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Herbalist Library: Herbs in the Kitchen

A fun and powerful way to infuse herbs into your everyday rituals is through medicinal cooking. While this may seem like a trend of the times, this is actually how our ancestors stayed satiated and vibrant through the seasons. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), practitioners infuse tonifying plants like jujube dates and adaptogenic astragalus root into immune-boosting broths. And spicy curry, chai, and golden milk tea may all just seem like delicious Indian foods, but these foods pack medicinal punch with plants like turmeric and tummy-taming ginger.* Every traditional herbal practice has its own delicious take on Hippocrates’ idea of “food as medicine”; here are some of our favorite books that inspire us to see our kitchen as an herbal apothecary.

Ayurveda: A Life of Balance by Maya Tiwari is an essential guide for students of Ayurveda, a sister practice to yoga, which aims to teach the knowledge of life. Tiwari first asks the reader to understand their own unique dosha—or constitution—then guides toward appropriate Ayurvedic nutritional therapies and rituals to bring the body back into balance. This highly regarded Ayurvedic practitioner teaches from a place of wisdom, sharing her knowledge through the lens of her past personal journey with cancer.

Be Radical, Eat Traditional by Sarah Kate Benjamin and Summer Ashley Singletary offers a fresh take on herbal medicine by two of herbalism’s rising stars. Their approachable and delicious recipes serve as a starting point; what they really do is entice readers to consider a more holistic, intentional lifestyle. Their book is an indispensable tool for those just starting to bring their wellness journey into the kitchen, and their blog—The Kosmic Kitchen—keeps you current on their plant-inspired musings and their modern takes on traditional remedies.

Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition by Paul Pitchford is a comprehensive guide on both traditional foods and herbs from a TCM perspective. Pitchford reminds us to start by understanding the elements and how our body naturally interacts with them while we are in or out of balance. If you’re running hot, cold, damp, or dry, you may need different forms of nourishment. And by understanding the five tastes, we can do more than just satiate hunger; we can nourish, balance, and heal.

The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride could easily be called “The Herbal Foods Encyclopedia.” This easy-to-use herbal resource includes 50 easy-to-find herbs and over 250 recipes infused with medicinal plants. If you’re looking to heighten the benefit of booze by making an herbal cordial or make butter better by crafting a therapeutic ghee, this book belongs in your kitchen.

Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health by Rosemary Gladstar is an all-time herbal classic—and we’re not just saying that because she’s the co-founder of Traditional Medicinals! Since its original release in the early 2000s, Rosemary’s book has become a staple in almost every herbalist’s library. Whether you’re taking powdered herbal stimulants in her honey and nut butter Zoom Balls, preparing her pickled nettles, or enjoying the 7-Herb Long-Life Soup, you can’t deny that she makes each bite of medicine unbelievably delicious.

Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han takes herbal beverages to the next level. Not only does Han give unique alternatives to modern classics, like Dandelion and Burdock Soda or Apple and Sage Wine, she also includes medicinal benefits and the historical context in each chapter. Try using our Turmeric with Meadowseet & Ginger tea in her Turmeric Switchel recipe on page 108.

For more herbal resources, check out our article Herbalist Library: Identifying Wild Medicinals—these books are perfect companions to a spring hike. Or, if you’re looking to start cooking now, head over to the DIY section of our Plant Power Journal.

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