Herbs of the Mediterranean - For a healthy life

Herbs of the Mediterranean - For a healthy life
 

By TML


Herbs

HERBS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND OUR DAILY CUISINE

Herbs - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Their extraordinarily high levels of antioxidants contribute to good health. Provencal herbs are made from a variety of culinary herbs that thrive wildly in Provence, southern France: rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. Oregano is particularly rich in antioxidants and is considered superior when compared to other fruits or vegetables also known for their high antioxidant levels. For example, oregano has 42 times more antioxidants than apples. Other herbs, such as dill, peppermint, and basil contain a relatively high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants can capture free radicals and prevent an excess of these molecules that can cause unwanted chemical reactions. The benefits of a diet rich in antioxidants is diverse, including the decrease in the occurrence of serious diseases such as cancer, heart attack, diabetes, arthritis, macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s. Many of these herbs were important in ancient times as well as in the early middle ages. Thyme and oregano were well-known remedies in the Roman Empire. Sage and rosemary were herbs that were considered noble plants and were mainly reserved for the upper classes.

 

Basil

Basil- The Mediterranean Lifestyle

What would Italian cuisine be without basil? Not only the Italians love basil. The Mediterranean flavour often reminds people of their last holiday in Rome. The royal herb, derived from "basileus", Greek for "king", is one of the most widely used herbs in Italian cooking. It has slightly arched and shiny leaves and gives off a spicy and peppery aroma.

Taste

Sweet but savory. Aromatic with a scent of pepper, anise, and mint.

Usage

Ideal for use in basil pesto, tomatoes with mozzarella, pizza and pasta sauces, fish, poultry, meat, herb butter, yogurt, cottage cheese, raw vegetables.

Benefits

Basil helps fight against anemia, osteoporosis, vitamin A deficiency, intestinal inflammation, bloating, and iron deficiency.

 

Sage

Sage - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Sage earned its notoriety within the early Mediterranean cultures of the Greeks and Romans. Used for food preservation and also for culinary and medical purposes. Sage aids in the digestion of fat and is often used for rich meat dishes.

Taste

Spicy-bitter, balsam-like aroma and a soapy and dominant taste.

Usage

Ideal for use with vegetables like asparagus, beans, peas, corn, eggplant, garlic, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, tomatoes, and squash. Meats like fish, chicken, duck, goose, liver, pork, sausage, and shellfish. Bread and other baked goods.

Benefits

Sage helps fight off cold, flu, fever, intestinal inflammation, female issues, and digestive troubles.

 

ORegano

Oregano - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

If there were a spice we could say gave the typical taste of the Mediterranean, it would definitely be oregano. The intense and aromatic scent immediately reminds you of summer sun and spreads a southern flair. It‘s best to rub it between your hands over the dish to intensify the aroma. Oregano should cook or boil for at least 15 minutes to enjoy the full flavour experience.

Taste

Spicy, dry, and slightly bitter

Usage

Ideal for use when preparing soups, meat, vegetables, tomatoes, and pizza. Oregano is found in almost every herbal mixture, especially in Italy. It also perfectly compliments lamb, pork, and potato dishes

Benefits

Oregano can help with throat infections, coughs, headaches, and gingivitis.

 

Thyme

Thyme - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Thyme originates from the eastern Mediterranean, but now grows in most Mediterranean countries. Formerly used as meat preservative, it now enjoys great popularity when it comes to creating culinary flavours. Dried thyme is three times spicier than fresh thyme and gives off its full flavour when cooked for a long period. Therefore, dried thyme should always be mixed into a recipe as early as possible. One special characteristic is its extremely high iron content.

Taste

Tart-spicy taste

Usage

Thyme is considered a medicinal plant and makes high-fat foods easily digestible. This makes it ideal for lamb. It’s also great for soups, mushrooms, cucumbers.

Benefits

Helps with anemia, iron deficiency, bronchitis, flu, runny nose, and indigestion.

 

Rosemary

Rosemary - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Rosemary (from the Latin for "dew of the sea") is a spice that grows in the mild Mediterranean climate but thrives just as well in the northern regions of Europe. Ancient Greeks used the fragrant rosemary branches to honor and adorn their idols, as well as in the kitchen. Although rosemary doesn’t have an intense aroma, a few of the narrow needles are sufficient to give dishes a special touch. The taste is reminiscent of eucalyptus and camphor.

Taste

A piney aroma and a distinctive sharp flavour.

Usage

Ideal for flavouring meat and potato dishes, fish, tomatoes, chicken, a tender leg of lamb, cheese, and mushrooms.

Benefits

Rosemary can help with angina, fatigue, heart failure, low blood pressure, anemia, an iron deficiency, and gallbladder problems.

 

Parsley

Parsley - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

Parsley is a true marvel of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C, B, and potassium make parsley a real power herb. There is the smooth leaf parsley with a slightly stronger flavor and the frizzy variant. Both can be found in almost every Mediterranean kitchen. Use it to decorate your dish, or just before serving, so that the ingredients are largely preserved.

Taste

Slightly bitter taste.

Usage

Ideal for salads, soups, vegetables, mushrooms, fish, pot roasts, and sauces.

Benefits

Helps with immune deficiency, bladder weakness, iron deficiency, anemia, urinary stones, and osteoporosis.

 

Dill

Dill - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

This spicy herb has been used for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians and Romans loved dill as a spice and medicinal herb, as it has an appetising and calming effect on the stomach and digestion. The taste of dill is reminiscent of anise. Its seeds, flowers, leaves, and tips give many Mediterranean dishes a typically spicy aroma. Dill should not be boiled for too long because it loses its aroma very quickly.

Taste

A strong and distinctive taste that’s like a combination of fennel, anise and celery.

Usage

Dill is ideal for seasoning fish and vegetable dishes. It’s also great for cucumbers, lettuce, yogurt, quark, fish, and sauces.

Benefits

Helps with immune deficiency, gout, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and a vitamin A deficiency.

 

Laurel

Laurel - The Mediterranean Lifestyle

The laurel tree is from Asia Minor. Turkey and Greece are currently the largest growing areas of the evergreen laurel bush. The Romans valued Laurel highly. It was considered the symbol of fame. The Greek god Apollo wore it as a braided wreath as a sign of victory. Laurel leaves are used fresh or dried. The drying of the bay leaves fully develops the typical musk aroma. Laurel leaves should be torn several times before being added to food.

Taste

A distinctive aroma that when eaten has a spicy and balsamic flavour.

Usage

Laurel finds its flavour best used in sauces, soups, and stews. It’s ideal for meat, fish, and game dishes but also works well for marinades.

Benefits

Helps with indigestion and stimulates appetite.


This article was published first in the TML Magazine Issue 1, 2018.