By: Cheryl Borchardt, Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach
Herbs are loaded with phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals and add great flavor and interest to recipes. Herbs are also an easy way to teach our families about growing food. It is rewarding to watch your plants grow and thrive and turn them into something fun and delicious! Herbs can easily be grown in containers and some even come back each year. Try planting some of these common herbs and enjoy their wonderful flavors and health benefits!
Basil enjoys about 6-8 hours of sunlight daily. Basil is commonly used in Italian dishes and pairs well with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and olives. For the strongest flavor, add basil toward the end of cooking. For a unique breakfast, prepare eggs to your liking, then top with chopped, fresh basil, tomato, avocado and smoked salmon.
Cilantro needs its own space where you can harvest it and then let it go to seed. It prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade in warmer climates such as the south. For a refreshing, homemade salsa, dice two heirloom tomatoes, ¼- ½ cup of red onion and ½ cup of chopped cilantro. Mix together with a can of diced tomatoes and the juice of ½ lime. Season with salt and ½ tsp of cumin (optional).
Mint is fragrant, fast-growing, and compliments fruits, vegetables, and meats. It is very simple to grow and is a fun addition to many dishes. Although easy to grow, its "runners" are invasive and will overtake a flower bed or garden quickly, so consider planting in a container. For a fun appetizer, mix 1 cup each of chopped cantaloupe, watermelon, and honeydew with ¼ cup of chopped mint.
Oregano is a hearty, forgiving herb that loves the sun. It prefers well-drained soil and is used mostly in Mediterranean cooking. Oregano brings flavor to pizza, sauces, soups and vegetable dishes. Try this side dish: Simmer sliced zucchini in a marinara sauce with chopped onion and oregano, cook until softened.
Rosemary is a perennial evergreen with a piney aroma that is frequently used paired with poultry, lamb, stews, and soups. Rosemary loves full sun and well-drained soil. Rub lamb chops with chopped rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper, bake at 375 until internal temp reaches 145-170 degrees, turning once.
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