2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Vegan foods can get a bad rap for being bland and tasteless. In the Western world, meat has become a predominant part of every meal. Many people have become so accustomed to the salty, fatty flavor offered by animal protein that they find it difficult to imagine how a person could subsist on a diet of vegetables and legumes alone.

Using a vegan spice guide to add the appropriate spices to a dish can mean the difference between cooking that keeps you coming back for more, and boiled, lifeless veggies in a pot. Not only does it add depth and flavor to vegetables, but using herbs and spices in vegan cooking can also open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

When my partner and I transitioned to a plant-based diet and lifestyle, we stopped eating meat cold-turkey (pun intended). Learning to cook with a variety of herbs and spices from the get-go allowed us to be creative in the kitchen and get to know and understand the types of flavors that went well with the foods we were now eating on a regular basis. We both became familiar with combining spices such as cumin, turmeric, garam masala, ginger, garlic, salt, and pepper, for example, to create a spice blend to cook down with onions to form the base of a curry dish.

Creating A Vegan Spice Guide

One of the first things we did when we went vegan was to prepare a vegan spice guide: a list of the essential spices we would always have in our pantry. We opted for organic spices stored in mason jars for easy cooking. Now, we cannot last long when we run low on cumin, turmeric, or nutritional yeast. Taking the time to develop a vegan spice guide and using it to stock our pantry has been integral to our success in transitioning to plant-based eating and helping us to make some beautiful, healthful meals within the comfort of our home.

It can be overwhelming to know which spices to include in your pantry, especially if you are beginning the journey of home-based vegan cooking. With new vegans in mind, I created this vegan spice guide which will walk you through 8 essential spices which can jazz up any vegan dish.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Turmeric

Turmeric tops the list as one of my favorite herbs in my vegan spice guide. I’ve written a whole post about this beautiful spice. Turmeric is a prominent spice in Indian dishes such as curry and dahl. Turmeric also has many health properties, which make it a must-have in the kitchen. At this point in our vegan journey, we add turmeric to everything. It has a slightly bitter taste; however, it pairs well with other herbs such as ginger, garlic, and cumin.

Cumin

Cumin is one of the most versatile herbs in our pantry, which make it a must-have for my vegan spice guide. Cumin makes a great base for most curries. Use cumin seeds fried on medium with some coconut oil for 30 seconds before adding in diced onion, garlic, and ginger for the beginning of delicious curry. My favorite way to use cumin is in homemade veggie chili. Find how to make your own chili spice blend below.

Chili Spice Blend

[recipe_ingredients]

1 tbsp. ground cumin
1.5 – 2 tbsp. chili powder
½ tbsp. ground coriander
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 pinch smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Combine herbs together in a bowl and mix well.
  • Store in a labeled, airtight glass jar.

[/recipe_directions]

Add this blend with chopped onions to a large pot until fragrant and then throw in the remainder of the chili ingredients. Another tip to enhance the depth of flavor in chili is to add a tablespoon of dark cocoa powder to the pot of chili along with the chili spice blend featured above.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Mustard Seed

I’ve only recently become accustomed to using mustard seed in my vegan cooking, and now it is a staple in my vegan spice guide. Mustard seed can be toasted using coconut oil similar to cumin seed which lends a deep, earthy flavor to dishes.

My favorite recipe that calls for mustard seed is a take on a traditional ayurvedic dish, kitchari, which you can find here. In this recipe, mustard seeds are toasted along with coriander and cumin seeds until they become fragrant. My favorite part about this recipe is that the mustard seeds dance out of the pot!

Another interesting way to incorporate mustard seeds into your diet is to add them with oil and onion to the bottom of a pot to fry. Then I add in some basmati rice and turmeric, covering the rice with oils from the toasted seeds and onion. After that, I cook the rice as usual. This is a simple way to add some interest, color, and flavor to the rice.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Garlic

Although I prefer to use whole, fresh garlic cloves, it can never hurt to have garlic granules in your pantry for times when you’re in a pinch. Even if you are using garlic cloves, who said you can’t double up? If you’re a garlic lover, you’ll find that this spice becomes a part of your everyday life when you’re cooking plant-based meals.

Recently, my partner cooked a simple, slow-cooked stew in which he incorporated large cloves of fresh garlic and garlic powder. It was delicious! When you are purchasing garlic powder, opt for the granules as opposed to the powder. The powder tends to stick and clump together over time, whereas the granules remain separate.

Smoked Paprika

Before transitioning to a plant-based diet, my only familiarity with paprika was that it was the orange spice sprinkled on top of potato salads or deviled eggs at backyard barbecues. Now, it is a go-to for most recipes. The benefit of paprika is that it lends a smoky flavor to vegan dishes which mimics the savory taste of meat. If it is available where you are, choose smoked paprika over the regular spice.

Garam Masala

Next in the vegan spice guide is the beautiful spice blend, garam masala. While you can make a garam spice blend (ground coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg),  it can also be easily purchased at your local health food store. Think of this blend as a finisher for curries like chickpea-based chana masala or other Indian dishes that incorporate tomato. Season your curry with garam like you would salt or pepper, just before you serve. Although it is traditionally used as a finishing spice, feel free to add it to mashed chickpea sandwiches with vegan mayo, chopped pickles, and salt and pepper.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Cayenne

Bear with me on this one. Becoming vegan requires a level of openness to trying new foods. While you may be hesitant to venture into the realm of spicy foods, I can assure you that it is worth giving it a shot. Adding just a dash of cayenne to dishes like vegan spaghetti can add a level of brightness your dish might be missing. Build your spice tolerance up over time by adding small increments of the spice into dishes throughout the week. Before long you’ll be putting cayenne on everything.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

Salt and Pepper

Although this might seem obvious, salt and pepper are two necessities in the kitchen. Do not be afraid of using a little salt and pepper in your spice blends as they will help to tie all the flavors together. You do not want to go overboard on salt and pepper. However, I have read that seasoning with a little of each of these seasonings at each step of the cooking process can help to meld individual flavors resulting in a more savory and satisfying dish.

Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, or “nooch,” as it is so fondly referred to in the vegan community, is an indispensable component of any vegan spice guide. Though nutritional yeast is not technically a spice, it has quickly become as familiar to us as ketchup in a 1980’s refrigerator. We keep a jar of nutritional yeast on our kitchen table at all times. We use it as a seasoning as we would apply salt and pepper. Sprinkle it over everything from salad to noodles, pasta, and curry. It adds an “umami” flavor which vegans often miss out on when they stop eating rich foods like cheese. Nutritional yeast also forms the basis of many vegan “cheese” sauces and can be used to make a delicious baked mac and cheese.

Becoming vegan has added excitement to my time spent in the kitchen. Plant-based foods are often critiqued as being boring or flavorless, but I can tell you that if you begin to experiment with some of the spices in this vegan spice guide, you will find that vegan cooking is anything but dull.

2019 Vegan Spice Guide For Vegan Cooking | Herbal Academy | Using this vegan spice guide can add depth and flavor to your vegan meals and open up a whole new world of opportunity to be creative in the kitchen.

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Winter is here, and if you’re anything like me, you’re probably craving soup! There is nothing better on a chilly evening, wrapped in a blanket with loved ones, than sipping from a bowl of warm, soothing soup. Turmeric (Curcuma longa) and cauliflower are gaining popularity in many healthy recipes as they have a plethora of nutritional benefits, are versatile, and are delicious. In this article, we will share the benefits of this healthy and nutritious root and vegetable pairing and offer a recipe for a warming, turmeric cauliflower soup that you can enjoy on cold winter days.

What is Turmeric?

Turmeric has been used for centuries as food and as an herb to assist with many imbalances. Its tough, fibrous root (the rhizome) is where its beneficial properties lie and give it its yellow color. Curcuma longa, whose Latin binomial comes from the Arabic name Kurkum, has also been called The Yellow One and Golden Goddess in Sanskrit (Gallant, n.d.).

Besides giving Indian curry its beautiful golden hue, turmeric has been used as a dye in packaged foods such as mustard and chicken broth (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric can even be used as a natural, plant-based dye for fabrics like silk, cotton, and wool (Kayne, 2016).

Where wellness benefits are concerned, turmeric is most well-known for its anti-inflammatory properties (Gallant, n.d.). Turmeric is in the Zingiberaceae family, which is also home to its cousin ginger (Zingiber officinale). Turmeric is native to India (and a staple in Indian cuisine), but it can also be grown in other warm climates around the world. In ayurvedic herbalism, turmeric is commonly used to balance the doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha (Gallant, n.d.).

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

Benefits and Uses of Turmeric

As mentioned earlier, turmeric is most commonly used to assist the body when inflammation is present. It is believed that turmeric helps to inhibit an inflammatory gene by helping to lower histamine levels, subsequently increasing natural cortisone production by the adrenal glands (Rathaur, Raja, Ramteke, & John, 2012).

It has been found that turmeric can aid in health issues such as osteoarthritis (Kuptniratsaikul, Thanakhumtorn, Chinswangwatanakul, Wattanamongkonsil, & Thamlikitkul, 2009), back pain, and general inflammation (Rathaur et al., 2012), and according to a 2006 study, curcumin is also considered an antioxidant (Khor et al., 2006).

Turmeric can also benefit digestion by assisting the body in producing digestive enzymes that help the body to digest fats, thus supporting liver detoxification (Rathaur et al., 2012). While turmeric has been found safe for many to take in high amounts without side effects (Rathaur et al., 2012), some individuals can be more sensitive to turmeric so it’s best to start at the low end of a suggested dosage and slowly work up from there.

Many studies show that turmeric should be combined with black pepper to enhance the bioavailability of curcumin. Curcumin is a curcuminoid most often researched as turmeric’s primary active compound. The addition of black pepper will aid in the absorption of curcumin in the body and also facilitate the production of digestive enzymes (Shoba, 1998). Traditionally, most recipes with turmeric also include black pepper.

Curcumin is also fat-soluble, meaning that in order to obtain the benefits of the herb you should combine it with a portion of fatty food or substance. This means, if you simply put turmeric in water, you may lose out on curcumin’s benefits (Higdon, Drake, & Delage, 2005). For this reason, coconut milk is used in the recipe below.

It is also believed that turmeric should be heated in order to make the curcuminoids more bioavailable to us (Kurien & Scofield, 2009). This is likely why we most often find turmeric in traditional recipes of soups and curries.

Nutritional Benefits of Cauliflower

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

If you shop in a natural foods store, you may find that a growing number of packaged items are made of cauliflower these days, from pizza crust to mashed “potatoes” to cauliflower “rice.” The list goes on. The use of cauliflower has become very popular in the low-carb diet world as a substitution to grains or legumes making it a fantastic way to increase your vegetable intake. Cauliflower is extremely versatile; I personally enjoy it steamed, raw on a salad, or dipped in hummus. The turmeric cauliflower soup recipe below offers the option to roast and puree the cauliflower, creating a warm, creamy, and delicious soup.

Cauliflower is a wonderful dietary addition as it is widely available and affordable. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants and nutrients (Elliot, 2017). While it is low in calories, it still packs a punch with its high nutritional value and vitamin content with one serving of cauliflower containing over 75% of the recommended daily value of vitamin C (SELF Nutrition Data, 2018). According to Dr. Joseph Mercola (2014), cauliflower is a great source of vitamin K, protein, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese. It is also high in fiber which supports healthy digestion and also aids in the detoxification process in the body (Mercola, 2014).

Cauliflower is rich in choline which plays an important role in brain health and development (Elliot, 2017). Another reason cauliflower is known to be a nutritional powerhouse is that it contains the potent antioxidant sulforaphane. Research shows that sulforaphane may also help to reduce high blood pressure and support overall heart health (Yang et al., 2015).

According to the National Cancer Institute (2012) and Abdull Razis & Noor (2013), cruciferous vegetables contain many unique antioxidants and compounds that may reduce inflammation, help protect against cancer cell growth, and even shrink existing cancer cells.

A Warming Turmeric Cauliflower Soup For Chilly Winter Days | Herbal Academy | There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup on a chilly winter’s day. Give our Turmeric Cauliflower Soup a try and stay warm!

How To Make Turmeric Cauliflower Soup

[recipe_ingredients]

2 heads cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, diced
1 bunch carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1-1 ½ tablespoons fresh minced ginger (Zingiber officinale)
8-10 cloves of minced garlic (Allium sativum)
1 dried bay leaf (Laurus nobilis)
1 small bunch fresh thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
1 small bunch fresh sage (Salvia officinalis)
2 tablespoons dried ground turmeric (Curcuma longa)
1 teaspoon black pepper (Piper nigrum)
Juice from 2 large lemons
32 ounces of broth (chicken or vegetable)
32 ounce carton of unsweetened coconut milk
1 can full-fat coconut milk
½  cup gluten-free flour (King Arthur’s or Bob’s)
½ cup coconut oil
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and pepper (to taste)
Freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Cut cauliflower heads into pieces while removing large stems and toss with olive oil and salt. Roast on a sheet pan at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes or until brown.
  • On a separate sheet pan, roast carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with bay leaves, sage, and thyme at 450 degrees F.
  • While vegetables are roasting, sweat ginger (sauteed on low heat) in olive oil.  
  • Combine gluten-free flour to coconut oil to make a roux (thickening base).
  • Slowly add in the stock on low heat while whisking vigorously to make veloute (savory sauce made from a roux and stock).
  • Blend roasted cauliflower, vegetables, and ginger in a blender with coconut milk until extremely smooth.
  • Add lemon, pepper, and salt to taste and simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Additional water or milk may be added during this process to maintain the desired thickness.

[/recipe_directions]

REFERENCES

Abdull Razis, A.F., & Noor, N.M. (2013). Cruciferous vegetables: Dietary phytochemicals for cancer prevention. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 14(3):1565-70.

Conrozier, T., Mathieu, P., Bonjean, M., Marc, J.F., Renevier, J.L., &  Balblanc, J.C. (2014). A complex of three natural anti-inflammatory agents provides relief of osteoarthritis pain. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 20 Suppl 1:32-7.

Elliot, B. (2017). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower

Gallant, L. (n.d.). Turmeric: “The golden goddess.” Retrieved from http://www.ayurvedacollege.com/articles/students/turmeric

Higdon, J., Drake, V., & Delage, B. (2005). Curcumin. Retrieved from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/curcumin

Kayne, J. (2016). DIY: Dyeing with turmeric. Retrieved from https://www.jennikayne.com/ripandtan/dyeing-with-turmeric

Khor, T.O., Keum, Y.S., Lin W., Kim, J.H., Hu, R., Shen, G.,…Kong, A.N. (2006). Combined inhibitory effects of curcumin and phenethyl isothiocyanate on the growth of human PC-3 prostate xenografts in immunodeficient mice. Cancer Research, 66(2):613-21. https://doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-2708

Kuptniratsaikul, V., Thanakhumtorn, S., Chinswangwatanakul, P., Wattanamongkonsil, L., & Thamlikitkul, V. (2009). Efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extracts in patients with knee osteoarthritis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine,15(8): 891-897. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0186

Kurien, B.T., & Scofield, R.H. (2009). Oral administration of heat-solubilized curcumin for potentially increasing curcumin bioavailability in experimental animals. The International Journal of Cancer, 125(8): 1992-1993. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.24547

Mercola, J. (2014). Top 8 health benefits of cauliflower. Retrieved from https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/02/22/cauliflower-health-benefits.aspx

National Cancer Institute. (2012). Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/diet/cruciferous-vegetables-fact-sheet

Rathaur, P., Raja, W., Ramteke, P. W., & John, S. A. (2012). Turmeric: The golden spice of life. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 3(8), 1987.

SELF Nutrition Data. (n.d.). Cauliflower, raw nutrition facts and calories. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2390/2

Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Majeed, M., Rajendran, R., & Srinivas, P.S. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med, 64(4): 353–6. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2006-957450

Yang, B., Xiaolu, W., Song, Z., Chunye, M., Jiuwei, C., & Yang, Z. (2015). Sulforaphane protects against cardiovascular disease via Nrf2 activation. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2015, 407580. https://doi.org/10.1155/2015/407580

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

Are herbal-infused broths the new tea?! Although nothing can truly compete with a nourishing cup of herbal tea, an herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy your herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Herbal-infused broths can be incorporated into soups and other dishes or enjoyed on their own as a savory sipping broth on a crisp, cool day.

In this article, I will show you how to make your own DIY herbal-infused broth at home including a couple of easy recipes to get you inspired.

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

3 Steps to Making an Herbal-Infused Broth Formula

Step 1: Decide Your Focus

When making your own DIY herbal-infused broth, the first step is to decide your focus. Why are you making the broth? Is there a specific wellness-supporting reason you have in mind? Or perhaps a particular dish you would like to use it for? Choose no more than three core focal points for your broth so the formula does not become too complex or confused in action, energetic, and flavor.

For example, your three core focal points could be:

  1. Creating a nutrient-rich broth to add extra vitamins and minerals to your diet.
  2. Enhancing immune system function during cold and flu season.
  3. Using the broth as a base for your favorite squash soup recipe.

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

Step 2: Choosing Your Herbs & Base

After deciding your focus, you have the option to choose a base for your herbal-infused broth. This base can consist of animal parts and/or vegetables. Using a base in your herbal-infused broth is entirely optional. If you do decide to use one, make sure you choose the elements of your base at the same time you are deciding which herbs to use. This way the flavor profiles of your herbs and animal parts and/or vegetables can be well-balanced.

For example, a broth using fish bones will have a very different flavor profile than one using mushrooms! Incorporating a base of animal parts and/or vegetables can also offer added nutritional benefits and other wellness-supportive qualities depending on your reasons for making the broth.

Whether you plan on cooking with your herbal-infused broth or not, it is important to keep the overall flavor profile of your herbs in respect to your base in mind. This can take some experimentation to figure out which flavor pairings go well together. When starting out, try sticking to culinary herbs such as sage (Salvia officinalis), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and parsley (Petroselinum crispum) at first. Then you can choose another herb that you feel would pair well in the broth and would be balanced in flavor to add to the formula.

Looking for more creative herbal ideas? Here are a few of my favorite flavorful herbs and mushrooms to draw from when building an herbal-infused broth: sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme (Thymus vulgaris), oregano (Origanum vulgare), lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus), reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), ginger (Zingiber officinale), fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), cayenne (Capsicum annuum), garlic (Allium sativum), astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), hawthorn berries (Crataegus spp.), elderberries (Sambucus nigra), chaga (Inonotus obliquus), turmeric (Curcuma longa), anise (Pimpinella anisum), and clove (Syzygium aromaticum).

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

Let’s use the example I gave in the previous section and build a DIY herbal-infused broth formula for it. Using vegetables and mushrooms as a base for the broth is a great way to boost the nutrient profile of the broth, but, since we are planning on using the broth as a base in a squash soup, we want to make sure that the flavor of the broth will pair well in that dish. In this case, it might be wiser to steer away from more pungent-flavored vegetables and herbs including most mushrooms.

Sage and rosemary are two great kitchen herbs we could use that complement both the flavor-profile of the soup and carry qualities that support the immune and respiratory systems. Incorporating fresh ginger and garlic could add a gentle kick of spice while lending a stronger antiviral property.

A good herb to experiment with adding into this herbal-infused broth would be astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) root. Mostly neutral in flavor, astragalus is traditionally used for long-term immune support and is ideal to draw from before sickness has taken root (Bellebuono, 2016).

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

Step 3: Herb Proportions

After choosing your herbal formula, consider the proportions of the herbs you are using in relation to your base and/or the amount of broth you want to create. Figuring out the right proportions could take a little bit of experimentation over the course of several batches before you find the ideal balance for your taste palate.

Consider the intensity of flavor or spice in the herbs you chose when deciding how much of the herbs to add into your broth base. Keep in mind with many aromatic herbs and seeds, it is helpful to lightly chop or crush them to release more of their volatile oil content before adding them to your broth base.

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

2 Methods & Recipes To Try

Here are two of my favorite herbal-infused broth recipes for you to try at home or to help inspire your own personal DIY broth. The first recipe uses a bone broth base and the second is vegetarian. They present two different methods you can use to prepare an herbal-infused broth at home. Feel free to try these recipes as they are or simply use them as a model to branch off from and create your own personalized DIY broth.

Herbal Bone Broth

Recipe adapted from The Herbalist’s Kitchen by Brittany Wood Nickerson

[recipe_ingredients]

1-gallon water (or whatever quantity your crock pot will carry)
4-6 fresh sprigs of parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (Thymus vulgaris) (or 1 tablespoon dried thyme)
2 sprigs fresh rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) (or 1 tablespoon dried)
2 sprigs fresh sage (Salvia officinalis) (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 bay laurel (Laurus nobilis) leaf
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
2 pounds of animal bones (ex: lamb, beef, fish)

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add the animal bones and vinegar in a crock pot then cover with water until there is 1 inch of water above the bones. Turn on the crockpot to the high setting until the broth is simmering. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 48-72 hours. The water will reduce while the broth is cooking, check on the broth periodically and add hot water as needed to maintain the original water level. If the bones float to the top of the liquid, simply keep the crock pot relatively full with water.
  • Add the parsley, thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay laurel leaf when the broth is 2-3 hours away from completion.
  • Turn off the heat and let the broth cool slightly once it is done cooking. Strain the broth into a soup pot then discard the bones and herbs.
  • Allow the broth to cool completely before pouring into a container to store in the refrigerator or freezer. In the refrigerator, the broth will keep for up to 1 week and in the freezer, the broth will keep for up to 6 months.

[/recipe_directions]

Thai Lemongrass Broth

Recipe adapted from The Healing Kitchen by Holly Bellebuono

[recipe_ingredients]

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10-15 medium-sized shiitake (Lentinula edodes) mushrooms (dried or fresh), chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale), minced
1 teaspoon of dried chopped angelica (Angelica sinensis) root (optional)
2 teaspoons of dried chopped astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) root (or two 2-inch slices of dried astragalus root)
1 tablespoon dried chopped lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
2 quarts water
A handful of fresh parsley (Petroselinum crispum) leaves (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley leaves)
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice per serving

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Add the olive oil in a large pot and warm over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, ginger, angelica (if using), astragalus, and lemongrass to the pot. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Add the water and increase the heat to high until the mixture has reached a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer the broth for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the roots have softened.
  • At the very end, add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Strain the broth. Add the lemon or lime juice to each serving and enjoy hot.

[/recipe_directions]

Herbal-Infused Broth For All Seasons

While we are more inclined to enjoy broths and soups during the colder months of the year, you can incorporate an herbal-infused broth into your daily routine throughout all seasons! Herbal-infused broths can add a flavorful and nutrient-rich boost to cook grains in, sauté vegetables with, incorporate into gazpacho, blend into a creamy dip, and more.

Intrigued by herbal-infused bone broth? Learn more about the virtues of bone broth and try another recipe in our post here.

How To Make A DIY Herbal-Infused Broth | Herbal Academy | An herbal-infused broth is a tasty alternative way to enjoy herbs and add a nutritious boost to your meals all year long. Learn how to make it here!

REFERENCES

Bellebuono, H. (2016). The healing kitchen. Boulder, CO: Roost Books.

Nickerson, B.W. (2017). The herbalist’s kitchen. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings

Autumn is the season for colored leaves, warm clothes, and hearty comfort foods. And while those things may bring a sense of rest and relaxation, autumn can be a busy time of year. There are sporting events to attend, holiday preparations to make, shorter days to fit everything into, and for many gardeners, food preservation to keep up with in an effort to stock up before the cold winter months ahead.

One way to preserve the herbal bounty of the summer herb garden before the first frost comes is to gather the remaining bits of fresh herbs and make DIY herbal soup rings to use in a variety of foods throughout the fall and winter.

Herbal Soup Rings

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

Herbal soup rings are just what they sound like. Rings of herbs. They consist of one or more herb varieties that are braided together, formed into a ring or circle, and tied off. These rings can be used fresh, or they can be placed in the freezer or hung to dry for later use. They can be made up of a single herb, such as a thyme ring or a sage ring, or they can be made from a combination of several herbs — my favorite being rosemary, thyme, and sage.

Herbal soup rings can be used when making bone broth, cooking rice or other grains, or when making soups and stews. All you have to do is toss your herbal soup ring into the pot with the rest of your ingredients and cook away! The herbs used in your herbal soup ring will infuse into the water lending their water-soluble properties as well as flavor to your final product.

Here are some recipes you can use as inspiration with your herbal soup ring this season:

14 Soup Recipe Ideas for Winter

Homemade Pumpkin Soup Recipe

Vegan Herb and Veggie Stew

How To Make Herbal Soup Rings

Herbal soup rings can be made in four simple steps.

Step 1: Choose Your Herbs

Head out to your herb garden and cut 6-12 inch pieces of thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, or any other herbs of your choosing. You’ll want to select from flexible stems to make braiding easier. Remove any old or damaged leaves, and wipe them with a damp cloth to remove any dirt. You can rinse them in water, but it’s a good idea to dry them well afterward, especially if you’re planning on hanging them to dry. Any extra water in the braid will prolong drying time and can lead to mold.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

Step 2: Braiding

Chose three strands of herbs to braid together. This can be three of the same herb or three different herbs. Hold the ends of the herbs tight in your hand or tie them with some bakers twine to secure the base. Begin braiding the strands together until you reach the tip.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

Step 3: Making Rings

Loop your braid in a circle and tie the tip and base of the braid together, creating a ring. You can use another herb to tie then ends together, or you can use baker’s twine.

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

Step 4: Using & Preserving Herbal Soup Rings

Once your herbal soup rings are finished, you can use them fresh or place them in the freezer for later use. You can also hang them to dry somewhere with good air circulation. Just be sure to check them daily to ensure they’re drying well and not holding moisture as this will lead to mold growth. If you think your herbal soup ring isn’t drying evenly, you may need to loosen the braid slightly in one or two places to let the air better circulate.

Other Ways To Use Herbal Soup Rings

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

Herbal soup rings also make great holiday gifts, especially if you are gifting mason jar soup mixes. Simply put your soup mix in your jar, use a festive piece of fabric between the lid and ring, then attach a dried herbal soup ring and tag using some extra twine.

Speaking of the holidays, you can also use herbal soup rings to decorate your gifts and packages. This looks particularly nice if you’re going for a simple, rustic look to your packages. Just wrap your package in some kraft paper or fabric and pin or tape an herbal soup ring to the front along with a tag. Don’t forget to tell the gift recipient how to use it! You wouldn’t want them to accidentally throw it away!

And there you have it! Herbal soup rings that help you reduce waste in the herb garden, improve the taste of your food, support your wellness, and add a little extra something to this year’s holiday gifts! Enjoy!

How To Make DIY Herbal Soup Rings | Herbal Academy | Take your water-based foods to the next level by using these herbal soup rings to amp up the flavor and nutritional benefits! Learn to make them in this post.

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root | Herbal Academy | Here's a simple recipe for pickled burdock root. By following this recipe, you can preserve some of burdock's beneficial properties to enjoy as a yummy snack year-round.

The first time I tasted a burdock root pickle, I was helping herbalist Rosemary Gladstar prepare for her demonstration at a Mother Earth News Fair. Rosemary had been traveling all day and had quickly purchased a jar of pickled burdock root for an on-the-go, healthy snack. She handed me the jar with a warm smile and said, “Try these. They’re delicious!” I was somewhat hesitant to pick one of the dark, slightly mangled roots from the vat, but upon tasting the sour, crunchy pickle, I knew I had been introduced to something truly magical.

Burdock root is known as gobo in Japan and is traditionally included in stir-fries and kimchi. The root vegetable, which looks like a large, dark carrot, is gaining popularity in the United States and can occasionally be found at health food stores and Asian markets. Great burdock (Arctium lappa) is the variety available in stores, and common burdock (A. minus) is what you’ll probably find when foraging. Common burdock roots can be smaller and more bitter than great burdock, and it prefers to grow in disturbed soil along roads, fences, and construction sites.

How to Identify Burdock

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root | Herbal Academy | Here's a simple recipe for pickled burdock root. By following this recipe, you can preserve some of burdock's beneficial properties to enjoy as a yummy snack year-round.

Both burdock species are biennial. In the first year, the plant will grow a rosette that consists of two to five very large, ruffled, ovate leaves. The leaves are dark green on top with grey-colored fuzzy hairs on the bottom. If you were to confuse burdock leaves with anything else in your garden, it would be rhubarb. The best time to harvest burdock root is in autumn during the plant’s first year when the most amount of energy is stored in the roots but the plant hasn’t yet transferred that energy into its second-year flowers and seed heads.

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root | Herbal Academy | Here's a simple recipe for pickled burdock root. By following this recipe, you can preserve some of burdock's beneficial properties to enjoy as a yummy snack year-round.

In the second year, if left to mature, burdock will grow a stout, edible green stalk that often includes purple highlights near the base. The leaves on the stalk are alternate and usually smaller than those found on the base. Burdock flowers are located at the top of this tall stalk, and they look very much like thistle flowers. Indeed, burdock and thistle are closely related (Thayer, 2006).

When burdock’s flowers fade, they’re replaced with sticky burrs that contain the plant’s seed. The burrs spread by clinging to animals or humans that walk past. If you’ve ever spent time in the woods and returned home with sticky burrs all over your socks and pant legs, then you’ve unknowingly brushed past burdock.

In 1941, after pulling burdock burrs off his dog, Swiss electrical engineer George de Mestral was so inspired by the seeds’ clinging abilities that he set about inventing Velcro. It took him a decade to design, test, and develop a mechanical system for recreating the hook and loop closures, but he eventually received a patent. Today, 60 million yards of Velcro are produced per year (Meredith, 2016).

Burdock’s Beneficial Properties

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root | Herbal Academy | Here's a simple recipe for pickled burdock root. By following this recipe, you can preserve some of burdock's beneficial properties to enjoy as a yummy snack year-round.

Burdock root has historically been used to encourage liver and lymph detoxification (Groves, 2016). Burdock helps support the liver in its work to remove many of the same toxins that could also manifest as skin imbalances, including eczema, psoriasis, and acne. You may also consider burdock root for digestive woes, dysbiosis, reproductive issues, and hypertension (Groves, 2016).

Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar suggests consuming nutritious burdock over a period of time to help build and restore energy. In her book, Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health, she explains that burdock root promotes healthy kidney function and supports the body in expelling uric acid, making it helpful for gout and rheumatism. Rosemary also suggests using burdock leaves or seeds in salves and washes for itchy, irritated skin (Gladstar, 2001).

Nutritionally, burdock root contains inulin, which is a type of water-soluble fiber that helps feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut (Bergner, 1997).

In general, burdock is quite safe (Groves, 2016) and is seen as a tonic for a wide range of people.

You can add burdock root to sautés and soups, or try the recipe below for crunchy burdock root pickles.

Pickled Burdock Root Recipe

Adapted from an original recipe by Linda Conroy of Moonwise Herbs.

By following this simple recipe, you can preserve burdock root’s beneficial properties to enjoy as a quick and delicious snack year-round. The recipe below will yield one pint of pickled burdock root, but depending on the amount of burdock root available, you can easily double this recipe to make a quart.

[recipe_ingredients]

Enough fresh burdock roots to fill a pint-sized canning jar
3 cups water
A two-inch piece of fresh ginger root, sliced
A one-inch piece of fresh turmeric root, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ cup unpasteurized apple cider vinegar
½ cup organic soy sauce
½ cup saké

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Scrub the roots to remove any dirt, then julienne into matchstick-size pieces or slice into thin rounds.
  • Place the burdock roots in a stockpot, add water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add ginger, turmeric, and garlic to the bottom of a clean, pint-sized canning jarPack the steamed burdock into the jar.
  • Make your brine by combining the apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, and saké in a bowl. Pour the brine over the cooled burdock root.
  • Cap your jar, shake to mix, and then let the flavors meld on the counter for 3 to 4 days before storing in the fridge for up to six months.

[/recipe_directions]

**If you don’t want to include saké in your recipe, then you can replace it with ½ cup of the cooking water reserved from steaming the burdock root. An added benefit of including the cooking water is that it will hold some of the burdock root’s water-soluble inulin.

How To Make Pickled Burdock Root | Herbal Academy | Here's a simple recipe for pickled burdock root. By following this recipe, you can preserve some of burdock's beneficial properties to enjoy as a yummy snack year-round.

REFERENCES

Bergner, P. (1997). Inulin. [Online Article]. Retrieved from http://medherb.com/92INULIN.HTM

Gladstar, R. (2001). Herbal recipes for vibrant health. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Groves, M. (2016). Body into balance. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Meredith, L. (2006). The forager’s feast. New York, NY: The Countryman Press.

Thayer, S. (2006). The forager’s harvest. Birchwood, WI: Forager’s Harvest.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

If you find yourself in Nashville enjoying one of its hippest neighborhoods, East Nashville, you may stumble upon an unexpected, yet welcome, attraction: Double N Urban Farm, home to Stomping Ground Herbals. Amidst this growing city that draws new inhabitants estimated at close to 100 people a day (Reicher, 2018), Nashville native, Nicole Mattingly, runs her thriving farm and herbal business.

With all the new faces flocking to Nashville over the last several years, it’s rare to meet a Nashville native. Nicole is one such “unicorn,” and her alternative career as an urban farmer and herbalist makes her all the more unique.

A Farming Lineage

Perhaps even more uncommon than being a native to Nashville is the fact that Nicole farms the very land her great-grandmother once lived and gardened on. Her roots on the land run deep. Nearly 40 years ago, in 1979, her parents and great-grandparents moved onto the property. Before this, dating back to the 1940s, the land was a tree nursery.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

Nicole grew up alongside her great-grandmother, doing the things we would now classify as homesteading and herbalism, but to both her and her great-grandmother, they were simply what you did, born of necessity and tradition. She learned to make salves and poultices, the art of sewing, how to harvest and ferment, among many other useful skills. Nicole playfully shares, “I was a weird kid! I didn’t do extracurriculars — just played in the garden.”

Nicole finds a deep connection in this history and takes her lineage seriously. Now, as she gardens in the same spot as the woman who taught her how, she sees her work as honoring where she came from, as her upbringing and adult career now come full circle.

Coming Home

We all have to find our path, and Nicole was no different. During her college years, she found herself away from the farm, discovering who she was, what she wanted to do, and who she wanted to be. With dreams of becoming a crime scene photographer, she studied criminal psychology for a few years.

As paths can be — winding and unpredictable — Nicole chose to leave her studies when her boyfriend was diagnosed with cancer. After being on a meandering path for five years, Nicole says this was the turning point in finding her way back home.

She took on the role of caretaker for her boyfriend and uncovered years of deep knowledge on herbalism and healthy living that she had neglected. She began incorporating mushrooms, tinctures, teas, clean food, and as many herbs as possible into their diet. She shares, “I knew all of this. I just had to remember it.”

It was 2002, and Nicole moved back to Nashville to continue supporting her boyfriend through his sickness. For a time, she had her own natural fiber clothing store. Her boyfriend went into remission, and they got married. Sadly, only six months later, he passed away from cancer. It was 2006, and this was the year Nicole had her first big garden, all by herself. So began her passion for farming and herbalism, ignited from the spark lit by her upbringing with her great-grandmother.

A Business Forms

In 2012, after years of growing her food and dabbling with herbs, Nicole began making natural skincare products for herself. She took classes on herbalism, studied on her own, and enrolled in Susun Weed’s herbal program. Her friends began to request her herbal skincare creations, so she continued to refine the products, and eventually, sold them in the local community under the name Stomping Ground Herbals.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

In 2014, she began her first year of selling the vegetables and herbs from her farm through a CSA program. The inspiration to start both ventures — the farm and herbal products business — were born from an experiment she and her current husband, Nick, did. They tried to grow all the food they consumed in one year. Nicole shares: “We tried it, and we did it. I got so addicted, I realized I just wanted to do this urban homesteading thing. I didn’t want to move out to the country. Instead, I wanted to be a model for people who don’t want to move out of the city.” Other models she’d seen showed that it is possible to make a living off your homestead, so she knew they could do the same.

Looking Forward

Now, Nicole farms on just over 1/2 acre of land at Double N Urban Farm, growing a variety of vegetables, fruits, trees, and herbs. The farm recently became Certified Naturally Grown as a way to strengthen and demonstrate their deep commitment to growing crops as nature intended:

  • Foregoing chemical inputs for natural practices like mulching for weed control,
  • Composting and adding organic matter for fertile soil, and
  • Crop rotation and companion planting for pest prevention.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

Nicole’s business grows an impressive 80 different varieties of herbs, many of which are found in her Stomping Ground Herbals products. In fact, she’s so committed to high-quality, locally grown herbs that her products feature herbs she grows. You can find Stomping Ground Herbals products online, in nearly 20 retailers across the country, and at three local farmers markets in Nashville.

Going forward, Nicole is answering the call of the land to transition a significant portion of her farm to an orchard, returning it to its former state as a tree nursery. She will continue to grow an abundance of herbs and vegetables but will do so more intensively. She also hopes to connect with a commercial kitchen in the near future to be able to offer her herbal tea blends more widely in the community.

When asked about her favorite part of farming, Nicole shares, “It makes me feel so strong and powerful. I feel like a superhero every day. Farming gives me the opportunity to use my body and prove to myself and other people that women can be tough and strong.” She goes on, “I think we, as women, need that because we get told we can’t.” As a seasoned farmer with more than a decade of experience, Nicole’s advice to beginning farmers is simple, yet incredibly helpful, “Be kind to yourself.”

Urban Farming in Nashville, Tennessee: A Family Lineage | Herbal Academy | We fancy farmers, and we know you do too. Learn how one Nashville farmer is using urban farming to inspire others in healthy living while continuing her family legacy.

REFERENCES:

Reicher, M. (2018). Nashville population growth drops below 100 people a day. [Online Article]. Retrieved at https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/2018/03/26/nashville-tn-population-housing-apartments-rent-jobs/458757002/

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It | Herbal Academy | If you’re looking for a refreshing drink for summer, look no further than this turmeric lemonade recipe. It tastes great, and it's good for your health!

There is something so beautifully simple about using herbs and roots to live a healthy life. The familiar adage, eat the rainbow is apropos –  it is not hard to imagine the health benefits of ground beet root powder with its bright red color or the beautiful blue-green shade of the superfood spirulina.

Turmeric is amongst many foods which are both beautiful and health-supporting. Turmeric, with its orange-yellow hue, is a vibrant and inspiring root we can integrate into our diet.

Although this root is included in many Indian and Asian recipes, if you are unfamiliar with turmeric, it may seem intimidating to incorporate it into your diet in other ways. However, it can be as easy as creating a simple, refreshing drink such as lemonade.

Follow this post for an overview of the health benefits of turmeric and get a recipe for a nutritious and delicious turmeric lemonade!   

Turmeric: A Mighty Colorful Spice

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It | Herbal Academy | If you’re looking for a refreshing drink for summer, look no further than this turmeric lemonade recipe. It tastes great, and it's good for your health!

Whether it’s grated from the fresh root, dried and ground using a mortar and pestle, or simply in powder form, I just love the vibrant color of turmeric. There’s something about its bright, cheery orange-yellow hue that puts me in a good mood. Part of the magic of herbs and spices is in the color and flavor they bring to our lives, and turmeric is one spice that does not disappoint in this regard.

Turmeric has traditionally been used in Indian dishes and is most well-known in the West as the yellow component in premade curry powders. Although it is often seen in powder form in this part of the world, turmeric grows as a root and is a relative of ginger.

Turmeric is abundant in health benefits, namely, its inflammatory supportive properties (Murray, Pizzorno, & Pizzorno, 2006), and I have personally benefited from using turmeric in recipes in order to soothe inflammation in my body. The golden spice has been traditionally used in India for hundreds of years to remedy a wide range of ailments (Rathaur, Raja, Ramteke, & John, 2012). Turmeric provides many health benefits, however, aiding inflammation is perhaps the most well known. According to Rathaur et al. (2012), turmeric can help to ease health issues such as bursitis, arthritis, back pain, and overall inflammation in the body. Turmeric reduces inflammation by lowering histamine levels, increasing natural cortisone production, and by inhibiting cytokine, an inflammatory gene (Rathaur et al., 2012).

In addition to its inflammatory supportive properties, turmeric benefits digestion by aiding the body in producing digestive enzymes and by increasing bile production which helps the body to digest fats while also detoxing the liver (Rathaur et al., 2012). It has also been shown that turmeric can be taken in high doses without side effects (Rathaur et al., 2012). Currently, some in the scientific community are advocating for the increased use of turmeric in medical treatments due to its many benefits (Rathaur et al., 2012).

Turmeric’s lovely light ginger flavor is not overpowering, and while we are most familiar with turmeric in our curries and soups, it can be added to smoothies and even incorporated into skin remedies (although beware it will impart its vibrant color to skin and clothing!).

One of my favorite ways to use turmeric during the spring and summer months is to make Turmeric Lemonade.

How to Make Iced Turmeric Lemonade

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It | Herbal Academy | If you’re looking for a refreshing drink for summer, look no further than this turmeric lemonade recipe. It tastes great, and it's good for your health!

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It | Herbal Academy | If you’re looking for a refreshing drink for summer, look no further than this turmeric lemonade recipe. It tastes great, and it's good for your health!

Iced Turmeric Lemonade Recipe

Adapted from an original recipe by Wellness Mama

This bright and refreshing drink will help to integrate the health benefits of turmeric on a sunny-summer’s day!

[recipe_ingredients]

2 cups water
2 cups ice
2 tablespoons fresh mint or basil, muddle
3 freshly squeezed lemons
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
1 teaspoon maple syrup (or more to taste)
One or two grinds fresh cracked pepper.

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Muddle mint/basil using a mortar and pestle. Otherwise rough chop it to the point that the aroma of the mint/basil is released. Place it in the bottom of your pitcher.
  • Blend the remainder of the ingredients in a blender.
  • Pour the fresh juice into your pitcher.
  • Pour into cups over ice and garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and a lemon wedge.
  • Enjoy with your family on a hot day.

[/recipe_directions]

Notes:

  • This lemonade is meant to be served fresh!
  • You can also use stevia or erythritol if you prefer a sugar substitute. If substituting honey, it will not be vegan. You can also choose to omit the sweetener if you prefer a tart lemonade!
  • The cracked black pepper increases the bioavailability of curcumin (Shoba, Joy, Joseph, Rajendran, & Srinivas, 1998).

Turmeric is a potent spice to incorporate into your diet. It can support inflammation and contribute to overall health (Murray et al., 2006). In our home, we add it to most every dinner recipe including pasta sauces and curries. Turmeric lemonade is a creative way to incorporate this beautiful spice into your diet. Let us know if you make this recipe or if you come up with any non-traditional ways to use turmeric.

Turmeric Lemonade: Health Benefits & How To Make It | Herbal Academy | If you’re looking for a refreshing drink for summer, look no further than this turmeric lemonade recipe. It tastes great, and it's good for your health!

REFERENCES:

Murray, M. T., Pizzorno, J. E., & Pizzorno, L. (2006). The condensed encyclopedia of healing foods. New York: Pocket Books.

Rathaur, P., Raja, W., Ramteke, P. W., & John, S. A. (2012). Turmeric: The golden spice of life. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, 3(8), 1987.

Shoba, G., Joy, D., Joseph, T., Rajendran, M. M. R., & Srinivas, P. S. S. R. (1998). Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta medica, 64(4), 353-356.

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

If you love spicy food, then perhaps you instinctually appreciate the aromatic, colorful allure of well-spiced cuisine. For some, the draw is innate; there is something so enticing about the crimson kick of cayenne (Capsicum annuum) and the warming brown of cinnamon, not to mention that lovely golden hue that turmeric brings to a curry. However, spices add much more to food than color and flavor. If you like spices, it is for good reason. Not only are spices tasty, they are right up there with organ meats in terms of nutritional density (Palanisamy, 2015)! Vegetarianism aside, I don’t know about you, but I’ll take spices over organ meats any day! Few other foods are as chock full of vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial constituents as spices. They are treasure troves of flavor and nutrition.

This article will explore five of the best Ayurvedic kitchen spices to keep in stock in your kitchen. I have selected these particular spices primarily because of their importance in traditional Ayurvedic cooking and herbalism. However, there is also significant modern scientific research to support the validity of the uses of these spices passed on in ancient Ayurvedic teachings.

Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)

Cinnamon is one of my favorite fall Ayurvedic kitchen spices. I am sure many of you can relate to the cozy feeling that a cinnamon-dusted dessert invokes. Due to its warming qualities, cinnamon is an especially great spice for the fall and winter. However, when you know about all the wonderful things that cinnamon can do for your body, it may be a spice that you’ll want to enjoy all year round!

According to Ayurveda, cinnamon possesses a combination of the sweet, pungent (spicy), and astringent tastes. It has a warm energy, and like most spices, a purifying effect on the body. Due to its warming nature, cinnamon pacifies both vata and kapha doshas and raises pitta dosha. Cinnamon stimulates agni (the digestive fire). This wonderfully sweet, warming, aromatic spice also benefits circulation and is known for its capacity to help balance blood sugar. In addition, cinnamon shows promise as part of a polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) protocol, which is likely due to its ability to regulate blood sugar and to reduce insulin resistance — abnormalities that may be an underlying cause of PCOS (Palanisamy, 2015).

Furthermore, cinnamon has a slightly demulcent (moist) quality. This moistness combined with sweetness help balance its heat, making cinnamon a less intense spice compared to cayenne. Both cinnamon and cayenne stimulate circulation. However, cinnamon is generally the better option for those with a delicate constitution, e.g., vata types, as it is not as drying and is less severe in its heating action.

Cinnamon has traditionally been used in Ayurveda to soothe coughs, colds, congestion, and to promote sweating. Cinnamon may also be useful in alleviating excess gas, easing the digestion of heavy foods, and increasing the absorption of nutrients (Dass, 2013). As someone who runs cold, I have personally found cinnamon to be helpful for promoting circulation and for encouraging a more comfortable menstrual cycle. This is due to its blood moving capacity.

It is worth noting that there are a couple of different plant species known as cinnamon: Cinnamonum verum also known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum, “true cinnamon,” and Cinnamonum aromaticum, “cassia.” These different types of cinnamon have almost identical physiological benefits. However, cassia can pose a risk to liver health due to the high levels of coumarins if taken in high doses (more than 1 teaspoon per day) (Palanisamy, 2015). Therefore, if you are taking cinnamon as a supplement, it is wise to choose Cinnamonum verum.

In terms of safety, it is not advised to supplement with cinnamon while pregnant or breastfeeding or in the couple of weeks prior to surgery. However, cinnamon is perfectly safe when used in small amounts in baking and cooking (Palanisamy, 2015).

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

Turmeric (Curcuma longa)

Turmeric has gained much popularity in the past several years. As an Ayurvedic practitioner, I generally don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. However, I had a good chuckle when I recently saw an Instagram post from a colleague that read, “I’ve got 99 problems, but turmeric solved like 86 of them.” Turmeric may not be the fix for everything, but it comes pretty close to offering something for everyone.

In Ayurveda, turmeric has traditionally been used as a digestive, alterative, cholagogue, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. Furthermore, there is significant research to indicate that it has efficacy in the case of cancer and Alzheimer’s. One randomized placebo-controlled double-blind study demonstrated that turmeric rivals non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) in its ability to effectively lessen joint pain (Kuptniratsaikul et. al, 2014). A number of other studies have similarly proven turmeric’s anti-inflammatory prowess (Palanisamy, 2015). On the whole, turmeric is one of the most broadly researched spices.

Turmeric also adds a lively, bright yellow hue to any dish. This golden-orange root is a staple of Indian and Ayurvedic cooking. Turmeric helps break proteins down during the digestive process and is, therefore, an ideal ingredient in legume dishes (Dass, 2013). As a practitioner, I often suggest turmeric for clients who have skin and liver congestion, which may manifest as acne, PMS, and/or irritability. This is because of turmeric’s function as an alterative and cholagogue, meaning that it has blood-cleansing properties and helps stimulate the flow of bile from the liver.

Turmeric is warming in nature, so those who run warm may want to take it alongside cooling botanicals such as aloe vera, coriander, or rose. Also, taking turmeric with a little black pepper (Piper nigrum) and a lipid (such as ghee) increases its bioavailability by 2,000% (Palanisamy, 2015)! This is why cooking with turmeric is so valuable — you are much more likely to get a superior absorption of turmeric by frying it in ghee or another oil and adding some black pepper.

Many of the benefits of turmeric can be obtained by simply cooking with it on a regular basis. However, there are times when taking a concentrated turmeric supplement is called for. I have personally found turmeric extract to be a useful supplement in dealing with acute muscle and joint-related pain and inflammation. Turmeric Force by New Chapter is a good option because a special carbon dioxide process is used that produces a full-spectrum root extract.

On another note, it is quite popular nowadays to supplement with only curcumin. While you will likely get benefits from this option, there are many other beneficial constituents in turmeric beyond curcumin. Depending upon your desired outcome, supplementing with the full-spectrum root extract may be preferable to taking an isolated curcumin extract.

Turmeric is generally safe when used as a cooking spice. However, it does have blood-thinning properties, so those on blood-thinning medications and those who are undergoing surgery should consult with a physician before taking a turmeric supplement. The same holds true for those with diabetes and those with active liver disease and gallstones. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid turmeric supplements, but it is safe to use in cooking (Palanisamy, 2015).

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum)

Fenugreek is often used in Indian cooking but is lesson common in Western cuisine. However, there are numerous reasons for Westerners to incorporate fenugreek into their cooking more often!  

These little yellow-beige seeds have a sweet, pungent, and bitter taste, a heating energy, and a purifying effect on the body (Dass, 2013). While you can use the whole seeds to make a tea, it is common to use the seeds as a ground powder in cooking. Adding whole, dry fenugreek leaves to stir-fries and curries is also quite nice and is a convenient, no hassle way to cook with fenugreek.

Fenugreek has a surprisingly sweet smell that is reminiscent of maple syrup. Another oddity of fenugreek is that if you eat it in large quantities your sweat will start to smell like maple syrup!

Although sweet in scent, fenugreek has a slightly bitter and savory taste. Also, interestingly enough, there are a number of scientific studies that demonstrate fenugreek’s ability to balance blood sugar levels and to lessen insulin resistance (Neelakantan, Madanagopal, De Souza, & Van Dam, 2014). According to Ayurveda, fenugreek stimulates agni, clears ama (particularly from the small intestines), alleviates sluggish digestion, and is generally vata and kapha pacifying (Dass, 2015). Ayurvedic practitioner Vishnu Dass recommends preparing fenugreek seeds as a tea (either in whole or powdered form) with a bit of honey to help clear sinus congestion.

Fenugreek has also been classically used in Ayurveda as a galactagogue, meaning that it helps promote the flow of breast milk in lactating women. It is also regarded to have general tonifying properties, particularly for the reproductive system (Dass, 2013).

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Since most spices are energetically warming, I wanted to be sure to include at least one cooling spice in our list of Ayurvedic kitchen spices. Coriander is one of the premier pitta pacifying spices. Coriander is commonly used in the cuisines of India, as well as Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. The ground seeds can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. Cilantro, the leaves of the coriander plant, have their own beneficial properties as well.

According to Ayurveda, coriander has a pungent and bitter taste, a cold energy, and a purifying effect on the body (Dass, 2013). Coriander can be used in cooking to promote digestion without aggravating pitta, as it encourages the assimilation of nutrients but does not overheat the body. In fact, coriander is indicated for soothing hives, rashes, and skin inflammation. In these cases, the ground coriander powder can be taken as a simple tea infusion. Furthermore, if you add a squeeze of lime to your coriander tea, it may help ease nausea (Dass, 2013).

You can also juice cilantro leaves and either drink the juice or apply it topically. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend this application of coriander for easing red, inflamed skin (Dass, 2013). A bit of chopped cilantro leaves also balances the heat of spicy hot dishes, hence its popularity as a garnish in Mexican and Indian dishes.

Lastly, coriander may be used for supporting a healthy urinary system. In Planetary Herbology, herbalist Michael Tierra (1988) writes about coriander’s usage in strengthening the urinary tract. This may be due to its capacity as a diuretic as well as the antimicrobial properties of the seeds.

One other classic use for coriander is the traditional Ayurvedic tea infusion, CCF (coriander, cumin, and fennel) tea. This beverage is usually decocted using whole coriander (Coriandrum sativum), cumin (Cuminum cyminum), and fennel seeds. CCF tea is known for its ability to gently enkindle the agni (digestive fire) and burn ama (metabolic wastes or undigested food matter). Ayurveda considers CCF tea to be tridoshic, meaning that it is suitable for all three constitutional types—vata, pitta, and kapha.

CCF tea is commonly sipped during Ayurvedic cleanses because it assists the body in its natural detoxification and filtration processes. However, CCF tea is mild enough that it can be enjoyed any time. You can find the recipe for CCF tea in this post, Ayurvedic Tips For Spring Wellness.

As you can see, if you are of pitta nature, or are dealing with a pitta-type imbalance, coriander and cilantro may be just the spice for you! Coriander poses very few health risks. It is generally quite safe to use in cooking. Also, for those who dislike the taste of cilantro leaves, coriander seeds may not provoke the same unsavory effect on your taste buds.

The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

It wasn’t easy to pick the top five Ayurvedic spices, as there are dozens of spices with incredible benefits. However, ginger has earned its rightful place on the shortlist. Ginger is not only a tasty spice essential and a staple of Ayurvedic cooking, like turmeric, its applications in both cooking and herbalism are vast.

The fresh root possesses a great combination of the sweet and spicy tastes, has a heating energy, and has a nourishing effect on the body. The dry root has slightly different energetics, but it is equally as useful. Dry ginger has a pungent and sweet taste, a heating quality, and a purifying effect on the body.

Both fresh and dried ginger are among the most revered digestives in Ayurveda. Ginger has a special ability to gently encourage peristalsis, thus helping food matter move in a more timely fashion through the gastrointestinal tract. This is particularly helpful in cases of nausea, bloating, and general indigestion.

Herbalist Michael Tierra (1988) describes dry ginger as being an internal warming stimulant, whereas fresh ginger is more of a warming diaphoretic — meaning that it helps induce sweating. Likewise, Ayurvedic practitioner and herbalist, Vishnu Dass (2013) describes the dry root as being an internal warming agent and the fresh root as being surface relieving. Dass also describes ginger as a vishwabhesaj, or “universal medicine.” This is because of its usages as a digestive, circulatory tonic, stimulant, and diaphoretic.

Ginger also has substantial anti-inflammatory properties. A number of studies demonstrate ginger’s effectiveness in alleviating some of the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. Other studies have demonstrated ginger’s usefulness in lessening menstrual pain as well as exercise-induced muscle pain (Black, Herring, Hurley, & O’Connor, 2010).

Like the other spices on this top five list, ginger is generally safe to use as a cooking spice. However, it does have the capacity to thin the blood, so those on blood-thinning medications should use caution with large amounts of ginger. The same applies for pre-operative patients. Also, those on diabetes medications should consult with their physician before taking ginger supplements (Palanisamy, 2015).

Get Thee to the Kitchen!

This article could have easily included ten, twenty, or thirty spices. The list of beneficial spices in Ayurveda is both vast and deep. As you can see, many common kitchen spices are some of our greatest allies in our journey to optimal well-being. If you already cook with spices, I hope that you will uncover a newfound appreciation for those little gems of nutrition that are hiding out in your spice cabinet. If you are new to cooking with spices, this list of the top five is a great place to start! Some other spices that you may want to consider researching and adding to your materia medica are cayenne (Capsicum annuum), clove (Syzygium aromaticum), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), saffron (Crocus sativus), nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), allspice (Pimenta dioica), and asafoetida (Ferula assa-foetida) to name a few. I hope that by exploring five of the most essential Ayurvedic spices, you are newly inspired to taste, test, play, and experiment in the kitchen!The Top 5 Ayurvedic Kitchen Spices to Keep In Stock | Herbal Academy | If you love spicy food, here are 5 Ayurvedic kitchen spices that are chock full of flavor and nutrition!

REFERENCES

Black, CD., Herring, MP., Hurley, DJ, O’Connor, PJ (201). Ginger (Zingiber officinale reduces muscle pain caused by eccentric exercise. Journal of Pain 11(9): 894-903. doi: 10.1016/j.jpain.2009.12.013.

Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

Kuptniratsaikal, V., Dajpratham P, Taechaarpornkul W, Buntragulpoontawee M, Lukkanapichonchut P, Chootip C, Saengsuwan J, … (2014). Efficacy and safety of curcuma domestica extracts compared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a multicenter study. Clinical Interventions in Aging 9 451-8. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S58535.

Neelakantan, N., Madanagopal, N., De Souza, R.,  and Van Dam, R. (2014). Effect of fenugreek (trigonella foenum-graecum l.) intake on glycemia: a meta-analysis of clinical trials. Nutrition Journal 13:7 https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-7

Palanisamy, A. (2015). The paleovedic diet. New York, NY: Skyhorse Publishing.

Tierra, M. (1988). Planetary herbology. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

Cooking with herbs can be one of the more delicious and rewarding ways to integrate herbs into our daily life. In fact, herbs have held a place in the kitchen through the centuries, and are integral to cultural culinary traditions. Many of our first interactions with herbs may have been a garnish of parsley, meats seasoned with rosemary, or basil in our pasta sauce. We may not have known that they weren’t just there for color! However, herbs help our digestive system prepare to digest foods and aid the liver’s detoxification process. Relearning these original reasons for the inclusion of herbs in meals can spark fascinating historical insight and a new appreciation for the power of these familiar plants.  

In this article, we’re sharing five of our favorite herbal cookbooks to use in the kitchen. We love these recipe books because each has a different voice and method for passing down the wisdom of using herbs in everyday life. Some books use gorgeous photo imagery to demonstrate and inspire, while others weave each recipe within a storytelling style that brings us back to the natural rhythms and seasons that inspired these recipes. Another aspect we love about these books is that most of the recipes are flexible — encouraging creative experimentation of your own. All of these herbal recipe book authors bring extensive experience to their work and often ground recipe sections with valuable foundational herbalism information, such as the five flavors and substantial materia medica sections.

Whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned herbalist (no pun intended!), all of these books will help inspire new dimensions in your herbal practice and insights into the foods that you eat.

5 Herbal Cookbooks To Try

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.   1. Alchemy of Herbs by Rosalee de la Forȇt

Rosalee de la Forȇt’s Alchemy of Herbs is a helpful guide with which to begin your herbal studies via the kitchen. de la Forȇt’s passion for this work comes through strongly in the book and is two-fold: (1) bringing the lofty concepts of herbalism down to earth for all levels of learning; and (2) encouraging us away from the one-size-fits-all approach to healing. Instead, she highlights the efficacy of tailoring one’s approach to using herbs based on the person’s unique constitution versus solely the ailment itself.

The book strategically organizes its information to teach the reader valuable principles of herbalism along with each recipe. The book also emphasizes the importance of studying one herb at a time by profiling 28 herbs with several recipes for each one. Profiles are also cleverly organized into sections based on which of the five flavors they belong to, creating a taste association so that, in time, the reader will begin to easily remember an herb’s classification as salty, sweet, sour, bitter, or pungent based on its location in the book.

We love the way de la Forȇt includes a mini quiz in the beginning of the book so readers can determine their basic constitution. Sometimes actions and energetics can be a bit intimidating to a newcomer, yet this simple exercise makes it both relevant and understandable. The reader can then search for herbs by paying attention to those with energetics appropriate for their constitution. Because it is presented in this layered and engaging way, the information in this book sticks with the reader. With this unique structure and some fun recipes to experiment with, readers will be well on their way to understanding and enjoying some tasty herbal lessons.

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

   2. Recipes from the Herbalist’s Kitchen by Brittany Wood Nickerson

This wonderful book has a wonderful combination of beauty and brains. Brittany Wood Nickerson has been an herbalist for over ten years and a practicing chef for nearly as many. Wood Nickerson’s experience shines through in her thoughtful and beautifully written introductions to the complex principles of herbalism and holistic nutrition. She quickly makes these concepts relatable, often reminding us of ways we already use herbs, some of which we may not even be aware. She follows with twelve profiles of beneficial culinary herbs and leads us towards actionable steps with some delicious looking recipes.

Chapters are organized by categories of innovative recipes intending to Nourish, Invigorate, Comfort, Challenge, Transform, Adapt, and Share. The Adapt chapter may be one of our favorites, as it outlines recipes for each season throughout the year. As an added treat, Nickerson’s recipe book is gorgeously laid out with dreamy full-color spreads of her ingredients, recipes in process, and lovely backyard garden table spreads inspiring us all to seek the beauty inherent in working with these herbal additions in our daily lives.

Perhaps the most poignant takeaway is her encouragement for the reader to empower themselves through learning about their own body’s specific interaction with these plants. Wood Nickerson aims to reorient readers’ perspective away from a deprivation mentality and toward a celebration of these nutritive plants, leading us all to make more empowered choices with confidence.

healing  3. The Healing Kitchen by Holly Bellebuono

Herbalist Holly Bellebuono identifies as a hand-crafter in various areas throughout her life, a propensity which naturally lends itself well to herbal recipes. Although at first somewhat intimidated to venture into the kitchen, eventually Bellebuono got to the point where she describes the kitchen as “an extension of both my garden and my medicine cabinet.” Something comforting and reassuring about this tidbit is that it serves to welcome other newcomers to the table.

The structure of the book is set up to include recipes by category, gradually increasing in complexity. These include Additions, Drinks, then Foods starting with simple recipes for herbal salts, spices, oils, and vinegar before moving onto more substantial smoothies, chai blends, snacks, salads, and then full meal recipes. Each entry has a helpful icon indicating the benefits the recipe provides (Immune System, Digestive, Calming, Iron-rich, etc.). Along with a glossary, she also indexes the recipes by these benefits for easy referencing. Plant profiles appear interspersed between recipes with playful watercolor illustrations of each plant. This book acts as a friendly helping hand, encouraging readers to get more creative with the healthy and delicious herbs available to them.

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

  4. The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride

Kamie McBride’s The Herbal Kitchen is a storehouse of information offered in a practical based on the author’s years of experience as a practicing herbalist. McBride details her lifelong passion for making food with seasonal ingredients right out of her backyard, starting in childhood with her grandparents. Her stories paint an engaging picture of the past where cues were taken from nature and certain seasonal ingredients were a treat to look forward to. Similarly, her plant profiles and recipe sections all have a warmth and personality that weave in anecdotes about what inspired each recipe, ways she has adjusted it, and personal preferences she offers as guidance.  

Her book is set up in two main sections: (1) a 50-plant materia medica; and (2) recipe chapters for a variety of categories, including Herbal Waters, Drinks, Smoothies, Honey, Vinegar, Cordials, Oils, Ghee, Pesto, Sprinkles and Salts, and Baths and Foot Soaks. The materia medica alone is a treasure, with each profile packed with useful information and historical uses and background. Recipes are uniquely structured with a brief description followed by a list of herbs and ingredients the reader can plug in to each recipe. We love the flexibility this provides helping readers to use what they may have on hand and inspiring creativity to mix and match recipes and ingredients. With McBride’s experience and guidance, this book brings readers all the tools they need to tell their own story in the herbal kitchen.  

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

  5. DIY Bitters by Jovial King & Guido Masé

Ready to take it up a notch? In more ways than one, bitters are a challenging flavor in more ways than one. They challenge our systems to step up the digestive process, help us to avoid sugar cravings, and regulate appetite. Bitter is one of the five flavors, yet it is largely absent from the American palate. Thankfully, the brains behind Urban Moonshine, Jovial King and Guido Masé, have stepped in to advocate for reintroducing bitters into our diets. King and Masé provide a comprehensive guide to all things bitter, from the various bitter tastes to the taste receptors on our tongue and even the history and chemistry of bitters. They also include the best ways to incorporate both the product and foods into your daily eating habits.

King and Masé successfully make a case for bitters that leave us wondering how to introduce bitters into our daily lives. They include an extensive materia medica, as well as many bitters recipes including an early recipe for Angostura bitters, a staple for many classic cocktails. Whether readers are looking for a preparation lesson, a history lesson, or a science lesson this book has something fascinating for them to learn and reintroduce to their palates. 

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy | Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

How To Use These Books In Your Kitchen

One cannot have too many cookbooks or, in our case, herbal books — or both!

This variety of herbal recipe books will give you plenty of dishes to try and should keep you inspired in the kitchen. Plus, the tips and tricks in these books can save you from missteps and add dimension to your process as well.

Learning from the several different materia medicas in these books will help you build a trove of information for each ingredient you choose to use. Some of these books are set up to help when you have an abundance of lemon balm and would love to know all the things you could make with it. Others have you covered if you’d like to really wow your friends or family with a dish that is both delicious and beneficial; because at least at first, you’ll probably have better luck enticing a newbie with an herbal pesto or risotto than a bitter tincture!

If you’re completely new to herbalism and just want to start exploring herbs from your kitchen, choose books with lengthier introductions that lay out the principles of herbalism and holistic health. This will ground your studies and your cooking with a history, context, and purpose behind the ingredients you work with. You’ll end up with a baseline of knowledge and actionable steps for applying it. If you’re well-acquainted with the herbal world, maybe take a spin through some more flexible recipe books and experiment with some ingredients you already love. The possibilities are truly endless, but these resources can really inspire you to get the ball rolling!

5 Herbal Cookbooks For Your Kitchen | Herbal Academy |Whether you’re a complete novice or seasoned herbalist, here's 5 herbal cookbooks that will help inspire new dimensions and insights into the foods you eat.

How To Stay Calm and Cool with Lemon Balm Lemonade

How To Stay Calm and Cool With Lemon Balm Lemonade | Herbal Academy | Are you ready for the summer heat? Stay calm, cool, and hydrated all summer long with this lemon balm lemonade recipe - an herbal twist on an old favorite!

Are you ready for the summer heat? In this post, I’ll show you how to make lemon balm lemonade. Stay calm, cool, and hydrated all summer long with this herbal twist on an old favorite.

Summer Days

While summer is a time of lazy days and longer nights, it can also be busy and full of activity. Combining herbal infusions and superfoods like raw honey and detoxifying lemons will not only allow you to enjoy easy summertime living, but will also prepare your body for a lot of fun in the sun! Need a break from busy end of the school year activities with the kids? Are picnics, summer camp, and vacation planning making you feel frazzled? Are you looking for a perfect refreshing beverage to serve at a summer event? If so, you may find a soothing glass of lemon balm lemonade to be the perfect compliment.

Lemon Balm Benefits: Calming and Soothing

How To Stay Calm and Cool With Lemon Balm Lemonade | Herbal Academy | Are you ready for the summer heat? Stay calm, cool, and hydrated all summer long with this lemon balm lemonade recipe - an herbal twist on an old favorite!

Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is one of my favorite herbs. Although it is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae), it has a natural lemony flavor and smells so light and uplifting!

Lemon balm is often used for anxiety, nervous conditions, mild depression (Chevallier, 2000), and to reduce stress (Kennedy et al., 2004). It also has an uplifting, heartwarming quality to it that makes you feel comforted, and it’s considered toning to the body as it repairs the nervous system (Hoffmann, 2003). In a 2004 double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized experiment, volunteers showed improved mood after receiving 600-mg dose of Melissa (Kennedy et al., 2004). If you are feeling down and stressed out, lemon balm can help bring calm and lightness back into your life.

Lemon balm is also used to soothe digestive issues, particularly those that may be caused by anxiety or upset (Hoffmann, 2003). Lemon balm contains a rich concentration of oils, specifically citral and citronellal, which are antispasmodic and help to calm both the nervous and digestive systems (Gladstar, 2012).

I have personally been using lemon balm for years. When my son was young and had colicky, cranky moments, it frequently saved the day for both of us! My favorite application for children is to make a lemon balm glycerite and offer them a few drops before offering yourself a few, too! Its sweet, sunny taste and uplifting nature will sure to be welcome. As Rosemary Gladstar exclaims, “It is probably the most delicious tincture you’ll ever taste” (Gladstar, 2012, p. 160).

You can enjoy the sweetness of this liquid sunshine in a lemonade, as well. Your whole family will love it!

How To Make Lemon Balm Lemonade

How To Stay Calm and Cool With Lemon Balm Lemonade | Herbal Academy | Are you ready for the summer heat? Stay calm, cool, and hydrated all summer long with this lemon balm lemonade recipe - an herbal twist on an old favorite!

Lemon Balm Lemonade

[recipe_ingredients]

4 tablespoon dried lemon balm (¾ to 1 cup of fresh herb)
1 ¾ cup local raw honey (reduce if you prefer it less sweet)
2 cups organic lemon juice (about 10-12 squeezed organic lemons)
2 cups filtered water

[/recipe_ingredients][recipe_directions]

  • Bring 2 cups of filtered water to a boil.
  • Turn off heat and add dried lemon balm to water. Cover with a lid and let mixture steep for 15- 20 minutes.
  • Strain mixture through a metal strainer, nut bag, or muslin cloth into 2 quart glass jar or pitcher.
  • Let the liquid cool slightly before adding honey. Mix until honey is completely dissolved.
  • Add ice until water level raises in the jar by 2 cups. Stir until liquid has completely cooled and ice no longer melts.
  • Add 2 cups of lemon juice.
  • Add enough water to fill a glass pitcher or jar to the top (8 cup mark) and stir well.
  • Serve over ice and garnish with fresh lemon balm leaves, basil, mint, or lavender.

[/recipe_directions]

**Next time, try replacing lemon balm with lavender for another tasty, calming beverage!

I enjoy making lemon balm lemonade while singing the song “Melissa” from the Allman Brothers. Although it’s never been confirmed; I have a feeling the song pays homage to this sweet, cheerful plant.

“Knowing many, loving none

Bearing sorrow, having fun.

But, back home he’ll always run,

To sweet Melissa” (Allman, 1972).

Where to Source Ingredients

Using fresh herbs and fruit from your own garden is an ideal option. Lemon balm is fairly easy to grow and is versatile; the leaves can be used fresh or dried. Lemon balm is a fast-growing perennial. It loves growing in a bit of shade but will also thrive in the sun. Keep the soil moist but well-drained to keep your plant happy (Gladstar, 2012).

Lemon balm smells wondrous, so plant it in a spot where your friends can walk by and get a whiff. Gently pinch some fresh leaves off (best harvested just before flowers open), and share the love! If you don’t have the option of harvesting fresh lemon balm, you can always choose to purchase high-quality organic herbs and fruit when possible. My favorite source for dried herbs is online at Mountain Rose Herbs. You can buy organic lemon balm in bulk here!

It’s also a great idea to support local farmers by buying fresh lemons, local honey, and local herbs at the farmer’s market.

You can learn even more about lemon balm and its health benefits in the following blog posts: Lemon Balm: The Immortal Life of Bees and A Family Herb: Lemon Balm Benefits.How To Stay Calm and Cool With Lemon Balm Lemonade | Herbal Academy | Are you ready for the summer heat? Stay calm, cool, and hydrated all summer long with this lemon balm lemonade recipe - an herbal twist on an old favorite!

REFERENCES

Chevallier, A. (2000). The encyclopedia of herbal medicine. London: DK Publishing.

Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar’s medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Kennedy D.O., Little W., Scholey A.B. (2004). Attenuation of laboratory-induced stress in humans after acute administration of Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm). Psychosomatic Medicine, 66(4), 607-13.

Scholey A., Gibbs A., Neale C., Perry N., Ossoukhova A., Bilog V., … & Buchwald-Werner S. (2014). Anti-stress effects of lemon balm-containing foods. Nutrients, 6(11):4805-21.

Allman, G. (1972). Melissa [Recorded by Allman Brothers Band]. On Eat a peach [Vinyl]. Miami, FL: Capricorn Records. (December 9, 1971).