Mindful Eating With Healing Herbs...

in hive-120078 •  3 years ago 

How often do we put things in our mouths, hardly even aware of what we are eating, grabbing something to eat? Are we really getting the nourishment we need from the food we eat?

There is something to that saying

You are what you eat

Which was derived from the French author Anthelme Brillat-Savarin 1826 work Physiologie du Gout, ou Medetations de Gastronomie Transcendante There he wrote:

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what your are.

It is this choices in food that is either going to nourish us or destroy us. And although healthy, wholesome eating is only a part of what constitutes to our overall healthy it is an important part and one that is within our power to make use of.

Let's take a look at some of the effects our food has on our health as a measure of preventative medicine.

Food as medicine preventative medicine.jpg

If we look back to Ancient Greece and the time of Hippocratic medicine, disease was literally understood as dis-ease, or physical imbalance. Medical interventions worked towards restoration of harmony where food and diet played a key part. Their main preventative treatment was the eating of correctly-balanced foods.

Wikipedia explains it nicely

time of Hippocrates, between 450 and 350 BC, when humoral theory of medicine began to become highly influential. Humorism understood the human body to be composed of fluid (humours) and regarded disease as a result of an imbalance of the four humors: yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood.
These humours contain qualities such as hot, cool, moist, dry, etc., which must also remain in balance. Foods can be heating, cooling, or generative of one humour. Some foods produce good juices and others bad juices and often times cooking and preparation of the foods can change or improve the juices of the foods. In addition, foods may be easy to assimilate (easy to pass through the body), easily excreted, nourishing or not nourishing. In Hippocratic medicine, the qualities in foods are analogous to the four humors in the body: too much of a single one is bad, a proper mixture is ideal. Therefore, the consumption of correctly-balanced foods and life-style of the patient was crucial to the prevention and treatment of disease in Ancient Greece.

I feel this is pertinent to this day and age too - having a correctly balanced intake of foods and life-style.

One other phrase Hippocrates is well know for is:

Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food.


Let food be thy medicine, and let medicine be thy food

Many traditions have used medicinal plants making herbal remedies. Ordinary folks used simple ones for treating common problems. Now there is another way to use these medicinal plants and that is to cook with them.

If we can consistently cook with medicinal herbs we can enjoy their beneficial effects.

Start by finding the different properties you desire in the herbs. Each medicinal herb will have unique active compounds that can offer you specific health benefits. Understand the benefits they can bring and start making them a part of your daily meals. A wonderful resource for this is The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker which I will be referencing here.

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A real simple way to get started is to make herbal teas or infusions to use as is or to add to smoothies replacing all or part of the liquid.

To give you some idea of some common problems these teas can remedy, check out the list below:

Healing Herbal Teas

  • Anxiety make a tea with chamomile, St. John's wort, lemon balm
  • Coughs make a tea with coltsfoot, hyssop, horehound, borage, elder, garlic, licorice
  • Infection make a tea with garlic, cinnamon, cloves
  • Sore Throat, Tonsillitis make a tea with sage, thyme
  • Nausea, Indigestion make a tea with ginger, chamomile, basil
  • Constipation make a tea with burdock root, licorice

Many of the herbs can be added directly to smoothies.

Here are a few common ones that I use with their properties or actions plus some recipes.


Actions Tonic, nutritive, lowers blood cholesterol, anti-anemia

Health Elixir

1/4 c orange juice
1/4 cup alfalfa infusion or small handful of chopped alfalfa leaves
1/2 ripe banana chopped
4 frozen strawberries or raspberries or more as to your liking
Combine in blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Aspirin in a Cup

1/4 cup meadow sweet infusion
1/4 cup cranberry juice
1/4 cup pitted cherries
1/4 cup mango pitted, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp chopped fresh alfalfa leaves
1/4 tsp crushed fennel seeds
Combine in blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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Actions - anti-acid, anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, astringent, anti rheumatic, diuretic, liver supportive, diaphoretic

**Note: Used in Aspirin in a Cup recipe above.

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Actions - antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, cooling, sedative

Sleepeze Smoothie

1/4 cup catnip infusion or 3 or 4 fresh catnip leaves chopped
1/4 cup chamomile infusion or 1 Tbsp fresh (1 tsp dried) German Chamomile flowers
1 apple cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 ripe banana chopped
2 tsp clean chopped Valerian root or 20 - 40 drops of Valerian tincture
Combine in blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

**Note: Valerian has adverse effect on some people so may be omitted

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German Chamomile

Action - anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, mild antiseptic, anti-emetic, carminative, nervine, emmenagogue, mild pain reliever, gentle sedative

**Note: Used in Sleepeze Smoothie recipe above.

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Actions antispasmodic, sedative, relaxant

Note: Valerian has adverse effect on some people

**Note: Used in Sleepeze Smoothie recipe above.

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Action - Antioxidant, expectorant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, astringent, tonic, antimicrobial, antibiotic, heals wounds, carminative, calms coughs,nervine

Cup of Thyme

1/2 cup beet juice
1/2 cup cooked chopped carrots
1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves or a sprig of fresh thyme
1/8 tsp dried rosemary leaves or 1/2 tsp fresh chopped leaves and flowers
Combine in blender, blend until smooth. Enjoy!

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Actions - Antioxidant, antispasmodic, antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, diaphoretic, promotes bile flow, nervous system and cardiac tonic, carminative, nervine, anti-depressant

**Note: Used in Cup of Thyme recipe above.

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Source of these actions/herbal properties came from The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker (Toronto: Robert rose, 1996), ISBN 0-7788-0004-0. A wonderful book packed full of knowledge and excellent recipes for cooking with healing herbs!

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Smoothies are a great way to get your fruits and vegetables. They are also an easy way for adding nutritional supplements or other nutrient rich foods like, flax seeds, wheat or barley grass, chia seeds, hemp hearts, phyllium seeds or nuts.

Smoothies allows for an added health benefit by allowing you to

Drink your food and chew your drinks

Using a powerful blender (my preferred is Vitamix) to break the foods into minute particles, easy for the body to take up, plus allowing you to chew your drinks, to completely mix with enzyme containing saliva that helps digest food.

Try having a smoothie for breakfast or as a pick-me-up after a workout. Smoothies can be cold or warm as with soup like smoothies, gazpacho, or vichyssoise which uses a soup stock.

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Hear is a wonderful healing soup stock which incorporates a lot of healing herbs. It was previously posted here with other healthy Paleo recipes and info.

Healing Vegetable Stock

1 large onion
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 leek, trimmed, washed, cubed
2 tbsp olive oil
8 cups water
Half green cabbage quartered
1 stalk celery coarsely chopped
1 carrot coarsely chopped
1 whole dried cayenne pepper
1 cup coarsely chopped broccoli stems
1 bay leaf
5 whole allspice berries
5 pepper corns
1 bunch fresh thyme, alfalfa
2 sprigs fresh sage
3 astragalus, if available
1- 2 inch pieces ginger, ginseng, burdock, dandelion root

On a backing sheet toss onion, garlic and leek with olive oil. Roast 30 to 40 minutes at 400 degrees F, stirring once until browned.
Note: The other vegetables can also be roasted for a richer flavor if you have time. Otherwise just saute the onions, garlic and leeks in the stockpot first then add the rest of the ingredients. If roasting bring the water to a boil in the stock pot then add the rest of the ingredients and reduce to a simmer.
Simmer for 45 to 90 minutes, strain the vegetables and discard or I like to take out everything and leave the cabbage, leek, celery and carrots for a hearty soup. For this I place the spices and roots in a cheesecloth bag for easy removal plus I tie my bunches of thyme and alfalfa together.

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Want more ways to incorporate healing herbs into your cooking?
Try -

Healing Vinegars

These are easily made by packing a bunch of herbs, slightly bruised, into a glass jar and pouring cider vinegar over them leaving one inch of headspace at top of jar. Close bottle with cork or use a plastic lid (metal lids will corrode with the vinegar) to seal and place in a sunny window for two weeks, turning frequently. Strain and put into clean bottles or jars and store in cool dark place.

Substitute these into any recipes that call for vinegar or add two to four tablespoons to soups, stews or sauces.

Suggested Healing Herb Combinations for Vinegar

These combinations are meant to be mixed with about one quart of vinegar.

  • 2 cups rose petals, 2 Tbsp cloves, 1 cup chamomile flowers
  • 1 cup elder flowers, 1 cup lavender
  • 2 cups calendula petals, 1 one inch piece each of ginger and ginseng chopped
  • 4 to 6 whole cayenne peppers, 10 to 12 cloves garlic peeled and crushed

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You can combine healing herbs into oils too and substitute these where ever oil is called for in recipes. They are made in the same manner as the vinegars mentioned above except the finished oils should be stored in the refrigerator.

Healing Herbs Combinations for Oils
  • 4 sprigs peppermint, 3 cloves garlic smashed, 2 tbsp cumin seeds, 2 inch piece each of turmeric chopped, cinnamon stick crushed, 1 tbsp each whole cloves and allspice berries.
  • 10 sprigs thyme, 3 cloves garlic smashed, 2 inch piece ginseng chopped, 4 sticks astragalus
  • 10 calendula flowers, 2 inch piece each ginger chopped, licorice root crushed

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Or how about some seasonings made with dried healing herbs ground into powder with a mortar and pestle, blender or coffee grinder. Store these in a dark colored jar in a cool, dark place with a small amount kept out on the table to add seasoning to dishes after cooking or by the stove to use in your cooking.

Sweet Antibiotic Seasoning

1/4 cup echinacea petals and leaves
1/4 cup calendula petals
1 one inch piece licorice root
1 whole clove

Savory Antibiotic Seasoning

1/4 cup echinacea petals and leaves
2 dried mushrooms
2 cayenne peppers
3 Tbsp thyme leaves
3 Tbsp rosemary leaves

Tip: Add 1 Tbsp dulse flakes to every 1/4 cup of either of the above seasonings to use them as a salt substitute.

Immune Boosting Seasoning

Blend equal amounts of echinacea root dried and chopped, ginseng root and crushed astragalus sticks and grind them into a powder.

Memory-Boosting Seasoning

1 Tbsp ground dried scullcap
1 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp ground dried rosemary
3 Tbsp ground dried ginko

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Healing herbs can be infused in wines ( or you can make wines with some healing herbs like dandelion, elderflower, lemon thyme, calendula, tarragon, mint or rosemary if you have a knowledge of making wines.) These wines can then be used where vinegars are called for, especially good in dressings and vinaigrettes, or used to flavor sauces, soups and stews.

Healing Herb Wines

Bunches of herbs (flowering herbs like thyme, sage, rosemary, elder, mint, petals only of calendula or dandelion flowers, roots of burdock or dandelion)
Organic red or white wine (organic hard or soft apple cider may be used too)
Pack the herbs into glass jars with air tight lid. Pour wine over the herbs, cap and place in a cool dark place for about 2 weeks then strain off the infused wine, discarding the herbs and store in a dark bottle out of light at about 40 - 50 degrees F or 5 - 10 degrees Celsius.

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I hope this knowledge of some of the healing properties of a few herbs and simple, delicious recipes, with ways of using healing herbs in your cooking, will inspire you to add them to your diet and reap the benefits for a healthier you!

This is an entry to the Natural Medicine Freewrite challenge here

Top image is from Graphicstock, modified.

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Thank you for sharing this post! I am a huge believer of herbs and natural medicines (for common ailments) so this information is very helpful as I have also tried some of them. I reblogged it and bookmarked it as well so that I can check it again on a later date when the need comes.

Glad you found the information helpful!

Are you a member of the Natural Medicine community yet? A wonderful group of very supportive people discussing and sharing about all things relating to nature medicines and natural healing!


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Hey, you get a mention in the latest curation post, I would put the message but it's already all over your comments XD

Such a great post! I have been struggling with digestive issues for many years and have learned the importance of supporting your body with healthy food. I don’t have so much experience with herbs though and this post really inspired me to learn more! I have made some infusions though but I definitely want to explore herbs more.

Glad to inspire you!

Do you know about the Natural Medicine Community where folks are often sharing about plant medicines and other things about natural healing?


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Wow, so much information here. I'm definitely bookmarking this. I cook with most of this, but never thought of making tea's with a lot of it. Thanks for sharing.

Glad you got a lot out of it!

Finally got around to reading this fully and good Lord, lady, you've outdone yourself! How comprehensive!

This one's definitely a keeper! So much useful information!

So much amazing information in this post @porters and so true we really do need to eat more mindfully. You have included so many healing recipes here, I can not wait to try them out, really this post is so invaluable thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom with us. @trucklife-family here xxx

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2 weeks of focused writing, editing, expansion and more images and you have one heck of an awesome eBook, Lady!! Lovely post!

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Herbs are so powerful! :)
Let's make a fresh tea ;)
Peppermint or sage...? hmmmm ;)

This a beautiful post @porters! Truly a wealth of knowledge, thanks for sharing! :) Resteemed!

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Wow @porters, what excellent and valuable information you're sharing with us here, brimful of good stuff all in one post! Definitely bookmarking this for future reference! I love using fresh herbs in the kitchen to add flavour and for health benefits but want to try some of your healing recipes!

Glad you got lots out of it! Love to cook with healing herbs!

I love your post, I believe in everything you say. My neighbor always repeats a phrase that I like very much "I eat to live, I don't live to eat"

That is a good phrase full of wisdom!

I love red wine, and I have committed to only drinking organic, and only sometimes. I love the idea of making the wine even more healthful by adding in healing herbs! This is a unique idea - sort of a twist on a hot toddy or herbal sangria. I am going to try it next time I purchase a bottle. Thank you! 🌱

You're welcome! I'm glad you got some useful information out of that!

@porters thanks for the wisdom lots of good information here to process.

owwooo looks great.