Herbs and spices have been used by cultures worldwide throughout history, not only as flavor and color enhancers but also for the many health benefits found in them. The standard American diet is lacking greatly in this very important food group. For example, I read an article many years ago that stated the only time that the very beneficial herb turmeric was included in the American diet was as a coloring agent in yellow cake!
Herbal food practices have been around for centuries, and one of my favorite examples is Masala Chai. Chai tea, as it is most commonly known, originated from India and Siam. The folklore surrounding Chai dates back to about 5000-9000 years ago to an ancient royal court. It was said that the reigning king created the recipe as a healing Ayurvedic beverage. Chai has been prepared in many different ways with various ingredients, and it wasn’t until the 1930’s that black tea was added to the drink. It was served hot or cold and before or after meals for minor ailments. Today’s science and research on herbs show that herbs with bitter qualities aid in digestion, can you guess what kind of herbs are in Chai!?
We can add more herbs to our diets by using fresh and dried herbs. We can add them to salads, drinks, sweets, and main dishes. We can make teas, elixirs, and bitters. We can infuse oils and vinegar. We can take tinctures and supplements.
One of the easiest and my favorite ways are cookies! This is a great way to introduce herbs to your diet. Get creative with flavor combinations. I love lavender, rosemary and cinnamon, rose and hibiscus, basil and lime, lemon and lemon balm, tulsi and honey, mint, and raw cacao. I also love rosemary and cinnamon, rose and hibiscus, basil and lime, lemon and lemon balm, tulsi and honey, mint, and raw cacao.
Shae’s Herbal Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- ½ cup sugar/sweetener of choice, I like to use monk fruit
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp extract of choice, vanilla, almond, orange, etc.
- Pinch of salt
- Herbs, spices and/or edible flowers
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Decide if you want to add herbs/spices to the dough or place on top.
- Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add salt and extract and mix.
- Slowly add in flour and mix until it just comes together.
- If you are adding herbs to your dough, add and mix now. If it looks too dry, add butter 1tbsp at a time. If too wet, add flour.
- Fold dough together until it forms a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Take the dough out and get a heaping tablespoon full, roll into a ball and then press into circles about ¾ inch thick.
- Gently press or sprinkle herbs or flowers onto top of cookies.
- Bake 16-20 minutes until golden.
- Allow it to cool slightly, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Once cool, dust with powdered sugar, if desired.
It can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.