Herbs that Heal and Help
HERBS THAT HEAL AND HELP!
Cynthia Chandler, RDN, LDN/ Company Nutritionist
Summer is a season of culinary bounty! Bountiful gardens, farmer’s markets, and road-side stands are open and hoping to share their bounty with each of us! While not a major player on your dinner plate, there are some plant foods that deserve some attention, both for the flavor they impart to food and the healing properties they offer to our body!
Herbs share a part of plants that are used by many cooks to enhance the flavor of foods. Unknowing to many, they enrich the nutrient content of our food selections. Even a food that is considered not so good for you can be enhanced nutritionally with a simple addition of herbs.
Some of the herbs that can be grown easily are basil, rosemary, and mint. Container gardens can easily be started outside your bedroom window or on a small porch. Buying a plant and employing some simple nurturing can supply us with a repeated supply of these flavor enhancing ingredients.
Fresh herbs are slower to impart flavor and should be added at the beginning of cooking. Dried herbs are more potent and have stronger flavor profiles. Add them closer to the end of the cooking time to avoid cooking out the flavors or altering the taste profile of the herb.
BASIL has been used as a medicinal since early times. This herb is high in Vitamin K which helps with normal blood clotting as well as vitamin A, an important antioxidant. This herb imparts a mild sweetness to food and pairs well with garlic, onion, and tomatoes. Fresh basil leaves can be used to make a fresh pesto that offers a simple and delicious addition to noodles for a quick week-night meal!
ROSEMARY is widely available on a year round basis. You often see the plants for purchase at supermarkets. Rosemary has been used as a medicine since early times to boost the immune system and relieve muscle pain. Rosemary is considered an evergreen and pairs well with garlic and olive oil. Rosemary is often added to dipping oils for fresh breads. This herb is quite fragrant and should be added at the beginning of the cooking process.
Mint has a cooling effect and tastes good with chocolate, lamb, fruit, and teas. It has been used to ease indigestion. It is also a natural breath freshener. Think of the times you leave a restaurant and are offered a mint or a chocolate mint!
SIMPLE SAUCE FOR PASTA:
8 FRESH TOMATOES, CHOPPED
2 CLOVES, GARLIC, CHOPPED
1 MEDIUM ONION, CHOPPED
2 TABLESPOONS OLIVE OIL
1 CUP FRESH BASIL, CHOPPED
1 TEASPOON SALT
1 TEASPOON BLACK PEPPER
Turn burner over to medium high. Place large saute pan on heat and add olive oil. Let heat for one minute. Add chopped onion and cook for two minutes. Add garlic and stir together. Let cook an additional minute. Add tomatoes and stir ingredients together. Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. Add basil and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over pasta.
FRESH FRUIT SALAD WITH MINT SALAD DRESSING
FOR THE SALAD:
1 cup cantaloupe, cubed
2 cups strawberries, halved
15 grapes, white (halved)
1 cup honeydew melon, cubed
10 mint leaves, ribboned.
FOR THE DRESSING:
1 cup honey
1 cup lime juice
1 tablespoon lime zest
3 tablespoons chopped mint
Mix all ingredients and chill. Toss dressing over fruit right before serving.