|bronze fennel with swiss chard|
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Healing with Herbs - a new Twist
I get on a kick each fall about my health. Most people do this either at the beginning of the year or when they realize summer is around the corner and exercising is more fun in the summer. I do it when I finally slow down after the growing season begins to wain. I look at my garden and start making plans for next year and I do the same with myself. I bought a car two years ago in December and as a result I stopped riding my bicycle everywhere I wanted to go. As a result I have put on weight. I spend too much time, blogging, I think (wink wink!)
This is what I am going to start with:
1. A few teas to have in the morning. Not sure I can get him to give up coffee, but I never have drunk the stuff….
2. Add a few herbs more regularly to the cooking repertoire.
3. Include some fall fruits in our menu.
Now I have touted the benefits of green tea for years (even before it was popular) I make three green tea and herb blends, but finally I pulled all my resources together to determine just how good it was for me. This is the result. Green tea helps burn fat, protects against heart disease, help lower blood pressure, help protect against diabetes, it can kill bacteria so help prevent food poisoning, It prevents the growth of dangerous intestinal bacterial strains such as clostridia and E. coli and promotes the growth of friendly bifidobacteria (you recognize that from the commercials right?) which protect against cancer, improves your immunity, protect against Alzheimer’s disease and can help fight allergies! Since all those items play in the lives of my husband and myself I decided that perhaps when he makes his morning coffee I will have my first cup of tea at home.
Now in the winter a robust tea on a cold day is a must on an Illinois evening. I love chai tea for that. A Chai tea with its spices including Cinnamon and Nutmeg can aid digestion, improve circulation, boost the immune system and reduce inflammation. My circulation is not good and once the evening temps drop below 65 my feet turn to ice, so anything that can improve circulation and work as an anti-inflammatory will be an aid to my winter.
My father and I love the flavor of licorice which made fennel a popular herb for me, but not so much with other people I know, however, when I discovered that it helps regulate the healthy levels of cholesterol in the blood stream, I started to preserve the leaves and seeds in new ways. It is a rich source of potassium and for those who cannot eat bananas due to diabetes and other drug interactions, fennel may be a nice alternative. You also get the anti flatulent qualities too!
Potassium, by the way, is an essential nutrient in our bodies and can help prevent heart disease, strokes and heart attacks.
Garlic has many properties for goodness and health. This will be the easiest item to get incorporated into my diet. The hubby loves garlic and onions. Garlic is another heart healthy herb. It protects the heart against cardiovascular problems like heart attacks and atherosclerosis. Garlic has the ability to moderately lower our blood triglycerides and total cholesterol and reduce arterial plaque formation. Daily intake of garlic has been found to lower risk of most types of cancer. This anti-cancer property is due to allyl sulphides found in garlic. Garlic is great at combating colds and flu as well due to full of antibacterial and antiviral properties.
One of my favorite herbs (second only to lemon verbena) is thyme. Thyme contains anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent chronic inflammation of the body. Thyme has antibacterial properties which are proven to help fight a variety of bacteria and fungi, including E.coli. That is why thyme vinegar is a must in our household cleaning. Thyme can also help to improve bone health as it is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of iron, calcium and manganese which are all essential to promoting proper bone growth.
I read a study that said thyme was effective at fighting the bacteria that causes skin acne so I will be trying some in a salve this winter too. The antioxidant protection of thyme combined with its anti-inflammatory effects help to prevent cardiovascular disease as chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease. With all this going for it, not only do I like to use thyme (lemon thyme) in teas, but I also love to cook with it. This year we made an herb paste with it so we could freeze fresh thyme in cubes and add them to dishes while cooking in the winter.
Fall is also the season for Cranberries. I am missing the Cranberry Festival in Warren, Wisconsin http://www.cranfest.com/ that is taking place this weekend. Cranberry juice is widely known as a treatment for bladder and urinary tract infections, however so much of the cranberry juice on the market is filled with sugar that then promotes the growth of bacteria they cancel each other out. Instead I find other ways to eat cranberries. Dried in scones, dried or fresh in tea, fresh in salads and jells. In a tea cranberry is widely recognized as containing powerful anti-oxidant properties. You can use the drinking of this tea to help prevent and slow the progression of the gum disease, or gingivitis. Cranberries are also said to protect the vital organs, such as the heart, from falling prey to free radical damage. They, like green tea, are very high in anti-oxidants. If you can keep away oxygenation of the cells you live longer, stay healthier and feel better.
The cranberry contains organic acids that actually eat away at fat deposits in the liver and kidney, flushing them out of the system. Regular intake in combination of a healthy diet can result in weight loss & can be used to cure urinary tract infections through its ability to filter the system.
This year, my goals of improving my eating through use of herbs and teas is going to be the best and easiest way to keep me healthy through the winter and give me the energy needed to ride that bicycle that goes nowhere. I’ll keep you updated and share the recipes we create.