Citrus zest and herbs are ingredients that we just could not be without in the Honestly Healthy kitchen - they have the power to lift a salad from just a few leaves to a mouth wateringly satisfying dish, a pesto to a flavour punch of a sauce, and a curry from a bland liquid to a transporting, aromatic meal. They truly are little wonders with some big powers. While more and more of us are learning to use herbs (and bucket loads of them) in our cooking, they are beneficial to more than just the flavour of our food. With such a wide range of herbs out there, we have access to natures own apothecary. Herbs are packed with nutritional and medicinal value aiding with everything from digestion and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) to neutralising the harmful carcinogens inhaled from the likes of smoking and traffic fumes. Here is a list of some of our favourite herbs and the powers that they possess:
Dill is a bit of a hero herb for me. A bit like marmite, you either love it or you hate it - I am very much in the love camp. Tahini dressing and dill is a favourite combination while I have been playing around with a broad bean, spring onion and dill salad with a zingy lemon & avocado dressing of late - so delicious. Possessing high levels of iron and calcium, dill is great for the development of strong bones. Dill also contains volatile oils which are known to be 'chemo-protective' meaning that they can neutralise certain types of carcinogens.
2. Rosemary I have a huge rosemary bush growing at home - it is one of my favourite plants because a) it pretty much looks after itself and b) it provides me with free delicious flavour. Often if I am feeling run down I will make myself a rosemary tea with a slice of lemon as it acts as a fantastic immunity boost - not only that but it is very good for digestion and fending off free radicals in the brain. Try my Chia & Coconut Crusted Beetroot Tart for some delicious rosemary action.
3. Basil I reckon basil is the worlds most favourite herb - it certainly is in Europe. Magnesium is an area of growing concern when it comes to diet. Because we are asking so much of our agricultural land, the natural levels of magnesium in the soil have been dramatically depleted - this means a major source of magnesium in our diets is also diminishing. A magnesium deficiency can manifest itself in symptoms such as restlessness, poor sleep & concentration, irritability and palpitations. Basil continues to be a fantastic source of calming magnesium - especially if it is home grown. It is also a powerful antioxidant and is a vital source of vitamin A.
4. Parsley Parsley is a fantastic source of iron and I am really into adding it to my smoothies at the moment. If you get the balance right it is so delicious. Like dill, parsley is also high in volatile oils which have been shown to inhibit the formation of tumour cells, especially in the lungs. It is also really high in vitamins C, K and A.
5. Coriander (cilantro) One of the key areas where coriander is said to be key is cardiovascular health. Many of the acids found in coriander (linoleic, oleic, palmitic, stearic and ascorbic acid) are very effective at reducing the levels of cholesterol in the blood - including levels of LDL cholesterol which is responsible for clogging up our arteries and veins. The antiseptic and antifungal properties of coriander are also known to help with skin disorders such as dryness and ecxzema, while it also possesses antirheumatic and antiarthritic properties.
Dill, rosemary, basil, parsley and coriander are regular herbs that we use every day across the world while they are incredibly beneficial to those on a cleanse, be it for weight loss or health reasons. As you can see, by simply including a couple of these in your diet each day, you are exposing your body to a whole range of beneficial vitamins and minerals. Hopefully by doing so you are then able to ensure that your body is truly nourished meaning less demand for manufactured supplements and more of the natural good stuff.