Summer is the season for outdoor parties, barbecues, picnics and potlucks. It’s also a time for light and refreshing foods.
Fresh herbs are an amazing way to keep your food zesty and flavorful without overdoing it with seasoning staples like salt and pepper. Be sure to have these six herbs on hand to perk up your summer dishes.
Dried or fresh, nettles are a great source of protein.
People have used nettles for at least 2,000 years to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Nettle is most famous as a hair tonic and for treating male reproduction and prostate troubles. Nettles gets their ‘sting’ from histamine and formic acid, contained in their underleaf hairs. But once cooked, nettle is nothing but tasty.
Nettle’s other health benefits include regulating blood sugar; enhancing circulation, as a diuretic and even reducing allergic reactions. Nettles is also good for treating gout and impotence.
Having a supply of fresh mint water or tea is a great way to keep cool.
Mint is good for reducing flatulence, relieving headaches, soothing digestion and has a calming quality.
Here’s the easiest way to enjoy this lovely leaf: Put a handful of fresh mint leaves in a quart pitcher or jar, add spring or distilled water and leave in refrigerator overnight for a cold-brewed infusion. Sip, hot or cold throughout the day.
Similar to mint’s attributes, a warm dill tea treats upset stomach, is a light aromatic that freshens breath and adds a tasty zing to any dish. Another surprising benefit of dill is its high calcium content and antibacterial properties.
Mix this feathery favorite in with your favorite tuna or chicken salad or use it to garnish grilled asparagus.
Rosemary, fresh or dried, is a pungent, sturdy herb with superb health benefits. Rosemary, high in antioxidants and volatile oils, has long been used for everything from pain relief, digestion and hair growth to treating depression.
One of its lesser known benefits is as a memory enhancer. Studies have shown that rosemary boosts the ability for students to recall facts if they smelled the herb while studying, and again while taking their tests.
Study Tip: Use a fresh sprig or some essential oil as an herbal cheat sheet during your exam for better recall!
Basil is so versatile, and its scent is divine. From pesto to caprese salads, you’ll want to have this plant front and center on your countertop. Pick its fresh leaves and sprinkle liberally in salads, sauces and even desserts for a sweet/savory contrast. Basil is very high in Vitamin A and is known to be excellent for eye health and vision.
Mild and oniony, chives are a delicious addition to most any dish. They are high in Vitamins A and K. Chives also contain allicin (similar to garlic, onions, leeks), a plant compound that is good for keeping cholesterol levels in check.