We are entering the do days of summer and my garden is over-run with the worlds most enormous sage plant. It is impervious to the summer rain and hail! that we have experienced here in Calgary and has grown into an enormous plant.
In an effort to use up some of this fine crop I have been messing around with herbs in my kitchen for the last couple of weeks.
Introducing herbs to your diet is one of he easiest ways of increasing the nutrition that you consume in our diet on a daily basis.
When I first started getting serious about my health, one of the first steps I took was to add 3-4 large bunches of herbs to my shopping cart each week, to chop it and include it into my food on a daily basis.
I knew that simply by including all of this leafy green goodness I was supporting my health in a multitude of different ways.
Herbs are generally rich in health promoting, antioxidant vitamin C, vitamin A for clear healthy skin and great tissue repair and vitamin K which promotes immunity, supports bone health and aids blood clotting when we are injured.
Some herbs go above and beyond on the nutritional front.
Parsley contains iron and is strengthening and cleansing for the blood.
Cilantro can support the body to lower cholesterol levels and is very anti-inflammatory. Cilantro is a nutritional hero in that it supports the transport of heavy metals across the blood brain barrier to aid removal from the body, making it a super detoxifying herb.
Sage, such as the monster in my garden, and rosemary are full of aromatic oils that are beneficial to the body. You can smell them as you rub the fragrant leaves between your fingers. These oils are anti microbial, anti-inflammatory and also help to prevent the formation of plaques in the brain that may contribute to Alzheimers disease. Rosemary especially has a long standing reputation in folk lore for helping with memory
So you know that you want to use more herbs in your diet so let’s look at how you can go beyond the ‘finely chop and sprinkle’ stage to making herbs a feature of your meal.
Try making a Thai green curry sauce. All you need is a blender, a large bunch of cilantro, a lime and some ginger, garlic, chilli combo on hand.
This sounds like a lot of planning/shopping, but I buy my ginger, lemon grass, chilli, thai basil leaves and more unusual herbs as and when I see them and throw then into the bottom of my freezer in ziplock bags.
I have never met a Tom Yum soup mix pack in the exotic fresh vegetable aisle that have not snapped up and thrown into the freezer. In this way I always have a selection of flavourings on hand when Thai inspiration strikes! Yes, I freeze and blend the whole limes too.
Blend your thai spices to hand with a couple of tablespoons of Tamari soy sauce and a large bunch of cilantro in the blender and marinate chicken, beef, tofu, white fish, salmon or whatever protein you choose to Thai up.
Look at that delicious vibrant green….and the scent of a fresh Thai sauce…so delicious and so much more full of flavour and nutrition than a jarred or canned paste.
I decided to marinate my chicken overnight in the curry sauce to maximize the flavour and then simmered up he chicken the following night with a can of coconut milk to make an easy and delicious supper. Plenty for supper and some for leftover-lunches the next day!
Another beautiful way to make herbs the centre of your meal is to make a herb crust for a larger piece of meat or fish. Again all the work is one by the blender! (Love my Vitamix blender)
Blend a big bunch of parsley with a big handful of sage and rosemary, some pea shoots and a clove of garlic. By adding olive oil, a slice of gluten free bread and salt and pepper,I created a stuffing like crust that I can slap onto chicken breasts, a beef tenderloin or the two pork tenderloins that I had on hand.
Roast the tenderloins on a bed of patty pan squash, purple jewel yam and zucchini to create a delicious one pan pork vegetable and stuffing dinner.
My overgrown sage plant provides me with fragrant leaves that are a powerful, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiseptic and anti-fungal.
The leaves of the sage bush stimulate the immune system and act as a natural expectorant if you have a nasty cough and I want to be enjoying this herb in my diet long after the Canadian winter has set in and the plant has become leafless and dormant for the winter.
Packing the leaves into a glass mason jar to steep in olive oil preserves health promoting properties over the coming months.
I plan to drizzle this fragrant oil over roasted butternut squash, stir it into pasta with garlic and blend into a sage infused hummus.
I hope that one of these alternative ideas inspires you to use more delicious, health promoting herbs in your kitchen!
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