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Spice It Up!
If the only spices you have in your cupboard are salt and pepper, it is time for you to “Kick it up a notch!” Cooking with fresh herbs not only makes adds fragrance, color, and curb appeal to your dish; but, it enhances the flavor.
I never used fresh herbs because the dried herbs seemed simpler and less expensive, but it’s cheap if you plant your own herb garden. Spring is the perfect time to do just that! This year, I decided to start my garden from seeds indoors and it has been much cheaper. I only have my spinach in the ground as of now. Here are all my early vegetable starts–radish, pepper, tomato, zucchini, cucumber, onion, beets, squash—
and here are my herb starts—
basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, chives, oregano, thyme, mint
Here is how easy it is to start your own herb garden…..AND FUN! Here are just a few of the most commonly used herbs:
Rosemary: My personal favorite. It is an annual (have to replant it each year), but can grow from late May thru August. It can flourish with little watering and even though it prefers full sun it can tolerate slightly shady areas.
Basil: It is also an annual, but once it “takes off” there is no stopping it. Plant it in various stages. In other words, plant one or two in May and then another in June and maybe even July. You can never have too much basil. At the end of the season, you can take what is left before the first freeze and make pesto sauce. (I will tell you how to do that later, when we get to that point.) Basil needs lots of sun and normal watering. The most important thing to remember is to always take from the top. You never want it to flower, so keep pinching the tops off.
Chives: Yea! Chives are a perennial (comes back without replanting) so if you get a good base and established roots, they will come back time and time again. Chives are a gimme. It likes sun, but can tolerate it at dusk or dawn. For best results you should divide your root “clumps” every 2-3 years.
Cilantro: Not so easy and personally I think the hardest herb to grow. It too, is an annual. Plant it in early spring. It does great until the end of May and then dies off. At that point I go to market and buy it at a dollar a bunch. Not worth the headache at that price.
Dill: It is technically an annual. However, I have seen dill “pop-up” throughout my yard via the seed that float through air after the season is over. It is pretty easy to grow. Like Rosemary, it prefers sun, but can grow in the shade.
Mint: It is a perennial and will take over your entire yard. Therefore, I would recommend growing it in a pot or other controlled environment. Especially, since I don’t know very many uses for it other than it is fabulous in juicing and beverages/desserts. It likes sun, shade, rain, no rain….beware.
Oregano: Is also a perennial that needs to be controlled or it will turn into fragrant ground cover. Now while there are several more uses for oregano, you need to be sure to keep it contained year after year. Like mint, it requires no TLC and is happy to get what it gets in hopes of being “picked” for that next marinade.
Parsley. It is a perennial. It is one of the most commonly used herbs. In fact, it is probably the only one that most people use fresh or regularly with salt and pepper. I always keep it in my garden mainly for color. It honestly costs about $ .75 a bunch at the store.
Sage. It is a perennial that demands little care. Most importantly, at the end of the season, cut the stems and split the roots periodically through the years. It likes sun or shade. Are you beginning to sense a trend….perennials are a piece of cake!
Thyme. Last but not least. It can come back, but it does demand care. It is a slow-growing herb so it’s only request is to keep weeds and all other herbs AWAY! It needs its space.
Grilling is a great way to eliminate fats and oils while preparing meats and veggies. Plus it’s a fun way to stay outdoors to eat and cook. Disposable plates mean you stay out of the kitchen completely.
FoodFacts.com would like to discuss grilling season.
With grilling season just around the corner, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last month released a pamphlet with grilling tips for the safe preparation of foods.
E-coli and salmonella are two of the most well-known and common food-borne illnesses in existent, and both illnesses are often contracted through the incorrect preparation of foods. This is especially common in the summer, when grilling is a common means of cooking and the heat outside is high, resulting in a higher chance of bacteria growing within food. So how can you keep you and your family safe during this fun, but risky, time?
It all begins before you even begin cooking, with proper cleanup and preparation of your work area. Cleaning your food items is also a must, specifically fresh fruits and vegetables.
The means in which you transport your food is also important, and transporting foods in an organized manner could be beneficial. Keeping your cold foods cold, specifically in a cooler with the temperature at 40°F or below, is necessary for preventing bacteria growth. Keep the coolers closed, and don’t cross-contaminate foods such as poultry, seafood and raw meat.
What about the actual grilling process, though? How do you keep your foods safe?
When grilling, it is important to marinate your food safely – keep it in the refrigerator, rather than the counters or outside. Keep already grilled food hot until it is served. Also, and this is very important – cook food thoroughly. To find out proper cooking temperatures, please refer to the FDA link at the bottom of this blog. Finally, when cooking, keep utensils separate to prevent cross-contamination. It might be a good idea to wash utensils after each use to be extra safe.
So, folks, there you have it. Separation, refrigeration, and proper cooking temperatures are the basics.
With that said, we’re wishing you a happy and healthy grilling season from FoodFacts.com!Another note from Dee: if you use a liquid marinade, be sure to discard it after use, do not put it back on meat that’s been cooked. Remember, it was in close contact with the raw meat and should be treated that way. Here’s the FDA link: FDA.
Health and Wellness Expo
Smoothie recipes, juicing recipes and revamping our favorite comfort by making them healthier. Yes– that is the plan for this Sunday, April 28th at the WTHR Health and Wellness Expo. I’ll be there with all my buddies showing you how to make some delicious recipes and even letting you sample them. Yes–the Iron Chef Ninja Skills will be in full action. Of course I am kidding! This full-time working mom of 4 daughters has zero technique on Bobby Flay. I’m going all out this Sunday and hopefully won’t make a fool of myself. We will be making a healthy version of the classic Baked Ziti and attempt some juicing and smoothie techniques. We have tons of tips and it should be fun. Check out my interview with Angela Cain advertising this below. Please keep in mind that I was sweating bullets under those lights and that I am a doctor–not a TV personality! There are real reasons that I didn’t go into a field that required any public speaking! I have an incredible respect for these reporters that can speak so eloquently impromptu! See you there ! Game on wellness warriors! This is your chance to learn a ton about health and wellness for free! Green Bean Delivery, Trader’s Point Creamery and many local businesses will be there; that’s not to mention that Andrew Luck, Guiliana and Bill Rancic , and many other health conscious celebrities are attending! Bring the kids–there are tons of activities for them as well.
Spice up your life!
Besides coffee, I love tea and one of my favorites is chai. Chai has a combination of spices that are a blast to your palette and offer great health benefits. True confession, I got really excited to remember how much I love spice when I made homemade ravioli with spinach, ricotta and nutmeg tonight. At least the nutmeg was good for me….
Cinnamon – cholesterol, diabetes, inflammation, cognition
Nutmeg – digestion, asthma, memory, anxiety, depression
Cardamom – asthma, bronchitis, digestion, circulation
Anise – cold and flu, laxative, diuretic
Cloves – analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, ulcers, indigestion
Black Pepper – digestion, nasal congestion, metabolism, respiration
For most people on a normal diet, spices are a win-win food. They add flavor to otherwise bland foods and have a lot more going for them. Check out this interesting article online that addresses the antioxidant power of spices, promoted by McCormick as their seven super spices [article].
Posted on May 6, 2012 by in Body, Diet, Exercise, Guest Blog, Nutrition, Weight Loss, Whole Food Leave a comment