Herb Gardens

Today is Tuesday April 15th

The topic or question of the day is:

Have you thought about planting an herb garden this year?

Many of you may already tend your own herb garden and would join me in encouraging someone to plant one this year. Growing your own herbs can provide more phytochemical power and less chance of eating pesticides because many herbs have more medicinal properties than many fruits and and vegetables.  Herbs only need a 3 foot by 3 foot area, easy to start and will yield a plethora of goodness. All you need is:

*  Good soil

*  Plenty of sunshine

*  Preferably right outside your kitchen door

*  Herbs do not grow well in window boxes

Planning is important and drawing up your plan first is recommended. For example, Mint will “take over” and it is wise to plant it away from the other herbs. Rosemary can ultimately grow into a bush and shade all your other plants.  The difference between herbs and spices are: Herbs are from leaves and stems of young plants and spices are made from seeds, roots and bark.

Tips of the Day:

*  To dry herbs: hang upside down in a brown paper bag and leave undisturbed for a few weeks until dried.

*  Do not store near a high oven.

*  Store in dark cool place in air-tight bottles (life of 2-3 years).

*  Fresh herbs can be stored in water in the refrigerator or frozen in ice cubes.

Take action today:

*  Think about planting an herb garden this year.

*  Do some research on designing your herb garden.

*  Get to work.


Reasons to Season

Today is Wednesday, February 12th

The topic or question of the day:

Reasons To ‘Season’

Hippocrates once said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”.  Herbs and Spices have been around since antiquity and have been used for medicinal purposes, trade, gifts, sacrifices, and to flavor food.  Spices are made from roots, seeds and bark while herbs are from leaves and stems of young plants.

The “Great Eight” herbs and spices I like are:  parsley, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, dill, turmeric, and oregano; each one for reasons independent of each other.  Many contain a high ORAC value (oxygen radical absorptive capacity) such as oregano, cinnamon, and parsley.  ORAC value is a number based on the antioxidant activity or power of the herb or spice.   Antioxidants help remove cell destroying particles from our bodies.

Rosemary, when added to our food can decrease the heterocyclic amine (HCA) production during grilling by 40%.  Parsley and Thyme contain Apigenin, a cancer fighting phytochemical, and thyme can be used as a mouthwash, antiseptic, and a fumigant.  Cinnamon is being used to help stabilize blood sugars, while ginger soothes our stomachs and improves digestion.  Turmeric is believed to fight against Alzheimer’s and dill weed adds great flavor to just about any salad.

Spices and herbs are also wonderful replacements for salt.  Americans are consuming 2-4 x the recommended amount of sodium these days mostly from processed and restaurant foods (77%).  Try using herbs in place of high sodium marinades for your grilling such as using the stem of rosemary as a skewer for your chicken.

Tip of the day:

Spring is coming.  Try to grow your own herb garden, preferably outside your kitchen door!  It is easy.  All you need is a 3×3 foot space, good soil, and plenty of sunlight.

If you are not able to grow your own fresh herbs or spices, the ratio for fresh verses dry is usually 1:2-1:3 ratio.

Take Action Today:

Make this delicious marinade from The Complete Book of Sauces by Sally Williams

 ¼ c dry white wine

¼ c white wine vinegar

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 cloves crushed garlic

¼ t. dried basil

¼ t. dried thyme

¼ t. dried oregano

1/3  c olive oil

Bring all ingredients to a boil and let boil over high heat for 1-2 minutes.  Pour over vegetables of choice.  Serve hot or cold.