adaptogenic chaga and maca powders

All About Adaptogens

A Natural Gourmet Center Guide

The Health-Supportive Culinary Arts curriculum covers the teachings of Dr. Annemarie Colbin, who founded the Natural Gourmet Institute on the belief that there is a correlation between food intake and maintaining bodily homeostasis. We dive deep into the theories of macrobiotics, Ayurveda, whole food dynamics, the longevity diet and the synergy of ingesting predominantly plant-based, whole foods. Similarly, adaptogens are thought to attune the body to a particular energetic pathway, generating a nonspecific homeostatic response.

What Are Adaptogens?

Doctor Nikolai Lazarev first identified adaptogens as substances that increase non-specific resistance against multiple stressors. They help assist the body to adapt to stress-related changes in the environment. In Health-Supportive Culinary Arts, we identify potential stressors that include drugs, alcohol, tobacco, highly processed foods, genetically modified foods, pesticides and irradiated foods.

Adaptogens List

These nine herbs are the most studied and most commonly identified as primary adaptogens. They have been used and revered traditionally by cultures for many centuries:

  1. Ashwagandha: a bitter Ayurvedic herb known as a rejuvenator.
  2. Cordyceps: a bright orange, slender fungus originating in the mountains of China.
  3. Eleuthero: a small woody shrub, sometimes referred to as “Siberian ginseng.”
  4. Ginseng: a root renowned for centuries in Chinese medicine to combat inflammation.
  5. Holy basil: originating in India and known for its peppery taste in cooking.
  6. Licorice: a root touted in Chinese medicine to combat adrenal fatigue.
  7. Rhodiola: a golden root that grows in the Arctic and Northern European regions.
  8. Schisandra: petite berries that contain sweet, salty, bitter, sour and pungent notes.
  9. Shilajit: sticky, decomposed plant matter found in the rocks of the Himalayas.

There are many other plants that are considered secondary adaptogens but require more research to be more widely accepted, despite being used in traditional cultural settings for centuries.

Chef's Adaptogen Applications:

  • Schisandra: combine dried schishandra berries with dried spearmint for a vibrant herbal tea.
  • Cordyceps: place a few dried pieces into your next batch of broth for an added golden hue.
  • Amalaki: a sour, pale green gooseberry that can be pickled or made into jams or chutneys.
  • Mucuna: carries a smoky caramel flavor that is lovely added to homemade cashew milks.
  • Ginseng: fabulous added in moderation to vegetable stocks in its whole, dried root form.
  • Chaga: a mild mushroom powder that makes a great addition to dark chocolate brownies.
  • Maca: a powder with malted caramel notes that is lovely added to plant-based vanilla shakes.

Culinary Tips:

Add to Sweets: A small amount of powdered adaptogen goes a long way. Most adaptogens are naturally bitter in flavor and do especially well partially masked in sweet applications.

Consume in Moderation and Source Well: As many supplements remain largely unregulated, sourcing reputable brands should be a priority when choosing to purchase adaptogens. Check out Sun Potion, Anima Mundi Herbals, Four Sigmatic and Moon Juice products.

Flavored Cashew Milks: Adding adaptogens to flavored, plant-based milks is a fun, easy and tasty way to incorporate them into your diet. They pair effortlessly with other add-ins like vanilla extract, maple syrup and Himalayan pink salt and can help establish a daily routine.

Pair Mushrooms with Chocolate: Add some chaga or reishi to your next hot chocolate, fudge or chocolate cake recipe.

Find What Works for You: Find a few adaptogens that work for your lifestyle and rotate if necessary.

Note: This post is not meant to treat or diagnose any conditions. Consider talking to a health professional before making drastic changes to your diet.

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