Trends & Facts : How to boost health with herbs

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (September 2015).  Eve Kalinik* extols the benefits of herbs on our wellbeing.

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Whether fragrant, grassy or aromatic in nature, herbs can transform a simple dish into something truly magnificent. But beyond their great and versatile taste, it’s the health benefits of herbs that pack the most surprising punch of all. Sadly, with the popularity of fast and convenience foods, laden with their sugar, salt and fake flavourings, we have somewhat lost our love of these very special plants. It’s about time we rediscovered just how incredibly nutritious and delicious they can be.

Let’s start back in the days before modern medicine, when the herbs that you might typically throw into your favourite supper were ubiquitously used to cure common ailments. Herbs were used in many ways – to produce teas, tinctures, tonics, rubs, pastes and poultices – and herbalists and apothecaries would prescribe treatments direct from the most bountiful first aid kit of all – Mother Nature.

Today, many of our most common drugs are in part based on the same chemical components of these readily available plants. Each of these beautiful herbs contains unique molecules – and this is what lends them their distinctive health-giving properties. Obviously, the more you can get the fresh herbs into your diet the better, but that doesn’t mean the dried versions won’t also have many fantastic benefits. All herbs – dried or fresh – contain antioxidant benefits that help to counterbalance the effects of environmental damage to our bodies, as well as being antimicrobial. You could almost think of them as your daily dose of medicine, just in the purest and most natural form.

Here are some people who are giving herbs the happening factor:

Michael Isted – herbal medicine practitioner and founder of the Herball*, his clever infusions, aromatic waters, bitters and amazing cocktail recipes will have you feeling inspired.

Olia Hercules* – food writer, stylist and chef, she creates beautifully designed and mouth-watering recipes. Her book, Mamushka (Mitchell Beazley), is brimming with herbs, but Eve particularly loves the fermented herbs seasoning; it’s mind-blowingly good!

Juice Tonic* – in the heart of London’s Soho, Juice Tonic has reinvented health drinks with a menu of juices, smoothies, tonics and pharmacy teas that blend together herbs from far and wide.

Herbs to boost health and awaken taste buds
Thyme : It lifts a classic risotto, and has been associated with supporting respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and congestion.
– Rosemary : Traditionally served with lamb, rosemary is renowned for its rheumatoid and cardiovascular benefits.
– Oregano : The base of all good Italian sauces, it has potent antimicrobial properties.
– Sage : Simply shredded through green beans, pine nuts and drizzled with olive oil, it makes for a delicious accompaniment. Sage has been revered for its support of menopausal symptoms.
– Garlic : This is the ultimate antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-parasitic herb (yes, it is a herb). Your gut will be thanking you for having more of this pungent wonder in your diet.

* Websites worth visiting:-
evekalink.com; theherball.co.uk; oliahercules.com; juicetonic.com

Further reading:

Bone Broth

Recipe courtesy of Psychologies Magazine (September 2015).

Health trends – Bone broth ?

IMG_1818The Hype

Despite having been a staple in cooking pots for centuries, bone broth has recently gained new momentum.  It’s revival can be partly attributed to the growing popularity of the Paleo diet and its superfood status is believed to be due to its easily digestible protein composition.  The protein comes from collagen found in the bones and connective tissue, which transforms into a nutrient-dense gelatin as it cooks.  A cupful is said to ensure a hit of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium and minerals that are known to help strengthen hair and nails, improve skin texture, heal your digestive system and prevent insomnia, fatigue and anxiety.

The Facts

    1. Foodies argue that bone broth is simply stock that’s had a fashionable makeover, but bone broth takes much longer to cook than stock; chicken carcasses simmer between six and 12 hours, and beef bones for up to 24 hours to ensure they fully dissolve into the water, providing bioavailable minerals to the body.
    2. Cassandra Barns, from NutriCentre, believes that bone broth an live up to the hype. ‘The minerals it contains can directly support healthy hair, skin and nails.  In addition to glycine and proline, the gelatin in bone broth is a source of substances like glucasamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid.  These are known to support the joints, ligaments and tendons’.
    3. Lily Simpson from The Detox Kitchen Bible, points out that bone broth is often treated as a meal replacement, yet it’s not a sufficient meal in itself, as it’s so low in calories. ‘I would treat bone like miso soup and serve as a nourshing low-calorie snack during the day to boost your nutrient intake.’

The Verdict

Bone broth is a great source of bio-available nutrients.  Rob Hobson from The Detox Kitchen Bible says, ‘There isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest bone broth can treat conditions such as IBS.  However, gelatin found in bone broth forms a key component of the GAPS (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) diet designed to improve digestive health.  Collagen makes up connective tissue in joints, so that may help in the case of osteoarthritis, but I wouldn’t consider it a reliable treatment.’