and roasting. I’d say the pillars remain the same, but the ingredients shift. I’m also looking forward to weekend hikes, climbs, or whatever else I can get into.
Yum! What do some of your go-to spring meals look like?
Fruit, greens, and fiber in smoothie form for breakfast forever. Lunch is looking like a shredded slaw-type situation with celery and cucumber, carrots, broccoli, and napa cabbage topped with sesame seeds, sesame oil, seasoned rice wine vinegar, and dates. It’s the simplest situation and I can eat it all week. Meal prep is a weekly ritual, so I’ve always got this on-demand. Dinner is typically a big plate of steamed vegetables—especially broccoli and cauliflower which are sort of unreal when steamed. I also love summer squashes, peas, and sunchokes when I can find them. People often ask what I eat, and which recipes I love… the truth is that 99.9% of the time, I’m just eating fruit and vegetables that are really simply cooked. I’m not a chef and don’t cook for fun. But I always prepare my own food.
Also, shoutout to really good apples. I only buy them in season and local but, man, when it’s that time of year, those are on repeat.
And what about your favorite spring plants and herbs?
Nettle is my favorite herb, period. So, having nettles back around in fresh form is always exciting. Nettle also happens to be really helpful for spring allergies, so I’m not alone in liking them. Dandelion and chicory are also happy sights. Plantain leaf! So many that are both edible and medicinal—not that those are different things.
Professionally, I end up using a lot of immune-system supports for allergy-prone folks. And herbs that support detoxification and metabolism. So, milk thistle and dandelion again, hibiscus and green tea, triphala!
Oooh yes, we featured triphala in our Rasa Poop blend! I know you love working out, spending time outdoors, and even connecting with nature indoors. How do suggest moving stagnant winter energy as you head into spring?
Depending on your energy levels, I’d recommend starting with as little as five minutes a day outside. Try taking one of your daily routines—morning Rasa, reading the paper, taking a call, replying to some emails—and move it outside. Once that’s easy, go for an extra walk each day. Or run an errand on foot rather than driving or getting delivery. If you’re bouncing off the walls and can’t wait to be outside all of the time (hi, I see you), just remember to stretch first. And SPF.
Love the idea of moving a daily routine outside, I am going to give that a shot. Lastly, you’re an avid Rasa drinker, and we love seeing all your gorgeous recipes! Which Rasa blend is your favorite at this time of year?
Impossible question! Okay, okay … I would say Bold, with a side of Magnificent Mushrooms. Because I’m using the extra energy to run longer, and want the immune + recovery boost of the shroom. Calm is my favorite all year long. ;)