5 Ways to Use More Herbs 2


Photo by Getty Images

Photo by Getty Images

Herbs are powerhouses in the kitchen. They can be used to add a punch of flavor to any food without adding a lot of calories or having to going heavy on the salt shaker. Herbs do more than wake up our taste buds and reduce added salt and calories in our diet – they are good for our bodies because they contain many healthful components:

  • fiber // indigestible substances found in plant tissues that are important for healthy digestion of the food we eat
  • vitamins & minerals // naturally occurring substances found in plant tissues that are vital for the optimal function of many of our body’s processes
  • phytochemicals // biologically active substances that have antioxidant and anti-tumor properties in our body // research studies have suggested that phytochemicals play a role in preventing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis
  • oils (fats), carbohydrates, proteins // small amounts of these healthful, naturally occurring substances are found in herbs

Remember that every herb has a different composition, so include a variety of herbs in your diet to provide your body with the different nutrients and chemical compounds I mentioned above.

I’ve listed some different herbs (below) that that are always a great addition in the kitchen. If you want more details about each herb (ways to use it in the kitchen or how to grow it), check out The Worlds Healthiest Foods, which is a great site for general information about whole foods and/or Better Homes & Garden’s Herb Encyclopedia.

  • Basil
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Lemon balm
  • Marjoram
  • Mint
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Peppermint and other mints
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Tarragon
  • Thyme
  • Verbena
  • And many more!

1. Add herbs to drinks.

Fresh herbs can add a refreshing twist to any drink.

  • Hot or iced teas
  • Hot or iced coffee
  • Water
  • Smoothies

Blueberry Lemon Mint Infused Water
Recipe by Hello Natural

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Orange Mint Cooler
Recipe by Ashley Thomas at My Heart Beets


2. Add herbs to your favorite dishes.

Don’t be afraid to stray from your norm in the kitchen. Use herbs to ADD an extra splash of flavor to the foods or recipes you make on a regular basis. Break free from routine!

  • Stir some fresh or dried herbs into your usual hot entree for a tasty twist: casseroles, soups, quesadillas, omelettes, and stir fry.
  • Use herbs as a topping: sprinkle some herbs as a final addition to any dish such as tacos, soups, pasta dishes, etc.
  • Bored of the same old iceberg, romaine, or spinach salad? Try mixing in some herbs in your salad next time!
  • Throw some herbs in with dips or sauces such as salsa, hummus, salad dressing, or tomato sauce.
  • Bake with herbs. Say what?! I’m not suggesting that you put cilantro in your brownies, but herbs can add a nice touch to certain baked goods like a savory bread or homemade pizza crust.

3. Try a new recipe that includes herbs.

Be daring and try one of these unique, herbilicious recipes.

Herb & Cheese Popcorn
Recipe by McKel at Nutrition Stripped

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Green-Packed Stir Fry with Fresh Herbs
Recipe by Joanne at Eats Well With Others

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Cilantro-Lime Hummus
Recipe by Jenn at Endlessly Inspired

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Whole Wheat Garlic & Herb Beer Bread
Recipe by Ali at Gimme Some Oven

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Crunchy Cucumber Rolls with Herb Cheese
Recipe by McKel at Nutrition Stripped


4. Grow your own herbs.

Fresh herbs tend to be pricey at the grocery store, so buy plants or seeds from your local nursery (prices typically range from $2-$5 per seedling) for a purchase that keeps on giving. Plant your herbs indoors or outdoors in pots or in your garden. I love growing herbs because they are always super fresh (year round!), I don’t have to worry about my leftover herbs going bad in the fridge, and I can use as much or as little as I need. Check out this article from Simple Bites – it is an excellent guide for growing your own herbs at home. I’m growing my own herb garden (oregano, thyme, peppermint, and basil) in my apartment windowsill (see below)!

MyHerbGarden

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If you’re feeling crafty, try this DIY herb planter (below).

DIY Herb Planter
by Ali at Gimme Some Oven


5. Make your own herbal beauty products.

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ in your body? The skin is an active organ that has many functions such as sensation/touch, creating vitamin D (when your skin is exposed to the sun), regulating our body temperature, and protecting our bodies from chemicals, radiation, and germs. It also actively absorbs substances it comes in contact with, so be sure to treat this important part of your body with some love by making some beauty products filled with the natural goodness of herbs.

Rosemary Hair Mask
Recipe by McKel at Nutrition Stripped

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Lemon & Thyme Salt Scrub
Recipe by Jaclyn at Food + Words


I hope you feel empowered to add some extra flavor into your life with herbs. Let us know how you like to use your herbs!

 

References:

1.  Sareen Gropper and Jack Smith, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (6th Edition), 2013.

 


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