Summer is here in all of its glory, and that makes me think of fresh produce. When plants are harvested locally and at their peak of ripeness, their health benefits are at their highest. A great way to flavor your food in addition to adding vitamins and minerals is to use fresh herbs. Here is a short-list of my favorite herbs:
1. Dill Weed: This herb is not a weed at all. Dill has a feathery appearance, and when it is healthy it feels soft to the touch and is a gorgeous green. Dill contains vitamin A and C, which support the immune system and helps keep skin healthy. I love adding dill to potato salad or salmon. Always add dill at the end of cooking so it maintains its health benefits and flavor.
2. Parsley: What doesn’t this herb do? Parsley contains vitamins C, B-12, K, and A. This plant aids the immune system and is great for your bones. It has cleansing properties and helps flush out your system- your kidneys will thank you! Add parsley to salad and smoothies, sauces and marinades.
3. Thyme: The volatile oil “thymol” is a natural remedy for coughs or sore throat. Thyme also contains copper, fiber, and vitamin C. My favorite type of thyme for summer dishes is Lemon Thyme, this variety has a citrus flavor that work well added to steamed veggie or on seafood. You can also combine thyme, parsley, and dill with olive oil and combine with pasta and fresh cherry tomatoes. YUM.
4. Mint: Don’t have a green thumb? Grow mint- I promise you it will flourish (and possibly take over your yard). Mint has been used for years to promote digestion. It also contains antioxidants and iron. There are so many different types of mint, we grow spearmint and add it to fruit salad or make iced tea with honey.
5. Basil: You can’t have a summer herb list without basil. This herb helps your body on a cellular level by actually proctecting the structure of your cells. It also protects your body from bacterial growth, and contains vitamin K, A, magnesium, and folate. The most popular ways to use this herb are in pesto (with pine nuts, parmesan, and olive oil) or a simple caprese salad.
How do you store these fresh herbs? Once picked or purchased if you aren’t going to use immediately you can store in your fridge by wrapping the leaves in a damp paper towel. The shelf life is short, 1-3 days. You can store herbs in the freezer too, whole or chopped, in airtight containers. All of these plants can be found at your local farmer’s market, grocery store, or grown in small pots in your home or on a porch. Get creative with your herbs- they all pack a nutrient-dense and flavorful punch!
Why be boring when you can be fresh?
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