One of my greatest pleasures in spring and summer is growing my own herb garden. Nothing delights me more while cooking, than opening the screen door with scissors in-hand to clip a few herbs. Herbs not only add beautiful colors, bright flavors and incredible fragrance to food, they provide medicinal benefits, too!
My very favorite herb must-haves are: basil, parsley, oregano, chives and rosemary. They all have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. Some, like oregano, are also anti-bacterial. They all contain varying amounts of vitamins K, A, and folic acid.
Benefits of Herbs
The medicinal benefits come from naturally occurring phytochemicals (phyto meaning plant) in the herbs. You would need to eat large amounts of these herbs to reap their benefits, which is why in supplements they are dried and compacted. Although, eating them in smaller quantities is also beneficial.
The compounds are numerous:
- From basil: orientin, vicenin, eugenol, citronellol, linalool, citral limonene and terpineol
- From rosemary:cineol, camphene, borneol, bornyl acetate, and α-pinene
- From oregano: carvacrol, thymol, limonene, pinene, ocimene, and caryophyllene
- From chives: thio-sufinites such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and allyl propyl disulfide
- From parsley: myristicin, limonene, eugenol, and alpha-thujene
Clipping Your Herbs
Clip them from the top; removing the flowers so that they do not go to seed. These flowers are edible and beautiful in salads or in a vase on the table.
The Many Uses of Herbs
- Finishing a dish with flavorful herbs adds freshness to a variety of foods – from salads to fish to berries.
- Add herbs at the end of the recipe to keep the fragrance and aromatic flavor intact.
- Use herbs as marinades in the preparation of vegetables, chicken, and fish dishes.
- A cold sauce made from parsley or basil mixed with garlic, olive oil, and vinegar.
- Make a pesto sauce with parsley instead of basil.
- Freshly chopped herbs are a great addition to any salad.
- Add basil or rosemary to your hot water with lemon in the morning.
- Add rosemary to your breakfast shake.
- To dessert sorbets – herbs are the kicker!
Do not limit your herbs to the few that I have mentioned. Have fun experimenting and exploring the wonderful uses of herbs this summer!
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