With their varying shades of green and rich aromas, common kitchen herbs are pretty enticing … and it turns out they’ve got some health benefits, too.
Here are seven herbs that can add health benefits and zingy flavor to your late-summer dishes.
We’re all familiar with this herb, right? Beyond its association with toothpaste, mint may promote healthy digestion when eaten regularly. However, if you have indigestion as a result of gastroesophageal reflux disease, give peppermint a miss. Otherwise, for a pop of tongue-tingling flavor, mint can be infused in teas, tossed in sandwiches, blitzed into pesto sauces and even baked into brownies and cookies.
This well-known herb offers a decent dose of vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting. Basil boasts a starring role in many summer dishes and is particularly yummy on tomato salads. For a sweet take on this herb, pair basil with peaches in dessert recipes.
Often used in savory soups and stews, thyme also plays a role in some summer fare. Lemon thyme, in particular, is awesome with fish, zucchini and corn, as well as berries and apples. You may want to spike your cooking with thyme if you feel a cold coming on: it’s been used to soothe coughs.
If you like strong, pungent flavors, get to know cilantro. This herb is featured in many ethnic dishes, including Mexican and Vietnamese numbers. Heat can diminish the flavor of fresh cilantro, so it’s best when added to a dish right before serving. Cilantro is high in phytochemicals that can help fight disease and the effects of aging.
Often associated with French cooking, tarragon can be used to season a variety of vegetables, like potatoes, tomatoes and carrots. Garnish your salads with the long, flat leaves for visual appeal. If using fresh tarragon in cooking, add it near the end of a recipe. Tarragon has been used to treat poor appetite—no surprise, considering how delicious it is.
Dill has been used as a digestive aid (goodbye, embarrassing post-barbecue gas!). Dill and potatoes are a summertime staple, but dill can also be used to add a little zing to fish dishes and even homemade mac ’n’ cheese.
Parsley is rich in vitamins C and A, which are important for our immune systems. Plus, it plays nicely with pretty much all other herbs, so you don’t need to worry about mixing and matching. You can even toss it in your blender with a banana, some chopped pineapple and a splash of water for a refreshing summer smoothie.