After a long, hard, stressful day, the food we often reach for is comfort food. It may be a warm home-cooked meal or a sweet treat, but it can’t be denied that what we eat can make us feel better both emotionally and physically. In times of prolonged stress, our adrenal glands are looking for this same comfort. They work to adapt to the stress we subject ourselves to, but sometimes they could use a helping hand or even a hug. Enter ashwagandha.
Ashwagandha is a beloved adaptogenic herb. As an adaptogen, it swoops in to save the day when a biological process or function needs to be regulated. For example, an adaptogen may be used to support healthy cortisol levels no matter if they are low or high. This is one of ashwagandha’s claims to fame. In addition to being there for you when you need adrenal support, it also promotes strength and healthy reproductive tissues.
Ashwagandha is an herb rather than a culinary spice. The difference? Culinary spices are tasty. You cook with them to bring flavor to your food and any healthy flair they add is a bonus. Herbs like ashwagandha are known primarily for their beneficial effects rather than taste. They are less commonly used in cooking or baking. But just like your mom used to hide the peas under the good stuff, there’s a way to make herbs like ashwagandha work in food and drink. These four recipes will have you convinced!
Energy Balancing Truffles
Nothing says comfort food like a sweet dessert. After you push your dinner plate to the side, you can pull out these truffles made with ashwagandha and ojas building dates. They’re sure to make you and your adrenals smile.
- 10 dates, dried and pitted
- 2 teaspoons ashwagandha powder
- ½ cup dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil, refined
- Sea salt and sesame seeds for topping
Using a blender or food processor, blend the dates and ashwagandha into a paste. Roll into small balls. If too sticky to shape, refrigerate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat chocolate chips and coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Stir frequently. Dunk the date balls into the chocolate to coat, and rescue with a spoon. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with sea salt and sesame seeds. Refrigerate or freeze to set chocolate. Eat while slightly chilled to avoid melting.
Ashwagandha Almond Butter
Raw almond butter can be tedious to make but it is worth the patience, especially when you know the health of your adrenals is on the line. Having this adaptogenic version of almond butter on hand is as useful as it is delicious. You can use it as an ingredient in other dishes or add it as a topping on things like toast with honey and cinnamon.
- 2 cups almonds, raw
- 2 teaspoons ashwagandha powder
- 1 teaspoon ghee or coconut oil, if needed
Using a food processor or heavy duty blender, add almonds and begin blending on a low to medium-low speed. Blend until a smooth butter forms. This could take anywhere from 10–30 minutes. Add the ashwagandha powder towards the end. You may need to stop to scrape the sides of the blender. A small amount of oil, such as ghee or coconut oil can help if the almonds seem dry or aren’t blending. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
Grounding Trail Mix
Snacking isn’t that great for your digestion, but neither is raging hunger. Chances are, if you’re in a situation where adaptogenic herbs will be helpful because of your level of stress, you’ve likely missed a meal or two in your day. This isn’t meant to be a meal replacement, but something to keep you from abusing your energy if you get into a bind and need to quickly reach for nourishment. The use of cardamom and cumin in this dish reassure that you’ll digest this well, but please always sit and slow down to eat!
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, refined
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon ashwagandha powder
In a small pan, heat coconut oil over medium-high heat. After the oil becomes liquefied, add cumin and cardamom. Heat the oil and spices for 1 minute or until they become aromatic. Add the raisins, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds to pan and stir to evenly coat with oil and herbs. Leave over heat, stirring occasionally for 3–5 minutes or until the seeds start to brown. Remove from heat and stir in ashwagandha. Transfer to parchment paper to cool. Eat while still warm for an extra grounding effect.
Comforting Cashew Night Tonic
Ending the day with a tonic is a great evening ritual. While the routine alone creates a calm setting, you can choose to add ingredients to your tonic based on how you feel and how your day and week have been. This tonic has not only adrenal-hugging ashwagandha, but nutmeg which can support sleep and relaxed muscles, and comfort your agitated mind.
- 1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
- Approximately 2 cups filtered water
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean, ground
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, grated
- ½ teaspoon ashwagandha powder
- Pinch of sea salt
Make homemade cashew milk by adding soaked cashews to a blender with enough filtered water to fill 1 inch above cashews. Blend until smooth. (You will use 8 ounces of the milk in your recipe and any extra will keep for a few days in an airtight jar or bottle in your refrigerator.) Add cashew milk, maple syrup, vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg, ashwagandha, and sea salt to a small pot. Heat on high, removing before it comes to a boil. Stir using a spoon, whisk, or milk frother to be sure everything is combined. Relax and sip away once cool enough to drink.