Wild Roots Apothecary’s Spicy Nicey Thanksgiving Guide

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Wild Roots Apothecary’s Spicy Nicey Thanksgiving Guide:

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. It is also the day when my husband doesn’t complain that I have used every pot and pan in the kitchen while he - willingly - cleans up behind me! I also herb up everything: yep I put some nutmeg in my bourbon pecan pie (and a little in my bourbon too).

Spice is so nice: knowing that your family is getting a boost of immunity from their “cinnamon” hot cocoa or from adding a little cayenne to your honey for a nice Hot Whiskey?  Boom. Simple right?

This is my rough guide to adding a little oomph of herbal wonder to your Thanksgiving festivities and a little bit of a why these herbs are so good for you, too.

Nutmeg

Um yep. This little nugget (get it?) is one of those perfect herbs that everyone loves. You can try grating it fresh into your dry rub on the turkey.  My mom used to use something called poultry seasoning and then she’d add a little bit more of powdered sage and then a little bit of nutmeg and rub all of that all over the bird before it went in the oven. I’ll also add it whipped cream (think: pies, Irish coffees, eggnog), add it into butter for sweet potatoes, in your Negroni or Old Fashioned cocktails. I do have one request though: seek out FRESH nutmeg seeds because, for one, the fresh ones aren’t irradiated so you’re getting the herbal benefits and, two, they taste at least a hundred times better than the powder. I have them in the Apothecary and I squirrel them away for only the people who deserve them...just kidding - stop in during shop hours and we’ll get you covered. 

Herbal Benefits of Nutmeg

Nutmeg is an anti-anxiety herb and helps to stabilize moods. I don’t use it necessarily as my go-to but I does register for some people. Nutmeg promotes sleep and digestion and it is also a little bit of an aphrodisiac. So get it on!  A little goes a long way with this herb. And as a reminder, nutmeg can be toxic in large amounts so just a grate or five will do you*.

Fennel

Did you know that roasted fennel is a thing of beauty? You didn’t?! What? Come on! Well it is. I give them a long slow cook in cream and butter (with a little thyme tucked in) until the bulbs turn all caramelly and velvety. With fennel, this is one of those I’m cooking and I’m eating all of it situations.  What to do with the leftover greens? I used to through them into my Herbal Bone Broth with Peelings Stock (click for recipe) but now I actually make a beautiful tummy-helping after-dinner tisane** (fresh herbs and hot water) with the leftover fennel fronds, a little bit of fresh ginger and maybe some slices of apples for sweetness. 

Other culinary uses for fennel during the holidaze and beyond: Add a couple tablespoons to your favorite rolls along with rosemary and thyme, muddle a ½ piece of fennel and a little squeeze of grapefruit juice before you make your favorite Gin & Tonic, make an infused honey with a few lemon peels, the fennel fronds and maybe some peppercorns - create for drizzling on fish and in a cocktail.

Herbal Benefits of Fennel

Fennel is a digestive ninja: it will calm the belly, reduce bloating, and a nice all-around antispasmodic after and before dinner.

Sage

This is one of my favorite herbs and I wrote a love story to sage {here}: I use a lot of sage throughout the year, specifically for the way that sage can make almost anything taste homey. This classic herb can dress up a few of my favorite things: I love to infuse a little bit of this aromatic in my cream for my mashed potatoes, in a cocktail with any citrus (it’s one of my favorite garnishes), in any stuffing mixture, or if I’m feeling under the weather or tired, I’ll sip a cup of this tea throughout the day to keep me warm and feeling all right. 

Herbal Benefits of Sage

Sage is antifungal properties, anticatarrhal, antispasmodic, one of my favorites for sore throats. 

Parsley

Oh yes! Let’s talk about the silly use of parsley as a garnish. I’m not sure when that started happening but this ubiquitous herb is fantastic for so many reasons. On my holiday table, I take a few of the perfect green leaves for my crescent rolls before I bake them (they are 90% butter but oh so perfect). A handful finely chopped parsley also shines nicely in gravy. Although I won’t put this in my mashed potatoes day of, the next morning it definitely goes into my mashed potato pancakes. Any leftover parsley stems should be saved and added to your next bone broth making. 

Herbal Benefits of Parsley

Parsley is like the scrubbing bubbles for the inside of the body: it helps to strengthen all the systems and is often a dietary add-in because it is high in Vitamin K1 (which is crucial for heart health). Parsley aids and soothes digestion, offers a diuretic component and can soothe a urinary tract infection.

Rosemary

Rosemary is always in my trifecta of Thanksgiving herbal bundles (rosemary, thyme, sage). With it’s pungent aroma reminiscent of pine, this one offers a bounty both for both culinary and medicinal uses. Rosemary is one of those herbs you have to use sparingly but, dang, the depth it adds to my cooking is profound.  Rosemary is one of my favorites chopped and add along with brown sugar and butter to baste my Delicata, Koginut or Honeynut*** squash or tucked into the crust of my apple pie. I also will place this (aka shove it) under the skin of my turkey if I’m going that flavor route.  Rosemary pairs well with citrusy flavors. And yes, cocktail-wise, I love a little rosemary tucked into my Sazerac.

Herbal Benefits of Rosemary

Rosemary is high in antioxidants and volatile oils so it runs the gamut of health: memory health, anti-cancer, skin protection, heart health, hair loss, colds & flus and digestion support. 

Thyme

Oh, this one....I have a treasured pot of this herb in my kitchen all the time. I’ll pluck a bit of this for something daily when I’m cooking or needing a bright flavor profile.  I add thyme to my stuffing (dressing) in big sprigs (that I then pull out before serving). I’ll add it to the cooking liquid of my cranberry sauce, it’s great to tuck under the skin of the turkey, thyme is a nice addition to your roasted or steamed Brussels sprouts, and into any gravy.  Cocktail-wise, thyme can be added into vodka for 2-3 hours and then used as a base for an Herby Cosmo or even Vodka Tonics. I’ll also infuse the stems and left-over bits in some either some honey, oil, or vinegar for a couple days as a base for all the good things to come. Thyme can be found as several varietals but Lemon Thyme is my favorite by far.

Herbal Benefits of Thyme

Thyme is fantastic for upper respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, congested sinuses (as a steam and a tea), expectorant, for colds and flus, fungal infections, just to start. It is more powerful as a dried herb: so for the medicinal uses I’ll use it dried and for culinary needs I’ll keep it fresh. Either way you’re getting all the goodness in your system from thyme.

Cacao

What place does chocolate have at Thanksgiving? Shame on you, Colleen, for this blasphemy! Truth be told, my favorite pie isn’t a classic apple or pumpkin but, rather, it is a rich chocolate French silk pie that my sister used to make for my other sisters birthday (that falls near near Thanksgiving). I would hound over that pie and she only brought one and my mom would cut it into 16ths so we’d all get a piece - we served it with a lot of Cool Whip and I treasure that memory. I still love my desserts and I always save room for coffee and pie at the end of my meal...and again at 9pm when I just need a little slice...and yet again 6am with my coffee...you get the picture. I love the depth of cacao and use it in my dry rub for my turkey - adding just a little bit goes a long way (my usual turkey dry rub is: cacao, white pepper, garlic powder, paprika, brown sugar, salt) and of course in my sister’s chocolate pie. 

Herbal Benefits of Cacao

Cacao is wonderful for the cardiovascular system as it is a heart protectant (along with hawthorn), improves mood (duh), supports healthy cholesterol levels, increases energy, and helps to decrease inflammation throughout the body.  

Peppercorns

I love pink & green peppercorns this time of year. I love the sweet and spicy aromatics and will often drop the pink ones into my chai tea blends, crush a bit on top of my Gin & Tonic, add a few grinds to my mashed potatoes and... possibly everywhere else. Sometimes I’ll even balance the flavors of my pecan pie with a couple grinds of this spice. 

Herbal Benefits of Peppercorn

So we’ve all heard about peppercorn and turmeric being synergistic soulmates, one shouldn’t exist without the other. BUT have we really honed in on the why?  The sharp spicy compound in pepper is a piperine, it’s a potent antioxidant, antibacterial, anti inflammatory and stimulating.  So when you add the piperine to the constituent in Turmeric of curcumin (in turmeric) which enhance the absorption of this vital So it speeds up your cells energy production increases the burn rate of calories and move the energy throughout the body faster.  Also a little goes a long way with this one.

Ginger

I’ve written a lot about ginger on our blog: The Fire of Ginger: Herbal Remedies with Ginger.

And, I beg you, for the love of spice, use ginger in your holiday cocktails or mocktails! Get fancy with it: grate it into your whipped cream, it’d better be in your pumpkin pie, put it in your cranberry sauce and enjoy.   I love a little muddled ginger in all my fall/winter cocktailing: Spicy Pomegranate Margaritas, warming Gin & Tonic, or a wee slice in my Boulevardier or Manhattan. My favorite cocktail with ginger is Champagne-Cider Cocktail (a slice of ginger and add a .5 oz of good apple cider topped with your favorite Sparkling Wine or Champagne). The ginger’s heat blossoms as the cocktail disappears and you are left with a treat of munching on the ginger slice afterwards for a digestive bonus. 

Herbal Benefits of Ginger

Ginger is a warming carminative (calming to the digestive tract) so it helps to increase digestion. Ginger is my favorite for queasy stomachs, migraines (try a bite of ginger or a strong ginger tea), inflammation and pain. In general, ginger is an herbal stimulant: it helps MOVE all the energy of the body. 

Cinnamon

I almost didn’t include cinnamon because it was an obvious choice, right? But, hear me out, adding cinnamon to your Thanksgiving feast simply makes everything feel right in the world. I don’t have any extra ideas for cinnamon (whipped cream, cocktails, cranberry sauce, turkey rub, sprinkled on sweet potatoes) that you don’t already know for Thanksgiving Day. But I do have a solid suggestion for the Day Three of the holiday weekend when everyone is over and done with more leftovers...and you are, too. I love Pho. Like... really love it…Pho is restorative, nourishing and has a cleansing nature. I add the trifecta of star anise, cinnamon and coriander to my turkey bone broth and make it all sing. You can find my nourishing bone broth recipe here: Herbal Bone Broth with Peelings and then simply add 4 cinnamon sticks, 10 star anise pods and about a ½ cup of coriander seeds. 

Herbal Benefits of Cinnamon

Cinnamon is warming, an antioxidant, it helps balance blood sugar, helps to relieve arthritis pain, it is a demulcent keep your mucous membranes moist and healthy.  it helps numb pain (analgesic) and cinnamon is antimicrobial...sounds pretty perfect for getting on the cinnamon train!

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I hope this offers a little more insight to the power of herbal remedies sitting on your Thanksgiving table. Thanksgiving is one day of the year but, remember, adding more herbs into your diet and life can help you transform your health and well-being.  

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guides and faq's for this guide. 

*A Warning on Nutmeg: https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/25/a-warning-on-nutmeg/

**What is Tisane? https://www.thespruceeats.com/tisane-herbal-infusion-basics-766322

***What is a Koginut or Honeynut Squash? Oh! You’ll want to try these in your garden next year (the Honeynut...mmm mmm...a more flavorful - and smaller - version of Butternut). Dreamed up with the help of acclaimed chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill/Row 7 Seeds. Find out more here: https://www.row7seeds.com/pages/our-story and here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/27/dining/row-7-seed-company-dan-barber.html

**** Curcumin & Peperine: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/turmeric-and-black-pepper#active-ingredients

Disclaimer: 

All health, wellness, herbal and nutrition information published on this website is for informational purposes only and not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or disease. You are choosing to follow or experiment with this information as you choose and at your own discretion and risk. Wild Roots Apothecary is not liable for any health outcomes resulting from the published information.

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  • Loved this post. So informative. Thanks for sharing your knowledge!

    Lauren on

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