Fresh Herbs: Flavor Your Meals and Boost Your Immunity
When it comes to eating healthy, we want it all, don’t we? And by "all" we mean packed with nutrients and also delicious. Too many people needlessly struggle with how to make healthy food taste good. Creating and maintaining a healthy diet never needs to be bland, especially with the possibility to add a variety of flavors.
Healthy or gluten-free does not need to mean flavor free. So before reaching for the salt, sugar, or added fats like cheese consider adding a repertoire of fresh herbs to your cooking. You will be introducing a depth of aromas and flavors, but also will be boosting the nutritional value of each meal. Let's spice up our relationship with food!
What Are Herbs and How Many Can You Name? (hint: there are a lot)
Do you want the botanical definition or the culinary meaning? Herbs are a wide variety of small, green plants known for their flavoring, medicinal, and aromatic uses. They look pretty, taste divine, and smell heavenly. What more could you want in a little plant?
In addition to these uses, herbs contain nutrients that are indicated in improving our immune systems and general health. Whether added to foods in fresh or dried form or brewed in teas, herbs are believed to contain properties that aid digestion, as well as have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial traits. Their little leaves (and sometimes stems, bark, and seeds) bolster the nutritional value of many dishes and beverages. Used for centuries, herbs have historically been enjoyed for both heady and subtle flavors and their ability to augment healthy eating. They are considered natural healers used for improving all of our bodies’ systems.
Some common and familiar herbs include sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, dill, basil, and parsley. These are used in an enormous variety of cuisines around the world and are often in our own kitchen cabinets in the dried variety. Even if they were without medicinal properties, the flavors they impart make using fresh herbs appealing for any type of cooking.
Herbs to Consider for Boosting Health
Rosemary - These spiky leaves are known for helping circulatory and digestive function as well as having anti-depressive properties.
Basil - The lush, green leaves can aid in digestion and help in stress reduction. Used as an addition to soups and sauces, basil also works well as the main ingredient in pesto.
Sage - The ashy, fuzzy leaves of the sage plant contain properties to help with digestion and have a positive effect on the immune system.
Echinacea - This plant is used more in herbal teas to help generate immunological and antiviral effects
Thyme - It is thought to have an antimicrobial component as well as aiding digestive issues.
Oregano - A staple in Italian cooking, this herb is known to be a source of antioxidants and assists in respiratory health.
Garlic - No kitchen is complete without garlic. While being pungently delicious it is also a powerhouse of antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial components and can strengthen gut and respiratory health.
How to Include Fresh Herbs in Your Diet
- Scan your favorite recipes and add fresh herbs for a big flavor boost to entrees, side dishes, and salads.
- Infuse some fresh herbs into your daily water intake.
- Visit local farmers’ markets to purchase homegrown, seasonal herbs.
- Start your own herb garden either outside or on your kitchen windowsill for a variety of fresh herbs to use every day with every meal.
No herb has magical properties that can heal or cure our most debilitating or pervasive diseases and conditions. And there are no substitutes for creating balance in our lives than a healthy diet, physical activity, and stress reduction. But if we look at our healthy lifestyle pathway holistically and attempt to convert our maybe not-so-healthy habits into a daily journey of healthy choices, our overall health is sure to have improvements. Fortunately, incorporating a delicious array of fresh herbs into our cooking is an easy, healthy, and aromatic way to begin. Add them to your favorite meals or use them to turn a bland meal into a new favorite!