The Four Basic Herbs of Thanksgiving
It's always this time of year that I begin to long for the taste of a few special herbs. Thanksgiving fast approaches and what are those herbs that most bring this holiday to mind? You know the song...Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.
But I wondered why? Well, when the cold winds begin to blow, we often leave salads behind and begin to eat heavier, more comforting types of food. Thanksgiving is the kick-off for that. Meals often center around fatty meats, gravies, breads and casseroles. It's our bodies saying, "Hey, I need some fat to make it through the winter!"
The four favorite herbs used to flavor those foods are not only comforting, but they also have value in other ways and that is why they are traditionally chosen, down through the years, to add their flavor to our tables. They happen to be easy herbs to work with, both in terms of cooking and growing.
Let's take a look at each one, beginning with Parsley (Petroselinum crispum). Since medieval times, it was thought that eating a few leaves or sprigs of this with your meal, helped the digestion, especially with fatty meals. It is good for sour stomachs too. It alkalizes all the systems of the body, something that is pretty rare from the plant world. Researchers have found that alkalizing foods only have the ability to promote alkalinity in one or two body systems, so other systems can remain acidic. You can add it to many of your foods, while drinking smoothies, teas and juices made with it, too. It has a ton of vitamins and minerals, and you can't go wrong adding it to your diet.
Sage (Salvia officinalis) has in Celtic traditions, been associated with immortality. Today, we use it to add to our holiday stuffing recipes. Sage is drying and so is helpful for chest congestion. It is antiseptic. Recent research has shown it to be very helpful for diarrhea and other digestive issues. It is loaded with antioxidants. It is a staple in foods all around the world. One study found that drinking 1 cup (240 ml) of sage tea twice daily significantly increased antioxidant defenses. It also lowered both total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as raised “good” HDL cholesterol.
Rosemary (Rosmarinius officinalis) is a long beloved herb as well as being tasty. Rosemary for remembrance, is an ancient saying and connected with love and affection. Surprise, surprise! It is also good for digestion. It is also anti-inflammatory. It helps to boost the immune system, boosts blood circulation and helps to reduce anxiety and stress.
Last on our list, Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), has been used for thousands of years because it has many healing or medicinal properties, as well as being pretty tasty too. It is easy to work with as it stands up to long cooking times, so it is wonderful to add to soups, stews and casseroles or any dishes that require long cooking times. It is pretty pungent so a little goes a long way. However, it is antioxidant, antiseptic and antimicrobial. In other words, it can keep you healthy and boosts your mood as well as your immune system.
So, there you go, while you are busy in the kitchen (eating or cooking), when you encounter one of these herbs, you will be assured that your body is going to thank you in more ways than one. These herbs have been tested through thousands of years and in the years to come, will continue to add a bit of taste, as well as health to us as we add them to our holiday table. Happy Thanksgiving all!