good medicine everyday

Good Medicine Everyday: Parsnips by emily penn


Parsnips - the underrated root veg. Have you had them before? They look like white carrots. They’re a little sweet. Creamy on the inside when roasted. I LOVE them!

My favorite thing to do with them is cut them into strips and make parsnip “fries” but you can also cut them in whatever shape you like and roast them with some oil, salt and pepper. You can also steam and mash them (think with mashed potatoes or cauliflower), use them in soups and stews. I consider them a highlight of the winter vegetable selection. They’re sweet and creamy and have a very grounding quality to them

Lucky for me (and you!) they’re also chock full of compounds that support our health. Let’s check it out (1):

  • Parsnips have an impressively high vitamin C content, making them great for our immune system and eye health.

  • They’re high in fiber, which keeps the good bacteria in your gut happy and also keeps everything moving so you avoid constipation.

  • Folate - just 1/2 cup of parsnips contains 11% of your daily folate, which is pretty awesome! Folate is an essential nutrient that we need for gum health, brain health and to avoid birth defects.

  • Parsnips also contain manganese, which supports bone health.

Good Medicine Everyday: Bay Leaves by emily penn


If your experience with bay leaves is pretty much non-existent, join the club. It was something that was in my spice cabinet growing up, that my mom would use occasionally in soups and stews. As an adult, if a recipe called for a bay leaf, I usually skipped it thinking it wasn’t that important. Sure, it might impart some flavor but I wasn’t going to go out of my way to track one down.

Recently, Rich nonchalantly mentioned that he had read about the health benefits of bay leaves and that they were impressive. I’m all about increasing my health benefits with minimal effort, so if throwing a few leaves in my soups is going to give me a boost, I’m all for it!

People have been using bay leaves forever - the wreathes used to crown victorious athletes in ancient Greece were made of bay leaves. They’ve also been used as poultices and some tribes would place a single leaf in one nostril to cure headaches. Hunters would use it to attract deer. And of course, people have been using it for centuries to impart a savory flavor to soups, stews, and meats.

And yes, the health benefits are warranted. Here’s what the humble bay leaf can do for you (1):

  • It contains high antioxidant levels. Antioxidants fight damaged cells and keep us young and healthy.

  • The essential oil from bay leaves has antimicrobial activity, which can boost immunity.

  • Its antifungal properties make it a food that can be used to help treat candida, which is an overgrowth of yeast in the gut. One study demonstrated that the bay leaf disrupted adhesion of candida to cell walls.

  • Several studies that have been done that suggest bay leaf fights cancer cells - especially breast and colon.

  • Regular consumption of bay leaves may help regulate blood sugar and support cardiovascular health.

  • Bay leaves can enhance digestion and prevent bloating and gas.

So if you can reap some of these help benefits simply by letting a couple leaves simmer in your next soup, wouldn’t you do it? That’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Bay leaves are inexpensive and extremely easy to find. Now that’s the kind of #goodmedicineeveryday I like.

Good Medicine Everyday: Cinnamon by emily penn

Cinnamon has been one of my favorite spices for years now. Something about it just does it for me and I never get sick of it. I add it to smoothies, coffee, yogurt bowls, chia pudding, etc. It’s got a natural sweetness that enhances the sweet quality of whatever I’m eating without adding any actual sugar + one of the major health benefits of cinnamon is that it helps with blood sugar regulation! Yes!


Before we get into the health benefits I want to touch on one thing - there are different kinds of cinnamon. Ceylon is true cinnamon. It’s also much more expensive and harder to find. Then there are other varieties, usually Cassia, which is what’s mostly available in grocery stores. The Ceylon cinnamon tastes and smells so much different from the regular stuff! It tastes like Red Hots candy. I invested in some Ceylon cinnamon and use it for special occasions and for teas (it turns red!). My daily cinnamon is the organic bulk cinnamon from Natural Grocers. There is a compound in the Cassia variety called coumarin that is believed to be harmful in large doses. Honestly, I don’t stress about this at all, but it’s good to know and keep in mind.

OKAY! Now - why you’ll want to put cinnamon on everything you eat (almost) (1):

  • Cinnamon contains lots of potent antioxidants, which we are always in need of. It has even more than garlic or oregano!

  • These antioxidants have anti-inflammatory effects on the body, too.

  • Just half a teaspoon per day can have an impact on blood markers like LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure. It might also increase HDL cholesterol. This also makes cinnamon great for heart health!

  • Cinnamon can reduce insulin resistance, which is the mechanism by which it can help lower blood sugar levels. It can also help lower the glucose that enters your bloodstream after a meal by slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates. I recommend cinnamon to all of my clients with Type 2 Diabetes.

  • Cinnamaldehyde is a compound in cinnamon that is antibacterial and antifungal, which may help prevent infection, tooth decay and it helps keep breath fresh.

Cinnamon is especially great this time of year because of its warming properties. It’s cozy, sweet and pairs so well with other seasonal foods like… apple cider, apples, pears, pumpkin, sweet potato, etc. Pair it with other warming spices like ginger, clove, cardamom, nutmeg, anise, or allspice.