Fresh herbs are rich in flavour and in nutrients, and herbal medicine has used many popular kitchen herbs for centuries to treat health complaints. Parsley, marjoram, basil, rosemary and other popular herbs are easy to grow in the garden or on the windowsill. Use fresh herbs daily to add flavour to meat, fish, vegetarian dishes, salads, soups, stews and even desserts.
Rosemary is a popular herb in many meat recipes. It gives a great flavour to roasted meats and oven roasted vegetables. Rosemary is an ideal herb for heavy dishes, as it promotes the digestion of fatty foods. Rosemary also has many uses as a home remedy and in herbal medicine.
Add fresh rosemary leaves to bath water to soothe achy muscles and to improve circulation. It is said that smelling rosemary stimulates memory. Rosemary can boost hair growth and enhance colour in dark hair, and it is a popular ingredient in natural shampoos and hair conditioners.
Parsley gives you vitamins A, B and C as well as iron, magnesium and calcium. Add parsley to soups, stews, fish, vegetable dishes, boiled potatoes and omelets. Parsley stimulates the digestive system, and chewing fresh parsley leaves helps to keep the breath fresh after eating. Parsley is a diuretic herb, and parsley infusions may help to reduce fluid retention.
Basil contains vitamin A, vitamin K, iron and calcium. Use basil to make pesto sauce or in salads, in pasta sauces, on pizza, in any foods that contain tomatoes, in vegetarian dishes and in Italian and Greek dishes. Replace some of the salt in recipes with fresh herbs such as basil to make your cooking healthier without losing flavour.
Sage helps the digestive system after heavy meals. Add sage to meat dishes, soups, stews and Mediterranean foods. Sage is also a home remedy for a sore throat. Infuse sage leaves in hot water and drink the infusion or use it for gargling.
Coriander (cilantro) is another digestive aid. Fresh coriander leaves contain several vitamins including A, C, E and K, and minerals including iron, potassium, magnesium and calcium. Coriander leaves are a popular garnish and give your dish a distinct flavour.
Fresh coriander leaves taste very different to coriander seeds, which are very popular in many Asian cuisines. Coriander seeds relieve digestive problems such as diarrhea, gas and different types of stomach upsets, and they also stimulate appetite.
Mint and Peppermint
Drink peppermint or mint tea after meals to improve digestion and to prevent or relieve bloating, gas or hiccups. Add fresh mint leaves to desserts, chocolate cakes, fruit salads, drinks and cocktails for a refreshing flavor. Mint or peppermint tea is also a quick home remedy for cold symptoms.
Marjoram is a versatile cooking herb. Add marjoram to meat dishes, fish, soups, stews, pizza toppings and pasta sauces. An infusion made with marjoram leaves reduces cold symptoms, headaches, nervous tension and many digestive complaints. When added to bath water, marjoram soothes muscle and joint tension and promotes sleep.
Thyme has many uses in the kitchen and in herbal medicine. Thyme adds flavour to chicken, fish and vegetable dishes, oven roasts and potatoes. Thyme also helps digestion, especially after a heavy meal. Thyme infusion, served with honey, is a home remedy for colds, sore throats and coughs. Thyme also stimulates the immune system and it is even said to relieve hangovers.
Thyme is antiseptic and it is a useful ingredient in homemade cleaning products. Boil a handful of fresh thyme in water, filter the water and use it to mop floors and to wipe bathroom or kitchen surfaces.
Fresh herbs add flavour and nutrients to your daily diet. Experiment with different herbs to find your own favourites, and grow your own herb garden or keep herbs on the windowsill. Dry some of your herbs and use them to make your own herb mixes, herbal infusions and herbal tea blends.