New Year is approaching and with it time for planning, summarizing, setting new goals and aspirations, no matter how big or small. I want to inspire you to add to your new year’s resolution list. Growing herbs! It is uncomplicated, rewarding & satisfying making it a perfect no failure New Year aim that will stay with you for life and comes with long list of benefits!
I absolutely love herbs! They taste great and look amazing and are one of the easiest ways to start growing your own food even if you cannot exactly call yourself “green fingers”. Your garden and home will fill with delicate smell of essential oils and fresh aromas that are pleasant and beneficial to your health.
Here are my top 7 reasons you should grow herbs for yourself.
1. Culinary benefits
One of the easiest ways to transform your dish is to add some herbs. Not only they add freshness but they are packed with flavour! Simple ingredients can be easily made so much more exiting with herbs and by changing the type of herbs, you create completely new dish again. While herbs do provide amazing layers of flavour, you also less likely to overuse salt in your cooking which can only benefit you and you family in the long run.
There are so many varieties of herbs available, don’t get discouraged thinking you don’t know how to use them! There is no right or wrong way of using herbs! Both leaves and stalks can be used in cooking and baking so just experiment and have fun! Leaves of parsley, coriander, mint or basil are delicate and should be used fresh as garnish, part of salad or dips. Rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and other woody herbs as well as stalks of the delicate herbs can be used to flavour cooked dishes such as soups, stews, stock or to marinate your favourite vegetables, meat or fish.
Herbs are not just for cooking. Pour hot water over your favourite herbs, add some lemon, cinnamon or honey and you have a delicious herbal tea. Herbs are also great for flavouring water or taking cocktails to another level. Surprise your guests and serve them your own Minty Mojito, Thyme Lemonade or Rosemary Paloma.
2. Nutritional Benefits
Herbs are a vitamin powerhouse! Parsley, one of the most common herbs widely available has 33 times the amount of vitamin C, 16 times the amount of vitamin K, six times the amount of iron and four times the amount of calcium as lettuce! Basil is an excellent source of manganese, iron, vitamins A, C, K and omega-3 fatty acids. Chives will provide you with source of vitamins K, A and C as well as potassium and iron. Each herb comes with list of benefits.
Fresh herbs contain higher antioxidant levels compared to processed or dried herbs. Although they are often used as garnish, I really encourage you to shift your mind and use them more as an ingredient in salads, dips, spreads. To get the most benefits keep them fresh or add them at the end of cooking to preserve maximum of these properties.
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3. Air cleaning properties
Herbs are no exception when it comes to capturing CO2 and producing oxygen. On the top of that some herbs such us lavender, rosemary, basil or mint help reduce the concentration of some chemicals in your surrounding air while acting as aromatherapy. Win, win!
Rosemary exhales some of its essential oils into the air which has de-congestive properties as well as help protect our brain functions and help concentration. Lavender is very well-known for calming, relaxing properties. It is also excellent insect repellent while helping our lunch functions.
4. Medicinal benefits
Herbs have been used as natural remedies for centuries! Most of us know that fresh mint tea will help with indigestion as well as clearing our blocked nose. Peppermint helps clear congested airways. Sage is excellent remedy for sore throat. Rosemary is fantastic to help with hair growth and scalp health. Some research suggested that mint, basil, oregano, sage and chives protect against cancer. Antioxidants rich sage, oregano and thyme help to reduce low-density bad cholesterol known as lipoproteins.
While the research is still ongoing it’s been proven that herbs may help to prevent and manage heart disease, cancer and diabetes, help to reduce blood clots and provide anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties. The great thing about herbs is that you do not have to have much knowledge to get the benefits. While more advanced knowledge might allow you create powerful remedies, simply use variety of different herbs in your everyday cooking.
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5. Natural cleaning products
Have you ever considered making your own cleaning product? It really is very easy and much better for the environment as well as for you. Number of cleaning products widely available are toxic with many containing ammonia, bleach and volatile organic compounds that can cause breathing difficulties, allergies and headaches. They affect us and our pets and badly affect the environment.
By mixing simple ingredient such us vinegar, salt, soda, citric acid is surprisingly effective! Add rosemary or lavender not only for beautiful smell but also for antibacterial properties. Peppermint is a natural pesticide while oregano oil is an antimicrobial strong enough to even kill norovirus before it gets into your body.
6. Herbal repellents
Lavender must be one of the most common herbs we can think of when it comes to use around the house. Except it’s calming scent, linalool captured in lavender is a compound helping to keep mosquitoes, spiders, ants, fleas and ticks away.
Keep a bay leave in the container of flour or open pasta to prevent bugs getting in, they hate the smell! Bay leave is also hated by flies, moths, mice, earwigs and roaches so you can simply hang a bunch in the kitchen, inside your food cupboards or anywhere you find it’s appropriate.
Both basil and peppermint are fantastic mosquito repellents. Rub a leaf of peppermint after a bite and it help you manage the itchiness.
7. Sustainable choice
When I moved into my current house, I promised myself that my urban garden will be edible. I started with herbs and now cannot imagine my garden without them. If you do not have outside space fear not, herbs can be grown everywhere! Balcony, window sills, kitchen counter, hanging indoor or outdoor baskets, pots, tins…sky is the limit.
Investing a little into potted herbs will go a long way. You will save yourself small fortune as fresh supermarket herbs can be quite pricey and while pre-cut and sold in plastic packages they don’t tend to last very long. Having your own potted herbs will provide you with endless amount of aroma when you need it and without the waste.
My top tip: don’t be tempted to buy potted herbs from the supermarket, they are made not to last. Instead, go to your local garden center and pick 2 or 3 of your favourite once to start with.
Growing your herbs is well worth it and I hope I have inspired you to make this rewarding investment in 2021. Just having vivid greenery around your lifts your mood, but unlike other plants those aromatic friends come with bags of benefits are truly super versatile!