Spices: 5 favorites for Fall – Laura Plumb

Spices: 5 Favorites for Fall

tulsi loves you

Did you know that spices can have up to 50 times more antioxidants than your favorite fruit, making them powerhouses when it comes to anti-aging?

Most of us think of spices as a food flavoring. Ayurveda considers them as medicine. One study published in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, for example, found that spices can significantly reduce blood sugar levels, a potent aid in warding off premature aging, heart disease, and diabetes.

Think of it as Spice Therapy. It’s one of the genius gifts of Ayurveda: Optimizing health in a pinch!

To keep you healthy, happy and whole, here are my top five spices for Autumn ~

1. Tulsi

My love for Tulsi causes me to write today. Tulsi has been my tea of choice this week. When I woke up Monday morning feeling a sore throat coming on, it was to Tulsi I turned. When I inadvertently inhaled gas on Tuesday (from a restaurant’s open patio fire extinguished by the wind, which then scooped up the gas and swept it right into our lungs), Tulsi relieved the ensuing headache. When a reaction to new carpeting caused a slight asthma flare up, I sat down to a cup of Tulsi.

I am talking like Tulsi is a person! In fact, Tulsi is a living being, a plant known as Holy Basil. Similar to the basil that so deliciously flavors Italian dishes, this basil is warm, slightly sweet and a bit peppery. It’s becoming a bit of a celebrity in the arena of women’s health as it reduces cortisol, that tricky hormone that when chronically elevated can cause aging, weight gain, sleeplessness, irritability, depression, and the list goes on.

Organic India has built a successful global company on Tulsi and their organic teas are prolific these days. Look for them in your local healthy markets. Or, you can order online:  Banyan Botanicals is now selling the divine Pukka teas with a Tulsi sampler, also selling Tulsi in an easy liquid extract and powdered.

2. Ginger

You know that people the world over turn to Ginger for stomach upset, but do you know why? According to my Ayurvedic mentor Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar, Ginger stimulates Agni, the inner fires that burn away toxins and any cause of upset.

Warming, calming, balancing, Ginger also helps reduce anxiety, inflammation, asthma, congestion, cough, cramps. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic and analgesic.

One inch of fresh ginger in a cup of boiling water is the ideal accompaniment to your meals this season. You can also use 1/2 a teaspoon of ginger powder, which is in fact the better option if you are Pitta Dosha.

3. Cinnamon

Light, dry and warm, cinnamon is one of the best digestive spices there is. No wonder it is added to so many sweet dishes!

According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, “Cinnamon may help reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and Meningitis.” It is also known to lower glucose and cholesterol, helpful again for heart disease and diabetes.

4. Cardamom

Probably my favorite spice in any season, Cardamom is medicine for all three doshas (doshas are bio-energies you can learn about here). It decongests Kapha, regulates Vata and calms Pitta. Add it to coffee and it reduces the negative impacts of caffeine. Add it to any dessert and it helps reduce blood sugar.

According to Vedic guru Dr. David Frawley, cardamom can help with nausea, vomiting, bloating, flatulence and acidity. According to Dosha Guru, “science is investigating its antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, kidney and urinary disorders, gut modulatory, blood pressure lowering, diuretic, and sedative” actions.

For all these reasons I love cardamom, but mostly I love those peppery little seeds as they tumble out of their ochre-lined, green pods. I love the way it is added to breakfast every morning in India so you start your day fragrantly. I love it in Chai, Chayvanprash and Rose Petal Lassi, and I love the way it smells in a home-made, seasonal Abhyanga oil. Cardamom is like a favorite perfume to me: redolent of all that is rich, tender and so dear.

5. Nutmeg

Remember when Grandma made you a cup of hot milk to help you sleep at night? Did she add Nutmeg? Nutmeg helps cut the heaviness of milk which is one way it helps you sleep – so you are not kept awake by a noisy, roiling digestive engine. More importantly, nutmeg has been found to have direct benefits to sleep by its calming, sedative effects, which is one reason it is such an key ingredient in this deep sleep tonic.

Nutmeg is a nervine, and can be useful in treating skin, liver and bladder problems. According to Dr. Vasant Lad, nutmeg is a tonic for the brain and heart. Just don’t take too much.

Cinnamon Cardamom

In the Autumn, when days are shorter and cooler, brewing a cup of tea is a simple way to enjoy the benefits of the spices in your pantry, while warming you to the core, and encouraging that necessary daily pause.

Autumn Wellness Tea

1 t Tulsi, powdered
1″ fresh Ginger, peeled and chopped, or 1/2 t Ginger powder
1 stick Cinnamon or 1/3 t Cinnamon powder
1 pod Cardamom crushed, or 8-10 Cardamom seeds, or 1/4 t Cardamom powder
1/8 t Nutmeg, freshly grated powder
2 cups water

Steep spices in gently boiling water for ten minutes. Strain and serve.

This tea is great as is, but you can also add almond milk for a richer cup. For a deeply nourishing tonic, blend 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk with 2 dates. Add 1/2 cup of the hot spice tea. Stir, drink and watch your Vata melt into a puddle of Ojas.

teaPhoto: Art Flow | Getty Images

In addition to the Tulsi, you can order organic spices from Banyan Botanicals.

What are your favorite autumn flavors, spices, and ways to renew? What I really want to know is how are you taking care of you this month? 


Laura Plumb is a wonderful yogi and ayurvedic practitioner based out of Coronado, CA.  Please visit her blog at: http://food-alovestory.com/

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The dry Santa Ana weather just keeps going and going and is getting everyone’s sinuses in an uproar. In San Diego we are having a very dry, and hot Winter. I’ve had many people come to me totally plugged up and miserable from all of the drainage going on with their noses. They are taking Allegra, Zyrtec, Steroid inhalers and non of these are doing them any good. My husband is so miserable he can’t sleep and when he can’t sleep none of us are happy. So here are a few steps to manage your sinus health during this time until we can get a little more humidity.

1. Oil your sinuses.    Take a Qtip dipped in Olive Oil or Coconut Oil and swab the inside of your nose. This keeps the sinuses from getting so dry and inflamed. It helps with the itchy irritated feeling that comes with breathing dry air.

Drink Elderberry Tea. This comes in the form of dried berries or syrup. The syrup from Gaia Herbs is my favorite with a little lemon and hot water. Drinking Elderberry also staves off the flu.

Nux Vomica 30x taken 4 times a day in its recommended dose helps to clear up complete stoppage. I’ve given this remedy to people on the sales floor after they’ve come in totally plugged up with miraculous results. With in minutes they were breathing out of their nose again.

Use a humidifier: This is especially helpful at night when you are trying to sleep. Last night we not only had the humidifier going but we also started up the hot shower for 5 minutes and sat in the bathroom for our sinuses to open up and be comfortable.

Last but not least: Horseradish root or Wasabi paste. This is one of the most potent herbs for clearing out the sinuses. Here is a recipe by Mountain Rose Herbs to make your own “Fire Cider” http://mountainroseblog.com/fire-cider/

If you have your own remedies please post them as a comment. This blog is a community resource. San Diego Herb Company strives to bring together the knowledge from the best herbalists in the world and if you use herbs to help your family and community you are an herbalist too.


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Winter Wellness

It’s that time of year again when the air turns cold at night and the Santa Ana winds begin picking up across the desert sweeping out to the ocean. If you suffer from sinus issues you know this time of year very well. The dry cold air begins to make the sinuses drip and can eventually lead to congestion than sinus infection. Now is the time to prepare your home arsenal to combat cold and flu season. Every year we hear the same mantra “get your flu shot.” By now we should have eradicated the flu altogether if the flu shot actually worked. But it doesn’t because there are new more virulent viral strains every year and vaccines can’t be manufactured out of every variety of virus. So the most common strain is cultivated but this might not be the one to affect the population this year. The result of perpetual vaccination is ultimately a weakend immune system.  So instead of vaccinations and over the counter remedies that can be harmful to the liver why not try some of these simple home remedies that can probably be found in your kitchen cabinet and refrigerator.

Sinusitis: Try cleansing your sinus passages with a neti pot and saline water every morning. Use a hepa air purifier in your bedroom. If you have pets try to clean the dander under the beds and couches in your home. Brew a cold infusion of Nettle tea and drink every day. Drink ginger honey tea to open up the sinuses.

Soar Throat: Warm salt water gargle, licorice and honey tea to soothe inflamed tissue in the throat, Aloe GInger Honey Aide. Golden milk made with almond milk, turmeric powder with honey.

Cough: If you have a bath tub take the hottest bath you can handle drink ginger honey tea while in the tub. Get out and wrap up in a warm towel and lay under the covers until you can feel your heart beating in your ears. Allow your body to heat up in order to kill the infection. Do this 2 to 3 times a day if you need too. Make sure to replenish your electrolytes with coconut water. Hot apple cider can be used as an effective mucolytic. Try a spoon of honey with chopped garlic to help break up mucus and kick up the immune system. Curried onion can also help to open the lungs. Saute chopped onions in oil with curry powder until softened, eat with toast and tea.

Recipe for Aloe GInger Honey Aide


1 tbsp Fresh aloe gel or Lily of The Desert Aloe Gel

Juice of 1 lemon

1tsp honey

1tsp grated fresh ginger

8oz water

Blend together and drink whenever it is called for

Recipe for Curried Onions


1 white onion chopped

1tsp turmeric powder

1/4tsp cayenne pepper

1tbsp ghee

Saute til onions are soft add salt to taste eat with toast and tea

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Superfoods, Super Good!

It seems like everyone is talking about Superfood this and Superfood that these days but what are they talking about and why the fascination?

The term “Superfood” is used to define any food with a high nutrient and phytochemical content which typically has low saturated fat or other factors that might deter from it’s health benefits. These foods are typically found in areas of the world that have high mineral content in the soil, or through adaptation to their native environment have created high antioxidant properties.

So what makes them super?

They uniquely contain nutrients that are not found in the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) where ketchup and French fries are defined as suitable vegetables for children to consume. Eating these foods in a daily diet regimen imparts unique health benefits to the user. They have adaptogenic properties allowing the person eating them to have increased endocrine activity, blood circulation, enhanced cellular health, ultimately prolonging life and vitality.

Why is everyone talking about them? (Oprah, Dr Perricone, Dr Oz, David Wolfe)

“Superfood” is the new buzz word on the scene. New trendy diets like Raw food, and juice fasting are becoming more popular as a result. The idea of eating a diet rich in Superfood nutrients is appealing because we as a human race innately want to evolve to the next level. We now have access to places all over the world where these foods grow including the Tibetan Plateus, the Amazon River Basin and the High Andes Plains. The idea of trying something that can make you stronger, think more clearly, have more energy, and overall just feel better is enticing.


So what foods are we talking about? Raw Cacoa (not cocoa) Coconut oil, Hemp seeds, Maca root, Acai, Goji Berries, Mangosteen, Camu camu, Spirulina, Blue Green Algae, etc

Krisp now carries Sunfood Raw Superfoods (all Non-Gmo)

Try this yummy smoothie recipe next time you need a boost. (From the Sunfood Website)

This recipe is simple and can be modified to include as many superfoods as you like! All that is needed is a little imagination and creativity to create a delicious smoothie that will give you the best day ever! Makes enough to serve 4-6 superheroes or superheroines!

4 cups liquid (water, hot or cold tea, coconut water, or nut milk) 3 Tbsp cacao powder 1 Tbsp maca or red maca 2 Tbsp goji berries 1-2 Tbsp sweetener (we suggest agaveraw honey, or coconut palm sugar) 1-3 cups organic berries (depending on how thick you want your smoothie)


1 tsp cinnamon 2 Tbsp cacao nibs 1-2 Tbsp Sun is Shining 1 Tbsp coconut oil 1 Tbsp cashews or wild jungle peanuts 1 Tbsp mesquite

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orange broccoli ginger

Juicing doesn’t have to be hard.

In the blender:

  • Handful of broccoli (broccoli frozen to replace ice)
  • Fresh squeezed orange and lemon
  • Ginger bud peeled
  • Add a nut milk if you want an orangesicle or add spring water to liquefy.

Blend and enjoy first thing in the morning on an empty stomach or…. Put them in paper cups and enjoy your frozen treat later!

The finer you chop the ingredients the easier it is to blend.  If you have a vitamix no need to chop.

Alkaline forming, nutritious and great for the immune and circulation, not to mention a potent cruciferous vegetable rich in calcium and Vitamin C & K, indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and dindolylmethane (DIM).

chop chop!


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