They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I beg to differ. Growing up a country girl and marrying a man from Pennsylvania Dutch country, I learned to cook with the basics – lots of salt, sugar, real butter and cream and lard. I’d cleaned up my act a lot when it came to watching fats and cholesterol, but salt was still a big issue.
The real wakeup call was when the doctors told Jim he really had to watch his salt intake. Translated, that meant I had to watch his salt intake. Let’s face it, food just tastes bland without salt, so we needed to find alternatives. That’s how we discovered the wonderful world of fresh herbs.
Growing your own herbs is practical, good for your health, takes very little to get started and can be lots of fun. They are filled with antioxidants and essential nutrients and they add a punch of flavor to your favorite dishes without the sodium. An added bonus is that you can harvest small amounts when you need them because half the nutritional value of plants is lost within the first 30 minutes of harvesting.
Most herbs are relatively easy to grow and can be grown directly in the garden or in container pots either outdoors or indoors. I prefer them indoors because they are easily accessible to snip off a few sprigs when you are cooking, many add delightful fragrances to the home and they give off oxygen. It’s a win-win-win situation. All you need to get started are some pots, organic potting soil and seeds or small starter plants.
Following are 10 of the healthiest herbs and some of their characteristics:
Herbs are easy to process. Just snip a few leaves off, wash under running water or swish in a pan. Use them for cooking, or they can be frozen by patting dry and wrapping in freezer wrap, or chop, put in an ice cube tray, fill half full of water and freeze. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.
Herbs are so versatile, you can basically grow a medicine cabinet in your home. It helped us cut our sodium intake without sacrificing flavor. Now if there were only an herb that would work on our sweettooths and help us cut sugar.