I love to garden! I grow tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Those are the staples in my house. In addition to growing vegetables, I grow herbs. Herbs are really easy to grow and provide a lot of health benefits, including antiviral and immune strengthening health benefits.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF HERBS
The essential oils in parsely include apiol and myristicin, which have antibacterial effects and fight potentially harmful bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus. Parsley also contains apigenin, an antioxidant, that regulates immune function by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage. (Source: Healthline)
In 2013, researchers applied sweet basil oil to various strains of Escherichia coli, or E. coli. The bacteria came from people with respiratory, abdominal, urinary, or skin infections, as well as from hospital equipment. The results showed that the oil was active against these bacteria. (Source: Medical News Today)
Anxious or stressed? Cilantro helps calm the nerves and improve sleep quality due to its natural sedative properties. A recent animal model published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacology found that high levels of cilantro extract produced the same anti-anxiety effects as the popular prescription drug, valium (diazepam). (Source: Dr. Axe)
Relieving stress is key to staying healthy. When we are stressed, our immune system is weakened which makes it easier to catch colds, illness and flu.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that has so many benefits, including keeping the immune system strong. While you may think citrus fruit is the only way to get vitamin C, Cliantro is another way. Cilantro is a rich source of vitamin C, which may alleviate a stuffy nose and colds. (Source: Healthy Eating)
Food really is medicine! Herbs that help fight bad bacteria in our bodies make our gut and immune system stronger. Plus, they help improve our mood. 70% of the immune system is in our gut. 90% of serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in the gut. If the gut is unhealthy, so is the our body and mind.
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👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
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Using antiviral herbs when cooking supports a healthy gut. Even if you don't have a yard to grow vegetables and herbs, you can grow them in pots in small spaces such as patios or even in a sunny room. Herbs are very hardy that with just a little bit of care, they will thrive.
I always plant basil and parsley. These are two herbs I use the most when I cook. The basil plants are so productive that I had enough to dry the leaves and made my own dried basil. I enjoy my dried basil all winter long. A little later in this post I will share how to dry herbs at home. It is easier than you think!
HOW TO BUILD A RAISED GARDEN BED
If you have enough outdoor space, building an elevated garden bed is easier than you think! I have raised garden beds in my backyard. I found it gives a better starting mix of soil and manure for growing vegetable and herbs.
I layer the beds, starting with a topsoil on the bottom, then adding a fortified soil and manure. mixture on top. The raised garden beds are easy to find. I bought mine at Costco. They are sturdy and easy to put together.
I don't have to worry about deer or large animals poaching my vegetable plants. I do have chipmunks and rabbits so I wrap my garden beds about 8 inches high with bird netting. It stops the critters from getting into the garden and eating my vegetables. If you have a lot of wildlife, you will want to consider building a bed that has a gate.
I started with one raised bed last year and it was so successful that I am expanding by adding 3 more in my backyard! Expanding my vegetable garden means I am cutting back on flowering plants but I'm OK with that. The vegetable plants feed my house for at least 6 months. It is so great to walk outside and simply pluck fresh vegetables and herbs.
HOW TO DRY HERBS AT HOME
Some of the herbs you grow will be so productive, you won't be able to use them fast enough. Drying herbs at home is very easy. First, wash them thoroughly and dry them off. Next, put them in a single layer on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. Bake them at a very low temperature such as 150 degrees.
When the herbs are dry, put them in a coffee grinder or food processor and grind them. Put them in spice jars and enjoy dried herbs all year round. It is that easy!
HOW TO KEEP HERBS FRESH
Fresh herbs do not need a lot of preparation before cooking with them. Simply wash, chop and be ready to use them. While you might want to cut the herbs right before you use them, you can also chop them ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator.
I find placing chopped herbs in a small glass container, will allow herbs to stay fresh for at least 1 to 2 weeks. If you are not chopping them, you can also cut the herbs, wash them and wrap them in paper towels. Put them in the produce drawer of the refrigerator and they will keep up to one week.
Cooking with herbs is very easy and doesn't take long to add delicious flavors to any meal. UNL Food recommends that if using delicate herbs like basil, chives and parsley, to add them 1-2 minutes before the dish is done cooking. However, more sturdy herbs like oregano and thyme can be added the last 20 minutes of cooking. This was a good cooking tip since I usually just throw all the herbs in at once without considering the last of the time needed for the recipe.
Cheddar Chive Skillet Corn Bread by Delicious Living. I love a good bread recipe! This recipe is gluten-free as it calls for a gluten-free flour. But it if you don't have issues with gluten, the recipe states you can also use whole wheat flour, which is an ingredient I always have on hand.
Cauliflower Rice Tabbouleh by Wholesomelicious. Tabbouleh is traditionally made with bulgur. When you want a grain-free version, this cauliflower rice version is just what you need. Plus, cauliflower rice is so easy in this recipe because you can use frozen! It is a simple hack for this recipe. Saves so much time and still results in a great tasting tabbouleh.
Sage Breaded Chicken, Spinach and Snap Pea Salad by Delicious Living. I know - I did not say I was going to grow sage. However, that is not why I posted this recipe! I posted it because of the vinaigrette that calls for parsley. Plus this salad has strawberries and basil leaves as well, making it perfect for spring!
Garlic Thyme Chicken Thighs by Julia's Album. Chicken thighs are so tasty, juicy and usually inexpensive. I love cooking with them. You need an oven-safe braiser pan or skillet with a lid to make this recipe. It is relatively fast to come together, only 35 minutes from start to finish.
Honey Oregano Pork Chops by Tastes of Lizzy T. I really like the savory and sweet aspect of this recipe. The honey oregano is part of the marinade for the pork chops. It is recommended to marinade the pork chops 4-6 hours - so making the marinade in the morning and letting the pork chops sit all day would do it. It doesn't take long to cook after the marinade is done so dinner is on the table in about 30 minutes after you make a side dish and veggie to go with it.
Chive Pancake by Spice the Plate. I was intrigued by this recipe because of the title. Turns out it is more like a fritatta than a pancake. But that is ok - I'm always willing to try something new! Plus it looks really good. I would try this for breakfast on the weekend OR for a quick dinner served with a salad.
I hope this blog post about cooking with herbs gave you some inspiration to grow herbs and use them when cooking.
Do you think you will try to grow herbs? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.