You already know that fruits and vegetables are full of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but did you know that fresh herbs are also considered to be nutritional powerhouses? Don’t overlook the possibilities and the power that fresh herbs can add to your diet! Herbs can completely transform a plain dish into something spectacular by adding depth of flavor. On a special diet? Herbs are an excellent way to season your food without adding an excess amount of sodium, sugar, or fat.
Herbs also contain valuable nutrients and even medicinal properties to treat a wide variety of ailments. Different herbs like rosemary, peppermint, and thyme can be used to ease digestive problems like bloating and constipation, to cure headaches, or even to provide a boost to your immune system.
Start garnishing your dishes with a handful of chopped herbs to add flavor and vitamins. Add green herbs like parsley to your smoothie for an added boost of vitamin C, vitamin K, and many other phytonutrients. You can even experiment with herbs by growing your own windowsill garden and sampling different flavor combinations! If you’ve been avoiding fresh herbs at the grocery store because you end up having too much left over, try this tip: chop the herbs and freeze them in a plastic freezer bag or an ice cube tray covered in water or oil.
Simple Guide to Three Favorite Herbs:
Basil is a good source of vitamin K and manganese, and contains copper, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. It is also a source of calcium, iron, folate, and magnesium. The most obvious food to pair your basil with is tomatoes – add it to tomato sauce or slices of tomato on a Caprese salad. Basil is the chief ingredient of pesto sauce, which is usually made with olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts. Pair your basil with fish, lamb, or pasta dishes for the best flavor combinations. It’s also the perfect herb to add to fruits like apricots, peaches, watermelon, and figs. A basil chiffonade sprinkled on grilled peaches is an amazing and healthy summertime treat!
Parsley is an awesome source of vitamin K and vitamin C, and also contains vitamin A, iron, and folate (vitamin B9), which is essential for the production of red blood cells, and is also an important nutrient for women who plan to have children, because it prevents neural birth defects. Parsley is probably the most common herb found in Western cuisine, and it has a mild, peppery flavor. Flat-leaf, or Italian, parsley is the preferred choice for cooking and is extremely versatile! Use it in sauces and soups, to garnish potato dishes or salads, or add it to a green smoothie. Parsley pairs well with beef, eggs, fish, and poultry; and it complements dishes made with a wide array of vegetables, including carrots, broccoli, and eggplant.
Mint has been around for ages and has been utilized in both cooking and medicine. It is a great source of manganese, copper, and vitamin C; and the essential oil of peppermint has been scientifically proven to have antibacterial and antifungal properties! You may think of mint as a go-to herb for desserts and sweet beverages but is also perfect for savory dishes made with warm spices. Add mint to Middle Eastern dishes, or make a refreshing summer tea with fresh mint. It pairs well with lamb, watermelon, and most fruits, making it a great garnish for fruit salads.
“Basil.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Matejan Foundation, n.d. Web. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=85>.
Lewin, Jo. “The Healing Power of Herbs.” BBC Good Food. BBC, n.d. Web.
“Parsley.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Matejan Foundation, n.d. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=100>.
“Peppermint.” The World’s Healthiest Foods. The George Matejan Foundation, n.d. <http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=102>