Food is Medicine: Cooking with Dried Herbs
By: Cristin McDonnell
As a student of Ayurveda, I have become very aware of the healing properties of plants. I use many high quality herbs in capsules, but I also use fresh and dried herbs in drinks and in cooking. I say this from a perspective that when you cook with high quality herbs, you are adding a medicinal, healing value to your food.
One of the most important things I have learned from my studies of Ayurveda is that food is medicine. Cooking with high quality produce and herbs actually heals your body.
My ayurvedic studies led me to cooking with more spices, such as turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. These herbs/spices have not only great flavor, but also contain medicinal properties. One of the herbs whose healing properties I did not learn about until recently, is lavender.
Lavender, dried or as an essential oil, is sited in many books and studies for its ability to heal both internally and externally. Dried lavender is put into capsules to treat anxiety. Dried lavender in tea has been used as a remedy for migraine headaches. It has been said that Queen Elizabeth I of England used lavender tea for headaches. I do purchase tea, but teas can be made from herbs growing right in your backyard. I grow tulsi-holy basil in my garden. It is an amazing medicinal herb that is great for clearing the lungs and treating a number of things including asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues. I boil water on the stovetop and then I add the tulsi leaves from the garden to my cup of boiling water. Point being, you can either use fresh lavender from your garden or dried lavender to make a tea at home. (Please make sure you are using culinary grade herbs.)
When cooking with dried lavender, it is a general rule of thumb to start cooking with lavender in small quantities as too much may overpower other flavors. There are several recipes on the Harms Vineyards and Lavender Fields website for using this herb. Cooking with dried lavender once is not going to give you an instant healing, but if you begin to incorporate various high-quality herbs into your meals, over time this will have a positive impact on your health.
Here are few sites to look at in regards to cooking with lavender. Try some recipes with high quality, culinary grade lavender and let us know which recipe is your favorite!
Lhasa Karnak Herb Company: http://www.herb-inc.com