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Herbs: Feed’s All You Need Guide

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Herbs are quite incredible. For thousands of years, they have been cherished for their medicinal properties and their ability to add flavors to the foods we’ve enjoyed. Herbs have even played an instrumental part in the evolution of modern medicine and can be found in many different healing practices and medications we use every day. Whether you enjoy essential oils, healing teas, topical gels, creams, or even a nice healing bath, herbs can make a world of a difference to your health and wellbeing.

Herbs are also a crucial part of every kitchen! Most dishes require different melodies of herbs to jazz them up, and leaving them out of your cooking can leave even delicious, otherwise well-cooked meals lifeless and bland. There are so many different types of herbs available for us to choose from, some complementing only specific foods while others being a staple for a variety of different recipes.

Regardless of your favorite cuisine or staple dinner ideas, keeping a variety of herbs stocked in your kitchen will open up doors to a number of delicious ways to enjoy new and exciting meals or even just add some flare to your eggs in the morning. If you’re interested in learning more about the different herbs you should consider keeping stocked in your kitchen, then keep on reading.

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Types of Herbs You Can Enjoy

Basil

Are you a fan of Margherita pizza? Well, you can thank basil for its flavor! Basil is arguably one of the most well-known herbs available within the culinary world, and its flavor lives up to its reputation. The three most famous types of basil include sweet basil, lemon basil, and Thai basil, but it’s likely that you’ll be able to find different varieties at your local organic grocery store. Additionally, basil can be used in a number of cuisines, including Mediterranean, Italian, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese. Often, one specific family of basil will be popular in each region’s cooking.

Basil also provides a number of different nutrients that are beneficial for the body, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It can even provide medical benefits in its essential oil form. According to Nourish by WebMD, basil contains eugenol, an antioxidant that helps to fight free radicals in the body and protects against cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and more.

Some great recipes to try featuring basil include this bocconcini and basil Turkish pizza, this Thai basil fried rice, and this refreshing basil and strawberry-infused water!

Mint

Another highly-regarded herb is mint! One of the fastest to grow plants, mint is a wonderful garden edition with a fresh and sweet flavor that is sure to wow your taste buds. Mint comes in a variety of species, including peppermint and spearmint, all with their own taste and attributes. With only 6 calories for half an ounce of mint, you receive 1g of fiber, 9% of the recommended daily intake for iron, 12% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, and 8% of the recommended daily intake for Manganese.  

Mint is also recommended to help aid a number of health issues, including indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, some cold symptoms, bad breath, and more. Even just a small amount each day can also improve brain function through the use of essential oils; it was found that smelling the aroma of peppermint oil, for example, helped to increase alertness while decreasing feelings of frustration, fatigue, and anxiety.

Some great recipes to try with mint include this no-churn mint chocolate chip ice cream, this blood-orange-mint gin fizz, and this curry chicken soup!

Oregano

Oregano is a cornerstone of Mediterranean cooking. Almost all of your favorite pasta and pizza dishes call for the herb, making it an essential addition to your pantry. It contains a variety of benefits that can help to improve your wellbeing, including antioxidants and other properties that have been used for thousands of years to help aid in healing. Oregano can help to treat issues like skin sores, aching muscles, diarrhea, colds, asthma, and much more.

Some evidence has shown that oregano can help regulate blood sugar, fight bacteria, and even help to fight cancer. High in antioxidants such as thymol, carvacrol, terpinene, and others, this herb can help improve your health while providing a delicious flavor to most of your meals!

Some delicious recipes featuring oregano include this fresh oregano pesto, this spaghetti with mushrooms, oregano, and garlicky breadcrumbs, and these grilled strip steaks with garlic and oregano.

Cilantro

Cilantro, a beloved piece of Indian, Mexican, Mediterranean, Chinese, and other cuisines, is a powerhouse herb that is sure to help benefit your health even in a small serving. It is a great source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, C, K, and E, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, even in a small ¼ cup serving. Cilantro is even considered to help lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and support your heart’s health!

Fun fact: while it is enjoyed by so many around the world, there may be a chance that you find it tastes soapy. Some people have a specific gene that makes them more sensitive to the organic compounds that give cilantro its odor.

Some wonderful recipes featuring cilantro include this cucumber and cilantro salad, this grilled shrimp with roasted garlic herb sauce, and this Chilli con carne.

Chilis

While you may not think of chilis when you think of herbs, they are actually a part of the family! This spicy plant has a large number of applications in the foods that you enjoy every day, whether you like your spicy ramen or even just a bit of a kick on your avocado toast. You’d be surprised to know that chilis positively impact your health as well!

Chilis help to reduce the duration of sickness, prevent heart disease, promote weight loss, and provide vital nutrients for your health, including vitamin A, iron, and dietary fiber! Studies have found, for example, that capsaicin, the ingredient in chilis, helps to reduce appetite and can also help to boost your metabolism! Best of all, they are incredibly versatile and can be enjoyed in so many different dishes and cuisines, and are easy to grow as well, making them the perfect addition to your garden however big or small.

Some enjoyable ways you can use chilis include this stir-fried kung pao chicken, this Calabrian chili pepper pasta, and this curried rice recipe.

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How to care for your herbs

Buying fresh herbs allows you to enjoy the freshest flavors and the best nutritional value each herb has to offer. It’s important, though, to remember to store them the correct way so they can retain their benefits throughout their fridge or shelf life. There are a number of ways you can purchase herbs, whether they be dried, powdered, or fresh, all with different levels of freshness and different levels of potency. If you purchase powdered or dried herbs, likely keeping them in a cool, dry place will allow them to last the longest and to continue to taste just as great as when you first purchased them.

On the other hand, having fresh herbs requires a bit more effort,  but is still not too difficult. Each herb must be stored in its own particular way in order to stay fresh, whether it’s considered a “tender herb” or a “hardy herb.” They’ll last a different length of time in the fridge as well. It’s best practice to wash them and dry them thoroughly when you first purchase them to ensure they have the longest shelf life. If you’re planning on using them soon after purchase, cut off the stems and take out any brown or wilted leaves and then add them to a small glass like that of a vase! Additionally, if you’re looking to just keep them in the fridge, wrap them in a paper towel and wrap them in plastic wrap to keep them fresh!

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