This awesome plant has been in cultivation for more than 5000+years, by Egyptians as a medicinal herb. Ancient Greeks and Romans also used chicory along with just about every other culture that lived along side it, both as a vegetable, and in salads and drinks. Apparently there are numerous references to it in the writings of Horace, Virgil, Ovid, and Pliny. Galenus gave it the name ‘Friend of the Liver’, because of its natural stimulating effect on the liver. Mass cropping in Europe began in earnest in the early 17th century and continues to this day. The plant is normally grown for both its bitter leaf and root, but I reckon its great as an ornamental too. Big towers of pale blue flowers. The leaf is great in a “Caesar salad”, lightly wilted before serving and packs a real nutritional punch with huge levels of antioxidants and inulin. I nibble a bit of leaf whenever I go past our patch. The other thing I love is the “COFFEE”, (or technically a roasted tea I guess?). We just grow the plant and harvest the leaf as needed, then when it’s a decent size, we dig it up, finely slice the root, then roast it in the oven for an hour or so till it turns a nice caramel colour. (you can just chuck it in when you have finished a roast or baking and the oven is still hot, kill the heat and walk away. Pull it out the next day and it should be pretty much perfect) Then just use it like normal coffee, but only use about a third of what you normally would as its nice and strong. Really strong bitter flavour that’s great on its own. So good that I always have a couple jars stashed in the cupboard! Traditional medicine practitioners often prescribe dried chicory root to treat jaundice and as prevention against liver damage, especially in heavy alcohol drinkers. Very rich in Beta-carotene that is shown in some studies to fight and prevent colon cancer. It is also used to treat gallstones and liver stones by increasing the secretion of bile from the liver and gallbladder promoting urination and excretion of harmful substances. Chicory is also used as natural sedative for nervous system. Leave themselves are naturally antibacterial and antifungal and are used to treat cuts and wounds, and as a natural anti-inflammatory when applied externally for arthritis, and rheumatism. Apparently “Chicory leaves are also recommended to be included in weight-loss diets especially to those who are high risk for diabetes mellitus. Other health benefits from chicory rich diet include lower LDL cholesterol level and improved bowel movement.” Well there you have it folks.
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