Ashwagandha is gaining in popularity among lifestyle blogs, in juice bars, and remains steadily popular in herbal products like supplements. While the herb may be unfamiliar to some people, it’s actually been around for centuries and is considered one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine as well as the ancient Indian system of Ayurvedic medicine.
Ashwagandha is a green plant that you can use in recipes like almost any other plant. The difference is that you aren’t using ashwagandha to meet your daily nutrition requirements. Instead, you are looking to benefit from the potential medicinal properties that ashwagandha may provide when ingested.
Ashwagandha contains a variety of compounds, including one known as an adaptogen, which provide antioxidant support and help you to deal with stress and frustration. There are many ways to use ashwagandha, including taking supplements, but taking pills can be a bit boring. So below is a list of a few great ashwagandha recipes that let you enjoy a tasty treat while also getting the potential benefits of ashwagandha.
More About Ashwagandha
What makes ashwagandha so special? In Ayurvedic tradition, ashwagandha, also called Indian ginseng or winter cherry‚ and is known as a rasayana herb, which is a class of herbs believed to help maintain physical and mental vitality and promote longevity. A hardy plant that belongs to the same nightshade family as tomatoes and peppers, it grows as an evergreen shrub in dry regions of India, parts of Middle East, northern Africa, and locations worldwide.
For more than 3,000 years, Ayurvedic healers have used every part of the plant, including its leaves, seeds, flowers, and roots, as a tonic for ailments ranging from skin infections, rheumatism, constipation, exhaustion, and nervous breakdowns. Its reputation through the ages has piqued the interest of modern-day researchers who have explored compounds in the plant known as adaptogens, which are natural substances believed to enhance the body’s adaptive response to damaging effects of stress.
While more research is needed to understand its effect on the body, preliminary lab studies and clinical trials suggest that ashwagandha may help support the central nervous and endocrine systems, both of which are instrumental in helping the body cope with internal and external stressors. The herb has also been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system and the brain. Some studies also show that it may help with regulating stress hormones such as cortisol, which influences how your body responds to perceived threats. Ashwagandha also contains antioxidants that scavenge for free radicals and support immune health.
Tips for Using Ashwagandha
Ashwagandha is mostly revered for its roots, which are typically dried and ground into a powdery herb. Traditionally, Ayurvedic herbs were consumed by mixing the powder with water or putting it on the back of the tongue and washing it down. In Sanskrit, ashwagandha means “the smell of a horse,” which refers not only to its reputation for instilling the vigor and strength of a stallion, but also the odor of horse sweat that emanates from its roots.
Ashwagandha is much easier to enjoy when mixed with something tasty like a latte, a cup of tea, a smoothie, or a dessert. All you need is 1–2 teaspoons of the powder (or 3–6 grams of the dried root) daily to reap its potential benefits. Consuming too much of the herb at once can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting, so it’s best to start with a minimal amount and work up to a full dose. If you take medication or have chronic health issues, you may want to consult with your doctor before consuming ashwagandha regularly. You should also avoid it if you are pregnant, suffer from severe gastric irritation or ulcers, have a sensitivity to nightshade plants or take drugs such as sedatives or immunosuppressants.
Easy Ashwagandha Recipes
Want to see if ashwagandha can help you deal with the daily stresses of a hectic life? The herb isn’t a quick fix, but some nutritionists say that adding adaptogens like ashwagandha into your diet can make you feel calmer and more energized after several weeks. Here are some easy (and tasty) ways to work ashwagandha into your meals.
Ashwagandha Hazelnut Latte
Ashwagandha is a great way to perk up your morning coffee and get you revved up for the day ahead. This recipe from The Green Life blog uses almond milk, hazelnut butter, and maple syrup to temper the bitterness of ashwagandha.
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/3 cup brewed coffee
- 1 tbsp hazelnut butter
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp ashwagandha powder
Warm milk in a small saucepan over low heat. Transfer milk into a blender and add hot coffee, hazelnut butter, maple syrup and ashwagandha powder. Blend at a high-speed until smooth and foamy. Taste and add more sweetener if needed. Pour in a mug and drink up!
Ashwagandha Nut Butter Balls
Ashwagandha can be a healthy pick-me-up for afternoons when your energy starts waning. This recipe from the Ginger Tonic Botanicals blog combines ashwagandha with protein-packed nut butter, chia seeds and sweet layers of chocolate, honey, cinnamon and coconut for a tasty treat.
- 1 16-ounce jar nut butter
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips or cocoa nibs
- 1/4 cup chia seeds
- 1/4 cup honey or agave syrup
- 1/4 cup ashwagandha powder
- 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
- Enough coconut flakes to coat each ball
Mix nut butter, dried cranberries, chocolate, chia seeds, honey, ashwagandha powder and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until mixture reaches the consistency of cookie dough. Divide the dough and form balls about the size of ping-pong balls, then roll in coconut flakes until fully coated. Place in the fridge for an hour to solidify. You can even wrap the balls in wax paper and stick in the freezer for a refreshing snack on a hot day.
Ashwagandha Moon Milk
Ashwagandha mixed with warm milk and spices is a centuries-old bedtime elixir. This recipe from Bon Appetit blends two antioxidant-rich herbs - ashwagandha and turmeric - with a medley of soothing spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg and ginger.
- 1 cup whole milk or unsweetened almond milk
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ¼ tsp ground ashwagandha
- 2 pinches of ground cardamom
- Pinch of ground ginger
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp virgin coconut oil or ghee
- 1 tsp honey
Simmer milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in cinnamon, turmeric, ashwagandha, cardamom, ginger and nutmeg. Season with pepper. Add coconut oil and reduce heat to low, continuing to cook 5–10 minutes until the mixture is completely warm. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Stir in honey and pour into a mug to drink an hour before bedtime.