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Daily Herbal Habit #5 Cooking with Herbs

Herbs are such a diverse plant, you can do so much with them whether you are drinking herbs, such as I covered in my last blog post, or eating them – as I will cover in this one. Either way, you reap the benefits and taste through using our herbal allies.

Magic aren’t they, our most lovely green garden companions. In this post, I am going to both introduce you to a few of my favourite herbs and finish by sharing a few quick and easy recipes.

Current Food Climate

Now, if you go into your average cafe or lunch spot, you’ll notice that herbs are under-utilised.  You may also notice this in ready meals that you purchase from the supermarket.  Instead, to compensate or add flavour, food manufacturers tend to add sugar/ salts to food.

This is beneficial for their bottom line, as sugar tricks the brains receptors into thinking you’re still hungry –  resulting in you buying and eating more. Now while this is financially good for the manufacturers, it’s at all good for your health, not only does it affect your brain, research has shown that sugar is highly addictive and literally stupefying.

In the last few years, there has also been a commercial push of the ‘Low fat’ trend. However most low fat foods are highly processed and harder for our body to digest and break down.

To eat healthily, it’s best to ditch the food that has been processed, such as low-fat or meals that are full of sugar/glucose/additives. Eat real food that is as close to its natural state as possible, by doing this we reap the nutrient energy and rewards.

Many people that switch to a natural diet worry that their food will be bland, yet if you are looking for flavour, the healthiest alternative is to use herbs!  On top tantalising your taste buds they are also known to be full of nutrients, vitamins and additional benefits that you won’t find in sugar, flavours or additives.

A few herbs and their Superpowers

Here are a few of my favourite herbs and their benefits (for the benefits of Rosemary, Parsley, Thyme and Sage please see my previous blog post).

Spearmint

Spearmint

Peppermint/Spearmint: These two herbs are related and have similar properties. Each can be used to help; fresh breath, digestive system, cramps, gas, colic, irritated bowel, headaches, and pain. They are antioxidant and have trace elements of vitamin A, B, C as well as copper and potassium.

Dill: Has a rich history, used as a painkiller by the early Egyptians, with a Norse name meaning ‘to soothe. It’s a valuable stomach remedy for calming the nerves, cramps, stomach and digestion. It is also antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. As for vitamins and minerals, it has; vitamin A and C, iron, and manganese

Coriander (Cilantro): Used for thousands of years and mainly classed as an aphrodisiac – this may explain why you’d be feeling a little extra saucy after some Mexican food. It is also, however, great for bloating, cramps, spasms, nervous tension, stomach issues lowering cholesterol and managing blood sugar levels.  It is also rich in Vitamin C and K,  protein, and trace elements of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, thiamin, niacin and carotene.

Cardamom Seeds: One of the oldest spices in the world, especially popular in Asia, where it’s used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat asthma, bronchitis and kidney stones. In China, it’s used as a tonic and for urinary issues. It is an antioxidant, detoxifier and is noted also for providing relief for indigestion, cramps, and gas.  It is full of vitamin and minerals, most notably Vitamin C, iron, niacin, calcium, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.

Sweet Basil: Once used by the ancient Romans to relieve gas, as a diuretic, counteract poisoning, and stimulate breast milk. No wonder it can be found in so many Italian dishes. Of course, some of this is true as it kills intestinal worms, relieves digestive issues, cramps, nausea and vomiting. As it has a mildly sedative action it can be used to address irritability, anxiety, fatigue, and depression. It’s an antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-cancer and has vitamin A, K, and C, as well as the mineral manganese.

Garlic: Its benefits are so powerful it can even stop a vampire in its tracks. It’s an antibiotic, anti-diabetic, expels worms, lowers blood pressure and reduces blood clotting. It has vitamins A, B, C, E and the mineral Selenium.  And is especially good for Cold and flu remedies, circulation issues and infections. To make the most of its super powers, be sure to eat it raw!

These magical herbs pack a nifty nutritional punch, as well as an amazing amount of flavour.  So you have two solid reasons to introduce fresh herbs into the garden if you are not growing them already as well as into your cooking.

Tasty Herb Recipes

Here a few great tasting recipes that are made with these beneficial herbs:

Wild Rice Salad:
Cook up some Wild Rice, with a few cardamom pods (I open these up and take the seeds out).  Add whatever salad items you have in the fridge at the time: Celery, Cucumber, tomato, and red bell pepper.  For the herbs, you can add either Dill / Coriander.  Finish off with some quality Olive oil and spritz of Braggs if needed.

Watermelon Salad
Chop up watermelon; mix with finely chopped Basil and Balsamic vinegar.

Fruit Salad:
Cut up whatever fruit you have available, make dressing from cut up mint/ spearmint and passion-fruit to cover rest of fruit and mix well.

Cold Pea Soup

Cold Pea Soup

Cold Pea Soup (this is what I live on in the Australian heat)
Cup of frozen peas, few leaves of Spearmint, a few slices of onion, half an avocado, cup and half of almond milk and a grind of Himalayan rock salt + Black pepper.  Blend ingredients in food processor and enjoy!  (it’s like a healthy pea avocado ice cream).

Scrambled eggs
Are easy to make, and always super delicious with any herbs, my favourites to add are either Garlic/ Rosemary/ Sage/ Thyme/ or Chives.

Scrambled Tofu
Sauté some onion, mushroom, Garlic and red pepper slices, once browned add the broken up tofu (just crumble in chunks with hands), add Turmeric, curry powder, cumin and Braggs amino acids.  Cook until the colour and flavour has gone into the tofu. Finish it off with add a handful of Coriander, cook an extra minute and presto.

Salad with Roast Vegetables
Roast whatever you enjoy and have available sweet potato, pumpkin, onion, Garlic, mushroom, carrot, potatoes, peppers etc.  Be sure to cover in a good dash of olive oil, Rosemary, thyme and a grind of Himalayan rock salt + Black pepper. Prepare a Green salad with Green leaves of choice, celery, cucumber and a few slices of avocado. Top with the Roast vegetables can further add a sprinkle of feta/ pumpkin seeds, Braggs and Olive oil as needed.

In summary

Rosemary

Rosemary

These are just a few of the basics, just have a play around – and next time you are cooking, what herbs can you add to bring some extra flavour to the dish? Taking your average meal from ordinary to extraordinary!

If you have a stellar recipe or tips to share I’d love to hear them, the only thing I like as much as cooking is the eating – and always happy to try a new recipe!