As we prepare our Thanksgiving menus, many fresh herbs come unto play which not only taste good, but are good for you. From appetizers to dessert, herbs like sage and thyme sprout from the garden into the kitchen. The wafts of their fragrance bring back fond childhood memories which come to life again and help with everything from digestion to stress.
Herbs and spices can be used much more liberally than salt and add much more personality to every dish.
Cinnamon: used in baking this is a warming herb which helps regulate blood sugar – particularly important during the holidays. It stimulates circulation in the body, reduces LDL cholesterol and gas. The volatile oils in cinnamon (bark) have been shown to kill bacteria (antiseptic.)
Cloves: used in baking and beverages, this sweet spice helps prevent the absorption of environmental toxins. It aids in the treatment of joint inflammation and is often used as an anesthetic to reduce pain in the mouth, esp. gums. Also noted for helping pets prevent tapeworm.
Coriander (cilantro): pairs well with root vegetables like beets and potatoes. Coriander is the seed from cilantro which is carminative (anti-gas), anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial. Coriander also helps with the digestion of fats and reduces LDL cholesterol and stress.
Cumin: used in soups, stews, or as a rub on turkey, cumin acts as a digestive enzyme which helps support nutrient assimilation. It has potent free-radical scavenging abilities, and enhances the detoxification of the liver – an organ which can be burdened this time of year.
Parsley: used in soups, stuffing, and a multitude of holiday dishes, parsley is a nutritional powerhouse. Its super high in vitamin C, which helps build the immune system (also key this time of year) and…its a great source of calcium, iron and potassium. It is also good for the prevention of cancer.
Rosemary: a piney herb which pairs well with roasted meats, vegetables and soups. Known to help reduce inflammation, rosemary also stimulates the immune system,, increases circulation and improves digestion. Another bonus is that it increases blood flow to the brain, thereby helping our memory (pass the rosemary, please!)
Sage: known for its aromatic and tasty influence on stuffing, sage is also a great addition to chicken and pork. It acts as an antiseptic for sore throats and is also another digestive aid.
Thyme: great with poultry and rice dishes, thyme is a member of the mint family. Its high in antioxidants and is antibacterial and anti-fungal. It also has a calming influence on those with ADD.
>>Notes: As part of a “Progressive Holiday Dinner” beginning Monday, Nov. 16, I will be posting a few recipes this week along with six other food bloggers in advance of Thanksgiving. There will be lots of exciting entries – details Tuesday!