Herbs, spices add healthy zest 0
Gardening season has begun and whether you have a backyard garden, a plot in a community garden or even a balcony garden, I hope you can plant some yummy vegetables and also include fresh herbs.
Basil, dill, parsley, coriander and more all grow well and can provide wonderful flavours in your food.
These fresh herbs add not just wonderful taste to food but if you're trying to reduce sodium or fat, they're even more important.
We always think of spices and herbs as something that adds taste, but we forget that they also can provide health benefits.
As I've written often, everything that comes out of the ground, whether it's an apple, carrot or parsley, has important plant chemicals that protect the plant as it grows and protects your health when it's ingested.
Researchers have shown that many culinary herbs have antioxidants that are powerful protectors against disease.
Several years ago, researchers measured the antioxidants in about 1,000 common foods and published a list of the best.
Of the 50 with the most antioxidants, 12 were herbs or spices.
Now, it's not realistic to think that you'd eat enough of the herbs and spices to provide the same protection as a serving of peppers or berries, but they do add important benefits and shouldn't be seen just as a pretty garnish.
Some of the most potent ones include garlic, cinnamon, rosemary, oregano, turmeric, cloves, ginger, basil, curry, chili and parsley.
Herbs vs spices?
The difference between herbs and spices is where they come from on the plant.
Herbs are the leaf of the plant (e. g. parsley or basil) and spices are the roots (e. g. ginger), bark (e. g. cinnamon), buds (e. g. cloves) or seeds.
The herbs can be both fresh or dried, but since its growing season this is a good time to eat more fresh.
Dried herbs are much more concentrated than fresh, so you use smaller amounts in cooking.
A few tips on herbs:
If shopping for herbs, buy them close to the time you plan to use them.
If you're growing them, the best time to pick them is morning, before the sun gets hot.
Choose ones with bright colour and no signs of wilting or browning.
If the leaves are beginning to yellow or brown or have black spots, it could mean the herbs are no longer fresh.
Wash herbs just before you use them.
Wash smaller amounts thoroughly under cool, running water, pat dry, shake off moisture or dry with a salad spinner.
Store in sealed containers or plastic bags in the refrigerator.
Fresh herbs (washed and patted dry) can also be frozen in freezer bags.
Unlike dried herbs, fresh are best added toward the end of the cooking to preserve their flavour.
They can be added to refrigerated cooked foods several hours before serving.
Spices and dried herbs should be stored in an airtight container, in a cool, dry dark place away from light and heat.