From the Help Desk:

Mid-Summer Sunshine Soup Recipe From Taking Stock Bone Broth aloe icon July 11 2017   by Mastel's Help Desk

Our friends at Taking Stock have let us in on a great summer soup recipe to share with our readers! They will also be at the shop on Saturday, July 15th from 1-3 sampling their locally-made broths. Click here for the facebook event details! 

Sunshine Soup

Sunshine Summer Soup from Taking Stock and Mastel's
A mid-summer’s soup of potatoes and yellow squash. The sunny color, along with the time of year that we start seeing these ingredients in Minnesota, inspired its name. 1 bulb of garlic may seem like a lot, but the mild flavor of potato, squash, and butter smooth out its sharper edges.

1 pound yellow summer squash (3 medium)
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 bulb fresh garlic
3⁄4 pound yellow potatoes
4 teaspoons unsalted butter*
1 container Taking Stock Foods Classic Bone Broth, unsalted
1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric root
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cumin seed
1⁄4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Cracked pepper
4 sprigs fresh dill
4 hard boiled eggs

1. Rinse the squash free of any dirt or debris. Slice the squash into very thin coins (1⁄8”

thick) using a mandoline or a sharp knife. Toss the squash coins with the salt, and let it

drain in a colander over a bowl for 30 minutes or so. This step will concentrate the flavor of the squash.

2. Peel and finely chop the garlic.

3. Rinse the potatoes thoroughly. Leave their skin on for a more rustic (and fiber rich) soup, peel them for a more refined soup. Chop the potatoes into 1⁄2” cubes.

4. Place a medium sized pan with a heavy bottom on the stove over medium low heat. Add the butter and melt. Add the garlic. Slowly saute while stirring until golden in color, about 4 minutes.

5. Rinse the salty squash thoroughly to wash away as much salt as possible. Squeeze it of any excess moisture, and pat it dry.

6. Add the squash, the potatoes, and all three spices to the garlic butter pan. Stir to cover all of the ingredients with the garlic butter.

7. Add the broth. Turn the heat up to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.

8. Turn the heat down to medium low. Cover the pot and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

9. Once squash and potatoes are tender, mash the soup with a potato masher or lightly process with an immersion blender.

10. Garnish with cracked pepper, fresh chopped dill, and chopped hard boiled eggs.

Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main course with a hefty salad

*For a dairy-free substitute, use coconut oil in place of butter

Let us know on instagram or facebook if you make this soup and how it turns out for you! We love hearing from our customers! Enjoy and we hope you are having a wonderful and healthy summer!

Throwback Thursday: Boericke & Tafel aloe icon April 20 2017   by Mastel's Help Desk

The oldest brand we carry at Mastel’s can be traced back to 1835. During that time, Constantine Hering, the Father of American Homeopathy, held a practice in Philadelphia and Hans Burch Gram, pioneer of homeopathic medicine, held a practice in New York. Dr Hering founded America’s first homeopathic medical college. Also in New York, William Radde, managed a group of stores that would eventually become Boericke & Tafel. According to Sylvain Cazalet, the shops “advertisement in Herring’s The Domestic Physician offered readers: "All works on Homeopathy, as well as pocket cases of homeopathic medicines, prepared by approved hands and very neatly arranged." 

Boericke and Tafel Products at Mastel's Health Foods

In 1949, cholera was fast spreading across Europe, as well as the Americas. Homeopathy was having better results treating the epidemic than traditional medicine and as a result “many orthodox physicians took up the practice of homeopathy. At the same time, many of the intelligentsia were attracted to homeopathy because of its scientific basis in experimental pharmacology.” (Cazalet).



By 1853 Boericke & Tafel started to manufacture homeopathic medicines and ten years later they purchased the Radde pharmacies in Philadelphia and New York and as the demand for homeopathic remedies increased they spread their pharmacies onto both coasts as well as the Midwest, including Minneapolis.



Boericke went on to publish a good deal of literature on the subject of homeopathy with Ernest Albert Schreck, as well as Edward Wheelock Runyon. “Around 1920, Boericke and Runyon began producing popular non-prescription home-remedy medicines under the tradename EOPA, the middle four alpha characters from the word "Hom-eopa-thy". EOPA eventually became a subsidiary of Boericke and Runyon – Eopa Company – and distributed medicines nationwide.” (Wikipedia).


Boericke and Tafel homeopathic historyHomeopathic remedies began to decline in their usage until the latter end of the 20th century, when an interest in safe, natural remedies began to gain in momentum. Today at Mastel’s, we carry a wide variety of homeopathic remedies for many common and uncommon ailments such as: smoking cessation, allergies, food poisoning, stage fright, the common cold, gas, and motion sickness. Boericke & Tafel, or “B & T” as we call it around the shop, is the oldest company we stock at Mastel’s. We carry their time-tested Arnica Gels, Cough and Bronchial Syrups, and the ultra-popular Ssssting Stop Soothing Gel, and more. Our well-versed staff is here to assist you with finding the right homeopathic remedies.

Cooking Daily With Bone Broth aloe icon April 12 2017   by Mastel's Help Desk

Guest Blog Post: by Becki Melvie, Brand Ambassador at Taking Stock Foods



Bone broth has long been a staple in kitchens of home cook’s for many generations past. If you’re a cook who’s made your own broth, you’ll be well acquainted with the time demanded to coax delicious flavors, and yield the soothing properties, from traditional ingredients used in bone broth.

Typically, bone broth will involve a long process of simmering chicken, beef or pork bones, vegetables, herbs, and aromatics in a large stockpot on the stovetop for 12-24 hours. The bones and vegetables are removed from the liquid, leaving a deep, rich, golden broth that can be used as a culinary ingredient or as a savory hot beverage.

Taking Stock Food’s bone broth available in Mastel’s frozen section, is locally-made in St. Paul, slow-simmered for 12 hours, using locally-raised organic chicken and vegetables. We use a raspberry rhubarb vinegar to further break down the bones, effectively extracting every last mineral from the bones.  

Taking Stock Food’s broth is rich in nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, as well as collagen, amino acids, and electrolytes. These nutrients, along with the other properties of bone broth, such as collagen, amino acids and electrolytes, have been used holistically in the healing of deficiencies like pain and inflammation, cramps, muscle soreness, brittle nails, periodontal disease, anxiety, depression, allergies, and IBS.

Add nutrition and delicious flavor to your daily cooking by replacing water with bone broth. Using bone broth in cooking can be very rewarding, resting assured you’re adding nutrients to the food you and your friends and family are consuming.


Add bone broth to your daily diet with these cooking techniques:

  • Tacos - When adding water into the last simmering step of your favorite taco recipe, use bone broth instead!
  • Savory Dough - Use warm bone broth to raise your pizza dough.
  • Rice & Pasta - Bone broth works perfectly, substituted for water, in risottos, steamed rice, and boiled dried pastas, like orzo.
  • Dried Vegetables & Mushrooms - Reconstitute your dried, preserved vegetables and mushrooms with hot bone broth.

For a recipe using our broth in a comforting Stove Top Pot Roast CLICK HERE.

However you chose to enjoy your next mug of Taking Stock Food’s bone broth from Mastel’s, make sure to tag us on Facebook to let everyone know how nourishing bone broth has transformed your life!

Alaffia Very Much aloe icon March 17 2016   by Mastel's Help Desk

Guest Blogger: Carolyn

 When asked to write a blog entry about a favorite company, the one that immediately sprang to mind was Alaffia. Alaffia is a company that specializes in natural care of hair and skin. I am devoted to this brand, for 3 big reasons: Products, Price and Mission.



The foundation of most Alaffia products (and their value-priced Everyday Shea line) is shea butter. I had used shea butter in the past, and didn’t see what the big deal was. After trying Alaffia shea butter, I was an instant Believer. Theirs is prepared the traditional, time-honored and labor-intensive way, and the rich, luxurious, nourishing results are worth every minute. Like most tropical oils, it is solid at room temperature, so it takes a few seconds to warm it up with your hands to spread it.

 I use plain shea butter today in the same way that people used Vaseline in the 60s and 70s, as an all-purpose emollient. It can be used as a hand cream, lip balm or for any rough spots on the body. Used regularly on the feet, it is outstanding for preventing cracks on heels. For years, it has been a critical component of my winter survival kit, particularly in the winter of 2013-2014. For a 26-mile round-trip bike commute in temperatures between 10 and 20 F, I used it on all exposed areas of my face, and it created a barrier which kept the sting off my skin, especially on windy days. That same winter I used it on morning walks in temperatures around –20 F (before factoring in windchill) to protect my eyelids, under eyes, and upper cheekbones; I didn’t miss a day of walking due to cold.

 I am also a big fan of the Everyday Shea Body Lotion, which is thick, creamy and has impressive staying power. I use the unscented variety, and add a drop or two of essential oil for each handful, depending on which scent I feel like using that day.

 My absolute favorite Alaffia product is the Shea Butter Body Milk. Don’t let the name mislead you; this is less of a milk and more of an extra hefty cream. I use it nightly on my hands. The fragrance is a gender-neutral, beguiling combination of vanilla, orange, almond and lime. It’s hard to go more than a minute without wanting to smell it again. Currently, it is only available in a travel size, but you don’t need much.



The Everyday Shea body lotion and body wash are both exceptional values at $.44 per ounce. This is comparable to conventional, chemical-laden brands like Dove or Olay which cost $.48-.66 per ounce for lotion , and $.41-.47 for body wash (source-

 The best deal on unscented, pure shea butter is the Everyday Shea, in an 11-oz. recyclable plastic jar for $13.99. However, I opt for the smaller Alaffia one, since (even with daily use) it takes me over a year to go through a single 2-oz jar. At $8.95, that still costs less than 2.5 cents per day.



Even without the fabulous products and affordable prices, this company is worth supporting for their mission alone. They donate 100% of profits to their various projects in Africa. Not 1%. Not 5 or 10 %. After paying themselves what they need to cover their necessities, the owners of the company plow every single extra penny back into community improvement through reforestation, education, maternal health, eyeglasses and eradication of female genital mutilation. By buying their raw materials from female-owned cooperatives in Togo, they assist in creating economic empowerment with a “Trade, Not Aid” approach.

 If you’ve never tried Alaffia or Everyday Shea, take a look at our selection of shampoos, conditioners, facial moisturizers, body wash, body lotion, bar soap and liquid soap. They also offer products based on coconut oil in their Everyday Coconut line. With so many excellent products at reasonable prices, it’s easy to find something you’ll like, from a company you can be proud to support.



Holiday Extravaganza: Coconut Butter Candies aloe icon December 21 2015   by Mastel's Help Desk

Guest blogger: Carolyn

Coconut butter is a remarkable and delicious food. Like peanut butter or almond butter, it is simply the nutmeats of the coconut processed until completely smooth. Coconut butter has all of the nutritional value of coconut oil, along with the protein and fiber of whole coconut.

The most challenging aspect of using coconut butter is that the fats and solids tend to separate. Since both solidify at temperatures under 76 degrees, coconut butter is more difficult to reincorporate than other nut butters, at least for those of us living in cooler climates. In Minnesota, we average about two days a year when weather conditions are such that coconut butter can be used straight from the jar. The two brands that we carry here at Mastel’s are both from California, so I have to laugh when I read the labels; one says “Simply warm and blend back together”, the other states, “Place jar in hot water for 5-10 minutes and stir”. Not only does this not work very well in cool climates, they also neglect to mention that this needs to be done every single time you want to use it. My solution is to warm and stir the entire jar, then portion it out by single servings, so it’s ready to use whenever I want.

There are several ways to warm the jar. It can be placed in a pan of hot water, or set near a heat source (e.g. a radiator, a woodstove, or the top of a stove with the oven on) for a couple of hours. It helps to occasionally stir it with a sturdy spoon very gently, such that it doesn’t slosh over the sides of the jar. Once fully melted and incorporated, measure out by tablespoons and pour into silicon ice cube trays. Allow to resolidify at room temperature, since placing it in the refrigerator can sometimes cause it to cave in and become irregularly shaped. Another storage option is to pour the liquefied coconut butter out by the tablespoon onto a baking sheet lined with wax paper.  It will spread out, so you can cover it with another sheet of wax paper and once it solidifies, store in a quart-sized Ziplock bag. (Does anyone remember Wrapples, those sheets of caramel intended to wrap around apples? It looks like that.)

When ready to use, just take out as many servings as you need, and place in a double boiler over simmering water, or in a bowl near a heat source (like the aforementioned stovetop, radiator, etc.) and heat until melted. You may then proceed with using it as a spread or recipe ingredient.

My favorite use for coconut butter is in little truffles/candies. These are great as holiday or party treats for people with dietary restrictions, such as diabetics and folks with food allergies and/or sensitivities.

Vanilla Base

2 Tbsp coconut butter

1 Tbsp milk of choice (or more as needed)

¾ tsp vanilla

6 drops Stevita

Pinch of coarse sea salt

4-6 tsp. roasted, chopped nuts or seeds (optional)



Same as vanilla, but add a scant ½ tsp. peppermint extract



2 Tbsp coconut butter

2 Tbsp cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)

2 Tbsp milk of choice (or more as needed)

1 tsp vanilla extract

6 drops Stevita

Pinch of coarse sea salt

4-6 tsp. roasted, chopped nuts or seeds (optional)


Chocolate Mint

Same as chocolate, but add a scant ½ tsp peppermint extract


To make truffles/candies: Melt coconut butter and stir in unsweetened milk of choice, starting with one tablespoon. I use almond milk, but you can also use coconut or cow’s milk. Add additional ingredients (except salt and nuts) and stir well. You may need to keep the bowl warm to keep it from stiffening up. If the batter is still too stiff to stir, add more milk a little at a time to make it workable, but not runny.

Drop by spoonful (whatever size you like) onto a chilled plate or baking sheet lined with wax paper. Top each one with a pinch of coarse sea salt. You can also sprinkle them with finely chopped roasted nuts. I like to use sunflower seeds with the vanilla base to make my own version of a salted nut roll, and walnuts are a great companion to the chocolate mint variety. For an elegant visual effect, freeze the candies, then dip them in (or drizzle with) melted dark chocolate, and refrigerate for a few minutes until the decoration is set.

Place in refrigerator until solid, usually about 30 minutes. These candies can be served at room temperature, and are best handled on days under 70 degrees. Warmer weather can cause them to get a bit oozy, requiring the serving dish to be placed on a bowl of ice.