Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Helpful herbs

Often health advice involves cutting down on foods ... eat less meat, less sugar, less saturated fat, drink less alcohol ... yada, yada, yawn, yawn!

But eating healthily isn't just about deprivation and herbs and spices are a great addition providing both flavour and health benefits, ranging from fighting off bacteria to helping digestion. I try and add herbs and spices to at least one meal a day and think it's a really easy way to give yourself a health boost.

Chopped fresh herbs don't last very long and if you can grow your own that's brilliant, but even a inept gardener like myself can keep a potted herb from the supermarket alive for a couple of weeks with a bit of water. Alternatively freeze chopped fresh herbs and add to your cooking as and when you need them. I also keep a wide range of dried herbs to hand.

Here are some of my favourites:

Mint - soothes the digestive tract. Add chopped fresh mint to fruit salad or brew fresh leaves into mint tea just by adding hot water (also great in cocktails and with Pimms but not so healthy)!

Coriander - an excellent detoxifier with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties as well. I add fresh to salads, stir fried and my beloved pad thai, also good as a soup garnish.

Basil - good for the immune and digestive systems and brings the taste of Italy to any dish. I add fresh to all salads, also good in pasta dishes.

Sage - anti bacterial and thought to be beneficial for the respiratory system. I add dried sage to omelettes or to chicken breast (along with some thyme) before steam-frying and serve with veggies.

Oregano - anti microbial and anti fungal. I use dried in all tomato based dishes and is also good in omelettes and soups.


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