saraforestwyfeWe are pretty picky about the ads we allow on Nourishing Days. We’ve turned down lots of ad networks that will not give us control over specific ads that will show. So when people want to advertise on our site that offer truly unique and natural products we get excited about giving them their opportunity to share what they do. So please join us in welcoming Sara of Forest Wyfe Herbals for a brief interview.


Shannon: You say on your site something that really rings true to me – you can find all sorts of opinions on herbs and essential oils all over the internet. As well as having a background in biology and nutrition, you are a trained Clinical Herbalist. Can explain what that means and how all aspects of your education have come together in your work at Forest Wyfe Herbals?

Sara: A clinical herbalist is someone who dedicates their life to working with medicinal plants and acts as a bridge between plants and people by sharing their passion for, and knowledge of, herbs. There isn’t a licensure process for herbalists, so I can’t legally diagnose or treat disease. Instead, I walk with people in their pursuit of vibrant health, entering into their stories in what I hope is a profound and meaningful way. My background in biology and nutrition has provided a firm evidence-based foundation for my herbal practice and all of these things – biology, nutrition, and herbalism – coalesce in my work. All of our products are grounded in clinical research and are formulated to be effective and nourishing, while also being rooted in the idea that beauty calls us back to well being and aids in healing.

Shannon: Your body care products like lip balm and eczema cream are made with a base of pasture-raised lard. While I’m personally pretty excited about the sustainability aspects of that, can you explain to us what drew you to using lard as the fat-base in your products, as opposed to the more common olive and coconut oils?

Sara: I wanted to create skin care products that were deeply nourishing to both individuals and the community – an invitation back to wholeness and health. Rich in nutrients (like the ever elusive vitamin D), pasture raised lard sadly languishes in the freezers at most of our local farms. Using pasture-raised lard in our products supports the families and friends that labor to raise our food, which pours into the health of us all. Beyond sustainability, I believe that pasture-raised lard deserves a hallowed place in the pantheon of high-quality oils and butters. It’s a nutrient-dense oil that softens the skin, doesn’t clog pores and slides easily over the skin – making lard a better carrier for essential oils and potent herbal formulas than other oils – so while I use other oils when they’re appropriate, pasture-raised lard forms the base for most of our products.


Shannon: In your bio you say: “I learned that herbs speak a biochemical language our body hears and understands.” I find this to be a profound statement and one that parallels the principle of the bio-availability of micro and macro nutrients we find in real food. That is, these plants and animals are familiar to our body’s design and therefore we are able to utilize them in an exponentially more effective way than something that was synthesized in a lab. Can you give some background on how you came to that conclusion and how that shapes the products at Forest Wyfe Herbals?

Sara: As I was studying the complex, elegant beauty of phytochemistry in college, I became convinced that nature creates things we may never be able to fully understand, much less replicate in a lab. Even simple weeds are heart-stoppingly complex, containing thousands of different chemical constituents that synergistically balance one another to give us our plant medicines. That complexity protects us and offers us the vibrant health so many of us are searching for. That complexity also explains why prescription drugs (taken appropriately) are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, but adverse reactions to herbs are incredibly rare. When I formulate products, I’m using whole herbs, with all their startling array of phytochemicals and nutrients, to nourish whole people, who also abound in their own complexities. In pairing people and plants with our products, we are building relationships that support the health of people and their larger environment. That makes my work at Forest Wyfe Herbals very satisfying!

You can learn more about Sara’s products and what she does at


I’ve received quite a few questions regarding the recipes, ingredients, and content of our new book, 100% RYE. I’ve collected the most common and, after responding personally, decided to publish them here in case you were curious too.

1. Do you put lard/sugar/butter/wheat in your bread?

The most common ingredients in these recipes include:
Flour: rye, see note below on types.
Fats: Butter, Coconut Oil, or Lard, all of which are interchangeable as mentioned within the recipes.
Sweeteners: Besides a couple of recipes that reference molasses, all recipes were created and tested with raw honey. There are instructions in the book for exchanging these for one another.

Zero of the recipes in 100% RYE include wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil, or hard-to-find ingredients.

2. I have heard that rye can be contaminated with a fungus called ergot, have you had any problem with the grain?

I haven’t had any trouble with the rye we’ve used and have heard that it is not as much problem in milled rye as it once was. The scientist gardener has an interesting read on the topic.

3. Since you are using the rye by itself, without wheat, is the flavor of the baked goods really strong?

Actually, no, it isn’t! Rye is an under-appreciated grain, in my opinion. It is not unlike whole grain wheat flour – nutty, warming, interesting, but not overpowering. It is not like buckwheat or quinoa which are quite strong and polarizing. Instead, it lends a hearty but subtle flavor to baked goods.


4. What type of rye flour do you use and where did you get it from?

I have used “medium” rye flour for all of the recipes in this book. I have purchased this organic brand of rye flour most often. This flour is whole grain, freshly ground rye flour. Medium rye flour is similar or can be a lightly sifted rye flour. This site has a great explanation of the various types of rye flour.

5. Does the book contain instructions for creating a sourdough starter?

Yes, it does!

6. Have you had trouble with off-flavors using freshly-milled flour for your sourdough starter?

I have not used enough freshly milled rye flour in the care of my starter to say for sure if this is a problem. There are many theories on whether or not you should keep a starter with freshly ground flour.

My take is this: Freshly ground flour often has enzymes intact after the milling process, assuming the heat of the milling did not kill them. If this is the case, then those enzymes may interact or impede the bacteria/yeast balance happening in your established sourdough starter.

If this is the case, I recommend one of two options.

One: Go back to feeding your starter what was working. The microorganism present in the starter were clearly working well with this flour, if it was producing significant rise and pleasant flavor.

Two: Continue to feed your starter freshly-milled flour but give the starter a chance to acclimate. You are throwing in a whole new variety of enzymes and bacteria when mixing in freshly milled flour all of a sudden. It’s going to require a number of feedings and a bit of time – maybe 3-7 days – before it has sunk into its new microbial balance.

You can find 100% RYE here.