Herbs for Cooking and Health

As the sun strengthens and days lengthen, our hands itch to get into the garden. While those of us in the northern states must wait patiently for that pleasure, we can all add some springtime flavor to our meals with fresh herbs. Nature’s Gifts Harvest fresh herbs from your garden or your supermarket’s produce section. Fragrant and attractive, versatile and tasty, herbs add flavor and aroma to foods. Best of all, they promote good health and healing (see chart below). When selecting herbs, look for fresh green color and fragrance. Store herbs in perforated plastic bags in your refrigerator’s crisper. Before using, wash fresh herbs gently under cool water and dry between paper towels.   Herb Culinary Uses Health Benefits Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Pasta sauce, tomato dishes, pesto, rice, vegetables, vinegars, and salads Contains many antiviral compounds and other phytochemicals that may fight formation of dental plaque. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) Teas, stir-fries, soups and stews, gingered carrots, candied ginger Gingerol in ginger calms the stomach, stimulates appetite, and reduces dizziness, motion sickness, cramps, and headache. In dried ginger, zingerone forms, and both substances have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects. Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)   Soups, stews, sauces, meats, poultry, fish, and veggies Chlorophyll in parsley freshens breath; boron and fluoride help prevent bone thinning; parsley inhibits the body’s release of histamines, reducing allergy symptoms. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) Lamb, pork, meats, chowders, and roasted or sauteed veggies Two dozen antioxidants in rosemary may aid circulation, help prevent gallbladder disease, reduce symptoms of arthritis and indigestion, and stimulate appetite. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris L.) Meats, fish, poultry, stews, eggs, bread, and stuffings Contains flavonoids that break up congestion to reduce coughs and bronchitis, settles upset stomach, and kills some germs and fungi.