Caraway. The early Greeks knew caraway could calm an upset stomach and used it to season foods that were hard to digest. Today unsuspecting cooks who simply love the flavor of caraway continue the tradition by adding caraway to rye bread, cabbage dishes, sauerkraut and coleslaw, pork, cheese sauces, cream soups, goose, and duck.
The Germans make a caraway liqueur called kummel and serve it after heavy meals. One of the easiest ways to enjoy caraway is with a good helping of sauerkraut. Saute 1/2 medium onion in 1 to 2 tablespoons butter. When onions turn deep golden brown, add 1 can sauerkraut and its liquid along with 1 or 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds. Let the mixture simmer (covered) for 1 hour. Serve as a side dish with meat, poultry, or sausage.
Cayenne pepper. Nothing revs up the old digestive engine like cayenne. Cayenne pepper has the power to make any dish fiery hot, but it also has a subtle flavor-enhancing quality. There is some evidence that eating hot pepper increases metabolism and the appetite. Add a few shakes of cayenne pepper to potato salad, deviled eggs, chili, and other hot dishes such as stews and soups.
Fennel. Fennel, like its cousin caraway (both belong to the Umbelliferae family of herbs), is a familiar digestive aid, both for relieving stomach upset and for boosting the appetite.
Ginger. Ginger helps stimulate a tired appetite, both through its medicinal properties and its refreshing taste. Try nibbling on gingersnaps or sipping ginger ale made with real ginger. Ginger tea is also a way to start the day off on an appetizing note. To make, place 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger into a cup and fill with boiling water. Cover and let stand ten minutes. Strain and sip. Don't take more than three times daily. If needed, sweeten with just a little honey.
Warning! Pregnant women should consult a doctor before taking ginger.
Peppermint. Peppermint refreshes the palate and revives the appetite. Make a cup of peppermint tea and enjoy any time you don't feel like eating. Place 1 tablespoon peppermint leaves in a 1-pint jar of boiling water. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes, shaking occasionally. Strain and sip as needed. If you're tired of teas, make a glass of peppermint lemonade by adding a few sprigs to the lemonade mixture and letting it sit for ten minutes before sipping.