What makes a great cook? Someone who enhances the natural flavor of foods with herbs and spices. Isn’t it fortunate that Nature endowed those delightful enhancers with great health benefits.
So, be generous with your herbs. Kitchen herb gardens make wonderful hostess or Christmas gifts. Many fresh herbs may be used to infuse olive oil.
Here are some of my favorites:
Rosemary-fragrant and strong enough to enhance lamb or steak, it is also used in soaps and hair products. Makes a divine infusion in olive oil. Rosemary is antimicrobial, stimulates circulation, inhibits fats from going rancid through oxygenation. Improves liver detoxification pathways and aids tension headache.
Mint-refreshing and restorative in teas and drinks and partnered with chocolate. Mint assists gall bladder function, gastritis, colds, flus, and morning sickness and has been shown to be effective in irritable bowel syndrome (okay, maybe not with chocolate1) Many a child has been given tummy tea with mint at bedtime.
Sage-the traditional turkey herb is beneficial to memory and concentration and treats the night sweats some experience during menopause. Sage tea can be enjoyed in any season. Don’t use this herb if nursing as it inhibits milk production.
Thyme-a French favorite for meat, eggs or vegetable dishes. Thyme acts as an anti-oxidant, and anti-spasmolytic (coughs), anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is a chief ingredient in Listerine mouth wash. Elevate humble cooked carrots to a gourmet dish by slicing them thin and baking until tender with butter, salt and thyme. Put a little water in the bottom of the baking dish to keep them moist while baking. Try purple carrots from the Farmer’s Market. Purple was the original color for carrots and orange carrots were not seen until the Dutch developed them in the 17th century.
Oregano-the pizza herb, known to reduce carcinogens in meat. Oregano is effective against bronchitis due to anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, treats peptic ulcer, and improves bowel flora, so has a positive effect on the immune system.
Paprika-both beautiful as a splash of red-orange color on beige foods, and full of vigor as a mild to hot spice. Paprika contains whole food Vitamin C, so is anti-inflammatory and good for the adrenal glands. Also known as Capsicum, Paprika is lovely over eggs or rice.
Tumeric-a constituent of most curries and known to many middle Eastern cuisine, Tumeric or Curcumin is a star in the herbal world or its anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. It helps ulcers, arthritis, asthma, inhibits fat formation and improves liver detoxification. Whew! Add it to any dish that can use a golden yellow tint such as squash or carrot recipes, or add to rice dishes for a warm touch.
The finest food in the world can also be the healthiest. I hope you enjoy the greatest bounty in all things this Thanksgiving.