Do you suffer from stress? I’m betting that many of you would nod in agreement to that question. I do too. Chronic stress, with a side of anxiety, and the occasional dash of panic attack. I know that life isn’t going to suddenly become void of all stress-triggers, so I do what I can to nourish my body and mind, re-calibrate, and make time for self-care. I’m not just talking about meditating and slapping on a face mask though. What and how we eat, has a huge role to play in the overall balance of our lives.

In an effort to be more proactive about my stress management, I’ve been incorporating adaptogens into my life this year. What’s that you say? In herbal medicine, an adaptogen is a natural substance (usually an herb or mushroom) considered to help the body adapt to stress and balance energy levels. A few well-known examples are ginseng, ashwagandha, and maca. 

I’m starting small, little bits here and there, as I recommend you do also. And of course work with your doctor or naturopath to make sure you don’t take anything that might have adverse effects when combined with any medications you’re on. 

Personally, I’ve been taking rhodiola (also known as arctic root or golden root) for two years now, after my naturopath at the time first recommended it to me during a time of extreme stress. Rhodiola actually lowers cortisol (stress hormone) secretion. I’ve tried both the Nature’s Way capsules, and the Toniiq capsules. I’m not sure which I prefer yet, but have noticed that I do sometimes burp up an aftertaste from the Toniq ones… perhaps because they’re stronger?

This spring/summer I realized that there was a whole world of adaptogens to be discovered. I’ve been integrating little amounts of super powders into drinks, snacks etc. and learning what I can about them. I also discovered Shilajit, which is amazing! I am by no means an expert on adaptogens, but I do believe there is great power in them and have personally felt their effects. Though many of these supplements have been used as herbal remedies for thousands of years, there seems to be a resurgence of interest and information about them lately. I’m not complaining.

There are two new books I’d like to recommend to you if you’re interested in incorporating adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms into your own life:

Rawsome Superfoods by Emily von Euw (out December 18th, 2018) and Super Powders by Katrine van Wyk (out January 1st, 2019) make for an amazing introduction to the world of adaptogens. I was introduced to Rawsome Superfoods because I was the freelance proofreader for the manuscript pre-publication. It was the most fun I’ve ever had editing a cookbook because I wanted to bookmark almost all of it’s pages! The recipes in it encouraged me to purchase my first set of super powders. I bought a 4oz bag each of Ashwagandha root powder, Maca powder, Amla powder, and Moringa Leaf Powder from Terrasoul Superfoods (I’d highly recommend them). 

These two books offer different but very complimentary content.

Rawesome Superfoods is packed with more than 100 recipes to nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Most are raw, and there are tons of soy-free options (which I really appreciate as I am allergic to soy!). The book is divided into five chapters: drinks, savory mains, snacks, satisfying sweets, and basic recipes, sauces & syrups. There is also a great section in the back that  is a sort of glossary of all the superfoods highlighted in throughout the book. A little intro paragraph for each one makes for a valuable resource to beginners.

There a ton of  new ingredients on my to-acquire list after reading this and I can’t wait to try it all! Especially the Almond Elderflower Embrace with Cinnamon, Blueberry Brazil Nut + Vanilla Smoothie, Zucchini Noodles with Dill Cashew Dressing + Pine Nuts, Date Squares with Coconut Almond Crust, Adaptogenic White Chocolate, Cacao Butter Bark with Lucuma, Vanilla + Cordyceps … just to name a few!

Super Powders: Adaptogenic Herbs and Mushrooms for Energy, Beauty, Mood, and Well-Being contains 50 recipes in the third part of the book. The first third is all about the what, why and how of adaptogens, what to know before you start, a bit about your adrenal glands and how they respond to stress. The middle section is a guide to 25 adaptogens and mushrooms (with overview, benefits, cautions for each).

Health coach Katrine van Wyk does a great job of introducing these 25 adaptogens and how they can help restore balance, enhance focus, boost stamina, and improve mood. It is truly a fantasic resource to have on hand when you are just starting to incorporate adaptogens into your diet. Not to mention the Golden Latte with astragalus and reishi sounds amazing. As do the Matcha Bliss Balls, Chocolate Bark with Rose Petals and Goji Berries, and Beauty Moon Milk!

Super Powders mentions that Shilajit is best suited for exhausted and tired people (slowly raises hand). It is no wonder I’ve been loving Natural Shilajit Resin. I did a review earlier this year that you can read here. I’m happy to report that months later I am still loving it and would still highly recommend it. It is a great way to find more energy balance, and get key nutrients that your body needs to block stress and stay chill. It has become my favorite hot drink (mixed with a dash of almond milk) and it’s rich earthy flavor is lovey. Sometimes I’ll mix in a just a dash of ashwaganda or maca too.

I’d love to hear what adaptogens you’ve tried or what some of your favorites are! Let me know in the comments below. And remember to take some time for yourself this busy holiday season. – Naomi

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