Easy Herbs To Grow and Use in the Kitchen (with Recipes)
Mediterranean is such a delightful region for a foodie! I mean, you literally stumble over rosemary and thyme every time you're hiking. I really love using herbs in my kitchen. And since I can remember, there was always something growing at my mother's kitchen window. Fresh herbs are incomparable with their dried and bottled cousins at the supermarket shelf. Just try to taste dried basil, yuck! That's why you will always find different herbs growing just in front of my kitchen door. Let's talk about some of my favorites.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Can you imagine Italian kitchen without this famous herb? But oregano is so much more than a 'pizza herb'. It is rich in antioxidants, it is antibacterial, fights infections, repels insects. Hippocrates used it as an antiseptic. It can be used for treating cough, helps to heal digestive issues, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. It is even effective for skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
When we lived in Germany, I couldn't believe they actually 'sell' rosemary! Coming from Provence, where rosemary was considered a weed, I would not spend money for something that thrives on your doorsteps. But rosemary is indeed a precious herb with many health benefits. It acts as a antioxidant, has a tonic effect on the nervous system, it's good for circulation, reduces high blood pressure and much more!
Use it in tea, in spread, it combines well with lamb or other meat.
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Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Did you know that there are 35 different types of basil? Holy basil is the species of basil most known for its powerful healing qualities but we most commonly associate basil with pesto sauce. Basil is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cancer-fighting, pain-reducing, fever-reducing, used for diabetes prevention and as an immune-booster.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a powerful antimicrobial herb and each year in Spring, you would find me picking thyme flowers to be dried and used against colds and cough. Thyme is also helpful for treating urinary tract infections, yeast infections, inflammation or menstrual cramps.
Mint (Mentha piperita)
Commonly used as a digestive aid, it helps relieve stomach cramps, headaches, symptoms of IBS, colds, flu and fever.
I use it in tea, smoothies, it combines well with cucumber. Mint is used to make hydrosol (among other herbs) and makes a tasty healing summer drink.
Sage (Salvia officinalis)
The name Sage comes from the Latin name salvus, salvere, meaning 'to be well, safe'. Sage soothes sore throats, is good against infections, diabetes, hot flashes and Alzheimer's .
Parsley ( Petroselinum crispum)
Parsley is so much more than a garnish on potatoes! This herb improves digestion, is an antioxidant, helps heal urinary tract infections, is good for cancer prevention, heart disease, amenorrhea. It is rich in K1, C, beta carotene, folate.
I use parsley in pesto, as a garnish, in salads, for broth.
Bay Leaf (Laurus nobilis)
What would be a bechamel sauce without bay leaf! Used for flavoring already by the ancient Greeks, the leaves also flavor many classic French dishes. The leaves are most often used whole (sometimes in a bouquet garni) and removed before serving (as they can be abrasive in the digestive tract). I use bay leaf in stews, soups. broths and sauces.
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Melissa is the Greek name for honey. And indeed, this herb is used for anxiety, stress but also fevers. I love to make an evening tea with lemon balm, it really is a calming balm on a mother of four nerves.