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Natural Awakenings Atlanta

Discover Fabulous Fenugreek

The English name fenugreek comes from foenum-graecum, a Latin phrase meaning Greek hay. The early Greeks mixed the plant into moldy or insect-damaged animal borage to make it more palatable to their animals, and in the process discovered that sick horses and cattle would eat fenugreek when they would not eat anything else.

Fenugreek is a member of the leguminous bean family, cultivated for its seeds. Indigenous to the Mediterranean shores and western Asia, fenugreek plants resemble white clover, but produce pods, each of which contains between 10 and 20 aromatic seeds. Each seed is about one-quarter-inch long, brownish-yellow, and marked with an oblique furrow along half its length.

Young shoots of fenugreek are chopped and added to salads, while the leaves are used as a vegetable. The yellow seeds have a slightly bitter, yet pleasant taste, reminiscent of celery and maple, with a similar odor. The seeds can be sprouted like mustard and cress, and make a tasty, crunchy addition to salads.

Ground fenugreek seed is an important ingredient in Indian curry powder, chutneys and the Jewish sweet dish halva. The seeds are so hard, however, that they cannot be ground in a mortar, but only with a special grinding mill or in a high-speed blender. The oil of fenugreek has a maple flavor and can be used for maple flavoring in cooking and syrups.

Fenugreek is one of the oldest medicinal plants, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and the Greek Hippocrates. Nursing mothers in Ethiopia increase their intake of fenugreek, for it is believed to promote the production of milk. It does provide a generous 180 milligrams of calcium per 100 grams of seed.

The seeds are high in mucilage and act as a soothing emollient for the skin. They are also rich in oils comparable to cod liver oil because they contain choline and vitamin A. They are nourishing, body-building and are said to aid digestion, intestinal inflammation, mucous membranes, ulcers, lung problems and allergies.

Fenugreek tea helps lubricate the intestines, cleaning out poisonous toxins that build up in the system and relieving lower back pain and the general tiredness associated with stomach and intestinal trouble.

A quick and easy way to introduce fenugreek into our diet is by blending the seeds in a smoothie recipe. Try this delicious and spicy smoothie for a real treat.

Fenugreek Smoothie

  • 3 bananas
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint
  • Generous dash of ground cinnamon
  • Generous dash of ground ginger
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
Grind the fenugreek seeds and chia seeds into a powder using a high-speed blender like the Vita-Mix. Add the bananas, mint, cinnamon, ginger and orange juice and blend until smooth and creamy. For a a thinner consistency, add more orange juice or water.

Brenda Cobb is author of The Living Foods Lifestyle and founder of the Living Foods Institute, an educational center and therapy spa in Atlanta offering Healthy Lifestyle courses on nutrition, cleansing, healing, anti-aging, detoxification, relaxation and cleansing therapies. For more information, call 404-524-4488 or 1-800-844-9876 and visit See ad, inside front cover.

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