CHICORY

Woody and bitter with a hint of earthiness that is enjoyable as a digestive bitter and tea or coffee substitute.

chicory root coffeeChicory is a perennial, with several variations that fall under the name of “chicory”. The chicory for today’s flavor is known as Chicorium Intybus, subspecies Sativum. While the leaves and flowers can be used in salads and various other culinary endeavors the part of the plant most significant to this article is the root. Chicory has widely been used as a coffee replacement. The root of the chicory plant is baked, dried, and then ground or crumbled into pieces to be used in coffee, tea or digestive tonic.
While the origination of chicory as a coffee substitute is slightly hazy, there is reference to its use in both colonial America and in France. My first experience with chicory coffee was in New Orleans accompanied by a freshly fried beignet. I later learned that chicory is an awesome bitter in teas and tonics, promoting digestive health and balanced liver function. I currently enjoy dandelion root and chicory on a regular basis. (In fact, I’m enjoying a cup right now as I type and dipping a Soul Cake in it.)

chicory drinkFrom a culinary perspective, chicory root is mostly used as a substitute for coffee or in teas and tonics, however, chicory root powder can be used in any recipe that calls for coffee or a dark, earthy flavor, even as a replacement or a complement to dark chocolate.

From a health perspective, chicory root has long been recognized as a digestive aid. In ancient Roman medicine it was used to increase bile production and cleanse the liver. It is still used that way today. Chicory is also high in inulin. Inulin is both a soluble fiber and a probiotic. Consumption of chicory root helps promote balanced glucose and blood sugar levels as well as contributing to healthy gut microbiota. Chicory is a great resource for antioxidants, which means helping you to eliminate oxidative stress and systemic oxidation. It’s also an amazing antifungal, antimicrobial source. Studies show that chicory root is toxic to particular strains of salmonella and helps to eliminate fungal activity in the gut. A nice mixture of burdock root, chicory, fennel, and dandelion makes an amazing detox, digestive tonic. Could be worth a try as the cold winter months are on their way...