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  • Writer's pictureLinda Conroy

Nourishing Herbal Condiments

Incorporating herbs as condiments is great way to add flavor as well as nutrients to your diet.

Incorporating herbs as condiments is great way to add flavor as well as nutrients to your diet. Condiments can be made with fresh or dried herbs and can be sprinkled on or added to salads, soups and really anything you are eating.

If you look the word condiment up in the dictionary it is described as an edible substance, which is added to dishes to enhance the flavor and/or compliment the dish. Typically a condiment is added by the diner, but it can also be added to a dish by the cook to add flavor as well as increase the nutrient density of a meal.

Condiments are associated with cuisine from specific cultures. For example Miso is a unique Japanese condiment, as is gamasio. Chutney is served in east Indian cuisine. Olive oil compliments Mediterranean dishes, Worcestershire sauce was first made in England and Barbeque Sauce is originated in the Southern part of the United States.

While these condiments are associated with specific cuisines, they are and cae be incorporated into a wide spectrum of dishes. I like making a wide spectrum of condiments and having them available to add to food as I am cooking or when I am eating. For example, crab apple chutney can be easily opened and put on a rice dish or added to cheese for a tasty snack. Not only does this condiment add amazing flavor, the pectin in the crab apples is a prebiotic substance that supports and improves digestion.

I also love to add wild plants to condiments in order to increase nutrient density. Even seemingly typical condiments, like ketchup can be transformed when made with wild plants and healthful ingredients. Autumn Olives are a berry that we like to harvest in the fall. One of my favorite things to do with this berry is to use it in place of tomatoes in my ketchup recipe. This berry is very high in lycopenes, which are caretenoids (precursors for vitmain A) and antioxidant agents. It is higher in these substances than tomatoes, thus the ketchup is very nourishing. If you would like to learn more about autumn olives by viewing Moonwise Herbs video on harvesting Autumn Olives.

Pesto is a substance that I often incorporate into food as a condiment. I love to make pesto from a wide spectrum of wild plants. Any edible plant with green foliage can be transformed into a delicious pesto sauce. Examples are Stinging Nettle (don’t worry pulverizing this plant dissapates the acid that causes irriation), lamb’s quarters, wild leek leaves, amaranth, sorrel and so many more. One of my favorites is watercress. Watercress has a nice spicy flavor, as one would expect from this mustard family plant. This plant is surprisingly high in vitamin C, vitamin K, calicium, potassim, phosphorun, magnanese, magnesium, vitamin B complex as well as carotenes. Vitamin K and carotenes are fat soluble, so no only does the plant provide the nutrients but some of the nutrients are more readily available to the body when the plant is combined with oil.

One of my favorite plants to incorporate into my diet as a condiment is seaweed. I love to harvest seaweed and to incorporate it into my diet on daily basis. Seaweed offers the body a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals. Seaweed is classified by color. I typically incorporate kelp or brown seaweed into my diet and occasionally red seaweed. Nori, which many people are familiar with as it is the main seaweed unitized to make sushi. While one can utilize any kelp, the seaweed I find the most palatable and the easiest to entice people to eat is giant bullwhip kelp (Nereosystis luetkeana). To learn more about seaweed see our MoonwiseHerbal Homesteading video.

Incorporating seaweed as a condiment is quite simple. It can be powdered and then sprinkled on whatever you are eating. It is ideal to powder your own seaweed, just prior to using it. I have found that seaweed does not hold it’s integrity when powdered and stored for long periods of time. Toasting seaweed adds increased flavor for sprinkling on food. And my favorite seaweed condiment is a traditional Japanese condiment called Gamascio. Not only do I add seaweed, I like to add other herbs as well.

Below is a recipe that is an adaptation of this traditional Japanese condiment that can be added to salads, rice, soups or any other dish you feel inspired to sprinkle it on. It is surprisingly delicious when sprinkled on a fruit salad. When you add sea vegetables and/or other herbs to toasted sesame seeds you increase their nutritional value. As you can see condiments are a great way to add flavor and nutrients to any meal. I often take some of these treats with me when I eat out and encourage others to do so as well!

Making Gamascio

  • Place sesame seeds on the bottom of a frying pan, covering the entire bottom (I like to use my cast iron pan)

  • Begin toasting seeds

  • After two minutes add seaweed 1-2 ounces seaweed (Nori and/or Kelp work well-but experiment-any seaweed will work)

  • I also like to add herbs: a tsp or two of dried rosemary is a nice addition, a handful of dried nettle and/or a tsp of ground milk thistle seeds. use your creativity as any herb added will add flavor and increased nutrients.

  • Toast these together until the seeds begin to pop or brown lightly around the edge of the pan. Turn everything over with a spatula-toast until both sides are light brown and the sea vegetables are crunchy and easily crumble in our hands. If you have added rosemary your whole kitchen will fill with the sweetness of this aromatic herb.

  • Place in a jar and store for 1-2 weeks. Sprinkle lavishly on your favorite foods.

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