Reatas & Recipes

By Mary McCashin
Reatas & Recipes

Are you one of those people who can’t seem to go the winter without developing a nasty cough? Cold? Or (gasp) the flu?

Perhaps you need to add elderberry into your diet!

Elderberries have been known for centuries for their immune boosting abilities, and have been shown in studies to enhance immune system function for defending and fighting against disease. Elderberries boost the production of cytokines, which are the body’s “messengers” for immune system defense. They are also filled with antioxidants for reducing inflammation in the body from being sick or under attack.

Health benefits of the elder plant include naturally improving colds, the flu, sinus issues, nerve pain, inflammation, chronic fatigue, allergies, constipation and even cancer.

When used within the first 48 hours of onset of symptoms, the extract has actually been found to reduce the duration of the flu with symptoms being relieved on an average of four days earlier. In fact, during the 1995 Panama flu epidemic, the government actually employed the use of the elderberry to fight the flu.

It gets better. When it comes antioxidant power, elderberry is higher in flavonoids than blueberries, cranberries, goji berries and blackberries. I’m sure you’re getting the picture that this medicinal berry is a real powerhouse for good health.

Below you’ll find a recipe for both homemade elderberry cough drops (so easy!) and elderberry syrup (which you can also buy on Amazon,, etc.) A teaspoon a day of the syrup will keep your immune system happy all winter long!

Homemade Elderberry Cough DropsMain

Cough Drops:

  • ½ cup local raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons Elderberry Extract or syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • powdered sugar, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder for coating drops
  • Mix honey, elderberry extract, and fresh ginger together in a medium sized, deep saucepan. Heat to boiling over medium-low heat, stirring often to prevent burning. Mixture will foam up the sides of pan, so take pan off heat briefly to allow foam to subside, then place pan back on heat to continue cooking. May have to turn heat down to low to prevent honey from burning.
  • Use candy thermometer and once mixture heats to 300F degrees, remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple for minutes until thickens slightly. Pour mixture into small candy molds or drop by teaspoons onto parchment paper or a silicon mat. Allow to cool until drops are hard and firm.
  • Once drops are fully cooled, dust with powdered sugar, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder to prevent drops from sticking together. Store in a covered container at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

Homemade Elderberry Syrup Natural Remedy for Colds and Flu

Elderberry Syrup:

  1. Pour water into medium saucepan and add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon and cloves (do not add honey!)
  2. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to a simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour until the liquid has reduced by almost half. At that point, remove from heat and let cool enough to be handled. Mash the berries carefully using a spoon or other flat utensil. Pour through a strainer into a glass jar or bowl.
  3. Discard the elderberries (or compost them!) and let the liquid cool to lukewarm. When it is no longer hot, add 1 cup of honey and stir well.
  4. When honey is well mixed into the elderberry mixture, pour the syrup into a quart sized mason jar or 16 ounce glass bottle of some kind.
  5. Ta Da! You just made homemade elderberry syrup! Store in the fridge and take daily for its immune boosting properties. Some sources recommend taking only during the week and not on the weekends to boost immunity.
  6. Standard dose is ½ tsp to 1 tsp for kids and ½ Tbsp to 1 Tbsp for adults. If the flu does strike, take the normal dose every 2-3 hours instead of once a day until symptoms disappear.

By Mary McCashin

Zesty Summer Salad Dressing

We’re talking apple cider vinegar! ACV has been known for its health benefits for thousands of years!

ACV can do amazing things like fight acid reflux, relieve constipation, detox your body, regulate your pH, fight cancer, fight allergies, and help build your immune system.


Unfortunately, most people aren’t up for taking a shot of ACV so as an NTC, I’ve developed a great way for people to ingest ACV without hating me forever.

This dressing can be drizzled on a salad, fish, or even used to make cucumber salad. It’s tangy and sweet, and so incredibly beneficial for your body!


Mary’s ACV Dressing:

1 cup BRAGGS ACV (must be Braggs, must be raw/unfiltered for health benefits)

¼ cup raw honey

1 tablespoon dill

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ cup water

¼ cup avocado oil (olive oil also works)

Shake super well and enjoy!

If you refrigerate this sometimes it will harden because of the oil. Simply microwave it in a glass jar for 15-30 seconds.

apple cider

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s light. It’s tangy, And it’s healthy! 

By Mary McCashin

This past weekend (June 1-4) I had the pleasure of attending the annual Houlihan Colt Starting, a four-day colt starting clinic held at Buck Brannaman’s ranch in Sheridan, Wyoming.

Those four days taught me a tremendous amount, not only about the horse, but about myself.

Over and over you would hear Buck say, “You’re doing too much.” Not only did this apply to riders needing to realize when to do less sooner for their colts, but I found that it was applying to my life as well.

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More often than not I find myself running nonstop – juggling several jobs, a social life, the gym, and a boyfriend will make you do that. I love all of it, but after four days of submerging myself mentally into something I love it really struck me. “You need to do less, sooner.”

I know that I am not the only person who constantly finds themselves sacrificing the things they love in order to make everything fit into a day. Whether that’s grabbing fast food instead of feeding your body, passing up riding your horse so you can make an appointment, or even going to the extreme of selling a horse because you don’t have time.

“Do less, sooner.”

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I left the weekend with goals in mind for both myself and my horse. I am in no hurry to achieve any one thing with my horse in a certain time frame. I feel no need to prove that I can have a bridle horse in 18 months, or that we’ll be perfecting side passes in 3 months. Because as Buck says, “With the horse I always consider that if I do too much in too little time and I’m not patient, he’s going shut down and I won’t get anything done.”

So with that, I’m left to once again reassess my priorities.

  1. Always make sure I have time for my horse. It’s as important to him as it is to me. Even if it’s only a 10-15 minute ride, that’s better than no progress at all.
  1. Make sure I’m nourishing my body and feeding myself in such a way that my body can perform at its. This means getting back on track with my weekly cheat meal and sticking to being Paleo the rest of the week.
  1. To help encourage my students and allow them to also realize, there’s no rush. You don’t need to be doing XYZ in a certain time frame if you’re not ready. You have to trust the process and take comfort in the small steps of progress.
  1. There’s no shame in doing less, more often you’ll get more out of it.

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It was an exceptional weekend filled with friends, so much information, and reassurance. So often we feel guilty for not devoting 10+ hours to riding, the gym, etc. However, we can’t do it all and every individual not only has to figure out where their passions lie, but what their priorities are as well.

I know people that have reduced the number of clients they have so they can spend more time with their young daughter, realizing that being a present mother is more important.

I know clients that have decided they need to work on their sitting trot for quite a while before they consider learning to canter again. It took them almost eating dirt to realize you can’t skip steps.

I myself have kicked my two-year-old appendix out to pasture in hopes of healing a soft tissue injury. It might work, it might not, but there’s no rush. She doesn’t have to be started by a certain age.

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So do less, sooner.