One of the key benefits of having a home garden is the way plants make our interiors more healthy and beautiful. But there’s more to it! Many plants can also be used in the kitchen. Lovage, basil, mint, thyme, and lemon balm are just a few that can give our meals a unique flavour and aroma. It is worth mentioning that each of them has specific health-promoting benefits, as well.
The main herbal raw material is lovage root, but leaves can be used for culinary purposes as well. The origins of lovage are debated, but most probably it comes from the lands of today’s Iran. Currently it is cultivated in many places around the world. The lovage root is harvested in the fall and requires quick clean and dry. Its essential oil is considered to be lovage’s most valuable ingredient. Due to the presence of essential oil, the lovage root has a slightly diuretic effect. Thanks to this, it is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections or eczema. In turn, decor prepared with lovage also have a diastolic and antibacterial effect. Lovage was once used to prepare aphrodisiacs as people believed to increase both male and female libido. Lovage is also an aromatic spice. The leaves of the plant have a unique flavour and aroma. They are harvested from June to August and then added to the dishes fresh or dried.
Lovage works well as an addition to:
– soups (broth especially),
– meat dishes,
– fish dishes,
Lovage has a very intense aroma, so not everyone will fall in love with its excess in the meals!
Basil – a trendy addition to Italian cuisine
Basil has been around for centuries and it is still present in our meals today. Most often, it appears in Italian cuisine. Basil grown in a home garden requires plenty of water and light. Proper care will be repaid – basil has a unique taste, aroma, and many health boosting properties. Adding basil to our meals will have a positive effect on our digestive system, as it stimulates the secretion of digestive juices. In addition, it has a slightly calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory effect.
Basil is a wonderful addition to:
– Legume seeds,
– Meat and fish marinades,
– Homemade sauces.
Fresh basil leaves taste as good as they look. Therefore, they are great for decorating our dishes. In addition to fresh leaves, we can use dried and powdered basil, as well.
We know mint for its valuable properties when it comes to alleviating digestive ailments. The compounds in mint have a relaxing effect on the smooth muscles of the digestive system. Additionally, mint stimulates the secretion of bile, which helps us digest fats. Mint can help reduce flatulence and nausea, as well. Interestingly, the compounds of peppermint have a slightly calming effect. When it comes to cultivation, there are no special requirements.
Mint works well as an addition to:
– refreshing holiday drinks,
– meats (especially lamb and mutton),
Mineral water tastes great with fresh mint leaves, as they enrich its taste. If you also add some fresh fruit, you get a tasty beverage that can convince you to drink more, as the right amount of fluids is necessary for the body’s proper functioning.
Thyme comes from the lands near Mediterranean Sea. Therefore, when traveling to these regions, we often feel its taste and aroma in local dishes. Thyme was very popular in ancient times – Ancient Romans, for example, used it to prepare therapeutic baths. Compounds contained in thyme have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant properties. They can also help to alleviate unpleasant ailments from the digestive system. Add thyme to food to aid digestion.
Add thyme to:
– Meat (especially poultry, beef),
– Vegetables (especially leek, broccoli, beans, asparagus).
Thyme, together with bay leaves and parsley, creates a mixture of herbs called bouquet garni. It is used in French cuisine, most often as an addition to stews and soups.
Lemon balm leaves remind those of mint leaves. Lemon balm is also known as a lemon herb because its leaves exude a characteristic, slightly citrus aroma. Calming properties of lemon balm are highly appreciated, and lemon balm infusions may help with sleeplessness, states of nervous agitation, and anxiety. The compounds in the plant also positively affect the digestive processes by stimulating the secretion of bile necessary for fat digestion.
Lemon balm works well as an addition to:
– Meat (especially poultry),
– Stewed mushrooms
– Refreshing holiday drinks.
Asian cuisine fans will love that lemon balm may work as a lemongrass substitute due to its slightly citrus aroma.
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