How were you introduced to the power of plants? What led you down this path of herbalism?
I credit nature and nurture both for calling me in. My parents have both been big influences — healthy food, mind-body relationship, travel and good old-fashioned dirt were all main parts of my upbringing.
I also had a very early, very strong connection to ether, intuition, essence, the nonverbal and the space between what we know as the material world. I undertook a long and ardent quest for truth — beginning with William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience which is still one of my favorite books — and a couple of decades into it, realized that the spiritual insights connected directly to the plant-based wellness practices I’d been cultivating with as much fervor.
Herbalism is the best title I’ve found to describe what I do — as a career and also as a way of life because there is nearly no separation between the two now. That is: I teach people how to be healthier with plants. Which sounds simple, and it usually is — and it’s also often totally transformational.
What is your food philosophy?
Food is (should be) and always has been our first responder. It is life, medicine, joy, nature, magic, and a different experience for everyone. I believe that it is the single most important life-affecting choice we can make, and something that should be prioritized far more highly than is often the case. Any good herbalist (or doctor for that matter) will tell you to start with food. For me, it’s always number one — personally and professionally.
In my own life, food might be my number one priority every single day. Good water and exercise are next, followed by sleep. I love simple, whole, fruits and vegetables. I’m not a great cook and don’t enjoy the process much, actually. But I have been preparing all of my own meals since college.
In my work, I hope to reconnect people with the process of meal preparation and help them take back the ability to feed themselves while keeping it simple, and joyful too! This is a lot of the work I’ve done with clients over the years and it can really change lives.
How do you start your day?
Open all the shades to let the light in.
A quart of water (Berkey) with supplements.
3oz cold-brew + 3oz Rasa herbal coffee + ½ TBSP MCT oil which will last me most of the morning and be my only caffeine for the day.
Feed the birds, water the plants, morning pages on the deck.
Run and/or Peloton.
Post-workout supplements plus turmeric, electrolytes and greens powder.
Off to work!
What's always in your fridge?
- Fresh produce from our CSA
- A drawer full of juicing greens (celery, cucumber, citrus, collard greens, parsley or cilantro)
- Kale. Often multiple kinds.
- Probiotics (Metagenics)
- Sparkling water: herb infused or otherwise
- Cold brew herbal coffee (Rasa)
- Freezer: Full of frozen fruit and fresh-frozen spinach for smoothies. Also some jars of unnamable plant treats for special occasions. And peas. Love peas.
What’s always in your pantry?
I don’t really have a dry-goods pantry because nearly everything I eat is fresh produce. I do have a little smoothie-making section with plant-based protein, chia and flax seeds, acacia fiber and my greens powders. Really though, my “pantry” (otherwise known as “Rachelle’s lifestyle cabinet” in my home — ha!) is full of herbs and supplements. Bulk dried herbs for teas, forty-odd powders, too many tinctures to count, so many supplements, herbal jams, that sort of thing. I test a ton of products (in general and when buying for Supernatural Cafe) so while my own herbal routine is fairly simple, it’s common I’ll have several more items on trial in the daily rotation.
How did your line, Supernatural, come about?
Supernatural is marriage of what I have been, and done, and what the world has asked of me, and what the plants want — all in this zeitgeist moment wherein wellness overtook fashion and health became cool again and we’re looking for natural solutions for better lives.
I did not set out to be an herbalist, or an entrepreneur, but I do make a point of listening very, very closely to all of the inputs in my life and when I heard enough times that I had something the people wanted, I began to put it out there. That process became Supernatural, which is now a whole little world! We are products (HRBLS), the Cafe Apothecary, an online shop, a private practice, online herbalism education (this is a big part of our future!) and lots of behind-the-scenes work with other companies in the plant-based wellness space. I love what I do everyday and have to give equal credit to the grit in my DNA that enables working harder than I should, and the requests of this very special community that has rallied around me and my team — continuing to share their needs with us so that we can play matchmaker with them and the herbal remedies that exist for all.
What do you turn to, to make you feel your best: food and all the other practices?
100% always forever without hesitation: exercise. I work out quite intensely every day and if I need extra mental support, I’ll go longer or more than once per day. It’s never felt excessive — sometimes I feel like I was an Olympian in a past life — and always like peak joy, relief, catharsis, pleasure, exuberance. Running especially has helped carry me through heartbreak, anxiety, the grief of losing my Dad last year, fear of the pandemic and the daily white-noise of an otherwise non-stop life and mind!
Do you have a favorite product from your range?
As much as I love our herbal teas, the HRBLS herbal gummies are far and away my favorite of our products. These are so-so special to me! We were really early to the non-CBD gummy scene and are still the only ones with an herbalist-made product that includes functional doses of synergistic herbs and no weirdo added sugars and stabilizers. It kind of blows my mind what product marketing claims you see out there (biting my tongue) and well, let’s just say that ours are legit. Nerve Less HRBLS (for calm) were first and are still our best-sellers. Digest-ness HRBLS are brand new and maybe the most delicious thing we’ve ever made. Everyday Endurance HRBLS taste like mulled wine and while we made them for energy, they keep delivering more and more benefits (brain health, metabolism, workout performance enhancement) … That is the beauty of herbs.
What are some of your favorite cookbooks? And some of your favorite books on herbalism and plant medicine?
I fell in love with Healing with Whole Foods early in my journey. I love reading about the benefits of what I’m consuming while I’m consuming it. The add-on placebo effect of that has to be a little bonus, right?!
I don’t really use cookbooks (or follow recipes, admittedly) but my partner cooks for us a lot from them and I’ve especially loved: Six Seasons, The Outdoor Kitchen, Bar Tartine (love Cortney Burns!) and actually, I bought myself Amy Chaplin’s Whole Food Cooking Every Day recently (I’m trying!) and it might be changing my relationship to recipes.
I also always love Bon Appetit’s Healthyish for recipes.
Where is a good place to start for someone new to the world of plants?
Herbal teas never get old. They can be so simple to make, really beautiful to watch brew, and quite effective. I think it’s also really exciting to start identifying plants that grow in your neighborhood, and are medicinal. It’s a way to feel surrounded by friends, to realize how medicinal the natural world is — even in seemingly basic backyards or urban parks — and maybe do a little foraging. I’m less a fan of starting with powders and capsules and formats that make it hard to see the color of the plant, taste it, get to know it as a natural thing.
So! I’d recommend visiting a farmer’s market if possible and chatting up an herb-stand about what they’re growing. Or, visit a local health food store that would have a bulk herb section. And finding a good plant identification book for your part of the world. (Mountain Rose Herbs has a good list!)
Also: Attend some classes! In-person if possible. And plant walks with a local forager are not to be missed.
What is the most interesting item in your kitchen?
I’m so simple in the kitchen.. it’d probably have to be my big glass carafe that I use for brewing teas on the daily. The world cannot get enough of it!
Favorite kitchen tool?
Omg my poor Vitamix. I use it like three times a day every day and have owned it for so long! I truly wonder if it loves me or hates me. Also, my Berkey water filter.
What inspires you most about your practice?
I have never once worked with someone who didn’t get better in some way. Sometimes it’s just a little bit; often it’s an incredible change that ripples out into others’ lives. Seeing this work change lives is deeply humbling, inspiring, motivating and just so moving.
What do you wish more people knew about plants?
Plants are simple. We eat them, drink them, breathe them, live in a reciprocal relationship with them — they are happy to help us. And herbalism is not something to fear. The likelihood of doing something wrong is so low it’s almost negligible. On the other hand, it can save lives! Especially plant-based food.