Herbs seem to be overlooked in our daily cooking. We tend to mostly use salt and pepper to enhance the flavors of our favorite dishes. Though these two ingredients add great flavors to our meals, they do not truly offer the nutritional value that creates a well-balanced dish. More than just being a garnish, herbs on the other hand offer a rich source of nutrients. While herbs boost the flavors to many meals, they have also been linked to preventing and fighting diseases. Herbs are packed full of antioxidants and vitamins which offer nutritional value without adding those extra calories. It is beneficial to incorporate more herbs to your meals as it will allow you to replace excess sugars and salt helping to lower your risk with high blood pressure or even diabetes.
Something like a chicken kabob does not need to be smothered in a traditional off the shelf marinade. Instead, you can create your own marinade full of herbs such as oil with freshly chopped parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Toss it on the grill and enjoy the way the flavors marry together as well as provide your body with an abundant amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Some of my favorite herbs that I like to use as well as recommend to my client are:
- Basil: Contains high amounts of antioxidants and helps protect white blood cells. Pairs perfectly with many salads.
- Bay Leaves: Helps to relieve upset stomach, reduce inflammation, has been linked to lower cholesterol and control diabetes. Add this herb to soups or stews.
- Chives : Associated to reduce risk of esophageal and stomach cancer. Makes a nice addition to add on top of a seared steak or potatoes.
- Cilantro : Contains vitamin A, C, K and E as well as antioxidants. Reduces inflammation and protects the body from free radicals that can cause cell damage. Try adding to a nice homemade salsa.
- Dill : Has high amounts of antioxidants, and some vitamin A as well as vitamin C. This herb works well with most white fish.
- Fennel : Contains vitamin C, fiber, as well as potassium which is good for helping the kidneys and heart function normally. Add to a salad, soup, or even pair with fish.
- Lemongrass : Has anti-inflammatory properties. Mostly found in Asian, Vietnamese, or Thai dishes specifically in the sauces and marinades.
- Mint = Treats digestive issues like bloating, indigestion, and gas. Tastes delicious over a summer watermelon salad.
- Oregano : Helps fight infections or respiratory issues. Has vitamin E. Add to a tomato dish or a tomato sauce.
- Parsley : Good for treating fluid retention. Try using in soups, stews, or a vegetable salad.
- Rosemary = Has calcium, iron, vitamin B6, as well as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Paris perfectly with chicken.
- Sage : Anti-inflammatory properties and contains antioxidants. Use this herb the next time you roast off some butternut squash.
- Tarragon = Reduces insulin levels and blood glucose levels. Try with baked carrots.
- Thyme = Contains vitamin C, A, and manganese. Can be found used in sauces, soups, stews, and poultry.
Start by slowing incorporating these herbs into your meals and slowly reduce how much salt you use to allow your palate to adjust to these wonderful flavors. Do not be afraid to explore different combinations of herbs with each meal. If you would like more guidance with how to incorporate more herbs into your daily meals, reach out to me, your local Orange County Nutritionist and together we can create a customized meal plan to target your dietary needs.