Waking each morning rested and ready to take on the day seems more of a luxury these days than a reality. Late nights, heavy workloads, and an endless stream of stressors and obligations can sap you of energy before you even have a chance to begin. While herbs can’t give you an extra hour of rest in the morning or cross anything off your ever-growing to-do list, they can help bring balance to your mornings. Energy-boosting herbs can nurture your stress response system and provide the support you need to start your day. As a result, you can start out feeling nourished, enlivened, and full of vitality.
While you might sip on a mug of matcha or coffee in the morning to get a boost, I like to incorporate both nourishing and energizing herbs into breakfast itself—whether that’s a nettle pesto drizzled over eggs, dark chocolate granola spiked with adaptogens, or this recipe for cherries poached in an herbal infusion made of cacao, star anise, vanilla, licorice, and Darjeeling tea.
Why You Should Poach Your Fruit in Herbal Infusions
Herbal infusions make a delicious poaching liquid, especially when coupled with honey or another natural sweetener. In this recipe, black tea and cacao give poached cherries a deep flavor that is brightened by the aromatic notes of star anise. The effect is both robust and delicate.
Hardy herbs such as roots, stems, and seeds take time to release their flavor and benefits, and tender, fragile fruits can’t stand up to this increase in time and heat. To solve that riddle, prepare your poaching liquid in advance, which allows you to simmer the herbs just the length of time they need to yield their aroma and goodness. Then, once the herbs are spent and you’ve strained the infusion, you can swirl in the sweetener and begin poaching the fruit until it’s cooked through but still firm enough to give you a good bite.
Energy-Boosting Herbs for the Morning
Some herbs have a distinct ability to stimulate your nerves and raise your energy levels, among them are licorice root, cacao, and tea. Due to their stimulating nature, these herbs are best avoided late in the day, but are perfect companions for the morning—a time when all of us could use a little energy support.
- Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) lends a fleeting sweetness to these cherries. Its keen ability to boost energy makes it a perfect herb for the morning, and it also acts as an adaptogen, supporting your body’s adrenals and stress response system.
- Cacao Nibs (Theobroma cacao) are rich in polyphenols that nourish gut health. Cacao is also rich in theobromine, a botanical compound that gives chocolate both its deep bitterness and its ability to increase your energy.
- Darjeeling Tea (Camellia sinensis) has a citrusy sweetness marked by undertones of bitterness. There’s a delicate floral quality, too, that underpins its flavor and finds balance with the sweet cherries in this recipe. Teas, such as Darjeeling, contain L-theanine. This amino acid has a reputation for boosting energy and increasing focus, without causing jitteriness.
How to Poach Cherries with Herbs and Spices
Makes about 4 servings.
- 2 1/2 cups cold water
- 1 Tbsp. organic dried licorice root (cut and sifted)
- 2 tsp. organic roasted cacao nibs, plus more for serving
- 1 organic vanilla bean, split, optional
- 1 organic star anise pod
- 1 Tbsp. organic black tea, such as Darjeeling
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen organic sweet cherries, pitted
- 1/2 cup honey
- Organic yogurt for serving
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the water, licorice, cacao nibs, optional vanilla bean, and star anise.
- Bring to a boil, then immediately turn down the heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and toss in the black tea. Cover and let the herbs steep for an additional 5 minutes.
- Strain the infusion through a fine-mesh sieve into a heat-proof container, discarding the solids. Wipe the saucepan clean.
- Return the liquid to the saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Immediately turn down the heat to medium-low and stir in the cherries and honey. Simmer, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, until the cherries are warmed through but not soft.
- Turn off the heat and let cool to room temperature.
- Serve over yogurt, sprinkled with additional cacao nibs.
This recipe is reprinted from Vibrant Botanicals, a cookbook all about simple, nourishing foods and easy herbal remedies you can make at home. It includes energy-boosting recipes for the morning, recipes for digestive support, and herbal recipes to help you get a good night’s sleep.
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Reprinted from Vibrant Botanicals. Copyright © 2021 by Jennifer McGruther. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House.