ASHWAGANDHA

Taste (Rasa): Sweet, Bitter, Astringent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Decreases Vata and Kapha

Benefits & Use: Ashwagandha is one of the most important herbs in Ayurveda and has been used for over 3,000 years to relieve stress, increase energy levels and improve concentration. In Sanskrit Ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” indicating that the herb imparts the vigor and strength of a stallion, and has traditionally been prescribed to help people strengthen their immune system after an illness. It has been revered over time for its dual capacity to simultaneously energize and calm. Stress can cause fatigue, often manifesting as “hyper” signs like agitation and difficulty sleeping. By providing a nourishing, energizing effect, Ashwagandha supports a healthy nervous system reducing cortisol levels and allowing for a calming effect.

Additional Uses: Aphrodisiac; joint health; blood sugar; increased libido; memory

In the Kitchen: Ashwagandha is typically ingested in capsule or powder form. The typical recommended dose for capsules is 600 to 1,000 mg. twice daily. For people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, having a cup of hot milk that contains a teaspoon of powdered Ashwagandha before bedtime is beneficial (see recipe below).

Recipe: Botanical Bedtime Milk

Ingredients:

  • 2 tb chamomile flowers
  • 2 tb skullcap
  • 2 ts lemon balm
  • 1 tsp rose petals
  • ½ cup almonds
  • 1 quart herbal tea
  • 1 tb ashwagandha powder
  • ⅛ tsp cardamom powder
  • ⅛ tsp cinnamon
  • - ⅛ tsp ginger powder
  • 1-2 tsp raw honey
  • ½ tb ghee (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Soak ¼ cup of almonds in water overnight or for several hours.

  2. Infuse the chamomile, skullcap, lemon balm and rose petals into a quart of hot water, allowing it to steep for 15-20 minutes. Strain and let cool.

  3. Strain and rinse the almonds and blend them, with skins on, in a high speed blender with the quart of herbal tea.

  4. Blend until smooth and strain milk using a sieve or nut milk bag.

  5. Blend the milk with ashwagandha, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and raw honey

  6. Warm the milk to desired temperature on a low flame.

  7. Add in ghee (optional).

  8. Serve in your favorite mug and enjoy 2-3 hours before bed.

 

CORIANDER (Cilantro)

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Taste (Rasa): Bitter, Astringent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Balancing for all three doshas

Benefits & Use: Coriander has been used for thousands of years to treat digestive upset, gas, fungal and bacterial infections, and to prevent food poisoning. Also called cilantro, this herb still is used throughout the world to settle nauseous tummies, relieve indigestion and heartburn, and ease stomach cramps. It aids in efficient digestion by helping to produce digestive enzymes that aid in the breakdown of foods. Additionally, coriander’s antibacterial compounds help to keep the urinary tract healthy, and free from unhealthy bacteria in an alkaline environment. It’s also been shown to can help to lower blood sugar, and even kill parasites in the digestive tract.

Additional Uses: Soothes skin irritation, mouth ulcers, and conjunctivitis; regulates menstrual function; detoxifies heavy metals and food poisoning; natural deodorant

 

In the Kitchen: The best thing about cilantro may just be how easy it is to add to your diet. If you are looking for a detoxing effect from heavy metals or way to cool your digestive system, it is best to use a more concentrated form of cilantro such as a concentrated juice or tincture.

 

 

Recipe: Coriander-Mint Lemonade

 

Instructions:

  • Thoroughly wash coriander leaves and mint leaves.
  • Add coriander leaves, mint leaves, ginger and 2 cups of water into a blender and blend well.
  • Squeeze lemon juice into the drink and strain.
  • Add amchoor powder and optional sweetener. Stir well.

Ingredients:

  • ½ bunch coriander leaves
  • ½ bunch mint leaves
  • ½ tsp amchoor powder
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 inch ginger root
  • natural sweetener to taste

GARLIC

Taste (Rasa): Sweet, Salty, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Pacifying for Vata and Kapha

 

Benefits & Use: Intensely aromatic and flavorful, garlic is used in virtually every cuisine in the world. When eaten raw, it has a powerful, pungent flavor to match its mighty benefits. It is particularly high in a certain sulfur compound, alliin, that is believed to be responsible for its scent and taste, as well as its positive effects on health. (Garlic benefits rank only second to turmeric benefits in the amount of research backing this superfood.) Eating garlic regularly has been linked to reducing or even helping to prevent four of the major causes of death worldwide, including heart disease, stroke, cancer and infections. It is also a known blood cleanser, aiding in detoxification and immunity.

Additional Uses: A an external application, garlic paste improves blood circulation and relieves pain, which is excellent for  joint inflammation and stiffness from rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and sciatica.

In the Kitchen: Garlic is consumed in both raw and cooked forms. When enjoying it raw, be sure to thoroughly chew the garlic to crush the plants cells and release the alliinase enzymes. If going with the cooked route, I recommend finely chopping or mincing the garlic, crushing far more plant cells and again, releasing the beneficial alliinase enzymes. High heat for long period of time will risk damaging these nutrients as well as make the garlic bitter so expose garlic to heat for as little time as possible (5-15 minutes).

 

Recipe: Tuscan White Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dry Cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 heads of garlic, peeled
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 sage leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tb chicken bouillon or cube (or substitute vegetable bouillon)
  • sea salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

  • Place beans, 6 cloves of the garlic, water and a few sage leaves in the crock pot; cover and set to HIGH for 4 hours, or until beans are soft. Don’t add salt.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. Place remaining garlic cloves in the center of a 7×7 inch square of aluminum foil. Cover garlic with olive oil and a little salt. Seal aluminum tightly and place in the oven 25-30 minutes, until garlic is soft and golden. Remove from oven and set aside until the beans are done.
  • When the beans are soft, add the bouillon and mix well until dissolved.
  • Carefully transfer some of the beans and liquid along with the roasted garlic to the blender.
  • Blend until smooth and pour it back into the crock pot. Repeat with the remaining beans until you get the texture you desire. You can also use an immersion blender if you have one.
  • Taste for salt and adjust as needed.
  • Serve with fresh sage and white pepper. Add some whole roasted garlic cloves on top (optional).

TURMERIC

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Taste (Rasa): Pungent, Bitter, Astringent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Pacifying for Vata and Kapha; small amounts soothing for Pitta
 

Benefits & Use: Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement of all. In its root form, it contains compounds called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin — the main active ingredient in turmeric — which has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong antioxidant. As curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream, it is best when consumed with black pepper which contains piperine, a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin.

Additional Uses: Dandruff; swimmer's ear; natural die (hair, fabric)
 

In the Kitchen: The amount of turmeric that you need to receive health benefits is not very much. While researchers are accustomed to looking at countries like India where intake of turmeric often reaches a level of 1-2 grams per day, studies show potential health benefits at much lower amounts; as little as 50 milligrams a day — an amount equivalent to approximately 1/50th of a teaspoon — over a period of several months has been linked with health benefits. 
 

Carrot-Ginger-Turmeric Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 cups carrot
  • 1 1/2 cups filtered water
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 1 cup frozen or fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 tb fresh ginger (1 small knob, peeled)
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tb lemon juice (~ 1/2 small lemon)
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk

INstructions

  • Make carrot juice by adding carrots and filtered water to a high speed blender and blending on high until completely pureed and smooth. Add more water if trouble blending and scrape down sides as needed
  • Drape a large, thin dish towel over a mixing bowl and pour the juice over the towel. Then lift up on the corners of the towel and begin twisting and squeezing the juice out until all of the liquid is extracted. Set aside pulp.
  • Transfer carrot juice to a mason jar - will keep for several days, though best when fresh.
  • To the blender add banana, pineapple, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, almond milk and pulp and blend on high until creamy and smooth. Add more carrot juice or almond milk as needed for desired consistency. 
  • Divide between two glasses and serve. Best when fresh.
     

VALERIAN

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Taste (Rasa): Bitter, Pungent, Astringent
Energetics (Virya): Heating
Doshic Effects: Balancing for all three doshas
 

Benefits & Use: Valerian root is widely used for its sedative effects as it elevates levels of a chemical known as GABA which regulates nerve cells and benefits those with nervous conditions by calming anxiety.  Supplements containing valerian are also recommended as a herbal treatment for people suffering from anxiety as it is a nervine. Similarly, pain is effectively reduced or relieved with a dosage of Valerian root.

Additional Uses: Eye tonic; antispasmodic; antibacterial; anti-fungal

In the Kitchen: Valerian root is most commonly ingested as a tea. Like any herb, is best prepared fresh with warm — not boiling — water as some of the phytochemicals are sensitive to heat and may be destroyed. Consequently, the best way to prepare the tea is to steep the herbs for at least 10 minutes to ensure that all of the beneficial components are released from the plant. Some people find valerian root bitter, in which case you can add honey before drinking. Note: Valerian root is sometimes combined with other complementary herbs, such as chamomile, but plant interactions are complex so you should avoid mixing herbs until you become aware of how you react to each one.