By: Leanne Ely
When I’m looking at a big rack of dried herbs in the grocery store, I often think of dollar bills chopped up and put into bags. For many dried herbs, you might as well just chop up a few dollar bills and sprinkle them on your food for the amount of flavor they add to anything! (Dried parsley? I don’t think so!)
Fresh herbs are used very frequently in my home. I use them in my salads (chop some fresh dill into a bowl of greens and you may never want to eat it any other way ever again!), my soups, with my roast meats, chicken dishes, sauces and the list goes on and on and on.
Fresh herbs don’t only taste great, but many of these fantastic aromatic little green wonders are just packed with nutrition. Sage, rosemary and thyme are much more than just a Simon and Garfunkel hit! These herbs are extremely healthy for you.
Fresh herbs: the basics
Fresh herbs add a certain something to your dishes that you just can’t duplicate with the dried variety. Once you start you won’t want to go back!
Cooking with fresh herbs can be intimidating at first, but it’s really pretty simple. You figure out which herbs go best with your favorite dishes, and you go from there!
But where do you start?
How about by learning which herbs go with what foods! Here’s a cheat sheet for you:
Basil: Amazing on pizza! Basil is almost peppery in flavor, it’s very fragrant and has a wonderful spicy bite to it. Basil almost a must for any dish containing tomatoes. The little leaves at the top of the bunch will be the sweetest.
Dill: Your fish will never the the same again! This grassy herb with its feathery leaves is often paired with fish dishes and it’s amazing in a vinaigrette.
Mint: If you plant your own mint be VERY careful. It is a prolific plant that can easily overtake your entire garden. It’s wonderful in beverages, with lamb and with peas. It’s also nice to chew on to freshen your breath!
Oregano: This wonderful earthy herb is a must for pizza but it’s also fabulous on eggs! Oregano is the one herb that is actually just as good dried as it is fresh.
Parsley: Parsley is great for everything from freshening your breath to chopping into salads, hummus, guacamole, soup – pretty much anything, really! It lends a nice freshness to anything you put it on. But the dried version? A waste of money.
Thyme: This citrusy herb is wonderful with seafood, poultry and many Mediterranean dishes. Here’s a tip for you! It’s a pain to tear off the tiny little leaves from their woody stems so use fork tines to strip them!
Sage: Another easy one to grow at home, this aromatic herb is just wonderful with duck, turkey and sausage.
Rosemary: One of my favorites, rosemary has a flavor that’s almost like pine. It’s wonderful in meat, soups, stews and even breads.
Cilantro: This one seems to be loved or hated! Popular in Mexican, Asian and Indian cooking, cilantro looks like flat leaf parsley but it’s much different in flavor. Some describe it as tasting soapy!
When you bring your herbs home from the store, rinse them in cold water to remove any dirt or bugs (hey, when you buy organic, it happens!). Store them in water in the fridge, covered with a plastic bag and they should keep for a few days. This method does NOT work with basil. Instead, put it in water and leave it on your counter.
PS – The 21 Day Knock Out is happening!!! I’ll sneak you in, but you gotta come right now!!
By: Leanne Ely
Fresh mint is a common sight in the summertime and today you’re going to get a tip, a trick and a recipe featuring this pretty little leaf!
I have mint growing in my garden and let me tell you, when you plant mint, you have mint for life! Really. Mint can take over so you really have to be vigilant about keeping this plant in line.
But if you can manage a mint crop it’s well worth growing! (If you don’t have a green thumb, fresh mint is a relatively easily fresh herb to get your hands on.) Mint is quite high in Vitamin A and it also contains Vitamin C, iron and manganese.
There are many uses for mint leaves. While you see it most often used as a garnish, you can add mint leaves to your smoothies for a minty kick (can you say chocolate mint?!), make yourself a cup of peppermint tea, or even flavor your water with them!
Now, it’s time for your Trick
When you’re freezing a tray of ice cubes, try adding a mint leaf to each one for a pretty (and refreshing) way to keep your lemonade or cocktails cool!
If you wish to plant your own mint, I recommend planting it in a container. This is probably the best way to keep that mint under control.
And your Recipe
Mint Chip Smoothie
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 to 3/4 cup water (or more coconut milk)
2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon cacao nibs
1 scoop Perfect Paleo Protein Mix (chocolate preferred for this recipe)
2 teaspoons Saving Dinner Fibermender (optional)
1 tablespoon Just Juiced Greens (optional)
In a blender, place coconut milk, water, mint leaves, cacao nibs, Saving Dinner all-in-one smoothie mix, Saving Dinner Fibermender and Saving Dinner Just Juiced Greens (optional); blend until smooth and enjoy! It’s ok to add a tad more milk of your choice, if a thinner smoothie is preferred.
Speaking of smoothies…I LOVE Perfect Paleo Protein–dairy free, creamy yumminess and anti-inflammatory to the 10th degree! Highly recommended!
By: Leanne Ely
While getting regular exercise and reducing the amount of stress in your life are key components to reducing the inflammation in your body, we can also add certain anti-inflammatory foods to our diet, (all the while cutting out sugar and processed food), to optimize our health.
The following seven foods are anti-inflammatory super heroes and you should eat them frequently, or at least three-four times per week:
1. Cold water fish. Cold water fish like wild salmon, cod, sardines, haddock and sole are all high in fats that have great anti-inflammatory properties. Keyword: WILD (skip the farm raised)
2. Vegetables. Surprise! Vegetables are good for you. However, most North Americans aren’t getting enough plants into their diets. You should be eating at least 8 or 9 servings of veggies every day. That means you should have vegetables with each meal. Make them bright and colorful, and leafy and green!
3. Seeds and nuts. Walnuts, sesame seeds and almonds all contain omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation.
4. Fruit and berries. Blueberries, pineapple, raspberries, cherries, strawberries and apples are all examples of fruits that may help reduce inflammation within the body.
5. Turmeric and other herbs and spices. Turmeric, ginger, garlic, basil, oregano—take your pick because all of those herbs and spices are very very high in nutrients and fight inflammation. Try chopping a bunch of herbs and combining with garlic and olive oil for an anti-inflammatory meat marinade!
6. Chocolate. Every once in a while some good chocolate is a great thing to eat. I’m talking about chocolate that’s at least 70% pure cocoa and no more than one ounce at a time. Make sure it’s organic!
7. Green Tea. Whether it’s hot or cold, green tea sort of acts like a liquid vegetable, putting up an inflammatory fight within your body. And please make sure that tea is organic.
Now that you know what foods you should eat to reduce that inflammation, here’s what you should avoid!
The top foods to avoid in order to reduce inflammation:
• Margarine and other trans fats
• White flour
• Deep fried foods
• Excessive alcohol
As you know, anti-inflammatory foods have been a hot topic lately here at Saving Dinner. That’s a big reason why we added the Autoimmune Menu, which is high in anti-inflammatory foods, to Dinner Answers! Click here to learn more
By: Leanne Ely
It’s not easy being greens. So packed with goodness and fiber, yet so many people just push them around the plate without any respect for the nutrition in their pretty green leaves.
If you want to get the nutrients you need in your system, you have to get good and comfortable with eating greens. And since today’s produce is so deficient in many vitamins and nutrients, you have to eat as many greens as you can manage.
From late March through early May, there’s a wide variety of spring greens to enjoy, including:
• baby lettuces
• dandelion greens
Salad greens are chock full of phytonutrients, anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants.
Eating spring greens provides you with many nutrients and minerals including:
• vitamins A, C, E and K
Greens can protect the body against diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Greens can help your cells repair themselves and they can help detoxify the body. Eat a wide range of greens and eat them often, but always choose organic. Lettuce and kale are both on the Dirty Dozen list because of the high amounts of pesticide residue that have been found on them. If you can’t find organic greens, choose a different green veggie.
When it comes to choosing which types of greens to use in your salads, you really can’t go wrong. Experiment with different varieties until you find one you like best. I love putting fresh dill in with my blend of spring greens. Gives them a nice fresh flavor.
And when it comes to dressings, don’t toss your money away on the store bought stuff. Simply top your greens with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic vinegar. Perfect.
Dinner Answer gives you great opportunity to use greens deliciously! Click here for details!
By: Leanne Ely
Unless you have grown a fruit or vegetable yourself, in your own organic veggie patch, I would hope that you’re giving your produce a good thorough wash before eating it.
There are a couple of good reasons why you should be washing your fruits and vegetables- even organic produce.
First of all, you really don’t know where that food has been. There can be nasty little bacteria critters in the soil that grows your food, the water that is used to hydrate the plants, on the hands of the people who harvest your food, on the hands of the super market workers who put the foods out to be sold, in the grocery cart you place the foods in, on your hands when you take the foods out of their bags and so on and so forth. Ingesting this bacteria could quite possibly lead to food poisoning and nobody wants that.
Then there are the chemicals. If you’re buying foods that are not organic, you definitely need to clean them well before putting them in your mouth. And I don’t mean just giving a quick rinse under the tap. You need to give that food a seriously good scrub.
How to properly wash fruits and vegetables
The folks at the FDA suggest that running water over your fruits and veggies, and using a brush to scrub cucumbers and melons and other tougher skinned foods is all you need to do to prepare your produce. But I think we need to go a tad further than that by cleaning our produce with a simple homemade fruit and veggie wash.
All you need is a solution of water and white vinegar – equal parts – and a regular old spray bottle.
For soft skinned veggies and fruits, soak them in the solution of vinegar and water for a couple of minutes and then give them a good rinse. For hard-skinned veggies and fruits, spritz them with the solution of vinegar and water, rub that solution in with a scrub brush, and rinse.
This combo of vinegar and water works to dissolve any pesticides and/or waxy residue from the skins of your produce.
You can find commercial products that will do the same thing, but I personally like to just mix up my own fruit and veggie wash.
After you wash all that produce, choose a recipe from our new Dinner Answers and make something delicious tonight!