HERB is the word, haven’t you heard?

As promised here is the article on Herbs – complement to the most recent one on Spices. I have enabled printing on my articles so feel free to highlight and print useful information to post up in your kitchen or take with you to the grocery store!

 

Basil leaves

basilo   Medicinal Indications – primarily, Basil has been used as a “carminative” herb meaning as a prevention agent for gas, bloating, and flatulence. More recently, Basil has been scientifically noted as having many essential oils present [such as Eugenol] that appear to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it useful in reducing the impact of the following conditions:

  • Asthma
  • Abnormal cell growth [cancer]
  • Bronchitis
  • Fevers
  • Mosquito, spider, and scorpion bite irritations

o   Buying Tips

  • Five words – BUY FRESH AND USE OFTEN
  • Basil should be a bright to medium dark green color and there should not be any visible bruising on the leaves or stem. Do not buy chopped basil as it oxidizes quickly and has little to no nutritional value

o   Cooking Tips

  • Wait to cut or chop basil until you are ready to use
  • Add to stir fry, rice, or noodle dishes as a late ingredient letting it wilt slightly once other ingredients are cooked

o   Storage Tips

  • Basil has a VERY high water content [typical for most herbs as they are plant-based] so basil cannot be dried out like some other herbs can without reducing integrity
  • Basil – fresh or store bought – should be placed stems down in a small vase near sunlight [such as on a counter top near kitchen window] and not manipulated until ready to use
  • Basil freezes very well
  • You will know Basil has gone bad if it turns black and loses its aroma

Cayenne/ Red Chili

cayenne

o   Medicinal Indications – most notable is the powerful compound Capsaicin known to aide in weight loss efforts by supporting metabolism. Just one gram added to food can curb appetite and reduce calorie consumption even several hours later. Cayenne/Red Chili has been scientifically noted as having positive effect on reducing the impact of the following conditions:

  • Digestive ailments
  • Peristaltic wave ailments [i.e. Constipation or unbalanced stomach acids]
  • Poor nutritional absorption
  • Poor circulation
  • Sinus problems or frequent infection
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Neuropathy [chronic pain caused from nerve inflammation]

o   Buying Tips     

  • Cayenne/Red Chili is one of the most common plants that people grow in their home gardens. They are very resilient to weather and do well in lots of sunlight. Whether you are growing them yourself, purchasing from a Farmers Market, or picking up at a grocery store, the following facts should be kept in mind
    • If you are planning to crush up the peppers and use, make sure they are of the dried, fire engine red color
    • If you are planning to slice whole or store in oil to infuse it, the green kind are more suitable
    • Whether red or green, opt for chilies without visible bruising. Dirt is fine, just wash it off with a bit of fresh water and salt [the added abrasiveness of the salt helps get smaller dirt particles]
    • Keep in mind that not every pepper is going to have the same “spice” factor. Each one, like a snowflake, will be slightly different. The scent of the pepper is a good indicator of how hot it is going to be. If it smells hot – IT IS. If you think it will be weird to sniff produce at the grocery store, feel free to play Russian Roulette and get a hodge- podge. Or, simply print out this article, bring it with you, and tell the onlookers that Miss Fit made you do it J
    • Be careful not to handle the peppers too much unless you are wearing gloves. The oil from the chilis is on its skin and if you handle them and then touch your face you will feel burning. Feel free to test this theory – you have been warned …

o   Ps If you are wondering how to both smell each one AND not touch too many… I recommend utilizing one of the produce bags. Pick up using the bag as a barrier between your hand and the pepper. Just don’t stick the pepper up your nose to smell it. I don’t have any recommendations for avoiding that other than not doing it.

o   Cooking Tips

  • Before cooking, wash off the peppers [as noted above]. If you plan to dry them, place them on a wire rack after washing and allow to dry out in sunlight for approx. a week then crush in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.
  • Add sliced or ground to salsas, chilis, and stews
  • Use ground along with salt and pepper for a meat or fish rub before cooking or grilling
  • Add sliced or ground to greens, collards, turnips, cabbage, and rice dishes

o   Storage Tips

  • Cayenne/Red Chili, whether whole or ground, should be kept in cool, dark spots in tightly sealed containers away from light and heat sources.
  • Whole peppers can be stored in mason jars with oil of your choice [i.e. Olive, Flax, Grapeseed, Sunflower, Truffle] to infuse it and use the combination oil in dressings, marinades, etc

Cloves

cloves

o   Medicinal Indications – primarily used as an expectorant: an agent used to break up phlegm in the lungs and respiratory tract. Cloves, whether in the form of oil, crushed buds, leaves or stems, have been scientifically noted as having positive effect on reducing the impact of the following conditions:

  • Diarrhea
  • Intestinal gas
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath
  • Poor bone density
  • Poor skin integrity [i.e. sagging skin from low collagen, rash, or UV ray damage]
  • Manganese deficiency [just 2 tsp of clove contains 126 % of your daily value [DV] of recommended manganese. Manganese is a trace mineral stored in the bones, kidneys, and liver that facilitates cell regrowth]

o   Buying Tips

  • Cloves are essentially the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree pictured here   The clove buds are picked when they are pink and dried until they are brown.
    • Opt for the dried clove as it is easier to grind and therefore easier to cook with.
    • However, if you are purchasing clove oil it should be of the golden yellow color and should be diluted with either water or another therapeutic oil as straight clove oil has been known to cause irritation to sensitive skinned people.
  • You can buy cloves in the form of Kreteks – or Clove Cigarettes, but that may not be the best way to get its nutritious properties…

o   Cooking Tips

  • Cloves are more commonly added to baked goodies such as gingerbreads and pumpkin pies BUT they add an incredible aroma and zing to soups and chilis – particularly soups with a bean or lentil base. Here is a great example of gluten-free, dairy free, vegan lentil base soup – just a few teaspoons of cloves to taste http://allrecipes.com/recipe/lentil-soup/

o   Storage Tips

  • Store in tight container by itself away from heat and light; preferably a dark, cool place

Dill Weed

Dill-Weed

o   Medicinal Indications – like Basil, Dill Weed is a “carminative” by nature and works to ease stomach ailments. It is also very high in chlorophyll so works great to combat bad breath.  Dill Weed has been scientifically noted as having positive effect on reducing the impact of the following conditions:

  • Bacterial infections [known as a “bacteriostatic” agent meaning that Dill acts to reduce the replication of bacteria inside the body]
  • Carcinogenic conditions [ Dill has antioxidant properties that can help prevent cell oxidation from common carcinogens such as cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, trash incinerator smoke – thus possibly reducing your chances of getting cancer]
  • Arthritis and low bone density [Dill has respectively high levels of calcium, magnesium, and iron to preserve bone integrity]

o   Buying Tips

  • Fresh Dill Weed can be found in the Summer and early Fall seasons but ground Dill Weed is available year round. Opt for fresh whenever possible as it will have a more potent nutrition base
    • Seed

o   Should be light brown in color and oval in shape

o   Will have a sweet, citrusy, ever-so slightly bitter aroma

  • Leaves

o   Should appear fern-like and feathery with a bright green color and soft, sweet taste

Note* Dill leaves are common staples in Scandinavian and Germanic dishes

Note* there is only two [2] calories in a half cup of dill weed leaves – HELLO! YES PLEASE.

 

o   Cooking Tips – Dill adds a “citrusy -tangy” zest to dishes; try these on for size:

      • Combine dill weed with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber for a delicious cooling dip
      • Use dill when cooking fish, especially salmon and trout, as the flavors complement one another very well
      • Use dill weed as a garnish for sandwiches
      • Since dill seeds were traditionally used to soothe the stomach after meals, place some seeds in a small dish and place it on the dinner table for all to enjoy
      • Add dill to your favorite egg salad recipe
      • Mix together chopped potatoes, green beans, and plain yogurt, then season with both dill seeds and chopped dill weed

o   Storage Tips

  • Seeds
    • Store in tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dry, dark place for up to 6 months
  • Leaves – very fragile so storage tips are super important! Here are several options:
    • Freeze leaves in ice cube tray covered in water or vegetable broth/stock and pop out for single serve use in soups and stew
    • Wrap in a damp paper towel and keep in fridge for a few days
    • Freeze chopped or whole in an air-tight container
    • Similarly to Basil [see above] you can store dill weed by placing the stems in a small vase with water but keep AWAY from light
    • Note * if the leaves appear to get droopy a few days later they are NOT really compromised nutritionally, only aesthetically and possible aromatically. But still a good rule of thumb is to follow storage tips to avoid the drooping if possible

Garlic

Garlic

o   Medicinal Indications – Garlic has been used for therapeutic and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It belongs to a group called Allium Vegetable because it contains an amino acid known as Alliin. When garlic is crushed, the alliin becomes allicin. Allicin has been scientifically noted as having positive effect on reducing the impact of the following conditions:

  • Cancers of the prostate, lung, and brain [according to the Journal of Cancer Prevention Research]
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Bacterial infections
  • Heart problems – improvements specifically linked to the diallyl trisulfide compound in allicin
    • High cholesterol [aka hyperlipidemia]
    • High blood pressure [aka hypertension]
    • Cardiomyopathy [**Leading cause of death in Diabetic folks**]
    • Coronary heart disease

Note * other Allium vegetables with similar benefits are Onions, Chives, Leeks, and Shallots

o   Buying Tips

  • Garlic bulbs come with their own protective layering of skin so it’s a particularly easy herb to shop for
  • Aim for large, clean bulbs with unbroken and “Dry” appearing skin
  • If you want, break open the bulb and check for green shoots inside the cloves. The shoots are not toxic but they will add a bitterness that does NOT dissipate once cooked so if you see a lot of green shoots, it’s still ok to buy, just remove them with a small paring knife before use

o   Cooking Tips

  • Several things to keep in mind when cooking with Garlic
    • Pungency of taste for one [1] raw clove is equal to an entire bulb of cooked
    • If you choose to bake an entire bulb, the aromas fuse and the Garlic develops a nutty flavor and can actually be used in brownies and other baked goods! Don’t believe me? Miss Fit is many things, a liar isn’t one of them. Three cheers for Toronto Garlic Festival. Click here! Click Here to see!
    • A good garlic press will save you time peeling the cloves. Peeling the cloves with your human hands works just as well
    • *Rule of Thumb* the smaller you mince/chop the Garlic, the stronger the flavor. The reason being is that, the more finely it is chopped, the more facets of surface area are exposed, and the more mini chemical reactions you have as the cloves oxidize. It’s the same type of chemical reaction that occurs when you start chopping Garlic’s sister veggie, the Onion; but Garlic shouldn’t make you tear up. Unless you are dating someone named Garlic [Garlique?] but I can’t help you there.

o   Storage Tips

  • Garlic needs air to circulate to stay fresh, so make sure you simply place it in an open bowl in a cool, dry environment. DO NOT PLACE IN FRIDGE. Refrigeration will compromise the flavor and dehydrate the cloves

 

Questions, Comments, Concerns? Leave a Reply or email direct at write.with.ms@gmail.com

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “HERB is the word, haven’t you heard?

  1. Pingback: alpha-OMEGAs |

Let Miss Fit know what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s