I love plants for so many reasons. I’d probably say my number one reason for loving plants is their ability to nourish us. Whether it’s vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains or herbs (both culinary and medicinal), etc. plants have the ability to support and nourish our bodies. The key to getting the most benefits from plants is to integrate them into your daily life. Focusing on plant foods to each meal (choose your own quality protein), drinking herbal teas or elixirs, utilizing plant medicine to support your health are all ways to reap the rewards that plants have to offer. Culinary or medicinal herbs can me added and used in pretty much each meal you make to pump up the nutritional benefits. Today I am talking about three herbs to have on hand in your kitchen over winter to help support your health through the colder months.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is a fantastic herb to have around during the colder months. It is considered a warming and drying herb. It has anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Though it isn’t locally grown, you can find cinnamon in most grocery stores either as the rolled bark (cinnamon sticks) or in powder form. Ceylon cinnamon is considered “true cinnamon” though there are over 200 varieties. Cassia cinnamon is the second variety that is highly popular. (I prefer using Ceylon.) You can use it in teas and cooking. I love adding some to a green smoothie for its warming effects during the colder months. You can make chia pudding with cinnamon and vanilla. Or add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate protein powder, like Genuine Health’s Fermented Protein+ with added cinnamon. Another great way to use cinnamon is sprinkled on apples that are dipped in almond butter. This makes a great after school snack.
- Garlic – Garlic is also considered warming and drying, which is great for the cold wet months of winter. Garlic is an excellent source of Manganese and vitamin B6. Garlic is something I use in my kitchen daily throughout the year. You can grow some in a containers, but know that you will be waiting 8-9 months before harvesting. It’s worth the wait though! If you can dedicate some space in your garden for this length of time you can grow enough to last you until the next harvest. If you do not have the space to grow your own, farmers markets and grocery stores will have it available. (Always choose organically grown garlic) There are so many ways to use garlic in the winter months. I always suggest crushing garlic and letting it sit for about 10 minutes before using it. You can add minced garlic to teas, lemon water, or any meal. If you want to take the power of garlic further try making a garlic infused oil or honey. (There are many recipes online for both).
- Ginger – Ginger is a powerful anti-inflammatory. It has different energetics when thinking about it in herbal medicine terms. Fresh ginger is considered warming and drying and dried ginger is considered hot and drying. (Did you notice all 3 herbs I am covering here are all warming and drying? Warming herbs are beneficial in cooler weather because they help us feel warm from the inside out. Ginger can be used in teas, juiced, added to smoothies, sauces or to meals. Flavors that pair well with ginger are: spinach, garlic, cinnamon, curries, pears and more! You can try growing ginger in pots and take it outside during the warm weather months and inside during the cold. I haven’t tried this yet in my years of gardening, I buy organically grown ginger from the local health food store. Perhaps I will give it a go in the future.
All three herbs mentioned here are great additions to your kitchen throughout the winter months. They each can be used in a variety of ways, in fact they pair well together, whether it’s in a tea, juice, soup or curry. Incorporating herbs into your everyday routine with meal prep and drinks can have lasting benefits. Let me know in the comments what herbs you like to use in your kitchen in the winter.