I use them regularly to flavor my meals, but until recently I had no idea how good they were for my health.
These four gained fame in 1967 as a key refrain in the song “Scarborough Fair/Canticle.” Like the song, they’ve stood the test of time.
Parsley is loaded with vitamins and minerals, particularly C and iron. It brings out the flavors of other foods and herbs and has positive effects on cholesterol and blood pressure. When buying fresh parsley, look for springy bunches, and be sure to rinse it well.
Sage, whether fresh or dried, has a strong flavor that makes it a good choice for hearty, slow-cooking foods such as roasts and stews. Sprinkle it on squash or sweet potatoes too. Sage tea soothes sore throats and laryngitis.
Rosemary goes well with meat, fish, poultry, rice, tomato sauce, and casseroles. It’s one of the world’s strongest antioxidants and has been researched for the treatment and prevention of cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases. It’s equally powerful fresh or dried and retains its flavor in long, slow cooking. Add it to full-bodied foods such as chicken, pot roast, and stews.
Thyme has strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It helps break down fatty foods, making it a good addition to stocks, marinades, and stews. Dried thyme is preferred for cooking, as it holds up better than fresh. Rub it into chicken skin before roasting, or toss it into any dish that includes potatoes.
On the Flip Side
In case you’re keeping score, the B side of the “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” single was called “April, Come She Will,” not one of the duo’s most memorable works. But these herbs and spices will have you singing with joy.
Basil aids digestion. Its flavor intensifies when its cooked.
Bay leaf is an appetite enhancer. Add fresh or dried leaves to soups and stews, but remove before serving.
Dill tea is great for upset stomachs, and it can cure the hiccups! Use the herb to flavor soups, stews, and rice dishes.
Ginger is good for the heart and settles the stomach. It’s widely used in many cuisines.
Oregano is a digestive aid that’s great on pizza, vegetables, and most meats.