Mother Nature, in all her beauty, abundance, and splendor, provides us with every food under the sun to satisfy our hunger and thirst. She also gives us spices and fresh herbs to flavor them with. Pungent herbs and spices are not only flavorful, but can bring strength and balance to our bodies and minds where weakness exists.
Most of us have a shaker of it somewhere in the cupboard or sitting on the spice rack ready for cookie-baking, applesauce-making, or simply to sprinkle on oatmeal or on top of toast with butter and brown sugar.
Cinnamon comes from the inner bark of the cinnamomum tree. When the moist inner bark dries, it curls into cinnamon sticks which are ground into a fragrant powder that has a powerful effect on health.
Loaded with antioxidants, cinnamon can help reduce inflammation and blood sugar levels, increase circulation, and help fight bacterial and fungal infections. A digestive aid and a natural food preservative, cinnamon also helps curb sugar cravings when sprinkled on foods.
How to use: There are several cinnamon supplements available and of course cinnamon is a wonderful ingredient to use in all kinds of recipes, from deserts to savory stews.
Not all cinnamon is created equal. Look for Ceylon cinnamon and avoid the Cassia variety which contains coumarin (coumarin can be harmful in large doses).
This sharp-bladed aromatic grass is one of the wonderful flavors that makes Thai food so intoxicating. It gives body and a citrusy flavor to coconut soups, curries, marinades, herbal teas, and exotic cold drinks. It is also used traditionally to bring relief from stomach ailments, fevers, infections, and nervousness. A treasured skin tonic, lemongrass has astringent and antiseptic properties. Considered a “cleansing” herb, lemongrass can help relieve water retention and help flush toxins from the body.
How to use: Lemongrass can be found at most Asian supermarkets and some health food and grocery stores. Look for firm, pale-green stalks with bulbous bottoms. The tops may appear a little dry, that’s ok, but avoid ones that are yellowed or so dry they’re splitting.
To infuse your soups, broths, teas, and curries with lemongrass, simply trim off the spiky tops and bases, crush the stalks with the side of a knife (this releases the oils), and chop into one-inch pieces. Never eat the lemongrass, simply put it to the side of your plate as you come across it, the same way you would with a Bay Leaf.
Wishing You Well