Book Review: THE HERBAL KITCHEN

Author: Kami McBride
Publisher: Conari Press
Book Publication: 2010

There’s a strong chance that you have a plentiful supply of herbs in your kitchen, but you probably don’t know just how helpful these basic ingredients can be when it comes to improving your health. According to author Kami McBride, The Herbal Kitchen is about reclaiming the indispensable skill of using herbs to prevent sickness and take care of home ailments. Nurturing the life around us with the medicine from the kitchen revives our relationship with the plants and empowers our ability to understand our food, our body, and our relationship to sustaining healthy life.” All you need to make these considerable improvements are popular herbs, so it’s worth using this book to learn the multitudinous ways to put them to work.

The book is divided into several sections, the first of which provides a basic overview of 50 herbs that most people would have on hand, or at least have access to. Here you learn the medicinal uses for the herbs, along with ways to incorporate them into your lifestyle, particularly your diet. Next come recipes for herbal waters, drinks, and smoothies, followed by herbal honey, vinegar, and oil recipes, among others. The recipes aren’t only diet-based, however, and so you can also learn how to make herbal baths and foot soaks that will have you healthy and relaxed in no time (with names like “Emotional Rescue Bath” and “Love Your Life Healing Bath,” how can they not help?).

I found the herb introductions at the beginning of the book to be the most useful, as the benefits of each herb are described in great detail. Here you not only learn which ailments can be helped, but also many tasty and efficient ways to implement the herbs into your diet. The virus-fighting benefits of these simple herbs are astonishing, and that information is particularly useful at this time of the year, when the cold and flu are running rampant throughout our homes – it seems like almost every herb in your cabinet can help prevent or fight these sicknesses.

I am by no means a culinary expert, so almost all of this information was new to me. While the first section was helpful, the later recipe sections were a bit daunting, as I haven’t yet advanced to stages involving making my own cordials, ghee, or pesto. I did, however, take a keen interest in the drink recipes, since I know I can handle throwing a few herbs and some fruit together to create a refreshing blend of herbal water. While I’m not perhaps the most suited for this book, if you happen to already possess any cooking prowess, and a lot of different herbs, these recipes will be perfect for you. And even a novice like me has certain recipes bookmarked, like the “Peppermint-Lavender Lemonade,” and “Mulled Cider” (recipe below):

MULLED CIDER
People feel welcomed by the warming, spicy smell of these herbs infusing in the kitchen.

  • 4 quarts apple cider
  • 5 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 astragalus sticks
  • 2 Tbsp allspice berries
  • 1 teaspoon powdered clove
  • 1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • Peel from one orange

Pour the cider into a large pot over low heat. Put the herbs into a piece of muslin. You can purchase empty, pre-made muslin pouches, or just make your own, tying the fabric closed with a piece of string. Put the bag full of herbs into the apple cider and let them infuse for one hour before drinking. Keep cider warm on the lowest stove setting and leave the bag of herbs in the pot until the cider is finished.While I don’t feel confident enough to put some of the recipes to use, I have learned a number of fun facts that I’ll be sure to store away for the future. For example, I don’t have much desire to eat raw garlic to fight a cold, but it turns out you can just rub a garlic clove along the bottom of your foot: “The antibacterial oils enter the bloodstream through the feet and help fight off a cold without you even having to eat the garlic!”  And here’s a yummy, sweet recipe for preventing winter colds:

CINNAMON HONEY

If you are catching a cold, make a tea with Cinnamon Honey and it will help to send your cold on its way. To make the tea, put 1 Tbsp of Cinnamon Honey into 1 cup of hot water and let it cool a bit before drinking. Drink two or three servings a day.

Ingredients of Cinnamon Honey – 1 cup honey; 3 Tbsp powdered cinnamon, 1 teaspoon powdered allspice

With other fun tips, like using lavender to clean your home or putting nutmeg in warm milk to fight insomnia, this book offers something for everyone, no matter what your comfort level with herbs may be. And even just the basic virus-fighting information is more than useful to anyone who’s starting to feel the effects of the oncoming winter season.

Note: Kami McBride is the founder of The Living Awareness Institute dedicated to herbal and women’s wellness studies in Northern California. You can visit her online at: www.livingawareness.com

 

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