There are a number of virtuous herbs available to us that we might consider adding to our diet during this time of the Corona Virus, simply because of their immune boosting properties. One of these is Hoja santa. Its botanical name is Piper auritum and it is a member of the pepper family. This genus includes over 1000 species of evergreen pungent-smelling climbers, shrubs and small trees. The one we are all probably most familiar with is piper nigra or black pepper as in a pot - as in salt and pepper.
Piper auritum (hoja santa) is a tropical plant found in different parts of the Americas and in Mexico, in fact it is grown quite commonly in our gardens here in San Antonio.
The leaves are large and a lovely bright green which is why it is grown as an ornamental shrub. The flowers themselves are long thin white floppy spikes, borne by the plant during the summer and autumn. The leaves can be used to flavor dishes and to wrap various fillers of meat, fish and vegetables. It has a wonderful root beer taste (for those who enjoy root beer...) which comes from the alkaloid safrole found in its leaves. But don't be fooled this can be very toxic, so never use large amounts of this herb internally, it is good just as a flavoring agent.
Hoja Santa Wrap
Small piece of chicken, fish, pork or beef
1 large hoya santa leaf, washed and patted dry
2 Tablespoons of chopped red onion
2 garlic cloves chopped fine
1/2 jalapeno chopped fine
1 good Dash of Coconut Aminos
1 good squirt of olive oil
lay the meat or fish on the leaf, roll up from the bottom folding in the sides as you go, so that you have an envelope of "dinner"
Bake in a 350 degree F. oven 55-60 minutes for meats and 20 minutes for fish. Unwrap leaf, discard and enjoy your dinner!
Several other herbs that are high in anti-viral properties are Oregano (the highest) Thyme and cinnamon. All delicious and soooooo nutritious.
Watch this space to see what we will offer in August with some additional delicious and nutritious herbal recipes.
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Hoja Santa - Piper auritum
herb of the month for July