These are my top 7 reasons why you should grow and use fresh herbs more often
- They are always available- herbs are easy to grow year round. I am in constant need of herbs whether I'm cooking breakfast, lunch or dinner and it would be a major pain if I had to keep running back to the store every time I needed a little basil or parsley. Best practice: plant your herbs in containers so you can leave them outside in the summer and put them on an inside windowsill in the winter.
- Taste and appearance go hand-in-hand- your meals don't have to be boring. Fresh herbs will help liven up your food and awaken your taste buds to new flavor profiles. Not only do they taste delicious but they are also bright and fragrant. A dash of chopped basil and parsley atop your pasta or a sprig of rosemary next to your roasted chicken and potatoes will add that extra touch. You and your guests will feel like you're eating at a 5-Star restaurant.
- Delicious and nutritious- similar to leafy greens, herbs contain a good amount of key vitamins and antioxidants. Even though we may not eat them in large quantities like a salad, adding them to every meal, snack or beverage will help improve its nutrient value and possibly your health in the long run.
- Adventurous eating- it's easy to get stuck in a routine of eating the same thing day after day or even year after year. Break out of your old habits and explore with some herbs you have never before tried growing or eating. It's fun to experiment with flavors and you will most definitely feel a sense of accomplishment when you find that perfect flavor combination. Scroll down to see some of my favorites!
- Save at the store- have you ever gone to the store for fresh basil? It costs a fortune! Never again will I pay $2.50 for 8 basil leaves that are already getting brown spots from sitting in the cold case for too long. From two basil plants which I planted earlier this spring, I have already harvested 8-10 cups of basil leaves and they are still full and luxurious! I have saved so much money from growing my own.
- More variety- if you're like me and enjoy experimenting with different cuisines, you know it's important to use traditional herbs and spices. Many of which I have trouble finding in the stores… another good reason to grow your own exotic varieties. Thai basil, lemon grass, shiso, and chocolate mint are just a few that I grow because I use them often and have trouble finding them at the grocer.
- Affordable landscaping- forget spending money on flowers that look and smell pretty for one season! Why not plant something that you can actually put to good use? Herbs are a beautiful addition to any garden, curb, walkway, porch planter, or terrace. They attract beneficial insects and smell delightful when you brush past them. They come in different shapes, sizes and colors and will inspire your inner chef.
Some of my favorite flavor combinations:
- Fresh basil with fresh mozzarella and sliced tomato
- Rosemary and red roasted potatoes or chicken
- Tarragon or dill with fish and a splash of lemon
- Thyme and pineapple infused water and basil-orange infused water
Looking for recipes that utilize some of these herbs? Check out this packet of Herbalicious Recipes I use in my programs and the University of Illinois Extension website Herb Gardening for tips on growing and using herbs.