Herbs and spices are the ONLY way to really make an amazing real food meal. When we eat real whole food, it hasn’t been altered to trick our taste buds, it hasn’t been chemically enhanced to tell our brains how to taste or feel about it.
Real foods have amazing flavor profiles but can be ENHANCED by herbs, spices and healthy fats of course!
We use MANY MANY herbs and spices in our house, and I grow many of them in my garden as well. I cultivate them and dry them when the end of the season comes near and continue to use them all winter. Here are 5 of my favorites and their benefits to the body.
Grab this 32 page herb and spice guide here.
Although I do not grow this – I could where we live. But the is a staple for every single dinner I make. There is rarely a dish I go to prepare that doesn’t contain garlic in it. In addition, I often will purchase things like natural pickles that have been fermented in garlic liquid as well.
Garlic has great Vitamin C, B6, Manganese, selenium, and sulfur. This has antimicrobial properties – which it is most known for. It also is antibacterial, antiviral, an expectorant (think coughing up phlegm), and helps with gas as well. Garlic is known for helping with oxidative stress which makes it heart healthy! It is also a strong anti-carcinogenic (anti cancer).
Consuming standard amounts of garlic – like in a dinner for example – is great for you. BUT overdoing garlic over the long run can have gut consequences due to it’s powerful microbe changes. Gut imbalance can occur in very large amounts consumed.
This can be dried and then ground into powder (we too love garlic powder), but mostly is great fresh. You can mince with a tool, or chop with a knife. It goes great with onion, potato, shallot, broccoli, cauliflower, with sprouts, any meat, fish, eggs!
I love growing my basil in pots on my slate tiles and deck. This is where I have the BEST luck. They grow to be monsters. I do a lot of plants because we love making pesto, but even if I do not make pesto I dry the leaves. If you cut the flowering part off before it gets too large you can cut the leaves and it will continue to bloom until the weather turns. You can get many rounds of leaves off the plant for the whole season.
There are different types of basil, but generally I stick with just basic. It can be dried or used fresh. It goes great with thyme, rosemary, oregano, sage and more!
It is great in Italian style dishes, soups, sauces, salads and more! It has a sweet and pungent flavor profile. It is a great source of Vitamin A, C, K and Selenium. It also has various flavonoid compounds which make it a great antioxidant herb! In the body itself it has antimicrobial properties and is considered diuretic (eliminates excess water/fluid from the body), and it can help eliminate gas! Even better! It can help as a digestive aid because of this, it stimulates appetite as well. It can help support kidneys, skin conditions and even hormone and menstrual cycle support! Be cautious to keep it in smaller quantities while pregnant, just do not over do it.
This is another garden favorite of mine that grows like crazy! It will easily spread and create new plants in a garden as well. These grow purple flowers off the long green stems. They are related to onions, garlic and leeks. They have a mild flavor but are very fragrant.
These are great cooked in soups, part of dips and sauces, and chopped into meals like you would an onion or garlic. You can also use them in fermenting as well!
These have Vitamin A, C, and K1. And chives also have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties! Eating these in huge quantities is not advised as sometimes it can cause stomach upset, but smaller or standard size amounts in a meal can be most supportive! I have frozen these, dried these but mostly I find them best used fresh. They go awesome with onion, potato, bacon, pork, garlic, leeks, mushrooms and more!
Although I have not been successful growing dill it is a staple with my fish meals multiple times a week. This is also a great herb to use in dressings, soups, salads and more!
This feathery green herb is great in yogurt dips, or sour cream dips, it can be used in pickling as well. We love it in tzatziki.
This has great Vitamin A, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and manganese. This also can help with gas, and is a diuretic. This can help soothe digestion, bloating, and possibly even help mother’s increase breast milk supply!
This can be used fresh or dried as well. This goes great with cilantro, orange, nutmeg, parsley, carrot, olive oil, tomato, fish, butter.
Last but not least is oregano. This also grows very large and will spread easily in your herb garden. This is part of the mint family actually. It has a pungent and stronger flavor, and we find it best used sparingly. It is very easy to overdo oregano and change the flavor profile (not usually in a good way!).
Oregano has Vitamin A, K1, manganese, iron and calcium! It is a great antioxidant, expectorant, antimicrobial, and diuretic. This means it can help with coughs and colds, and protects against oxidative stress as well.
This is great both dried and fresh. It is very easy to dry oregano from the garden and have it last all winter or longer! It is great in spice rubs, dressings and more. It goes well with dill, thyme, basil, rosemary, black pepper and more!
If you want to learn more about herbs, how to use them, benefits – grab this guide and learn how you can spice up your meals and benefit your health all at once!