One of the best gifts I ever received from a dear friend of mine was my own indoor herb garden. I always had an interest in having one, but never got around to it because I wasn’t sure how herbs would survive in my downtown Halifax apartment. Well they survive just fine, with very little maintenance! Once these herbs became a part of my cooking routine, I didn’t know how I ever cooked without them! They add so much to any meal- flavour, nutritional content and colour! I add herbs to salads, hamburger patties, soups, fish marinades, teas…. the options are endless!
Depending on whether you are growing your herbs inside or out, you will have to look into how it’s best to plant them. For the most part though, all you’ll need is a few pots, something to identify the herbs with (so you don’t get mixed up!), soil and herbs!
When you grow your own herbs, as opposed to buying them from the store, the nutritional content of their oils is more intact because the leaves aren’t being handled. Not to mention, the flavour is better! Here is a guide to get you thinking about the healthful benefits that herbs can bring to your healthy eating lifestyle.
Basil: A very versatile and easy to grow herb. It is known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and is a good source of Vitamin A. One of my favorite recipes is Basil Pesto: In a blender/food processor, combine 1 bunch basil, juice of 1 lemon, ¼ cup sunflower seeds (no need to buy the expensive pine nuts usually used for pesto!), ¼ cup olive oil and salt to taste. Blend and enjoy as a spread, sauce or dip!
Oregano: Oregano means “mountain joy”- it truly is a joy to cook with since it goes so well with any meat or salad dish! It is also full of vitamins, minerals, antibacterial properties, antioxidants and fiber… This is why you see Oil of Oregano at health food stores- the health benefits are plentiful!
Cilantro: One of my favorite spices to add to EVERYTHING! Salsa, guacamole, burgers, fish… not only is the herb delicious, but it is high in nutritional value as it helps regulate blood sugar, cholesterol and free radical production.
Mint: Mint is wonderful for soothing your belly, because it has muscle relaxing abilities. It is also great for it’s anti-microbial properties as well as high content of vitamins and minerals. Mint is a must in the traditional Mediterranean dish tabouleh and also makes an amazing mint tea!
Thyme: Thyme is a nutrient dense spice that is full of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants that protect the cells membranes. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs, and I added to scrambled eggs, soups and sauces.
Sage & Rosemary: These “sister herbs” are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. Sage is a great source of Vitamin K and rosemary increases blood flow to the brain (creating better concentration). These herbs are great to use in egg dishes, soups and salads!
I hope this inspires you to start your own herb garden. Growing your own herbs allows you to be creative with your recipes and adds instant health benefits to every dish! Enjoy!