by Katie Lehn
I was recently gifted a basket full of fresh herbs from a friend’s beautiful garden. Basil & sage & thyme, oh my! It was perfect timing, as I have been going through a creative cooking dry spell. There’s nothing like a pile of fresh herbs to get you inspired in the kitchen! I don’t cook with thyme very often, so I chose this as my first herb to conquer. Combining it with a sweet onion and tangy lemon seemed to do the trick. The look on my friend’s face after taking a bite told me my experiment was a success! Even if it hadn’t been well received, the attempt is always worthwhile. What a joy it is to experiment in the kitchen; the more we do, the more we learn to trust out instinct and let food guide us!
As for the remaining herbs? I’m still concocting ways to work them in here and there. Fresh herbs pack a surprising amount of punch! It’s amazing how just a hint of fresh basil can make my last minute salad mixture taste nothing short of gourmet! And the fresh mint in my ice water had me guzzling down H2O like a fish! What a luxury to have fresh herbs at the ready. I think it’s time I started an herb garden of my own. What are some of your favorite ways to use fresh herbs?
Not only are herbs and spices full of flavor, but they also provide our bodies with an amplitude of phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are naturally occurring, biologically active compounds present in plants and often responsible for its flavor, color and nutritional power! Phytochemicals are classified into 5 different groups: indoles, thioallyl derivatives, antioxidants, phenolic compounds and flavonoids. These compounds play a vital role in supporting our immune system, healing, cancer protection, detoxification, healthy aging & appropriate cell development. Thyme, in particular, is an aromatic herb rich in the flavonoids apigenin, naringenin, luteolin, and thymonin. These compounds boost the anti-oxidant power of this delicious herb.
If you aren’t so lucky as to have fresh herbs at your finger tips, you can alway substitute dried. Since dried herbs are a little more potent, used about 1/3 less. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh basil, substitute 1 teaspoon dried basil.
Looking for more ideas on how to use your fresh herbs? Check out these suggestions.
For more interesting tidbits about delicious produce, check out Whole Foods Companion by Dianne Onstad.