The holidays are all about eating and often overindulging in, good food. Unfortunately, we are all too familiar with the sluggish, bloated feeling that can set in after a night of rich dishes and large portions.
One tried and true way to fight that belly bloat is to make an after-dinner tea out of a medley of organic, digestion stimulating, bloat fighting ingredients.
To make your own, combine equal parts dried chamomile, dried peppermint, and lightly crushed dried fennel seeds, with a 1/2 part dried ginger. Steep this mixture in hot water for 10 minutes before straining and sweetening with honey to taste.
They may be small, but conventional herbs & spices can be covered in pesticides, synthetic anti-caking agents, artificial colors, and artificial preservatives, so make sure to always choose organic when it is available.
Fennel seed, peppermint, ginger, and chamomile are all carminative herbs, which are rich in volatile oils. These oils can help to relax your intestinal muscles, allowing gas to dissipate, as well as stimulating bile production to help you fully digest a big meal. Part of the magic of carminative herbs is that they can also be easily incorporated into recipes. Try including a spicy, warming ginger dish at your holiday table such as a carrot ginger soup, or classic gingersnap cookies. Or make fennel the star with a fennel seed crusted roast pork loin, or rack of lamb.
Going beyond herbs & spices, certain types of fresh produce can stop bloat before it begins.
A first-course salad full of digestion-boosting produce is a great way to prime your stomach for the decadent meal that is to come. Living here amongst the bounty of Marin County, you should be able to find most of these veggies locally, as well, which will bring the magic of our surrounding ecosystem to your holiday table. Of course, always buy organic; the pesticides and additives in conventional produce can be very challenging on the digestion.
That same volatile oil that is so powerful in fennel seeds, is also present in the bulb, so a shaved raw fennel salad is a great option, and is especially delicious if you add in some seasonal fruits like persimmon and pomegranate. Another vegetable that encourages good digestion is radicchio. You probably know it for its strong bitter flavor, but it’s that flavor that does the work. Bitter foods stimulate the production of digestive enzymes and bile which help you to digest food more effectively. Some other bitter greens that pack a digestive stimulating punch are arugula, endive, and dandelion greens.