21 Feb Eat your Herbs
You think of herbs, and you think of the cute little garden you plant every spring, and kill by summer. You think of your standard chives, cilantro or thyme — anything green and summery.
You’ve got to think a little broader than a summer garden here, because herbs and spices are far more vast than a little basil and group together things like cinnamon, garlic, ginger root, cilantro, coriander, tumeric, paprika and so forth. Who knew?
They are the thing that takes a good dish to great, a standard cookie to your secret recipe, and the ‘how to’ of Turkeys. But they serve a far greater purpose then to season the perfect steak. In fact, all herbs and spices alike contain powerful anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Not only that, almost all of them are full of vitamins and trace minerals as well. For example, pure, pink sea salt has 93 rich minerals in a single serving alone. What bang for your buck!
As with anything, fresh is best, and the best nutritional value can be found in fresh cut, crushed or grated herbs and spices from their raw form. They are all derived from plants, seeds, nuts, barks, roots and seeds. You may actually find that your green thumb comes a little more naturally in the winer in your kitchen, when you can control the elements, then in the summer. Basil, cilantro and mint all flourish in the winter on a sunny, warm windowsill, in direct light, with the right amount of water. Don’t be shy, grow whatever greenery you can get your hands on!
I myself love to use herbs and spices when I cook. It just kicks it up a notch, and helps me steer away from added salt, sauces or dips for flavour. My favourite trick is to add a combination of basil, cilantro and peppermint leaves to my salad mix! Such a savoury treat for the pallet.
Here are a few of my favourites, and their benefits! These are super easy to incorporate into everyday dishes:
- Cinnamon: a warming spice that helps to balance blood sugar, aids in fat loss and reduces inflammation best on apples, in coffee, in soups.
- Basil: light and savoury, this herb compliments a variety of dishes, is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral in nature delicious in salads, pasta and as pesto.
- Mint: calming for the digestive system (every wondered why restaurants give out peppermints?) best consumed as tea, but I love it in salads!
- Turmeric: a bit of an acquired taste, but is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has been known to aid in joint and arthritic pain best in soups, tinctures and smoothies – also a powerful dye, so careful with your wooden cutting boards and fingers!
- Cayenne: a somewhat feared, yet versatile spice, aids in digestion, the absorption of nutrients, boosts circulation and is your BFF during cold and flu season best in chilis, soups, smoothies, and tumeric/ginger/lemon tea.
Try my made-from-scratch basil pesto for a big bang of benefits! Can be stored in the freezer for up to three months, and is great on zucchini noodles, pasta, salmon and tomato slices!
CASHEW, BASIL, SUNDRIED TOMATO PESTO
- 2 cups of fresh basil
- 1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked for 20 minutes in hot water and drained
- 1/2 cup of sun dried tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp of pink sea salt
- 1/2 cup of organic extra virgin olive oil *add a little extra as you blend if needed
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Juice from 1/2 lemon
Add all ingredients to your blender and pulse until smooth and you’re done!