Winter, and your fluffy pow! Oh how we love you so! Especially when we've got the best herbs to keep us warm from our fingers to our toes, and back up to our rosy nose!
Around here we live for the days the cool crisp air, flakes falling down. Seriously, nothing is better than a day of epic snow play. It’s exhilarating, exciting, and filled with endless adventure!
One of my favorite things to do when it’s cold outside is to use warming herbs to keep me toasty no matter how deep the snow may be.
There are so many great ones out there, and below I'm going to share my favs with you, and some super tasty recipes to take on your next backcountry adventure!
I love to cook with Ginger! It’s warming and a great circulatory stimulant. It’s brings blood to your extremities helping to warm them right up. A simple hot cup of ginger tea can work wonders to get you nice and cozy from the inside out. All you have to do is grab a hunk of ginger rhizome from your local grocery store, preferably organic, cut a little chunk about the size of your thumbnail, and pour boiling water over it. If you’ve got a plate or something like that to cover it and keep the steam and volatile oils, then after 10 or more minutes, add some lemon or honey if that’s your jam. It’s super yum!
This past week, I made one of my favorite soups. It’s a 10 Spice & Veggie Soup from the 'Oh She Glows' website. It’s a whole lot of yummy veggies like carrots, peppers, butternut squash, tomatoes, celery, and some others I’m forgetting now but the awesome 10 spices include:
- 2 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
It’s warming, it’s delicious, and uber nutritious! Click here for the full recipe.
You could also make yourself a nice curry. There are so many fantastic warming herbs in a curry dish, plus you get the extra benefits of a whole rainbow of colorful vegetables to add in. The sky is the limit as far as what you can experiment and play with here!
Some common warming herbs to add to your curry dishes are:
You could add other herbs such as:
Along with fresh aromatics such as garlic, onion, cilantro, lemongrass, lime and lemon, you can make it with the rainbow of veggies. You could also make it as a rub for your meats, use it as a popcorn seasoning, or simply add some coconut milk to it.
Speaking of coconut milk, another favorite of mine when it comes to warming beverages is making Golden Milk. It’s sooooo yummy, and you can totally get creative with which herbs you choose to add to yours. I’ve got a basic recipe for you here, and you’re welcome to check out my blog post on Why Gut Health Is So Important.
- 1 cup coconut milk (preferably homemade, try this recipe from Wellness Mama)
- 1 Cinnamon stick
- 1 chunk of fresh turmeric, about 1 inch, or 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric
- 1 chunk of ginger, unpeeled & thinly sliced
- 1 TBL honey
- 1 TBL virgin coconut oil
- 1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 2 whole cloves
- Dash of ground cinnamon as a garnish
- With a mortar and pestle, crush your peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom pods.
- Put your milk in a small saucepan, and simmer on low with all of the ingredients, minus the honey, for 5-10 minutes.
- Strain the concoction into a clean mug. Add your honey to taste, or not.
Healthy Hot Cocoa
Another favorite drink of mine to warm you right up in the winter time is a healthy version of Hot Cocoa! Yes, it’s possible to have hot cocoa not laden with all kinds of sugar and who knows what, and it can be totally delicious and warming. The secret is buying organic raw cacao powder!
Cacao is rich in flavonoids and has been shown to be beneficial to a wide range of health issues including cardiovascular health, and reducing inflammation throughout your body. And, it’s rich in fiber to improve digestion.
Two of my great friends, Dr. Orna Izakson & Dr. Melissa Berry just did a whole webinar on the health benefits of chocolate. Dr. Berry actually owns an amazing Chocolate company, Missionary Chocolates, they’re all vegan, and she uses a lot for herbs in them. Seriously amazing chocolate. And, Dr. Orna has a lot of fantastic information on her website and her newsletters, if you’re looking for great people to follow with solid knowledge to share. Anyway, on to the hot cocoa!
I like to make my hot cocoa with my homemade coconut milk. I do about 2 cups, and then I add 2 heaping tablespoons of Cacao powder, let it simmer and add some maple syrup to it. I add about a Tablespoon here, but you do you. If you need it sweeter, make it sweeter. Love the bitter pow of cacao? Do less syrup.
And, if you really want to increase the warming effects of this super yummy, warming and filling beverage, sprinkle some cinnamon in there. Help get that blood moving to those fingers and toes and get you all warmed up. Cinnamon is a bit more friendly for the kiddos, than the other herbs I love to add to my hot cocoa. So, depending on if you’ve got kiddos drinking this cocoa blend or not, you could also add in some cayenne.
Yes, cayenne. Obviously this is a HOT herb! Which also means that it can help to warm you from the inside out. You can add a little, or if you’re super into the spice action you can add a lot. But, be careful not to get so crazy that you can’t enjoy this delicious bevy!
Another cool tip that I love so much when it comes to wintertime fun that doesn't require any cooking or electricity for those of you that are without. Try putting a bit of cayenne pepper powder in your socks. If you’re careful and promise to wash your hands well, you could also put some in your mittens. But, please, be super cautious about the hand washing part. You don’t want to get cayenne in your eye, your nose, or any of your other special parts, if you catch my drift. But, doing this will also help to bring more blood flow to those fingers and toes, and get you nice and warm and cozy toesies! With the weather happening now, who doesn’t want that?
Oooh oooh, one more suggestion! If all that snow shovelin’ & body shiverin’ has you all achy and your muscles all sore, try out my Bobcat Balm. It’s pretty amazing when it comes to easing those aches and pains. And, it has cayenne in it, so you know it’s bringing circulation to the area as it also works to ease the pain.
Stay warm my friends, bring on the warming herbs, and try to get a bit of snuggle time in!
Looking for more help with your digestive health?
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*Always remember to contact your healthcare provider when considering the use of botanical medicine as a possible treatment option and the medical considerations. While the information in this article is absolutely relevant, herbs work differently for each person and each condition.
**I am a trained herbalist and not a licensed or registered healthcare practitioner. I cannot diagnose health conditions, nor prescribe medicines legally; I am not a medical doctor. However, I will recommend or suggest medicinal herbs for various health complaints, as I do believe in the safety and efficacy of botanical medicine.
***The information I’ve provided is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment. Please consult your medical care provider before using herbal medicine, particularly if you have a known medical condition or if you are pregnant or nursing.
About the Author: Melissa Mutterspaugh
Melissa lives in Oregon, in the foothills of Mount Hood. She's a clinical herbalist, environmental educator, mother, wilderness therapist, lover, nemophilist, music loving maniac, and the founder of Mountain Mel's Essential Goods. She is passionate about inspiring others to take better care of our planet, through taking better care of themselves, naturally!