About Herbs, Spices and Medicine

About Herbs, Spices and Medicine

Herbs and spices are to cooking what accessories are to clothing. A recipe may be fine by it self, but add a little garlic here or a little thyme there and you really have a dish worth savoring.

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Almost everyone has some herbs and spices in the house. Below I describe which herbs are traditionally used in certain dishes, but I urge you to look through your cupboard and experiment with different herbs in your own preparations. Remember, however, that a little goes a long way; flavorings should complement a meal, and not overwhelm it.

Herbs and spices do not only add zest to a meal. For thousands of years herbs have been used for their therapeutic qualities. Because this book of vegetarian recipes is for the health-conscious as well as the flavor-conscious, I wanted to include which herbs relieve which ailments.

While you should always seek a qualified medical opinion for a serious complaint, you can avoid drugs and relieve many minor, as well as major, ailments by using the right herbs.

When an herb is used for therapeutic reasons add a teaspoon to one cup of boiled water and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Strain, serve with a few drops of lemon juice and honey, and reap the benefits of nature.

Chamomile – Chamomile tea is known as an aid for upset stomach, a tonic infusion and a calmant for the nerves.

Cinnamon – By boiling 2 sticks of cinnamon and drinking the water, cinnamon is beneficial as an antiseptic, a disinfectant and a cleanser of infections of the urinary tract. Cinnamon is well known as an aromatic spice for sweet dishes. 9 1 do not only use this spice in sweets but add it as a “secret” ingredient to sautéed vegetables such as eggplant and mushrooms.

Cloves – Medically, cloves regulate the activities of the brain, help neuralgia and stop pain, especially headaches and toothaches. An old remedy for toothache relief involves placing a piece of cotton saturated in clove oil on the aching tooth. This eases the pain until a dentist can be reached. Cloves, like cinnamon, are also known for the aroma they add to sweets.

Dill – Dill contains two essential oils, limonese and carvone, which make it valuable as a digestive aid. It is also considered to be a good cure for hiccoughs and insomnia. As an ingredient dill is delicious with artichokes, peas and spinach. It is also tasty sprinkled on boiled potatoes and potato salad.

Garlic – The Greek villagers used to say “Don’t let a day pass without eating garlic.” As well as being delicious it really is an amazing medicine. Garlic contains an essential oil known as allyl sulphide. Its pungent smell comes from the sulphur. Garlic comes in handy as an antiseptic, a cough medicine and a stimulant. It is also said to help circulation and is therefore prescribed in powder form by some herbalists as a brain developer. To lower blood pressure it is recommended that you leave a minced clove of garlic overnight in a glass of water and drinking the water in the morning. Garlic is used in almost all the stew and sauce recipes, Try using it in soups and salads as well.

Laurel (Bay Leaf) – The ancient Greeks crowned their heroes with wreaths of laurel leaves. The ancient Romans believed it protected them from lightning, thus prompting Julius Caesar to always sport a laurel wreath. You may not use laurel to protect yourself from bad weather or to denote your heroism, but you can use it to aid your rheumatism. Boil the leaves and flowers for 20 minutes, strain, add a lemon peel and drink a glass three times a day. In cooking, laurel or bay leaves add a special aroma to stews and soups, especially Stifatho and lentil dishes.

Leeks – Leeks contain vitamins B and C, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, magnesium and other nutrients. The ancients believed that leeks helped develop a deep, clear voice in men and fertility in women. By washing their noses with leek juice, nosebleeds were prevented. I include leek as an herb as I included garlic. Leeks add a wonderful taste to stews, rice and soups.

Lemons – Lemons are the most valuable of fruits, full of vitamin C, iodine, phosphorus, iron and other nutrients. A preparation of one glass of water, the juice of one lemon and a little honey is not only a nice breakfast drink, but also beneficial for ailments of the kidneys, arthritis, diabetes and heartburn. A tablespoon of lemon juice and honey is famous for soothing a sour throat. Lemon juice and lemon peel can be used with herbs in cooking. By adding a little lemon to your salad you can avoid using a more fattening dressing and cut the calories.

Marjoram – Marjoram contains oils that are both a stimulant and a tonic. It works wonders to relieve an upset stomach.

Parsley – Parsley has a high content of vitamins A, B, C and E. It is also loaded with iron, making it a healthy addition to any dish. Parsley can be added virtually to any dish to add a fresh, herby flavor. Blending nicely with other herbs, except sage, it can be used in all stews, soups, salads and as a garnish.

Peppermint – Peppermint contains menthol oil. This makes peppermint tea an excellent aid for upset stomach, frayed nerves and colds.

Rosemary – Rosemary is a versatile and fragrant herb. It is known as a tonic stimulant and antidepressive, and can relieve tension and headaches. In cooking, rosemary is usually used in stews and stuffed vegetables.

Sage – Sage is known to relieve nervous headaches and bleeding gums. It is also wonderful in relieving upset stomachs and menstrual pains.

Spearmint – Spearmint is a stimulant known for its antispasmodic properties and as an aid in digestion. Because of this it is useful in fighting nausea and vomiting. As a tea it is soothing to symptoms of colds or flu.

Thyme – Thyme contains invaluable oils and is known as an antiseptic as well as a digestive. Headaches, sore throats and coughs can be relieved from this aromatic herb. In cooking, thyme is delicious in stews and stuffed vegetables.


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