My nutritional philosophy is all about abundance, not denial and I encourage my clients to squeeze out the foods that are not benefiting their bodies by mindfully adding in those that do. One simple habit, that I highly recommend, which easily boosts the nutrition in our daily meals, is adding in a bunch of chopped herbs or sprouted greens just before a meal is served.
Herbs and sprouts are reasonably priced, easy to find in the local store, available all year round and amongst the most nutrient dense foods you can eat!
Remember, shoots such as sprouted alfalfa, broccoli, garlic seed and pea shoots contain all of the nutrition to grow an entire plant, compacted into a tiny sprout and are very easily digested and herbs are dense in chlorophyll and live plant enzymes to aid digestion. Both are high in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and zinc and the vitamins A, C, E and K. When eaten regularly herbs and sprouts can contribute to bone health, strengthen the blood and help with wound healing and healthy tissue growth. They provide antioxidants to scour free radicals from the body and help to alkalize the body from too many acid foods such as sugar and coffee.
They are packed with fibre for a healthy bowel, phytochemicals, chlorophyll and micronutrients and cilantro has been shown to chelate and carry heavy metal toxins out of the body in experiments with mice.
But whilst food CAN be your medicine, your medicine does not have to taste nasty, as these leafy sprouts and greens should be included in the diet for flavour alone.
1. Before I fell for kale salad and learned to love a green smoothie, when I first made the decision to eat more leafy greens, my initial action was to throw two bunches each of parsley and cilantro into my shopping cart each week and chop them on top of every meal I prepared. As it turns out this is an excellent practice. Buy the greens and eat the greens, week by week. Adding fresh herbs at the last minute ensures that none of their potent nutrition has been damaged by cooking.
2. Making an omelette, or scrambled eggs? Need a garnish for the soup you just prepared? Looking to load more nutrition than a limp lettuce into a brown bagged sandwich? Each of these is a great venue to showcase a finely chopped bunch of herbs or generous handful of pea shoots or alfalfa sprouts.
2. Don’t always turn to kale and spinach when making a post workout or energy boosting smoothie. Try the flavour combination of blood building parsley with strawberry or blueberry and cleansing cilantro with mango and lime juice.
4. You bought those herbs just like I told you……aaand at the end of the week they are still sat in the bottom of the refrigerator. Time to pull out the blender and whizz up a salsa verde or pesto sauce. Have you tried blending 1 large bunch of parsley, 2 cloves garlic, anchovy, capers or a dill pickle to taste, pulsed with any added basil, 3 tbsp red wine vinegar and a tbsp of Dijon mustard and served over grilled chicken. Delish! Just keep tasting to make it as piquant as you wish and don’t forget that it will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days before use.
A big bunch of parsley, cilantro or basil can all be blended with 1/2 cup of walnuts or pecans, 5 cloves of garlic, 1/2 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup of a hard cheese such as parmesan or pecorino to make a pesto sauce that can be stirred through pasta for an easy weeknight supper. That sad, limp and forgotten bunch of herbs unearthed at the bottom of the refrigerate on a Friday afternoon, will make a lovely informal Italianesque supper for a Saturday night.
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