Holiday Traditions

Our contributors share their favorite herbal holiday traditions.

| October/November 2001

We hope you’ll enjoy reading these herbal suggestions for celebrating the holidays from frequent contributors to The Herb Companion. Check out the recipes on page 26 for additional ideas.

My favorite thing is to do light holiday feasts so people can eat as much as they want but don’t feel stuffed after dinner. Herbs add celebrative pizzazz to very plain steamed or baked vegetables. I have done this for many years and people are always amazed that they feel great after eating. I always serve several vegetables, to cut down on starches. Plain steamed or baked vegetables are often seasoned only with reduced herb vinegars or tossed with a small amount of oil and fresh herbs or ground spices. One of the basic tricks is to add lots of fresh herbs to whatever you happen to be serving, even if it is high in fat, to improve digestion and increase metabolism of fats.

I also enjoy making pantry gifts of herb-infused cheeses, herb vinegars, and herb butters. It seems that every time I have an elaborate dinner party, no matter what I serve or how much I spend, people always go home raving about the butter. It is always the highlight of the meal.

I always feel that drinking more herb tea protects you from holiday stress and the colds and flus that accompany it. Sage-and-thyme tea is my first choice, followed by lemon balm and peppermint, but one cup or two a day of each is plenty. Too much of anything over a long period of time imbalances the body.

—Debbie Whittaker
Denver, Colorado

Our herbal traditions come and go. The only consistent ones are lavender-wand making, lavender Christmas tree ornament baskets (both made in July), and pomanders at Christmastime. Sometimes, we do the odd herbal wreath, but our one steadfast tradition is eggnog!

—Andy VanHevelingen
Newberg, Oregon

From October into the winter holidays I eat a lot of highly herbed pumpkin soup. Sometimes it’s full of spicy peppers and such, as they make it in the Caribbean, and sometimes it’s full of thyme, rosemary, and sage, as it’s done in Europe. But it’s always very herbed.

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