Growing Your Own Health Promoting Herbs

Growing Your Own Health Promoting Herbs

Growing Your Own Health Promoting Herbs

The more natural your food that you eat the better it is for your health. When you cook your meal using prepackaged box or canned foods, there is really no nutritional value. Also considering the food has been processed, and doing so leaves little to none of the original nutrients.

Whole fresh food on the hand, prepared by nature to meet your body’s nutritional needs, is a lot better choice. You receive more vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients for optimum, if not better health, including better energy levels, weight management, and disease prevention, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Plant foods are the best sources of vital nutrition, and the more you eat the higher your chances of ageing gracefully, as they say.

Herbs are part of the plant food choices. They can provide a number of health benefits, as they are used for medicinal purposes, while adding natural flavors to a variety of prepared dishes, including desserts for those with a sweet tooth.

Grow your own ptted herbs and plants on your balcony or patioIf you love gardening, and if you don’t have a plot of land, maybe you like having potted plants on your patio or balcony, or even a sunny window that can accommodate potted plants, then you could possibly grow your own.

Just think of the Italian dishes you can make with the fresh sage, rosemary, and thyme you would be harvesting from your garden or potted herbs.

Or the peppermint tea you can make for when you have an up-set stomach or the basil to add to your pitcher of watermelon juice or sliced tomatoes.

Herbs are really easy to grow and as we mentioned are dense in nutrients. More commonly grown herbs include basil, sage, thyme, mint, and rosemary. But let’s talk about some other herbs that you might already have in the garden, or buy as a tea when you’re not feeling well.

Healthy Herbs You Can Grow In Your Garden

Echinacea

echinacea flowersEchinacea also referred to as a “Purple Coneflower,” grows from 1-2 feet tall. It was used in ancient cultures as a way of reducing the symptoms of viral infections due to a cold or the flu, and other infectious illness.

It is also available at your local co-op or Whole Foods Market as a tea, supplement form or as a tincture. If you have this herb or flower in your garden, you can make a tea with the plant parts whenever you feel a cold coming on.

 Echinacea contains antioxidants called phenols which help to regulate certain enzymes and human cell receptors in the human body. The herb also has alkylamides, and this compound directly affects the immune system when confronted with invading infectious bacteria.

Cilantro

Cilantro has become a popular herb to grow in home gardens. The herb is also commonly recognized as leaf-coriander in Asia and quite similar to dill in culinary terms, as the leaves and seeds are used in many culinary dishes, such as in the Mediterranean and Latin American countries.

cilantro The herb bolsters many plant derived chemical compounds that are used as disease preventing and health-promoting properties. It also contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.

Potassium is an important for cell and body fluids that help control the heart rate and blood pressure. Iron is needed for red blood cell production, and manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.

The American diet lacks the very essential mineral magnesium that has many uses in the body, from sleeping well, digestion, elimination, muscle and bone health just to mention a few.

It is also rich vitamins, which include folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, and vitamin-C, which are essential for optimum health.

Chamomile

This plant has white daisy-like flowers and is best grown near the house where you have ready access to it. The flowers are used for their health benefits including the management of colic, indigestion, skin irritations, inflammation, and anxiety.

It can be infused as tea using the plants leaves, stems, and roots or worked into a salve that can be directly applied to the skin to relieve irritations, as the plant has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-septic properties, and helps in clearing up skin irritations like eczema, acne, and allergies.

In medical studies chamomile tea was noted to raise urine levels of glycine, a compound that calms muscle spasm.

What a great plant to have around after working in the garden all afternoon. Make a tea in the evening and your muscles are relaxed.

Feverfew

This plant is best grown in flower gardens because they produce nice yellow daisy-like flowers with yellow-green leaves that resemble those of chamomile, for which it sometimes is confused. The herb plant is also known as Midsummer Daisy, and Wild Chamomile.

FeverfewBoth the leaves and flowers of this plant or herb can be brewed into a tea or chewed directly for the relief of various kinds of uncomfortable symptoms, like:

  • Headaches or migraines,
  • Pain due to arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Constipation
  • Dermatitis
  • Earache
  • Fever
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Insect bites
  • Menstrual disorders
  • Psoriasis
  • Muscle spasms

It can also be made into a salve so that it can be directly applied to skin irritations.

Lavender

This plant or herb produces lovely purple flowers, you may have seen it, and referred to as French Lavender.

Lavender is used as an essential oil for aromatherapy. The aroma or the smell of lavender is relaxing and calming to the mind and body.

It is also used as a natural pain reliever, and it can be prepared as a tea, or directly applied as a salve to bruises and cuts on the skin, to help relieve pain and inflammation of these affected areas, and also works as a natural antiseptic when applied to affected areas of the skin.

An Herb Garden Year After Year

There are several benefits to having these herbs as well as others we did not refer too. Those that produce flowers are a beautiful display for the garden.  Many are perennials, meaning they come back year after year to give you the health benefits you need.

Others are annuals, like basil and the cilantro we mentioned. They can be reseeded by allowing the plant to go to seed. Just remove the flowers after the petals have faded, alone the seeds to dry and put them into a labeled envelope culinary and medicinal herbs prepared for dryingand date it.

The following season you will have new seeds to start your annul herb garden to once again reap its health benefits and culinary flavors.

You know the best part of growing your own herbs, is you can pick them fresh as you need them, and you are assured they are grown in organic soil without the use of pesticides.

An added benefit to using culinary herbs from your garden is you can feel doubly joyful, for not only preparing your own whole food fresh meal, but you also grew the herbs in your garden.

 

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Orange Mandarin Chicken

Orange Mandarin Chicken

An Asian dish called Orange Chicken is actually an American Chinese dish of Hunan origin. The Orange Chicken that is served at North American fast food restaurants consists of chopped, battered, and fried chicken pieces mixed in a sweet orange-flavored chili sauce, which thickens or caramelizes to a glaze.

Restaurants throughout the western hemisphere, can also refer to the dish as,  “orange peel chicken”, “orange flavor chicken“, and “tangerine chicken”. In China, however, the dish is always known as “old peel chicken”, referring to dried orange or tangerine peels, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine as well as cooking. For restaurants outside of Asia, fresh orange peel is often used or no peel at all.

We have referred to our version as a Orange Mandarin Chicken, because we add mandarin oranges to the recipe. Here is what you will need.

ORANGE SAUCE

½ cup fresh orange juice

½ cup orange marmalade

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

4 teaspoons arrowroot starch

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

To make the orange sauce, combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl.  Place a medium sauce pot over medium heat and add sauce.

Bring to a medium boil and add arrowroot starch and mix in, stir until sauce has thickened. Remove from heat, and set side.


Prepare Chicken and Vegetables

mixing in onion and red bell pepper - Orange Mandarin Chicken1 pound chicken tenders, cut each strip into ¼ to ½ inch chunks

1/8 cup arrowroot starch

3 tablespoons avocado oil

2 medium red bell peppers, diced ¼ to ½ inch

½ yellow onion, diced ½ inch

1 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained, cut each segment in half

1 pound rice noodles, cook according to package instructions

In a large bowl, coat arrowroot starch with chicken chunks. Heat oil in a large frying pan, and add chicken and fry for about 4 minutes or until chicken is oblique.

Add red pepper and onion, cut another 3 minutes, stirring continually.

mixing in orange suace - Orange Mandarin ChickenAdd orange sauce, and stir in till will combined.

mixing in mandarin oranges - Orange Mandarin ChickenNext add mandarin oranges, and stir in. Let simmer on low, about 3 minutes.

Orange Mandarin Chicken -close upAdd 1 cup cooked rice noodles to a plate, spoon on some Orange Mandarin Chicken, top with cilantro, and serve.

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Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

Excite Your Palate with Spice Roasted Vegetables

Spicing up vegetables is a sure way to add flavor and taste, even for those who are picky about eating them. Roasting the vegetables with spices caramelizes the seasoning while sealing in the flavor.

The spice enzymes and chemicals will be absorbed into the vegetable during roasting. Finding the right spice and roasting style will make everyone want seconds.

To evenly coat the vegetables with a dry spice mix is best to mix in a little olive oil or if you wish to use a neutral flavored oil avocado oil could be used. The best way to do this is add the oil and spices to the bottle of the mixing bowl first, then add the vegetables and mix.

Here are some ideas of what vegetables and spices to roast together.

Moroccan Style Spice Rub

This spice mix will give vegetables a Moroccan blast of flavor. This warm to the palate spice mix pairs especially well with sweeter or starchy vegetables such as butternut squash, carrots, cauliflower, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. cayenne

A pinch of ground clove

In a small mason jar, mix all 10 spices.

To a large bowl add 1 teaspoon of the spice mix and 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add diced or chopped vegetables, and mix well.

Rosemary Thyme Lemon Oil

Mix this infused oil with your vegetables before roasting to give them extra flavor. It’s a delectable complement to roasted beet, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots and cauliflower.

Zest of 1 large lemon, removed in long strips with a vegetable peeler

2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary

1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

Over medium-low heat in a small saucepan, combine the lemon zest and oil. Cook until the lemon zest bubbles steadily for about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and let cool, about 3 minutes. Stir in the herbs and let sit 20 minutes more before using. This allows for flavors to infuse.

Chop or dice the vegetables, add Rosemary Thyme Lemon Oil to large bowl, add vegetables and mix to coat well.

Ginger Lemon Soy Infusion

Give roasted vegetables an Asian flavor by mixing them up with this savory infusion. Try roasting it with: broccoli, beets, carrots and cauliflower.

1-inch piece fresh ginger

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ tsp. soy sauce

Set a small fine strainer in a small bowl. Peel and finely grate the ginger. Put the grated ginger in the strainer and extract the ginger juice by pressing the ginger in the sieve with the back of a small spoon.

Transfer ½ teaspoon of ginger juice to another small bowl and discard the rest or save for another use. Stir in the lemon juice and soy sauce. Toss with a batch of vegetables after roasting.

With this spice mix so the flavor is not robbed by the strong flavor of olive oil, roast your vegetables with avocado oil, which has a neutral flavor.

Garlic and Coriander Oil

This tasteful, spiced oil is made to be tossed with roasted vegetables as soon as they come out of the oven. It tosses well with: roasted asparagus, roasted beets, broccoli, cauliflower or green beans.

Have this infused flavored oil ready as soon as the roasted vegetables are out of the oven.

1-1/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp. finely chopped garlic (2 large cloves)

2 tsp. ground coriander

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Set a small saucepan over medium-low heat, with combined olive oil and garlic. Cook until the smaller pieces of garlic turn light golden-brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the coriander and cook for about 20 seconds. Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small heatproof bowl to prevent overcooking. Keep warm.

Sprinkle the roasted vegetables with the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper, and arrange on a serving platter. Spoon the toasted garlic oil over the vegetables.

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Making Great Iced Coffee

Making Great Iced Coffee

Summer is finally upon us and most days are just too warm for hot cup of java juice. Below are some tips to help you make a great iced coffee.

Start with Fresh Coffee Beans

A great iced coffee was never made using stale beans so avoid buying your beans on sale. If you don’t drink iced coffee often, consider buying fresh beans at a coffee shop where you can buy only the amount you need for the occasion.

Taste Test

Hot coffee tastes different than cold coffee. So to get an idea of how your coffee will taste cold let a hot cup cool to room temperature. This little test will help you decide what tastes perfect to you.

Use Fresh Ice

Ice has a tendency to get a stale if it sits in the freezer unused for too long. If you’re wondering whether your ice is helping of hurting your iced coffee, it’s easy to test: let a few cubes melt and come to room temperature, then taste the resulting water. If it’s water you would want to drink by the glassful, you’re in good shape. If not, toss out the old ice and make fresh. If it still tastes stale, buy a bag of ice, the cost is worth the boost in flavor.

Brew it StrongIced coffee cubes - Making Great Iced Coffee

Brew your coffee on the strong side as it will be weakened by the ice. To keep from diluting your drink, brew a pot of coffee and freeze into ice cubes. Use frozen coffee cubes in place of regular ice cubes to keep from diluting or weakening the flavor.

Brewing Your Coffee Cold

Some people object to acidity in their cold coffee. Cold brewing greatly reduces the acid content of coffee, it will lower the acidity one full pH point verse hot brewed coffee.

Put 3/4 cup ground coffee in a quart Mason jar, fill with water and stir. Cap it and put in the refrigerator for 12 hours. Strain the resulting concentrate through a coffee filter to remove the grinds. Add water to taste when you’re ready to drink. You can even heat the reconstituted beverage for a quick, low-acid cup of hot coffee.

Don’t use Burnt Coffee

Saving leftover coffee for iced beverage is often fine, but don’t be tempted to use the dregs of a burnt pot. If it doesn’t taste good hot, it definitely won’t taste good cold.

Add some zip to your iced coffee

Adding fruit flavors such as strawberry, orange, blueberry, cherry and even spices like nutmeg, cinnamon or cardamom are a great way to perk up your coffee  drink. The important thing is to have fun with it! Try lots of new things. Vary your usual routine. The worst that can happen is you won’t like it. You can always try something else!

If you’re short on time and don’t have a stash of reconstituted coffee available, try this recipe using instant coffee.

Vanilla Iced Coffee

2 teaspoons instant coffee
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cold water
1 1/4 cups milk
Chocolate shavings (optional)
Sugar (optional)

Directions:

Put the first 5 ingredients into a blender.
Pulse blend until the ingredients are smooth and frothy.
Add the cold milk and pulse blend until all the ingredients are blended well.
Pour of a few cubes of ice, add the chocolate and voila!

If you desire, add the ice to the blender after the first five ingredients have been blended and crush the ice and then add the milk and mix.

 

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