Healthy Herb and Spice Recipes

November 26, 2019 at 6:01 AM | Posted in Eating Well | Leave a comment
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From the EatingWell website and Magazine its Healthy Herb and Spice Recipes. Delicious and Healthy Herb and Spice Recipes. Get those Herbs and Spices out for these recipes! You’ll find recipes like Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Garlic, Whipped Potatoes with Sage Brown Butter, and Apple Spice Cake with Cranberry-Mandarin Compote. You have your Entree, Side Dish, and Dessert all right here! Plus if your looking for the perfect Christmas gift that keeps giving year around, give a EatingWell Magazine subscription. Healthy Tips and plenty of Healthy Recipes in each issue. Enjoy and Make 2019 a Healthy One!

Healthy Herb and Spice Recipes
Find healthy, delicious herb and spice recipes from the food and nutrition experts at EatingWell.

Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast with Garlic
Bone-in, skin-on turkey breasts, also called split breasts, are inexpensive, flavorful, and nice for (just enough) leftovers. Try this any time of year!……………

Whipped Potatoes with Sage Brown Butter
Russets are the creamiest, best potatoes for mashed potatoes. A drizzle of browned butter on top adds a nutty flavor that mingles nicely with tangy yogurt and fragrant sage………….

Apple Spice Cake with Cranberry-Mandarin Compote
Apple butter and applesauce make this spice cake exceptionally moist and tender. The bright berry compote and billowy whipped cream provide perfect counterpoints…………..

* Click the link below to get all the Healthy Herb and Spice Recipes

Herb and Spice of the Week – Basil

June 5, 2014 at 6:11 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | 1 Comment
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Dried basil leaves

Dried basil leaves

Basil, Thai basil, or sweet basil, is a common name for the culinary herb Ocimum basilicum (pronounced /ˈbæzɪl/, /ˈbeːzɪl/, or ‘bɑçɨl/ of the family Lamiaceae (mints), sometimes known as Saint Joseph’s Wort in some English-speaking countries.

Basil is originally native to India, having been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years, but was thoroughly familiar to Theophrastus and Dioscorides. It is a half-hardy annual plant, best known as a culinary herb prominently featured in Italian cuisine, and also plays a major role in Southeast Asian cuisines of Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and the cuisine of Taiwan. Depending on the species and cultivar, the leaves may taste somewhat like anise, with a strong, pungent, often sweet smell.

There are many varieties of Ocimum basilicum, as well as several related species or species hybrids also called basil. The type used in Italian food is typically called sweet basil, as opposed to Thai basil (O. basilicum var. thyrsiflora), lemon basil (O. X citriodorum) and holy basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum), which are used in Asia. While most common varieties of basil are treated as annuals, some are perennial in warm, tropical climates, including holy basil and a cultivar known as ‘African Blue’.




Most commercially available basils are cultivars of sweet basil. There are over 160 named cultivars available and more new ones every year. There are also a number of species sold. Here are some basils commonly sold in the USA.


* African blue basil (Ocimum basilicum X O. kilimandscharicum)
* Anise basil or Persian basil (Licorice basil || O. basilicum ‘Licorice’||)
* Camphor basil, African basil (O. kilimandscharicum)
* Cinnamon basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Cinnamon’)
* Dark opal basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Dark Opal’)
* Globe basil, dwarf basil, French basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Minimum’)
* Hoary basil (Ocimum americanum formerly known as O. canum)
* Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum, formerly known a O. sanctum)
* Spice Basil (a cultivar of Ocimum americanum, which is sometimes sold as Holy Basil)
* Lemon basil (Ocimum americanum)
* Lettuce leaf basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Crispum’)
* Purple basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Purpurescens’)
* Queen of Siam basil (Ocimum basilicum citriodorum)
* Rubin basil (Ocimum basilicum ‘Rubin’)




Basil sprout at an early stage

Basil sprout at an early stage

Basil is commonly used fresh in cooked recipes. In general, it is added at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the flavor. The fresh herb can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, after being blanched quickly in boiling water. The dried herb also loses most of its flavor, and what little flavor remains tastes very different, with a weak coumarin flavor, like hay.

Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce. Its other main ingredients are olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts.

The most commonly used Mediterranean basil cultivars are “Genovese”, “Purple Ruffles”, “Mammoth”, “Cinnamon”, “Lemon”, “Globe”, and “African Blue”. The Chinese also use fresh or dried basils in soups and other foods. In Taiwan, people add fresh basil leaves to thick soups. hey also eat fried chicken with deep-fried basil leaves. Basil (most commonly Thai basil) is commonly steeped in cream or milk to create an interesting flavor in ice cream or chocolates (such as truffles). The leaves are not the only part of basil used in culinary applications, the flower buds have a more subtle flavor and they are edible.

Thai basil is also a condiment in the Vietnamese noodle soup, phở.



Recently, there has been much research into the health benefits conferred by the essential oils found in basil. Scientific studies in vitro have established that compounds in basil oil have potent antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties, and potential for use in treating cancer. In addition, basil has been shown to decrease the occurrence of platelet aggregation and experimental thrombus in mice. It is traditionally used for supplementary treatment of stress, asthma and diabetes in India.

Basil, like other aromatic plants such as fennel and tarragon, contains estragole, a known carcinogen and teratogen in rats and mice. While human effects are currently unstudied, extrapolation using body weight from the rodent experiments indicates that 100–1000 times the normal anticipated exposure still probably produces a minimal cancer risk.


Kitchen Hint of the Day!

October 4, 2013 at 9:01 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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Fresh herbs are a wonderful addition to any dinner, but they go bad quickly and are hard to freeze. To herbs fresh longer, loosely wrap them in a damp paper towel, store in a plastic bag, and keep in the vegetable crisper of the refrigerator. If you have more fresh herbs that you can use, hang them upside down to dry. (Tie them together and hang them from a peg.) In about a week, you’ll be able to crumble off the leaves. The flavor won’t be quite as wonderful as the fresh herbs, but it will still be much better than commercial dried herbs. Another simple solution is placing chopped, fresh herbs in ice – cube trays. Fill the trays with water then freeze. When it’s time to add herbs to soups and sauces, simply pop as many cubes as you want out of the tray and throw them in the pot.  

Kitchen Hint of the Day!

June 18, 2013 at 7:40 AM | Posted in Kitchen Hints, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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When grilling vegetables in aluminum foil on the grill, try placing a sprig of fresh herbs within each foil wrap. Marjoram is the most popular choice, but almost any herb will do: try tarragon, Italian parsley, sage, chives, dill, chervil, oregano, and thyme. It will give your veggies a fresh, wonderful taste.

How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden

May 10, 2013 at 9:47 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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Good article for all the home gardeners.




How to Grow Your Own Indoor Herb Garden
by Sara Elliott
Herbs are great fun to grow indoors. They’re the perfect companion for the curious cook who isn’t afraid to take a few chances. Start with a sunny windowsill and a few herb seeds and — snip-snip, you have an instant gourmet meal. Well, it may not be quite that simple, but fresh herbs are still a great asset to have in the kitchen.

To get your indoor herb garden going, you can use a couple of different methods. One is to park a planter filled with quality potting soil and your favorite herb seeds in front of a window that gets lots of natural sunlight. For this to be successful, the spot you choose will have to get six hours of sunlight each day and not be so hot in the afternoons. Think southern exposure here, where the plant leaves won’t burn. If you have a perfect spot, hopefully in your kitchen near where the action is, go for it. A bag of potting soil, some culinary herb seeds and some judicious watering, and you’re ready to go.

If, like many of us, you don’t have the perfect herb-friendly conditions available, you can use a hydroponic kit instead. This soilless setup uses liquid nourishment and special lights to produce perfect plants fast. Because herbs are among the most popular garden plants for this type of arrangement, it’s easy to find hydroponic equipment retailers that offer products specifically for indoor herb gardens.

Whatever option you choose, the three main things herbs will need to grow lush and flavorful is good light, water and the right nourishment.
Indoor Herb Growing Tips and Tricks
To get your herb garden started without any major problems, make sure to choose healthy plants, or grow your own from seed. This means that you should inspect plants before you bring them home and discard any that show signs of insect activity. If a plant looks suspicious, pass. Other things to keep in mind are:
* Give plants plenty of room. Plant descriptions and seed packets will offer spacing recommendations, and even though potted plants don’t typically grow to full size, give them generous accommodations.
* Water plants regularly and make sure the pots drain thoroughly after watering. One of the biggest plant killers is stagnant water hanging around long enough to rot plant roots.
* Turn plant pots frequently to keep plants growing evenly on all sides.
* Go light on the fertilizer. Most herbs like moderate to poor soil. Remember, more houseplants are killed with kindness than through neglect.
* Wait for plants to reach 6 to 8 inches (15.24 to 20.32 centimeters) in height before harvesting any leaves, and only take about a quarter of the plant or less at any one time. After you’ve snipped an herb’s leaves, wait for that much or more to grow back before harvesting again. If you’re a parsley or oregano fanatic, it might be a good idea to keep more than one plant going at a time.
* Now that you have a thriving indoor herb garden, it’s time to start growing your vegetables indoors, too. Yes, indoor tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce! You’ll be a household farmer in no time.

One of America’s Favorites – Herbs

March 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM | Posted in spices and herbs | 1 Comment
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In general use, herbs are any plants used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes

Basil and green onions, common culinary herbs

Basil and green onions, common culinary herbs

herbs as referring to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), from a “spice”, a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots and fruits.

In American botanical English the term “herb” is also used as an abbreviation of “herbaceous plant”. This usage is rarely found in British English.

Herbs have a variety of uses including culinary, medicinal, and in some cases spiritual usage. General usage of the term “herb” differs between culinary herbs and medicinal herbs. In medicinal or spiritual use any of the parts of the plant might be considered “herbs”, including leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, resin, root bark, inner bark (and cambium), berries and sometimes the pericarp or other portions of the plant.

The word “herb” is pronounced /ˈɜrb/ by many U.S. speakers, or /ˈhɜrb/ by other U.S. speakers and all other English speakers.


Culinary herbs are distinguished from vegetables in that, like spices, they are used in small amounts and provide flavor rather than substance to food.

Many culinary herbs are perennials such as thyme or lavender, while others are biennials such as parsley or annuals like basil. Some perennial herbs are shrubs (such as rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis), or trees (such as bay laurel, Laurus nobilis) – this contrasts with botanical herbs, which by definition cannot be woody plants. Some plants are used as both herbs and spices, such as dill weed and dill seed or coriander leaves and seeds. Also, there are some herbs such as those in the mint family that are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes.


Plants contain phytochemicals that have effects on the body.

There may be some effects when consumed in the small levels that typify culinary “spicing”, and some herbs are toxic in larger quantities. For instance, some types of herbal extract, such as the extract of St. John’s-wort (Hypericum perforatum) or of kava (Piper methysticum) can be used for medical purposes to relieve depression and stress. However, large amounts of these herbs may lead to toxic overload that may involve complications, some of a serious nature, and should be used with caution. One herb-like substance, called Shilajit, may actually help lower blood glucose levels which is especially important for those suffering from diabetes. Herbs have long been used as the basis of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, with usage dating as far back as the first century CE and far before. Medicinal use of herbs in Western cultures has its roots in the Hippocratic (Greek) elemental healing system, based on a quaternary elemental healing metaphor. Famous herbalist of the Western tradition include Avicenna (Persian), Galen (Roman), Paracelsus (German Swiss), Culpepper (English) and the botanically inclined Eclectic physicians of 19th century/early 20th century America (John Milton Scudder, Harvey Wickes Felter, John Uri Lloyd). Modern pharmaceuticals had their origins in crude herbal medicines, and to this day, some drugs are still extracted as fractionate/isolate compounds from raw herbs and then purified to meet pharmaceutical standards.

Some herbs are used not only for culinary and medicinal purposes, but also for psychoactive and/or recreational purposes; one such herb is cannabis.


Herbs are used in many religions. For example, myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) and frankincense (Boswellia spp) in Christianity and Hellenismos, the Nine Herbs Charm in Anglo-Saxon paganism, the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) by the Tamils, holy basil or tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum) in Hinduism, and many Rastafarians consider cannabis (Cannabis sp) to be a holy plant. Siberian Shamans also used herbs for spiritual purposes. Plants may be used to induce spiritual experiences for rites of passage, such as vision quests in some Native American cultures. The Cherokee Native Americans use both white sage and cedar for spiritual cleansing and smudging.

Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin w/ Green Beans, Scalloped Potatoes, andf Potato Rolls

February 23, 2013 at 6:57 PM | Posted in baking, greenbeans, Idahoan Potato Products, pork roast | 3 Comments
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Today’s Menu: Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin w/ Green Beans, Scalloped Potatoes, and Potato Rolls


Herbed Crusted Pork Roast 006



Quite a meal tonight, to cap off a beautiful sunny day outside today! I prepared a Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin w/ Green Beans, Scalloped Potatoes, and Potato Rolls. I used my favorite Pork Roast recipe, the Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin. I just love the Crust that the Herbs, Garlic, and Olive Oil create on the Roast and the flavor along with keeping it nice juicy on the inside.

To prepare the Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. Then combined 2 tablespoons olive oil, 4 cloves garlic, minced, 1 teaspoon dried thyme , 1 teaspoon dried basil, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, along with Sea Salt and Ground Black Pepper for seasoning. Combine all the ingredients except the Salt and Pepper in a bowl and stir until well mixed. You then rub into your Pork Roast which will create the Herb Crust as it bakes. Roast the pork for 30 minutes on 450, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional 15 – 20 minutes (time will vary according to the size of the roast). Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests. The Pork comes out perfect! The Herb Crust gives that extra taste to make it one delicious Roast! Love this recipe.

For side dishes tonight we had Green Beans, Idahoan Scalloped Potatoes, and Baked Split Top Potato Rolls. My Mom prepared the Green Beans. She was at Jungle Jim’s Market and they had just put out a large order of Green Beans. She bought a large amount and made a huge pot of them tonight. The first official fresh Green Beans were fantastic! Sometimes early in the year the Green Beans aren’t quite as good as they are later in the year but these were really delicious! The Idahoan Scalloped Potatoes are the easy and quick way for some Scalloped Potatoes. A breeze to make just mix the ingredients and bake at 450 degrees for 25 minutes and you have some delicious Scalloped Potatoes. Plus their only 160 calories and 20 carbs. For dessert later a Healthy Choice Vanilla/Chocolate Swirl Frozen Yogurt.




Herb Crusted Pork TenderloinHerbed Crusted Pork Roast 002
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen, 2007


1 (4-pound) boneless pork loin, with fat left on
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon dried basil or 2 teaspoons fresh basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried rosemary or 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

Place the pork loin on a rack in a roasting pan. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. With your fingers, massage the mixture onto the pork loin, covering all of the meat and fat.

Roast the pork for 30 minutes, then reduce the heat to 425 degrees F and roast for an additional 15 – 20 minutes (time will vary according to the size of the roast). Test for doneness using an instant-read thermometer. When the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F, remove the roast from the oven. Allow it to sit for about 20 minutes before carving. It will continue to cook while it rests.


Product Description
There’s no better way to start a hearty Scalloped homestyle casserole than with world-famous Idaho® potatoes, which is why you’ll taste only 100% grown-in-Idaho potatoes in this rich & creamy side. For family meals or for special occasions, this creamy, delicious dish is sure to please.

Baking Instructions

PREHEAT oven to 450°F. COMBINE potatoes and sauce mix in 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
STIR in 1 1/2 cups boiling water, 3/4 cup milk, and 1 1/2 Tbsp. margarine or butter with whisk.
BAKE uncovered for 25 minutes or until top is golden brown and potatoes are tender (sauce will thicken slightly when cooling).
Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.
BAKING NOTES: To prepare 2 casseroles at once, double all ingredients, increase baking dish size accordingly, and bake about 30 min. To bake potatoes and roast meat at the same time, bake at 375°F for about 45 min; 350°F for about 50 min; or 325°F for about 60 min.

Pan Sauteed Chicken With Vegetables and Herbs w/ Cornbread

December 29, 2012 at 6:40 PM | Posted in baking, chicken, vegetables | 2 Comments
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Today’s Menu: Pan Sauteed Chicken With Vegetables and Herbs w/ Cornbreadsnow 008



Another snow passed through over night and left us with another 2″ or 3″ of snow. Once again the neighborhood pulls together and streets and drive-ways are cleared by 10:00 this morning! Its cold but absolutely beautiful outside. The snow has every limb of the trees draped in snow.
For dinner I prepared a comfort food classic, Pan Sauteed Chicken With Vegetables and Herbs. I Just love these one pan wonder meals! Chicken, Herbs, Potatoes, and Carrots you know it has to be good! To prepare just Pre – Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then Season the chicken as desired and Coat with the flour. Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat then add the chicken and cook until it’s well browned on all sides.

Remove the chicken from the skillet and add the onions and potatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Add the carrots, chicken stock, lemon juice and oregano and heat to boil and return the chicken to the skillet. Cover the skillet. Time for the oven, Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes. Uncover the skillet and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with the thyme or any other fresh Herb. Cornbread goes real well with this meal!
The Chicken comes out super moist and with a fantastic flavor! The seasoning, Herbs, and the lemon Juice gives the Chicken that perfect taste. The same with the Vegetables, Carrots and Potatoes burst with flavor. The full recipe is at the end of the post. For dessert later a bowl of Breyer’s Carb Smart Vanilla Ice Cream topped with Bob Evan’s Glazed Apples.


Pan sautee chicken bake 001

Pan Sauteed Chicken With Vegetables And Herbs


4 Bone-In Chicken Breast halves (I used boneless Chicken Breasts)
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
8 Ounces fresh Baby Carrots (about 16)
1 Pound New Potatoes, cut in quarters
1 Tablespoon Cumin
1/2 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 1/2 Cups Swanson Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Chopped fresh Oregano Leaves
1 Tablespoon Chopped fresh Thyme Leaves
1 Tablespoon Chopped Rosemary

* Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
* Season the chicken as desired.
* Coat with the flour.
* Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat.
* Add the chicken and cook until it’s well browned on all sides.
* Remove the chicken from the skillet.
* Add the potatoes to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes.
* Add the carrots, chicken stock, lemon juice, spices/herbs (Except Thyme), and oregano and heat to boil.
* Return the chicken to the skillet.
* Cover the skillet.
* Bake at 350 degrees F. for 20 minutes.
* Uncover the skillet and bake for 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
* Sprinkle with the thyme or any other fresh herb.

Drying Herbs

October 12, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Posted in cooking, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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Drying is the easiest method of preserving herbs. Simply expose the leaves, flowers or seeds to warm, dry air. Leave the herbs in a well ventilated area until the moisture evaporates. Sun drying is not recommended because the herbs can lose flavor and color.

The best time to harvest most herbs for drying is just before the flowers first open when they are in the bursting bud stage. Gather the herbs in the early morning after the dew has evaporated to minimize wilting. Avoid bruising the leaves. They should not lie in the sun or unattended after harvesting. Rinse herbs in cool water and gently shake to remove excess moisture. Discard all bruised, soiled or imperfect leaves and stems.

Dehydrator drying is a fast and easy way to dry high quality herbs because temperature and air circulation can be controlled. Pre-heat dehydrator with the thermostat set to 95°F to 115°F. In areas with higher humidity, temperatures as high as 125°F may be needed. After rinsing under cool, running water and shaking to remove excess moisture, place the herbs in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Drying times may vary from 1 to 4 hours. Check periodically. Herbs are dry when they crumble, and stems break when bent. Check your dehydrator instruction booklet for specific details.

Less Tender Herbs — The more sturdy herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, summer savory and parsley are the easiest to dry without a dehydrator. Tie them into small bundles and hang them to air dry. Air drying outdoors is often possible; however, better color and flavor retention usually results from drying indoors.

Tender-Leaf Herbs — Basil, oregano, tarragon, lemon balm and the mints have a high moisture content and will mold if not dried quickly. Try hanging the tender-leaf herbs or those with seeds inside paper bags to dry. Tear or punch holes in the sides of the bag. Suspend a small bunch (large amounts will mold) of herbs in a bag and close the top with a rubber band. Place where air currents will circulate through the bag. Any leaves and seeds that fall off will be caught in the bottom of the bag.

Another method, especially nice for mint, sage or bay leaf, is to dry the leaves separately. In areas of high humidity, it will work better than air drying whole stems. Remove the best leaves from the stems. Lay the leaves on a paper towel, without allowing leaves to touch. Cover with another towel and layer of leaves. Five layers may be dried at one time using this method. Dry in a very cool oven. The oven light of an electric range or the pilot light of a gas range furnishes enough heat for overnight drying. Leaves dry flat and retain a good color.

Microwave ovens are a fast way to dry herbs when only small quantities are to be prepared. Follow the directions that come with your microwave oven.

When the leaves are crispy dry and crumple easily between the fingers, they are ready to be packaged and stored. Dried leaves may be left whole and crumpled as used, or coarsely crumpled before storage. Husks can be removed from seeds by rubbing the seeds between the hands and blowing away the chaff. Place herbs in airtight containers and store in a cool, dry, dark area to protect color and fragrance.

Dried herbs are usually 3 to 4 times stronger than the fresh herbs. To substitute dried herbs in a recipe that calls for fresh herbs, use 1/4 to 1/3 of the amount listed in the recipe.

This document was extracted from “So Easy to Preserve”, 5th ed. 2006. Bulletin 989, Cooperative Extension Service, The University of Georgia, Athens. Revised by Elizabeth L. Andress. Ph.D. and Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., Extension Foods Specialists.

Herb gardens create remedy

October 12, 2012 at 1:16 PM | Posted in cooking, Food, spices and herbs | Leave a comment
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This article ran the other day here the other day.

Herb gardens create remedy
Written by Jennifer Forker Associated Press


What if you could soothe a sore throat or a headache with the snip of a scissors? Plant some herbs indoors now, before fall sets in, and you could have a winter’s worth of folksy remedies.

Many medicinal plants, especially herbs, grow well indoors, said Amy Jeanroy, who runs a greenhouse business near her Ravenna, Neb., home and writes and teaches about medicinal herbs. She recommends starting with these five: thyme, chamomile, mint, lemon balm and sage.

Each works well as a tea. Grow, cut and dry them for use throughout the year, or use fresh herbs. To brew a tea, add 1 teaspoon of dried – or 3 teaspoons of fresh – herbs to 1 cup of boiled water, steep several minutes, then remove the herbs.

All five herbs aid digestion, said herbalist Christina Blume, who has taught medicinal and other herb-related classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

“A lot of herbs that people already cook with are herbs that have medicinal qualities,” adds Jeanroy. “It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s kicking the flu for you. It helps you.”

Physician Andrew Weil maintains a list of healthful herbs and their uses at his website,

Consult a doctor before trying to treat a health problem with herbs, Jeanroy said.

She treats her five children with herbs such as chamomile. “It helps with the crankiness the kids get when they’re feverish,” she said.

Thyme, Jeanroy said, can soothe a throat sore from coughing, and Blume touts its anti-viral properties.

“I always drink thyme tea when I fly,” said Blume, “because you’re re-breathing all that air that everyone’s breathing And (the tea) tastes good.”

Mint – especially peppermint – is a home remedy for an upset stomach. And it can mask the strong or bitter taste of some other herbs, such as sage, which can soothe mouth sores and bleeding gums after dental work, said Jeanroy.

Lemon balm can be drunk as a tea to counter headaches, added to other medicinal teas to mask an unpleasant taste or steeped stronger to make a topical antiseptic cleanser for a skinned knee or itchy bug bite, she said.

“If there’s one herb that does tons of great stuff, lemon balm is it,” said Jeanroy.

Medicinal gardens are centuries old; modern ones date to the apothecary gardens of the Italian Renaissance during the 16th century, said Teresa Mazikowski, a staff gardener who spearheaded the Buffalo and Erie County (N.Y.) Botanical Gardens’ indoor medicinal garden last October.

Botanical gardens grew out of these early medicinal gardens.

The indoor medicinal garden that Mazikowski tends goes beyond common herbs. It was planted with public education in mind, she said, and includes rare and tropical plants, as well.

“The idea is to teach people how to keep themselves healthy so they don’t have to take drugs” when they’re sick, Mazikowski said.

The D’Youville College School of Pharmacy and Mercy Hospital, both in Buffalo, collaborated with the city’s botanical gardens to launch the medicinal garden with plants that show promise in pharmaceutical research, Mazikowski said, including turmeric, Pacific yew, cayenne pepper and ginseng.

Her own indoor garden includes oregano, mint, parsley, sage, lemon balm, lemon verbena, catmint and chives.

Start with a small indoor garden, she suggests, and know that the plants aren’t likely to last longer than 18 months. Use a large, clean pot filled with sterile potting soil. Sow seeds or use small starter plants, which often are inexpensive this time of year.

Unless you have a spot that gets six hours or more of sunlight, you’ll need to invest in grow lights, said Jeanroy. Buy inexpensive, full-spectrum light bulbs, sold at home improvement stores, which you can pop into a table or floor lamp. Your plants will need 14 to 16 hours of this artificial light daily.

Plants grow best if the daytime indoor temperature is between 70 and 75 degrees, Jeanroy said, and the nighttime temperature about 10 degrees cooler.

Make sure there’s a drainage hole in the pot. Soggy soil can lead to mildew, mold and pest problems.

Take care of your herbs, and they’ll return the favor. “I don’t know if it stems from surrounding myself with plants or spending so much time with them, but the whole process – you’re pinching back herbs that smell good and heating the water (for tea) – I think that’s part of the healing,” she said.

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