Herbs: Using them & Health benefits (Part II)

In this last part in the Herbs & Spices series, you will learn about 4 herbs that can be easily bought in supermarkets/organic stores, their health benefits and the food, spice & herb combinations. At the end of this article, I will give you a few tips on how to store and use herbs & spices.


6. Parsley


Parsley photo credit Canva

Parsley is pungent and astringent to taste. It is stimulant but it should be avoided by nursing mothers as it can stop lactation. It is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. People taking anti-coagulants should abstain from taking high quantities of parsley in diet due to the role of vitamin K in coagulation.

Dried parsley is used in many recipes of stews, tomatoes sauces, soups, meat & vegetable marinades or in grilling. Fresh parsley comes with either flat or curly leaves. Flat parsley is stronger in flavour & aroma. Curly is more mild, bitter and is mainly used as a decorative garnish. I feel that it is a question of preference but any one of them can be added to salads, seafood, dressing or as a garnish in any dish with vegetables/meat dish!


Herbs & spice pairing: fennel, cinnamon, cumin, pepper, basil, chives, garlic, mint, oregano, rosemary, tarragon


Only aggravating to Pitta in excess.


#parsley


7. Rosemary



Rosemary photo credit Canva

Rosemary is pungent & bitter. It is a stimulant & digestive herb as it increases liver functions and clears gall bladder. Decoction of Rosemary is good for mouth ulcers. Fresh rosemary is high in anti-oxidants.

Fresh & dried Rosemary are mainly used in stews, stocks, baked dishes & soups of vegetables /pulses/ meat. Can be used in desserts as well!

Dried rosemary can be used in combination with other dried herbs like oregano, thyme, sage, tarragon, marjoram in sauces and salads. It is part of the famous “herbes de provences” mix which is a kitchen staple not only in France but in quite a few other countries! You can also get sea salt with rosemary and other dried herbs as a seasoning agent.


Herbs & spice pairing: thyme, sage, mint, bay leaf, lavender, oregano, parsley, chives, garlic, marjoram, cinnamon, cloves, star anise.


It increases Pitta.


#rosemary


8. Sage



Sage photo credit Canva

Sage is pungent, bitter & astringent to taste. It is carminative, stimulant and nervine. It aids in the digestion of meat and dairy products. It mixes well with rosemary & thyme to control gas and indigestion. Daily use during pregnancy is not advised. It also stops the flow of milk in nursing women.

It is widely used for flavouring meat/vegetable dishes, pasta, soups, stews, stuffings, bread, cheese, cocktails & in seasoning mixes. It can overpower other flavours so should be used sparingly in a dish.


My favourite way of using sage is with gnocchi!


Herbs & spice pairing: thyme, parsley, bay leaf, ginger, paprika


Will increase Pitta if taken in excess.


#sage


9. Thyme



Thyme Photo credit Canva

Three of the most common types of culinary thyme are: French, lemon, and caraway.

Thyme is pungent in taste. It is stimulant & carminative hence it helps to digest heavy foods and reduces gas formation. An infusion of thyme is perfect if you are feeling cold since it heats the body pretty quickly. Its essential oil can be used to do steam inhalation for treating colds, flu & respiratory infections.


Mainly used in stews, stocks, baked dishes & soups of vegetables/pulses/meat. Also part of the famous “herbes de provences” mix, bouquet garni and Italian seasoning! Fresh thyme does not need to stay in the dish to impart its flavour. The sprigs can be added at the beginning of the cooking process and once they have simmered & released their flavour in the cooking liquid they can be discarded.


Herbs & spice pairing: rosemary, basil, parsley, tarragon, marjoram, oregano, garlic, lavender, nutmeg


Increases Pitta.


#thyme



Tips

  • Herbs like parsley, mint, coriander, dill, chives should be chopped and added at the end of the cooking as excessive heat will reduce the herb’s fresh aromatic flavour. I suggest not buying dried forms of these herbs since they do not keep their flavour & aroma. But its always best to try and see what you prefer!

  • Herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, sage can be added during the cooking process. They can be discarded at the end once they have simmered long enough to impart their flavours to the dish. These herbs can be bought in dried form.

  • Fresh herbs are best stored in a paper towel or in bees wrap in the refrigerator. Some of them, such as mint, coriander & parsley, can be kept with their stalks dipped in a glass of water either on the counter or in the refrigerator.

  • Substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs with 1 tsp of coarsely dried herbs or ½ tsp of finely powdered herbs.

  • Spices should be stored in dark containers in a cold dark place. Whole spices, if stored correctly, can last long – easily a year or two.

  • Powdered spices should not be kept for long. Depending on how you store your powdered herbs and spices, the shelf life can vary. I suggest to smell and taste your spice to decide if you want to toss it out. My recommendation is to grind your spice before use or (if done in advance) try using it within a month or two at most.

  • Always buy spices as whole seeds and grind them as needed. When using powder, add towards the end of the cooking process.


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