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Herbs: A Cook’s Best Friend

basil

basil

 

For the next in our Healthy + Whole series, we’re going to stray a bit from our more “emotional” reasons for healthy eating (guilt, fear, time, inspiration – but we’ll be back to that soon!) and focus on something a bit more practical — and seasonal, for us at least. 

Like it or not, there’s no easy Three-Step process to eating a Healthy + Whole diet. As you’ve heard from some of our voices so far (Sara, Laura, and Annie), eating Healthy + Whole requires a lot of trial and error and personal exploration. Though it requires a long-term commitment, it does open the door up for a little fun in the process. So if you’re just starting out, we highly suggest to start experimenting with herbs.

It sounded odd to us before we started trying to incorporate them in our cooking, but these little green guys can really revolutionize your cooking — we promise. And a great way to have them on hand and cheap is to grow them yourself. It takes only a bit of effort, and it is a huge payoff in the long run.

Why Herbs?

1. They’re a delicious addition to any meal — pasta, pizza, eggs, salads, etc.

2. They’re 100% good for you, and fit within almost any dietary restrictions.

3. They add more satisfaction to the taste of your meal, helping you to eat less.

4. Growing things can make you happy.

5. Pizza margarita.

Our Top 8 Herbs

It’s hard to write a How to Cook with Herbs 101, since so much of how we’ve learned is trial and error. We’d love to chat with each and every one of you on the right way to start for you. Overall, all we can say is start with one plant, and get cooking! If you get an herb pot with a few standard herbs (see below), start looking for recipes that incorporate them. The more you experiment, the more you’ll start to understand the taste and the ways each herb is generally incorporated. If you’re like us, you learn more by doing than reading statements like “Use basil in Italian dishes”.

Below are some our favorite herbs, and a recipe for each. And, look forward to a new recipe tomorrow!

1. Basil (Sweet or Italian)

basil

Tomato Basil Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

2. Oregano (Greek)

oregano

Greek Quesadillas

3. Thyme (English)

thyme

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bruschetta

4. Rosemary

rosemary

Roasted Potatoes with Rosemary

5. Mint

mint

Strawberries with Balsamic and Mint

6. Cilantro

cilantro

Pad Thai Salad

7. Dill

dill

Pasta with Peas, Feta and Dill

8. Chives

chives

Apple, Manchego and Chive Salad

How Do I get Started Growing? 

You can buy your own herbs at the store, but it’s much more cost-effective to grow them. For example, one basil plant costs less than a single-use package from the grocery, and it will provide basil throughout the entire summer (and pesto throughout the winter).

All you need is a sunny ledge, deck, or step for a pot. You can buy a pre-made herb pot, or make your own. Here’s a video we made last year to help you get started:

 

Tip A potted plant expert that we know recommends drilling a few holes in the bottom of your flower pot (if there aren’t any already). Without extra drainage, one strong rain could potentially flood the pot and damage the plants.

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SonjaHerbs: A Cook’s Best Friend

Comments 6

  1. Loretta

    My farmer’s market has great herbs for cheap, but I’m still trying basil this year. But just came back from a weekend away and it’s already looking chewed…sigh.

  2. Eileen

    Herbs are definitely the best! We have basil, oregano, chives, and rosemary in the yard (plus a couple of bolting parsley plants–hooray for self-reseeding!), all ready and waiting for the tastiest of cooking. Hooray!

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