Now that Root & Nourish is out in the world, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about where to start their journey to herbal cooking. It’s true that many of our ingredients are “specialty” items, and that they might not be at your local grocery store. Don’t let that stop you from diving into the recipes! Building your herbal apothecary will and should be an ongoing process, since you will need to figure out which plants are right for your unique needs and tastes. There isn’t one right way to stock your pantry, or even a top 10 herbs we could turn into a listicle 🤣
But here are some tips for where to begin:
- Read, then cook: If you’ve ever made the mistake of starting to cook something only to realize halfway through you need to refrigerate the dish overnight, or overlooked some ingredient for your shopping list, you know the value of this step! It’s good to familiarize yourself with the ingredients and method of any recipe before you start it, and the same goes for this book. Check out what we wrote in our Introduction—which includes an explanation of our approach to holistic wellness, the Five Pillars of Health, Herbal Actions, a guide to using the book, and a list of herbs and supplies—the intro to each of the 3 parts, and our Resources section. You’ll get a high-level understanding of what’s what!
- Follow your gut: Our cravings and inclinations toward certain foods can reveal a lot about our bodies’ nutritional needs. If you’re flipping through the book and land on one that makes you say “oooh,” start there! Read the recipe and focus on getting those ingredients, nothing else.
- Choose what’s easy: You might think “herbal cooking” is all about superfoods and exotic ingredients. Not true—at all! You’ve likely already got a lot of kitchen medicine right in your kitchen. In Ayurveda it’s said that the best medicine is the closest one, because it’s the one you will most likely consume. Check your pantry, and do some inventory. Go to your regular grocery store, and spend some time (safely) browsing the spices, bulk dry goods (which sometimes have herbs and spices), and fresh herb section (near the produce). Get to know what you have access to, and choose recipes that feature those ingredients. We are also conscious of how we use more rare or distant ingredients that may be taxing on the resources of our planet. Consider the overall “cost” of the ingredients you choose to stock up on: not everyone needs the same herbs, so buying shatavari (an Ayurvedic herb) from India if won’t help you for your health concerns will be a waste of your money, and the Earth’s offerings.
- Break the rules: In our minds, recipes are templates, not formulas, for a great meal. If you don’t have, or don’t like, any of the ingredients we offer, it’s very likely you can substitute it for something else, or leave it out entirely. It’d be our absolute dream to hear from you with variations and experiments from our food suggestions. If you’re just starting out with cooking in general, be patient and compassionate with yourself. Over time, your relationship with food will become more intuitive and inventive!
When in doubt, send us an email with specific questions or concerns! Happy cooking!
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