In the fall and winter months, many plants go into hibernation mode, storing the nutrients in their roots before bursting forth again in the spring. This is the best time to harvest the roots of certain herbs, ensuring the highest level of nutrients and natural chemical constituents.
As well as for natural medicinal purposes, herbs can be used to good effect in cooking, bringing special flavor to most dishes and at the same time lessening the side effects of winter food (as those high in starch can be mucus forming - leading to a higher likelihood of catching colds and flu). It is difficult to imagine winter in the northern hemisphere while it is still summer but now is the time to start getting into the habit of using herbs and spices in cooking ready for those colder months ahead.
Guidelines when cooking meals with herbs
- Saute a couple of chopped onions in pure olive oil at a low heat to sweat the onions.
- Add herbs that are rich in aromatic oils. Examples are fresh bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary, garlic or ginger. Again use a low heat for the olive oil which will release the aroma, juices and oils of the herbs with their antiseptic, antibacterial and antioxidant properties. The benefits of such herbs are threefold: firstly protecting against colds and flu; secondly keeping the blood vessels healthy and thirdly encouraging good circulation.
- If you use herbs like sage, thyme, oregano, garlic, parsley or celery their antiseptic properties will act as blood cleansers.
- Rosemary, ginger and garlic will enhance the memory by increasing the blood flow to the brain while providing extra help for the circulatory system.
- Another good antiseptic herb is thyme which when combined with garlic will treat coughs.
- If you have mucus and/or chronic sinus problems, use garlic, wasabi and horseradish to good effect.
- Bay leaves, celery and parsley are diuretic and therefore good for the kidneys. The same three herbs can be used regularly to help with the symptoms of arthritis.
- Chicory is a bitter herb but used in your cooking will result in improved liver function.
- Spices are just as beneficial when used in cooking too. They can be lightly sauteed in pure olive oil to release their flavors. Examples are garlic, chili and ginger which have antiseptic benefits.
- Turmeric is a further beneficial spice to use in cooking and ideal in curries with its powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can ease the pain of arthritis.
Use herbs and spices in your cooking every day for all their health benefits whether it is winter or summer.
- Although not a herb or a spice, nothing beats original chicken soup (a long standing remedy for all ills served in a bowl by caring Jewish mothers). Chicken soup is an excellent way to move mucus in colds and flu while hydrating the body at the same time. A soothing and comforting medicine/food.