“Let your medicine be your food,
and food be your medicine.”
Does this ancient saying (or some variation of it) sound familiar?
These words of wisdom are from Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, and the origin of
the Hippocratic Oath taken by doctors.
Oddly, while modern doctors recognize Hippocrates’ contribution to medicine
in the form of the Oath, the idea that our food can be our medicine is generally not included
in the practice of modern medicine.
The good news is, foods are still “medicines,” and you can affect your health positively by
the foods you eat.
If you’d like to incorporate more healing herbs and foods into your diet,
here are some tips that can help.
Despite the fact that healing herbs and foods have been used by man for centuries,
the healing power of various herbs is now becoming more and more recognized and
And that’s a good thing.
Clearly, there are hundreds of healing herbs.
Here are four of the more readily available herbs that you can easily add to your meals to
boost their healing power.
Ginger is an effective anti-nausea remedy and has significant antibacterial properties.
It helps to relieve pain and nausea, and may help thwart cholesterol and cancer.
Ginger root is a good source of Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.
It is low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol and sodium.
Gingerols and shogaols give ginger its spicy-hot taste and stimulating aroma. These plant
compounds are anti-inflammatories that can reduce pain from colds, flu, sore throat,
headache, cramps, and even osteoarthritis.
The fresh root, sliced or diced, can be added to stir-fries, teas and fresh juice blends.
At the first sign of a cough or scratchy throat, I love to make healing ginger drinks
and teas for my family.
Soothing Ginger Tea
The soothing heat from a mug of ginger tea has warmed my throat and chest during
many nasty bouts of cold and flu.
This recipe is made with 12 thin slices of fresh ginger, pounded with a mortar
or rolling pin, so if it tastes too strong, dilute it with more hot water and your sweetener
Although this recipe calls for honey, you can use a vegan option such as agave or stevia.
Vegan Kimchi with Ginger
Use this vegan kimchi recipe as a spicy accompaniment to most meals.
Kimchi packs a probiotic punch as well.
This mildly spiced kimchi will get more sour with time.
If you like your kimchi hotter, simply add more ground chilies.
A tasty herb when added to salads, sauces, dressings, pizza, spaghetti, and so forth–oregano
is considered the king of herbs when it comes to antioxidant content.
Antioxidants help mop up “free radicals” in the body, which are by-products of the body’s metabolic
Free radicals are implicated in the development of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.
So keep this herb on the table and sprinkle it on your dishes to create a Greek or Italian flavor.
Oregano kicks the flavor of this Farmer’s Market Pizza up a notch. Try the recipe….
Farmers’ Market Pizza
Why use store-bought tomato sauce for your Farmers’ Market Pizza, when you can make your own
with oregano, seasonal, organic ingredients and farm fresh tomatoes?
Whip up a quick home made tomato sauce from grilled, whole tomatoes blended with 2 tablespoons
of oregano plus other robust seasonings.
Sprinkle the finished pizza with a bit more oregano for an extra antioxidant and flavor punch.
Rosemary is another antioxidant herb, and may help enhance memory and prevent
Studies suggest that it may even help prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Fresh rosemary is low in sodium, and very low in cholesterol. It is also a good source of Vitamin B6,
Magnesium, Potassium and Copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C,
Folate, Calcium, Iron and Manganese.
Dried rosemary is also a good source of Vitamin A, Thiamin and Magnesium, and a very good source
of dietary fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Folate, Calcium, Iron and Manganese.
Rosemary is delicious in dressings and marinades, or sprinkled on dishes like pizza, focaccia,
Lemon Rosemary Vinaigrette
Drizzle this Lemon-Rosemary Vinaigrette dressing over a watercress-and–white bean salad or
any salad you create, to experience the fresh taste of Tuscany.
Fresh rosemary needs to be finely chopped to release its flavor–and to avoid getting the leaves
stuck between your teeth.
Turmeric, the spice responsible for curry powder’s golden color, is an ancient Ayurvedic treatment
known to deliver strong anti-inflammatory effects along with enhanced digestive health.
Because inflammation is a key factor in virtually every disease process, including arthritis, cancer, and
heart disease, curcumin is the subject of extensive research.
Antioxidant-rich curcuminoids provide the ochre-colored root’s potent health benefits.
Studies indicate that turmeric helps to relieve stomach upsets and ulcerative colitis.
It may also help with age-related cognitive impairment, irritable bowel syndrome,
psoriasis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Turmeric is commonly found in Indian curries, but it is a versatile spice.
I add it to all types of soups, stews, grains, curries, stir-fries, and other dishes.
Be creative! See where it takes you.
This Nutty Sweet Potato Soup recipe with turmeric, might just transport your taste buds
to North Africa.
Nutty Sweet Potato Soup with Harissa and Spinach
This Nutty Sweet Potato Soup recipe includes harissa–a smoky North African chili paste–
with a mild heat and extra sweetness from tomatoes.
Curried Quinoa Mushroom Pilaf
This light, savory curried quinoa pilaf is my ‘go-to’ daily grain.
It’s super nutritious with the antioxidant power of turmeric and protein-packed
I love to serve it with steamed or garlic-sauteed dark leafy greens, mushrooms, seaweed,
broccoli, onions, carrots and a rainbow of any fresh vegetables in season.
Or I’ll add quinoa to one of my salads such as a watercress, beet, red onion and avocado
salad with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette dressing.
So Eat Up!
These are just a few commonly used healing herbs and spices.
There are so many more to learn about and explore.
Herbal foods are our natural “medicines,” and we have the power to positively affect our
health by the foods we choose to eat.
Make it a habit to include these herbs in your everyday meals and see what a difference
they make in your life.
How do you incorporate healing herbs and foods into your daily diet?
Share your suggestions and comments with us.
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