All Posts by Suzy Brown

Essential Oil’s Organ of the Month (August): Black Pepper and the Spleen

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf

It’s the norm at this point in our journey to start with a question. This time around our time together will be short, but fulfilling nonetheless. Two weeks ago we broached the subject of essential oils, otherwise referred to as EOs. One week ago we discussed the EO of the month, black pepper, alongside new recipes and black pepper EO’s application into our daily lives. Today, Wednesday the 31st of August, the spleen and black pepper share a relationship (you might have already assumed this subject choice from the title). So, “Suzy,” you may ask, “what is the question that corresponds with this topic?” Well, keep reading!

Q1: What is the spleen and its function?

The spleen is the larges lymphatic organ in the human body. It acts as a filter for blood and contributes the immune system. Specifically speaking, the old red blood cells are recycled while platelets and white blood cells are stored in the spleen. The result is an organ that helps fight various bacteria. So cheers to the spleen, an organ, (like most others) that contributes to our overall daily functioning and wellbeing.

highlighted spleen


Q2: Why does the spleen need love from our fellow essential oils?

Reality hits the spleen in the same way that reality hits most of us. Just like muscles need their nutrients to be torn and rebuilt after a gym visit, the spleen needs to be properly strengthened as well. Stress, chronic illness, and digestive issues are an outcome of various environmental and daily choices, but even more so, an outcome of a sad, worn-out spleen. Essential oils step in at this marker and help out our hard-working organs. However, in this case we will stick to the EO, black pepper, as the main EO contributing to the wellness of the spleen.

Q3: How does black pepper essential oil help the spleen?

So what exactly does our EO companion do – apologies – but rephrasing the question seems to be an eloquent segue from the previous Q and A. Well, black pepper EO stimulates and warms up the digestive system. This in turn helps keep the spleen functioning smoothly and becoming overtaxed. On a macro level, use stretching as an example. Stretching after a ten-minute warm up and post-workout makes the following that much better and prevents injury during that day’s workout. In the same way that stretching strengthens your muscles and its mobility through secondary assistance, black pepper EO strengthens the spleen. So make sure to make a note to include those few drops of EO in your tea or various dishes!

As I mentioned earlier, this week’s post is short and sweet. However, with the completion of this post comes another to look forward to. Be prepared because next week will be the beginning of a new topic. I would give it away, but where is the excitement in that? Till then, make those healthy choices, and keep finding ways to incorporate essential oils into your daily regimen!


 ~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~

Essential Oil of the Month (August): Black Pepper

“Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go.” – Erma Bombeck

Let’s start off with a question yet again. After all, it seems that blogs like these thrive off of answering unknowns and presenting new and exciting ways to approach a variety of topics. So, what’s the question? I promise that is not it. Rather, what I am sure you are wondering at this point in time is,

What is black pepper essential oil?

This particular essential oil is sourced from the dried berries of the Piper nigrum plant and is a key nutrient in most everyone’s kitchen. For thousands of years black pepper has been highly prized, and – fun fact – used as currency or sacred offerings by the Ancient Greeks. Defined by the warm, spicy undertones, black pepper enhances the flavor of foods while improving digestion. Oh, and another little snippet of information, this ingredient helps digestion by preventing the formation of internal gases. It has also been proven to help break down fat cells, which in turn may help in weight loss. Taking a moment to move tangentially, let us look Chinese medicine (TCM) to help explain these qualities. Black pepper is warming, and as a result, stimulates a warming flow of energy in the body. Particular body parts include the abdomen. It has been used, and is used in the treatment of diarrhea and watery stools. TCM also points to black pepper as a diaphoretic as to open pores for sweating and treat onset symptoms of the common cold. Even more fascinating is it counteracting abilities in times of retracted food poisoning and indigestion. Nevertheless, I am sure you devoted readers are itching to know its everyday uses, and the answer to this other question,

What are some examples of black pepper essential oil in some simple dishes Suzy?

First and foremost, great starting points (better referred to as everyday uses) for black pepper essential oil are in soups and sauces as seasoning. Keep in mind that black pepper has a tendency to sink in clear broths. Not to dissuade its usage, but where’s the excitement when flavors of life settle without being stirred up? It’s left at the bottom, that’s where it is. Moving on, look to marinades and brines for black pepper’s usage. Even better, and easier (for those who find themselves multitasking on a superior level), is using black pepper with hot water as a tea supplement or flavoring. It helps get your digestive tract moving. Don’t lie to me, but I am sure you were only looking to Green Teas prior to these past couple sentences. Now you’ve got a new tea to help out with those various tasks. Speaking of various tasks, if you’ve made it this far into reading, time for the promised examples of black pepper essential oil in food!

Example #1: Garbanzo Salad, adapted from Jacque Pepini in Heart and Soul Magazine

  • Can Chickpeas, drained and rinsed (1-15 oz)
  • Mayo, vegan or homemade (5 tbsp)
  • Celery, minced (1 cup)
  • Himalayan Salt, (1/4 tsp)
  • Chives, minced (1 tbsp)
  • Black Pepper EO (1-4 drops)

Fold together all identified ingredients and adjust seasoning to taste. If you’d like to assuage your fancier side of cooking you can serve this salad in lettuce cups.

Note: start with one drop of black pepper essential oil and then taste the salad. As a wise individual once said, “remember you can always add, you cannot remove!” If you’d like more, then add more drops. It’s really that simple.



Example #2: Vegan Lox

  • 3 Carrots, medium
  • Filtered H2O, (1/2 cup)
  • Rice Vinegar, (1/2 cup)
  • Liquid Smoke, (1 tsp)
  • Old Bay, (1 tsp)
  • Himalayan Salt, (1/2 tsp)
  • Fresh Lemon, (1 tbsp or ½ of a Lemon)
  • Black Pepper EO, (1-4 drops)



In a non-reactive bowl, mix all the ingredients together EXCEPT the carrots. From there, adjust the seasoning to taste. After, slice carrots thinly on a mandolin, place the carrots into brining liquid, and completely submerge the carrots. Cover and place them into the fridge overnight.

Note: if any of these words sound strange, the Internet is a magical place to answer all your dying questions. Simply write the word, “word” and add in the word, “define” into Google. Google apparently knows all. Other note, the more important note, is similar to that of the previous recipe. Start with one drop of oil, taste, and then go from there.

So, sad to say, but that’s all for this week. If you have any questions, obviously don’t hesitate to comment or question. Google may be smart, but I’ve got all the information as well. Next week we will be finishing up black pepper EO and moving onto the next come September. However, there’s a reward in patience, and on the 31st there will be a myriad of information regarding black pepper EO and its positive effects on the Spleen! Till then, go on your merry and healthy way!

~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~

Introduction to Cooking with Essential Oils

“Nature holds the key to our aesthetic, intellectual, cognitive and even spiritual satisfaction.” – E.O. Wilson

Before we continue on our seemingly long and arduous journey towards healthy decision making, there are a few pit stops to make. Deviating from the cliche metaphors that only seem to make the destination seem that much further away, I want to ask you a few questions. Amongst which include, what in the name of the food geniuses is an essential oil? Well, my potential friends, followers, and clientele, that is what I aim to answer and incorporate into your daily mob of thoughts. See what I did there? Yet another clever, although not food related, metaphor. So let us kick off with that same question, and of course, a few more:

What is an essential oil?

How are essential oils made?

Are essential oils safe to digest?

What is the toxicity of essential oils?

How do you cook with an essential oil?

What are some simple recipes to incorporate essential oils?

Now that we have established somewhat of an outline, I will answer the questions that I know you are dying, or starving — ha — to eat, I mean, hear, the answer to. Enjoy!

Q1What is an essential oil (EO)?

EOs are fragrant, dynamic compounds that are extracted through the distillation process from flowers, shrubs, leaves, trees, roots, and/or seeds. Funnily enough, they do not fall under our preconception of “oil.” EOs do not contain lipids like their fatty vegetable oil siblings, and as a result their distinctive chemistry enables them to permeate every cell and administer healing properties in the body. This structural complexity, created through volatile organic compounds (VOC), enables an EO to preform various functions with a few drops.

Q2How are EOs made?

EOs are, as previously touched on, steam distilled from plants. However, there are different types of extractions, and citrus EOs are cold pressed. Amongst these extraction methods are as follows: water vapor distillation, pressure extraction, expression, enlfeurage, solvent extraction, CO2 extraction, and synthetic imitation. One pound of EO requires at least 50 pounds of plant material. Take rosemary for example, rosemary EO uses 66 pounds of fresh rosemary for every pound. That is astounding!

Q3Are EOs safe to digest?

Society has accepted that the use of EOs is dangerous, but civilizations have been using them for centuries. Not to mention, industries that produce products like toothpaste, skin care, and sodas use them. So, before you run away from fear, keep in mind that these frequently used items have proven thus safe to ingest. That is not to say, “turn a blind eye and pick any toothpaste or skin product out there!” Quality is everything. Look for organic-therapeutic grade EOs. Purchased products should have bottle and company info that read the following: 100% natural, an English plant name, a Botanical name, the utilized part of the plant, the production method, the country of origin, and any hazard or allergy notations. Happy shopping!

Q4What is the toxicity of EOs?

Certain EOs have irritation potential and can be toxic is ingested in large doses, but there is beauty to be held in that statement. A little goes a long way, and as touched on, it only takes a few drops of an EO to make an impact. Regardless, if one were to ingest larges doses of an EO, they can suspect these possible, short-term complications: burning of the mucus membrane of the oral cavity, throat, and esophagus, the occurrence of reflux by irritating the digestive tract, some symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea, interference of certain medications rending the EO useless, possible interference with anesthesia, and elevation of live enzymes. EOs that should NEVER be taken internally include: camphor, citronella, thuja, pennyroyal, sassafras, wormseed, and wormwood. In that same line, if you are allergic to a food then you will be allergic to its EO. Again, dry, fresh, cooked, or otherwise, if you have a particular food allergy that allergy will remain in the EO form. Oh! To cover all bases, know that not all EOs on the FDA’s GRAS list have been tested with contemporary technology. Some EOs have been grandfathered into use by virtue of being widely used in the food industry for several decades without reports of negative effects.

Q5How do you cook with EOs?

First off, look back to Q3 and note that for internal use only use organic-therapeutic grade oils (these oils are 100% pure). Also, keep in mind reputation and remain conscious about reputable companies and suppliers to ensure you make smart, healthy purchases. From there, lead with this golden rule: 1 to 4 drops of EO per recipe. In more words than eight, 1 to 4 drops of EO is its serving size. To choose the right EOs, note whether or not it falls under the FDA category, GRAS. GRAS stands for Generally Recognized As Safe. The FDA, as logically follows, considers EOs with this label safe for consumption. Here are a few EOs on the GRAS list to take note of and keep in mind over the following blog posts: black pepper, basil, grapefruit, lemon, orange, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, savory, and peppermint.

Q6 – What are some simple recipes to incorporate EOs?

Well, I can’t dole out all the fun yet! Look for next week’s post to learn about the EO black pepper for some tasty recipes influenced and adapted from Jacque Pepin in the Heart and Soul magazine. Oh, and of course for corresponding learning opportunities.

~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~


Healthy Cooking with Essential Oil: Rebecca Park Totilo

Weigh Less, Eat Like Royalty: Menkit Prince

Aroma Kitchen Cooking with Essential Oils: Sabine Honig and Ursula Kutschera

Healing with Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 3rd Edition: Paul Pitchford

It’s a New Year, So Let’s Eat For Health

“Eating of Heath is a process rather than a method.” – Dr. Ed Bauman

There are four different levels of eating:

  • Leave #1: Eating for Pleasure
    • I ate it because it tasted good
    • It is more of an immature & impulsive approach to eating.
  • Leave #2: Eating for Energy
    • Blood sugar driven
    • Little concern for place and quality –> fast food
    • Refined and processed –> FEED ME NOW OR I WILL DIE!
  • Leave #3: Eating for Recovery
    • by choosing a lifestyle from level #1 and/or 2 we have developed poor body composition
    • frequently obesity & diminished energy, health, and mood
    • Following the latest greatest diet cruz to hit the land: take this pill, drink this juice
  • Level #4: Eating for Health
    • The goal of this approach is lifelong learning about optimum nutrition
    • Together we will explore the healing effects of foods, and an aesthetic & spiritual approach to the culinary arts
    • Discovering the many foods your body needs and the best available choices are at a given time
    • Exploring different philosophies, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, naturopathy, and many more


As you can see the pyramid has been replaced with a plate. In Eating for Heath we will learn and embrace the maxims; food is the best medicine.

I am excited to lead this journey with you. Welcome the New Year! Welcome a new approach!

I will be inviting guests to write about fitness tips, meditation tips, and so much more over the coming months and years.

We are very excited here at the Brown bag; Nutrition & Chef Services knowing that the new year is going to be amazing!

We welcome all comments, questions, and conversations.

~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~

the Brown bag Has a New Look


Have you visited “the Brown bag” recently?

We’d like you to come over and take a look.

Our mission:  To help bridge the gap between you and the importance of good nutrition

“You are what you eat.”- Gillian McKeith

There is a lot of truth to that. We need it for our bodies to grow, heal and rejuvenate.

With that in mind, the site has a fresh new look.

We will be updating and adding services throughout the year. In addition to the new look you will enjoy learning from many different avenues:

  • Monthly blog posts on conditions, nutrients and foods
  • Recipes for you to enjoy, share and make your own
  • Classes in nutrition, health and cooking
  • A future YouTube channel
  • New letters, e-books, and much more

We hope you will continue to visit our site and gain something here that will help you to help your body.

~ Suzy Brown, Nutrition Practitioner & Personal Chef ~