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Fresh Herbs for the Spring
Looking to spice up your life? Why not start in the kitchen? Herbs and spices are a great way to make your meals tasty. More importantly, they provide our bodies with added nutrients and health boosting benefits.
Fun Facts About Herbs
They all originate from plants.
All herbs and spices originate from some form of plant (flowers, barks, seeds, roots, etc.).
They are rich in antioxidants.
Herbs and spices contain powerful antioxidants, in fact most contain more than fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants protect our bodies from stress and reduce inflammation. Diets rich in antioxidants have been linked to reduced risk of chronic disease (like cancer and heart disease).
They have medicinal properties.
Herbs and spices have been used traditionally for medicinal purposes, including their antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties.
Basil is a versatile herb that can be added to pretty much any dish. It’s best known as the main ingredient in Pesto Genovese, in a salad with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and black olives, but also makes a great addition to dips, butters, and dessert. Sprinkle on pizza or pasta, or add to vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberries or a lemon and basil sorbet served between dinner courses. In addition to its versatility in recipes it also has antibacterial properties and has been associated with fighting bacteria, viruses and chronic disease.
This antioxidant rich herb is a great addition to meat marinades, bread stuffing for pork and veal, olive oil infusions with balsamic vinegar as a bread dipper. Also very nice in sweet applications such as short bread with Asiago Cheese and hot pepper flakes to be used with pate and cheeses.
Many applications, including savoury (lamb marinades, added to vegetables such as peas), in salads with watermelon and feta cheese, tzatziki dip, Middle Eastern, Greek and Indian recipes. Also wonderful as a tea – refreshing and energizing. Fun fact: mint has been traditionally used to calm the digestion system and relieve nausea. So, the next time you are feeling bloated or nauseous try a mint infused tea.
Parsley is a versatile herb that can be used in many different dishes. It is a great addition to salads, soups, smoothies, sauces or used as a garnish for any meal. It is rich in vitamins and minerals (vitamin A, C, B, calcium, iron etc.) and known for it’s anti inflammatory properties.
A much more powerful herb – a little goes a long way. Traditionally used in bread stuffing for roast pork or turkey, topping for “Veal Saltimbuco” and in a hot butter sauce for gnocchi (my favourite). Sage has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it a great herb to add to meals to support your health. In fact, sage has been linked to its cognitive boosting properties such as, improved memory and recall abilities.
Angela Wallace is a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, and Family Food Expert. She works as a health educator and project coordinator with the Guelph Family Health Study.