Health-packed Herbs Easily Grown in Texas
by Kimberly Kay
Thyme, oregano and rosemary are three of the most potent herbs to stock in your spice rack or grow in a Texas back yard. They are packed with powerful compounds that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antifungal properties.
Herbal folklore passed down from previous generations extolling the medicinal properties of herbs is now backed by scientific studies supporting their myriad health benefits. Not only are these three herbs a culinary delight and full of essential nutrients, but they just may impart an extra boost of immunity to get us through the cold and flu season.
Thyme is an herb from the mint family with a distinctive taste that has an impressive range of uses with more than 400 subspecies. Not only is it one of the most medicinally powerful herbs, it is a culinary delight found in many popular dishes found in many cultures.
Thyme is packed with vitamin C and A, making it one of the go-to herbs to relieve respiratory issues and boost immunity. Compounds in thyme such as carvacrol and thymol make it an excellent herb to be used as an anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiviral, making it one of the most widely used herbs for its medicinal benefits.
Thyme tea with honey has been used to treat sore throat and as a natural cough remedy. Thyme tincture has been used to treat acne, and the essential oil is used as a fungicide and for pest control.
Oregano is well known for its distinct, warm, slightly bitter flavor in Mediterranean and Italian dishes. Few know it is also loaded with the vitamins A, C, K, iron and manganese.
The oils present in oregano are especially high in the antioxidant compounds carvacrol and thymol. Research shows that the carvacrol in oregano oil reduces inflammation, increases metabolic rate and may cause the body to burn more calories.
Use fresh oregano to create a healing tea or add to favorite dishes for a punch or healthy flavor. It can be added fresh or dried to butters, stews, sauces or roasted vegetables to add extra flavor.
Rosemary, a fragrant, highly antioxidant herb, is used in many Italian and Mediterranean and recipes. It contains the antioxidant compound rosmarinic acid and is exceptionally rich in B-complex vitamins, has high levels of folates and an impressive amount of vitamins A and C.
Rosemary has not only been found to have antibacterial properties, but studies show it has neuro-protective properties that enhance memory and protect against neurodegenerative diseases. It is used in remedies to elevate the mood, aid in digestion, lower blood pressure and even slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration.
As the leaves are aromatic and sweet, they can also be added to flavor meats and soups. Sprigs of rosemary for seasoning poultry are also a great addition to side dishes and oils and butters.
Grow this remarkable herb trio in the garden to add fresh flavor and nutrition to recipes or stock a spice rack with the dried herb; either way, they are handy to enhance favorite meals with their tasty flavor and also their nutritional and medicinal qualities.
Rosemary and Thyme Herbed Butter
1 lb. Premium butter, softened for one hour
1-2 Tbs Fresh rosemary- chop fine
1-2 Tbs Fresh thyme - pull leaves from the hard stems and chop fine
Add the butter and mix well.
Place on was or parchment paper or in a container overnight to harden and let the flavors combine.
Serve on favorite meats or veggies for added flavor.
Salt-Free Savory Flavor Mix
1 Tbs Rosemary,dried
2 Tbs Thyme, dried
1 Tbs Oregano, dried
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
Mix in a bowl or blend extra fine in a coffee grinder.
Toss on roasted veggies, fries, add to butter.
Immunity-Boosting Herbal Teas
Add 2 tsp of crushed fresh (1 tsp dried) Thyme or Oregano leaves to 8 oz. of boiling water and cover
Steep for 10 minutes and strain
Add 1 Tbs of raw honey for sweetness if desired.
1 cupfresh oregano, tightly packed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup raw almonds
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil
Add all ingredients but the olive oil to the bowl of a food processor and grind until the mixture is slightly combined.
With the processor still running, slowly stream in the olive oil until the mixture becomes smooth.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze for later use (see notes for tips)
To store: pop the pesto into the fridge for around 5-7 days. Put an extra little layer of olive oil on top of the pesto to preserve it for a little longer and stop it from going brown on top.
To freeze, just pop the mixture into the ice cube tray and once frozen, remove and store in a storage baggie until needed.
Kimberly Kay is an urban farmer and owner of Galaxy Greens Microgreen Farm L.C, located in Keller. She is a healthy living strategist and a certified integrative health coach serving businesses and families around the world. For mor information, visit HealthyLivingwithKimberlyKay.com.