Holiday Cooking with Healthful Herbs


All functional herbs taste bad. Or so you might think, if you’ve only tried the concoctions from your Chinese herbalist or local herb tonic bar. But it ain’t necessarily so. And they’re delicious, too. Exhibits A and B-although we think of them as food spices here, ginger and black pepper are two of the most respected and widely used herbs in Asia.

Who doesn’t love a yummy Chinese meal? With a little finesse in the kitchen, that feast can also be a healing recipe. The scrumptious cuisines of India and China prove that health can be very, very tasty. The surprise is that both cuisines began, thousands of years ago, as medical dietary programs. The objective? Get a bunch of healing herbs into people. The solution? Make ‘em taste very, very good. Those complex recipes were a great way to make healing herbs into delectable culinary delights. The cuisines matured over time, and complicated mixtures of food ingredients, herbal medicines, and flavorings coalesced into a tasty gastronomy that warms the soul and pleases the palate.

The list of international herbal  foods is huge, but we can start with a selection that will add some delicious flavor and health support to your winter menu.

• Make a tea of Astragalus root and use it as a broth or soup base. The tea makes a good liquid in which to cook rice, instead of plain water. Winter holiday time is cold weathers season when our bodies need warming and tonifying herbs, so you can even start a hearty winter stew with Astragalus broth.
• Add pungent spices to yogurt to make a tasty tonic.

Many of the  herbs and spices you enjoy in Yogi teas make great additions to your holiday foods. You’re familiar with cinnamon, clove and ginger, but have you thought about adding rooibos tea to your favorite cranberry or sweet potato recipe? Here are a few more suggestions:

• Believe it or not, green tea makes a delicious addition to grain and casserole dishes. Before cooking your grain, brew in a tea bag of green tea. Then cook the grain as usual. If you like a stronger green tea flavor, increase the number of bags. Consider the same idea with a spicy black tea. Warm, delicious, exotic.
• Green tea cookies have that certain Japanese vibe. Remove the green tea from the tea bag, grind it, and use in a quality Asian cookie recipe. For a berry twist, use Yogi’s Green Tea Goji Berry, with matcha green tea.
• Indian tea spice cookies are a crowd pleaser. Brew your tea as usual, and substitute the brewed tea for some of the liquid in the recipe.
• Green beans are usually a sad, lonely addition to the holiday table. Perk them up with mint by brewing mint tea (1 tea bag per cup of water) and using it instead of plain water to cook the vegetable. Some people even like a licorice-mint combination.
• Speaking of licorice, glaze your baked tofu entrée with a little of this earthy sweet herb. Brew licorice tea and mix with your sweetener, such as agave syrup, for a sauce that will put a smile on your tongue. Some people like an earthier version, using more pungent spices. Why not try it on potatoes, too?

Here’s a great holiday cookie recipe using Peach Detox tea. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out. Reviews so far have been great. Scrumptious!

Apricot Peach Detox Cookies

1/2 Cup boiling water
2-4 bags Yogi Peach Detox Tea
1/2 Cup butter
1/2 Cup cane sugar
1/2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1/2 Cup WW pastry flour
1/2 Cup and 1 Tbs unbleached white flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 Cup chopped walnuts

In medium saucepan or bowl, add tea bags to boiling water and let steep for 7 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add 1/4 cup dried chopped apricots and let soak. When water is cool (about 10 minutes), blend. Add blended apricot/brewed tea mixture to butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix for several minutes. Add natural vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients (whole wheat pastry flour, unbleached white flour, baking soda, salt and walnuts). Mix thoroughly.
Drop 1 Tbs dough for each cookie on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F. Makes about 20 cookies. Recipe credit Sewa Kaur.


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The Tea Talk Blog is written by Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa, Yogi herbalist with over 40 years experience.
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