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Herbal Thanksgiving

When we think of Thanksgiving, we think of a time when we fill our homes with friends, family, love and an abundance of food. In fact, many of us have a food hangover by early evening. While it may seem impossible to stay entirely healthy on this day of feasting, we assure you that herbs can help. Our herbal experts came together and made a list of vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes infused with herbs to support you during this celebration of gratitude.

Our wild rice dish has a healthy mix of dried fruits, nuts and seeds in combination with astragalus root. This root has been commonly used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It’s often used in soups or bone broths to nourish and tonify the body. It does this by supporting our immune system,* making it a perfect dish to enjoy during colder times of the year.

Wild Rice with Astragalus

Our wild rice dish has a healthy mix of dried fruits, nuts and seeds in combination with astragalus root.

Servings: 8-10

Time: 45 minutes

Materials:

  • Pot with cover
  • Pan (optional, to toast seeds and nuts)
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of wild rice
  • 6 cups of water
  • ½ cup of toasted seeds (pumpkin, chia and/or sunflower)
  • 2 cups of toasted nuts (cashews, pistachios and/or almonds)
  • 1 cup of dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or whatever you have handy)
  • 8-10 astragalus root slices
  • 2 handfuls of chopped herbs (like fennel, rosemary or parsley)
  • Dried herbs to taste (such as 1 bay leaf or ½ star anise pod)
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Fill the pot with rice, water, astragalus sticks and dried herbs. Star anise pods and bay leaves are very strong flavors, if you do end up using these it is better to go light and use the whole herb.
  2. Cook on medium, and allow the mixture to simmer until the water is cooked out. Should take 20-30 minutes.
  3. During this time, chop the nuts and toast them along with the seeds and a couple pinches of salt.
  4. Lightly chop your fresh herbs of choice.
  5. Once the rice is done cooking, remove the astragalus root pieces.
  6. Place the rice in a serving tray with salt to taste. Toss and garnish with the nuts, seeds, dried fruits and freshly chopped herbs.

A golden biscuit on Thanksgiving is sort of unavoidable, so we like to turn it up a notch with turmeric. These buttermilk biscuits will have a golden yellow hue with a subtle taste of turmeric. This rhizome also has a long history of use in both Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda (an ancient medicine practice native to India). You will commonly see this plant used in curries, rice dishes and as a tea or golden milk in the East. It’s slightly bitter, making it an ideal candidate to support your digestive system during holiday meals.*

Turmeric Buttermilk Biscuits

These buttermilk biscuits will have a golden yellow hue with a subtle taste of turmeric.

Servings: 10-12

Time: 1.5 hours

Materials:

Rolling pin

Counter space

2-3 mixing bowls

2-3 baking sheets

Parchment paper (recommended for quick cleanup when rolling out the dough)

Metal spatula

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ teaspoon salt

2 ½ tablespoons turmeric powder

¼ teaspoon ginger powder

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 cup of buttermilk

¼ cup heavy cream

Directions:

1. Line rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a non-metallic bowl.

3. Grate the butter with a box cheese grater. Put this aside in the freezer for at least a ½ hour before putting into the flour mixture.

4. Add 1 cup buttermilk and ¼ cup heavy cream together.

5. Toss gently all ingredients including the dry, wet and butter shavings.

6. Roll out mixture (it’s going to be a bit coarse at first) using a floured surface. Now smear the butter flecks into the flour mixture.

7. Roll it out five times. Roll dough into 12 x 9 inch rectangle with a short side parallel to edge of counter. Starting at bottom of dough, fold into thirds like a business letter, using a bench scraper or metal spatula to release dough from counter. Press top of dough firmly to seal folds. Turn dough 90 degrees clockwise. Repeat rolling into 12 x 9 inch rectangles, folding into thirds, for a total of 5 times. Use a good firm rolling pin press for this process.

8. After the last set of folds, roll dough into a squared shape about 1 inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared sheet, cover with plastic wrap (or parchment paper), and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

9. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

10. Transfer chilled dough to lightly floured surface.

11. Using sharp knife, cut into 1 x 1 inch squares.

12. Place them an inch apart on your prepared baking sheets.

13. You can at this point use some melted butter to brush the tops of the squares.

14. Bake until tops are brown for about 7-10 minutes, rotate sheets, and bake another 7-10 minutes.

15. Transfer to wire racks to cool for 15 minutes, outside the oven.

16. Now your golden biscuits are ready to be served! If you’re serving them within two days we would not suggest refrigeration. You should end up with 40-50 1X1 inch bite size squares, with 3-6 bites being a proper dose of herbal goodness for each guest.

To top it off, we’ve added a sweet way to take your herbs, a Spiced Pumpkin and Reishi Mushroom Pie. Reishi is one of the most well-known and respected mushrooms of Asia, and it’s sometimes called “the elixir of life.” While it has many different uses, we love it for its powerful immune supporting properties.*

Spiced Pumpkin and Reishi Mushroom Pie

A Spiced Pumpkin and Reishi Mushroom Pie is a sweet way to take your Thanksgiving herbs.

Servings: 8-10

Time: 1.5 hours

Materials:

9 inch pie pan

Blender and/or whisks

Two large mixing bowls

Juicer or garlic press (to juice ginger, which is optional)

Ingredients: 

Pie:

1 ¾ cups of cooked and mashed pumpkin

1 ½ cups of evaporated milk

2/3 cups of brown sugar

2 tablespoons sugar

2 large eggs

9 inch frozen pie crust

½ teaspoon of salt

1 ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon

½ teaspoon of dried ginger

¼ teaspoon of nutmeg

½ teaspoon of cardamom

2 tablespoons of reishi powder

1 thumb of freshly juiced ginger rhizome (optional)

Toppings:

1/3 cup of packed brown sugar

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1 tablespoon of butter (at room temperature)

Whipped cream for garnish

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Mix together the pumpkin, spices, reishi powder, ginger juice, milk, sugars and salt until smooth.

3. Beat the eggs separately, and then add them to the mix. You can use a blender if you’re having any trouble.

4. Pour into your pie crust, bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 and bake for 30-45 minutes longer.

5. Just before the pie is done baking, create the topping. Mix together the butter, pecans and brown sugar. Then, once the pie is done, spread around the pie’s outer circle, like a wreath, leaving the center empty. Then bake for another 10 minutes.

6. You can make sure the pie is finished by sticking a fork in the center. If it comes out clean, the pie is done cooking.

7. If you’d like the pie to be chilled, place in the fridge for four hours. Then add a dollop of whipped cream to each slice you serve. If you’re making whipped cream from scratch (by using heavy cream) you can add in ¼ tsp of ginger juice and a teaspoon of vanilla extra for extra flavor.

You can get most of these ingredients at your local health food store and herbal apothecary. If you don’t have an apothecary nearby, Mountain Rose Herbs is a great alternative.

For digestive support, we’d suggest taking some bitters about 30 minutes before the big feast. If you’d like to make your own, you can try making our Citrus Spiced Dandelion Bitters.

We’re certain that after your guests taste these dishes infused with herbs, they too will understand your passion for the plants. We hope your Thanksgiving meal brings you an abundance of wellness and deepens your connections with these medicinal plant allies.

We’d like to take the opportunity this Thanksgiving to show gratitude to the plants, as they are some of our greatest gifts and teachers.

*Please note that people with auto-immune disorders or taking immunosuppressant drugs should consult their healthcare practitioner prior to use of astragalus or reishi.

Posted in DIY on November 20, 2015