Thursday, January 7, 2010

Replace the Salt in your Food with Herbs

Unless you're planning on selling the bulk of your herb garden harvest, it's always good to know just how to use them in cooking. Although experimenting turns out well for a lot of people, some need advice and recipes if for no other reason than having someone else to blame if a piece of meat is not to everyones liking.

With a little patience and creativity, you can produce herbal blends to complement your dishes so that you can reduce, and even eliminate salt from your cooking. In fact, try substituting a lesser amount of low-sodium herb margarine for butter in popcorn. Use about half a teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder, and basil per half cup of diet margarine (for approximately 10 cups of popcorn) and see if anyone notices the lack of salt.

Enhance the flavor of beef with your own blends of scallions, onions, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf, thyme, parsley or basil.

Eggs perk right up with the addition of thyme, tarragon, chives, marjoram, rosemary and basil. The only spice to add is pepper and/or paprika.

Instead of salt, flavor poultry with thyme, sage, marjoram, garlic, basil, tarragon or thyme.

Mint is a favorite herb to add to lamb, but you can also try scallions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage or marjoram.

Vegetables also benefit with the addition of herbs. I love mashed potatoes with garlic and potatoes fried with onion. Mint or rosemary will also compliment the spud.

Savory, dill, dry mustard, garlic or onion all go well with green beans. Spritz lemon juice and dry mustard on asparagus, or steam with thyme or marjoram.

Carrots seem to be a vegetable you just can't ruin, no matter what you add, even maple syrup. For a lighter carrot dish, try spearmint and marjoram, thyme or dill.

What's your favorite?

Add a Medicinal Herb to Your Favorite Cup of Herbal Tea

Identifying the perfect blend of herbs for tea may take some time because once the perfect blend is found, you realize other herbs and spices can be added to give it the extra zing you sometimes need.

 Medicinal herbs can be added to tea bring relief on those sick days when you use herbal tea as a comfort drink. If the herb with the properties your body needs doesn't suit your taste, simply stir in a teaspoon of honey. It will sweeten the tea, mask the taste of the medicinal herb and soothe the throat.

Medicinal Herbs
  • Headaches can be eased with equal amounts of thyme, rosemary and lavender.
  • Yarrow, boneset, rosemary, lavender and thyme can all temporarily relieve the symptoms of colds and flu.
  • When you're not feeling well, no matter what the cause, you can calm your nerves with a brew of marjoram, chamomile, thyme, sage or catnip.
The herb yarrow has been used to treat almost everything, so if you like the taste, try incorporating yarrow into your herb tea blend as well as your herb garden. It grows to a height of 2 to three feet, so plant it in a spot that will highlight your garden.

Boneset, an herb once listed in the U.S. Pharmacopoeia as an official medicine, tastes awful, but also has a list of medicinal herb uses. If you want to give the herb boneset a try, be prepared to use a lot of honey to mask the taste, or, if you drink a lot of tea, set aside the boneset decoction and add a bit at a time to each cup of your favorite fresh herbal tea.

One of the oldest herbal medicines is thyme. At one time it was used to prevent nightmares, and is still popular as a headache remedy.

And don't forget to visit the Herbal Tea Recipe Swap article to get ideas and share your favorite herbal tea recipes.

 photo under morgueFile Free License Agreement

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Herbal Tea Recipe Swap

There is something about a bracing cup of herbal tea to take away a chill, and as I was looking out the window at the snow covered ground yesterday I started wondering about blending herbs for experimental brews. So I decided to do some investigating to see what others liked.

It seems mint is popular with most people. But there are so many mints it would take the rest of the winter to try them all. Luckily, Iced Mint Tea also seems to be a winner.

When making herbal tea, use 2 leaves of herb per cup. Don’t brew herbal tea in a metal container, and strain tea leaves before drinking.

Fill the cup with boiling water and let it steep. If you cover the cup with the saucer, it will keep it from cooling quickly. If you like sweet tea, add 1 teaspoon of honey.

Applemint tea is a favorite of many, especially during the holidays, with a little added cinnamon. It sounds like it would also be a good iced tea.

I really enjoy spearmint tea, but I tend to reserve it for when my tummy is bothering me.

Orangemint has also been recommended. As has pineapple mint and peppermint. Peppermint is available in black or white.

Catnip is considered a mint, and makes a relaxing bedtime drink, unless you’re a cat.

While mint makes a wonderful tea on its own, it also enhances your favorite brand of commercial tea.

Other herbal tea favorites include lemon balm and lemon verbena.

A blend of thyme, oregano, chamomile, marjoram and sage is a sworn favorite of my friend Phyllis. She uses the herbs in equal measurements.

I think a bit of sage and rosemary added to peppermint tea would be good, as would a blend of the citrus mints.

Once you find your favorite blend, experiment by adding medicinal herbs to your brew. Especially during flu season.  Learn more about medicinal herbs.

If you have a favorite herbal tea blend, please share it in the comment section below. It would help a lot of us with our plans for the organic herb garden.

photo under morgueFile Free License Agreement