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Herbs to Grow for Cooking and Health?

Here are herbs that you can use to liven up your cooking. Some people claim that they have health benefits too. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can grow herbs in a planter on a deck, patio or balcony. Some will even do well inside on your windowsill.

Basil
Health: It’s supposed to reduce flatulence and improve the appetite. (I have to admit, that warm, spicy flavor is appetizing!)
Cooking: Use to season soups, stews, and sauces.

Tomato Basil Soup
Salami, Oven-Roasted Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Omelette
Basil Pesto
Summer Chicken and Basil Stew

If you’re trying to grow your herbs in a small space – a planter or container garden – look for “Spicy Globe Basil”. It’s a more compact plant. Pick the leaves early, before it blooms, for the best flavor.

Chives
Health: They’re low in calories and high in Vitamin A, C, and K.
Cooking: They provide a light onion flavor. Chop them up and add to salads or scrambled eggs. Use as a garnish on potatoes or other vegetables.

Sauteed Chicken Breasts in Creamy Chive Sauce
Sour Cream and Chive Mashed Potatoes
Chrispy Herbed Shrimp with Chive Aioli

This is a grass-like perennial. You can grow it on your windowsill and just snip off some when you need it. Trim them back to soil level to keep fresh sprouts coming.

Rosemary
Health: It improves mood and sweetens your breath (which will improve the mood of those around you!) Traditionally, rosemary has symbolized remembrance and love. In Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, Ophelia says, “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” Perhaps because of this tradition, people believe that it will help improve memory.
Cooking: It compliments chicken, beef, pork, and fish. It also works well with some vegetables.

Garlic Rosemary Chicken
Olive Oil Braised Vegetables
Ginger Rosemary Lemon Drop Cocktails
Make rosemary infused oil. Wash some rosemary sprigs and pat dry with towels. Let them sit out and finish air drying for a day. Drop the sprigs into a bottle of olive oil. Let it sit in a cool dark place (a cabinet or the pantry) for at least several days. The longer it sits, the more intense the flavor. Use in sauteing or in salad dressings. If you need the flavored oil RIGHT NOW!, heat a cup of olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a few sprigs of rosemary – around 5 or so. Heat for about five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a bottle or cruet. Keep refrigerated when not using. Keeps about a month.

It will grow in a little pot, indoors or out. I see them at Christmas time in the grocery, trimmed to look like little Christmas trees. There’s usually at least a few on clearance after the holiday. If you see one, grab it because it goes well with winter comfort foods.

Sage
Health: Relieves throat inflammation. According to WebMD, “Sage is used for digestive problems, including loss of appetite, gas (flatulence), stomach pain (gastritis), diarrhea, bloating, and heartburn. It is also used for reducing overproduction of perspiration and saliva; and for depression, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s disease. Women use sage for painful menstrual periods, to correct excessive milk flow during nursing, and to reduce hot flashes during menopause. Sage is applied directly to the skin for cold sores; gum disease (gingivitis); sore mouth, throat or tongue; and swollen, painful nasal passages.” Wow. I’m impressed, all that and it flavors sausage too!
Cooking: It’s used in stuffing for chicken or turkey, sausage, cooking with pork, or in omelets.

Butter and Sage Sauce to serve over pasta
Pork Roast Stuffed with Apples and Sage (It also has thyme in it.)
Steamed Vegetables With Sage

Sage needs lots of sun, so it’s best to grow it outside. It can also become very bushy, so if you want to grow it in a container, look for a dwarf sage that will only grow 10 inches high. If your sage blooms, cut back only to beneath where it budded, not to the woody part of the stem. If you cut back too far, it may not come back.

Thyme
Health: Thyme oil is an antiseptic and may help bad breath. It’s also rich in Vitamin A and C. Drink a tea made of it for use as a diuretic (increases urine flow).
Cooking: Rub chopped leaves over roasts before cooking.

Slow Baked Salmon and Lemon Thyme
Garlic Thyme Bread
Potato Gratin with Leeks and Thyme

Thyme needs full sun and likes to be slightly dry, so don’t over-water and make sure that the pot or planter it’s in drains well. Plant some outside to attract honey bees.

Oregano
Health: It has Vitamins A, C, E, and K and fiber and is a potential anti-oxidant.
Cooking: Use it to make marinara or pizza sauce – or add flavor to sauce from a jar. If you’re cooking anything that has tomatoes in it, chances are it will be good with a little oregano in there too.

Meatball Vegetable Soup
Pizza Margherita (Also uses fresh basil.)
Grilled Chicken with Lemon and Oregano

It needs sun (at least 6 hours a day) and will grow in a pot but will need its space – it can be a foot tall. Pinch off leaves regularly so it will continue to sprout new ones and so it won’t take over your window/patio/garden.

A couple of articles you may want to check out:
Chow: How to Grow Herbs Indoors
Burpee Seeds: Growing Herbs for Drying

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