Sweet Basil! Let Your Food Be Your Medicine Thanksgiving Style
Happy Thanksgiving! Shopping for Thanksgiving dinner a variety "traditional" Thanksgiving items are readily on display to make filling our carts easier. Cranberries fresh and canned. Potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams. Stuffing mixes or cubes (of course I like starting with loaves of bread and making my own cubes -- that's just how I roll and stuff). Turkey, tofurky, maybe even a turduckin. Marshmallows for fans of candied sweet potatoes and fried onions for the famous green bean casserole. And of course onions and celery for stuffing and gravy, brussel spouts , green beans and herbs.
Sage, thyme, basil and rosemary adorned a huge display at my local grocery. I love using these herbs to make stuffing, roast the turkey, and make gravy. As I was reading this morning I was reminded what a treasure these herbs are and that they have a lot more to offer than just great taste. It all started when I read about medicinal pesto.
I never really thought about pesto as medicinal -- but when you think about it it really is a powerful herbal concoction. Basil acts on the digestive system and nervous system. It can ease gas and cramps and relieve nausea. It is mildly sedative. Basil contains the aromatic compounds linalool which is present in high amounts in lavender. Combine that with other herbs, nuts, olive oils, garlic, and don't forget the parmesan or pecorino, you've got a delicious and nutritious healing herbal medi-food. And no one will ever suspect you're trying to pass over something healthy!
Sage and rosemary are likely to be used by many Thanksgiving cooks today. Sage is said to aid in the digestion of rich meat and is a bitter tonic for the liver. It's a well known cold and flu fighter and classic remedy for sore throat. I don't suppose there's enough sage in stuffing to truly reap medicinal benefits but I'm ok if you use that as an excuse to eat a second helping. A sage pesto on the other hand packed with garlic, healthy nuts or seeds, olive oil, and other herbs, tea, or tonic will definitely pack a tasty medicinal punch.
Rosemary Gladstar suggests steeping 2-3 tablespoons of dried or fresh sage leaves with 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes and combining 3/4 cup of the strained mixture with 1/4 c of brandy or vodka, a drop or two of peppermint essential oil, and a tablespoon of honey (optional) in a spray bottle to use for sore throats.
Rosemary is another wonderful herb often used in roasting and flavoring meats and gravy. It's a legendary brain tonic, has analgesic properties, is known as a circulatory stimulant, is uplifting, and a good digestive aid.
For a refreshing tonic try rosemary-thyme tea. Gladstar recommends adding 4-6 tablespoons of dried herbs (6-8 tablespoons of fresh herbs) to a quart glass jar and covering with boiling water. Let steep for 30-45 minutes then strain. Add a bit of lemon or honey for a refreshing herby treat that is not only tasty but healthy.
So as we give thanks today we should also be thankful for the bounty of fresh foods and herbs available to us and enjoy and as you enjoy your feast enjoy the tasty and healthful benefits of herbs.
Wishing you a blessed and bountiful thanksgiving surrounded by family and friends. Enjoy!