One spring day I turned to herbs and spices to get me through the noise challenge of getting a new roof. I sipped herbal tea spiked with allspice. It calmed my nerves. In the late afternoon, I believe the herb-infused dark chocolates infused with vanilla and cayenne I ate was a gift of feeling good and chill. The new roof was completed in one day, the dog rescued from the kennel before 6:00 p.m. It was done. We survived the event.
To this day I give credit to the wonder of calming herbs and spices. You’ll be amazed to discover how each of these herbs and spices can be used topically or consumed and put to work in many ways -- and during the shoulder season when it's hot and cold outdoors. Sometimes, Mother Nature knows best. It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Read on.
#1 CHILLAX WITH R&R ALLSPICE: Even though Lake Tahoe is bliss, stress overload can happen anywhere and is often a trigger for high anxiety, slamming the nervous system on overdrive. Most people will feel anxious, sooner or later. That means worrying to falling into the “what if?” trap, feeling edgy, irritable, and distracted are some of the symptoms that’ll pay you a visit. Worrying about things you cannot control can cause a racing heart, feeling on edge, and simply feeling out of sync with reality.
But allspice can come to your rescue! Put a dash of allspice in a 12-ounce cup of chamomile, black, green, or white tea. Savor the moment. Sip a cup of the spicy brew. Repeat as needed.
Allspice is a mixture of calming compounds. It contains anti-inflammatory ingredients that can quell pain. If you have a headache or backache, for instance, it can trigger stress, and anxiety may follow. Once the inflammation is lessened, however, a sense of centeredness may be the end result. It is also comforting in a cup of joe and/or if infused in a homemade warm cinnamon roll.
#2 BREW SCENT-SATIONAL POTPOURRI IN A POT: Yes, a simmering potpourri can provide an amazing aroma in your home. Try combining 3 cups water and 2 lemons with peels. Place them in a pot. Add spices, such as cinnamon and vanilla. Heat to a boil and then turn down the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Your kitchen will smell sublime this season of renewal.
#3 GET ZZZ’S HERBAL COCKTAIL: Medical doctors will tell you anxiety and stress, can trigger sleepless nights and broken sleep. For insomnia, herbs such as these nature’s sedative mixed with good bedtime habits may help you to get sleep.
For shut-eye herbal relief, measure ½ cup chamomile flowers, 1 teaspoon lavender flowers, and 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (all dried for convenience). Combine herbs. Take a teaspoon of the calming herb mixture and add to 1 cup of hot water. Let sit for 3 minutes. Strain. Add honey (go local) to taste. Sip before bedtime. (You can also purchase ready-made chamomile lavender tea bags at our local grocery stores or health food store.)
A RENEWAL BONUS: During springtime on the South Shore, which goes from late March through late June, the signs of gardens with life of herbs start to sprout. That means fresh leaves, buds, and flowers pop up with the promise of life and vibrant colors around the Lake. Herbal gardens – indoors by the window sills are ready for you to grow; and it’s time to freshen up your dried spice pantry!
Eating during spring is a time to detox, enjoy lighter foods and beverages, complemented by lighter herbs and spices. Try cilantro, chives, dill, garlic, marjoram, parsley, and turmeric. These aromatic and flavorful healing timeless treasures will whisk you into the summer season.
Adapted from The Healing Powers of Herbs and Spices.
-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is http://www.calorey.com.