I’m a big believer in the idea that what we eat affects our health far beyond just what it does to our waistbands. After all, haven’t I spent the last year avoiding many so-called healthy foods after discovering just how un-helpful and even harmful they were to my body? The results of that experience have led to a much happier day-to-day existence with a lot less pain and discomfort, I’m happy to say!
That’s why I was so keen to take a look at The Healing Herbs Cookbook by Pat Crocker. I already knew, for instance, that ginger is good for an upset stomach, that turmeric and nutmeg were naturally anti-inflammatory, and that clove was a topical analgesic (just try eating a ham that’s been studded with a few too many and you, too, will experience its numbing qualities!). Crocker has included quite the dossier on a number of similar herbs and spices if you’d like to learn more about them, or you can just skip ahead to the recipes.
Speaking of the recipes, she does note that the jury’s still out on whether the beneficial properties of any given herb or spice are hindered by cooking them. I tend to agree with her, though, that fresh herbs or dried spices make great additions to a meal and if there’s a chance they can improve your health, all the better! And to help you pinpoint the best options at any time of the year, each chapter is organized by season.
Concentrating on the winter recipes (for obviously reasons), the first one to catch my eye was the Vegetable Sushi with Wasabi-Mayonnaise DipÂ (p.63), Sushi is one of our favorite meals when we go out and I’ve made some at home, as well, so I was confident this would work out well. Intended as a starter, with a side of seaweed salad it made a light-yet-filling supper. I ended up making one roll for each of us for supper but diced the rest of the vegetables and shredded the nori sheets to make sushi bowls with the leftovers. The sweet potato was the stand-out ingredient in this recipe.
The Cheddar Cheese and Root Soup (p. 77) was a wonderful dinner option on a cold, drizzly evening. The healing herb in this soup (dried ginseng root) can be a hard to come by, but it turns out the be a great soup even without it.
Straying into the fall recipes, the Roasted Squash and Pepper SaladÂ (p. 88) is a bit of a stretch to the salad name, but we’d never paired roasted red bell peppers with acorn squash and the combination was surprisingly tasty. Even though I skipped the high-FODMAP red onions, it made a great side-dish and looked very pretty in it’s dish–a good candidate for a fall or winter pot-luck, I think!
Had I not just made a seafood pot pie, the Vegetable Pot Pie with Sweet Potato Topping (p. 114) would have definitely made it on our list, and I’m looking so forward to many of the spring and summer recipes when those vegetables are back in season. While I appreciate the additional information on the healing properties of the plants featured in the book, I have to say I was more impressed with the wealth of creative vegetarian meal options it includes.
[I received a copy of The Healing Herbs Cookbook for purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.]