Herbal Substitutes for Bible Foods

How fun it is to chat with Matt Swaim on the Sonrise Morning Show, Sacred Heart Radio each Thursday morning. Today we talked about herbal subs for Bible foods, particularly vegetables. And it all starts with the book of Daniel:

Chive vinegar

Daniel 1:12  states, Please test your servants for ten days, and let them give us vegetables [pulses] to eat and water to drink.” As Matt mentioned, after eating a vegetarian diet of Bible foods, Daniel and his friends were robust and healthy, much more so than their counterparts. I thought it would be fun, since my herb garden is growing abundantly, to talk about my favorite herbal substitutes for vegetables and, a surprise – honey!

Salad Burnet – cucumber substitute

Salad Burnet is an ancient native of Europe and Asia. 

Salad Burnet

A hardy perennial, salad Burnet is a unique herb as it is one of our few soft leaved hardy evergreen perennials. Back in the olden days, it was used as a kind of stiptic to staunch wounds. 

A lovely, lacey green herb, it’s wonderful in salads and particularly in beverages, like Matt’s spa water. 

Borage – cucumber substitute

This tall annual is a native of the Mediterranean and its lovely blue flower is called the star flower. It has a sweet cucumber taste and the flowers are often crystallized or floated in drinks. The young leaves are eaten in salads. Pollinators love borage!

Detox/Spa Water with salad burnet or borage and mint

Put a few leaves of salad burnet or borage along with mint in a tall glass.

Muddle them to release flavor, then pour water over all. Let steep a few minutes, strain if you like, and drink up! The mint helps your digestion plus gives you a lift.

Lovage – celery substitute

Looks like celery on sterioids! Another hardy  Mediterranean perennial grown since ancient times in Monastery Gardens. Easy to grow, the leaves are a great sub for celery in soups and stews. As the plant grows, the thick stems become hollow making them perfect for bloody Mary straws!  It tastes like celery with a hint of parsley and is a good salt substitute in cooked foods.

Onion and garlic chives – sub for onions and garlic (the very familiar verse in Numbers….)

Chives have been used since 3000 BC and it wild cousin, wild onions, grows abundantly here in the spring.

The ancient Romans correlated the strong tasting chive to physical strength and fed them to racehorses, wrestlers and workers to make them strong.

Like all members of the onion and garlic family, chives are good heart herbs. Chives have a more mild flavor than their culinary root veggie cousins of garlic and onions so they may be easier to digest.

Use chives fresh or add towards the end of the cooking time for the best 

The delicate onion flavor of chives is often paired with potatoes, eggs, vegetables, breads and butters.

Chive vinegar

No real recipe, but here’s how I do it:

Fill a jar half way up with chive flowers and leaves.

Muddle to release flavor, then fill with white wine vinegar or, for a sweeter vinegar, white balsamic vinegar.

Let infuse for a week or so on the counter or a couple of days in the sun.
Strain and insert a fresh flower or leaf if you have some. Store in pantry for up to a year. Use in dressings, marinades, as a deglazing ingredient for sauces, etc.

Stevia as a sub for honey

The Promised Land to the Israelites was described as a land flowing with milk and honey in the bible, a sign of the abundance, ease, and prosperity …

There’s a trendy herb from Paraguay called stevia – you see it in liquid and powdered forms in the grocery.

The stevia plant is a tender perennial, treated as an annual here.

It can be hundreds of time sweeter than sugar and honey and is non caloric and diabetic safe!

Bruise the leaves to release the sweet oils and use them in drinks, puddings and some baked goods. Make a stevia sweet “syrup” by simmering leaves in water. Remove from heat, cover and let come to room temperature. Strain and pour into ice cube trays. Use as a sugar/honey substitute during the winter.

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