Tucked away in a plant packed corner of my mum’s garden oasis is an abundant bay tree, or sweet bay. On summer visits to London, I am usually in town, when this vintage tree is having its annual pruning by the gardener. So many leaves and branches end up being composted; as I never have time to expedite all the creative projects I envision for its cuttings. But, this year was different, and for the first time, I was able to gather armfuls of leaves and actually put them to good use. Makeshift hydrosols, tinctures, baths and teas were all infused with fresh bay, and piles of the leaves were dried for future projects.
In The Kitchen
Laurus Nobilis, (bay), is an evergreen, native to the Mediterranean with a long history of use since Greek and Roman times. Home cooks will likely have bay leaf somewhere in their kitchen cabinets, as it is often used as an aromatic accent to establish depth of flavor in savory dishes. It pairs well with the acidity of tomatoes and the richness of fat, but its equally well suited to sweeter fare. This is where I wanted to explore its healing virtues.
Traditional Health Benefits
As a medicine it’s been used as a digestive for bloating and gas and its anti microbial properties mean sweet bay is a natural fit for healing coughs, colds and wounds. Studies* also show its blood sugar, and cholesterol lowering benefits for those with type 2 diabetes. Topically, bay is an excellent hair tonic for dandruff, and an anti inflammatory for swollen joints. You can also just crush a leaf and inhale deeply to lift the spirits and lighten a heavy heart.
The earthy floral aroma of bay reminds me of the Holidays, so, when I was writing recipes for my herbal gift giving class (I just taught ),at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, I wanted to include something with bay. The night I wrote the recipe I was wishing for a coconut-covered treat, (dare I say, an Almond Joy sort of treat), so that was my recipe inspiration! I wanted to blend coconut with powdered bay and cover it in chocolate. The result was a big hit with last week’s class and incredibly simple to make. So, if you have time to make one extra treat for your Thanksgiving meal and want to dazzle your friends with a healthy after dinner confection, please give this a try…
Bay Leaf Bon Bons
1 cup of organic coconut flakes
10 bay leaves
2 Tbl coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of sea salt
2 Tsp of raw honey.
Melted chocolate for dipping. (Suggested 85% organic)
Edible gold dust for decoration (Optional)
Using a coffee grinder, blend the coconut flakes with the bay leaves. Once ground, add the nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, honey and coconut oil, making sure to blend thoroughly. Roll into blueberry sized balls and dip in melted chocolate. Allow to set on parchment paper. Dust with edible gold dust for extra flare! Store in the fridge.
I will be teaching my Herbal Gift Giving class again on December 2nd at Antidote Apothecary and tea bar. Sign up here
Also, please visit me and the other artisans from the NY Handmade Collective, at the Invisible Dog in Brooklyn, November 24th-25h, where I will be selling my Petalune Herbals skincare and you can find ceramics, jewelry and other crafted finds.