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Healthy Lifestyles that Last Blog

Herbs: from garden to kitchen

variety of herbs, garlic, tomatoes and cooking utensils

July is perhaps my favorite month. I love the summer heat, the cookouts, festivals, fireworks and all of the fresh food from the garden. It's also my birthday month so...what's not to love?!

My herbs are in full force right now and it's a great time to maximize their use in the kitchen. I like to experiment with new recipes and other food related projects to get the most out of my herbs each year.

12 must-have herbs and how to use them

1. Basil- a summer must-have. I actually have 3 types- Genovese, spicy globe and Thai-all of which are great for pesto. Basil and tomato products pair well together so use basil anywhere tomatoes are present. 

2. Chives- these take very little work and keep coming back year after year. Their purple flowers are tasty, too, in salads, soups and wraps. Snip a few chives onto your baked potatoes for an easy weekday meal. 

3. Cilantro- perfect for all of your southwestern recipes. Have you tried savory oatmeal with an egg, cilantro, avocado, and salsa? It's delicious! 

4. French Tarragon- a sophisticated herb with an anise flavor that works well in dips. The French variety is recommended over Russian when cooking and works well in Greek yogurt dips for vegetables or in a marinade for fish.

5. Lemon Grass- new to me this year; it gets huge! The leaves can be dried and used for tea while the stems can be sliced and sautéed into a variety of dishes; often found in Thai food.

6. Mint- I have mojito mint, apple mint and chocolate mint all in separate containers because they will take over.  I like to use chocolate mint to garnish my fruit salad, and apple mint and mojito mint drink recipes.

7. Golden oregano- a delicate herb with golden hues that will add a splash of color to pizza and pasta. Try hot & spicy oregano to kick your sauce up a notch. 

8. Thyme- one of my favorites for infused waters. It pairs nicely with pineapple so save your pineapple cores to add to a pitcher of water with 6-8 sprigs of thyme. Lemon thyme is also lovely.

9. Dill- this also keeps coming back and can spread to all of your beds if you let it. Pick the dill heads when they are green for the best tasting pickles. The leafy green parts can still be used after flowers appear. Check out this resource for pickles and relishes. I especially like the Lime-Mint Freezer Pickles on page 55.

10. Lemon Verbena- my all-time favorite lemony herb! It makes the best lemonade and tea. I also use it to make lemon cream for fruit dip and to perk up my pesto. Try it, you won't be disappointed!

11. Rosemary- known as "dew of the sea", rosemary is a great addition to Mediterranean cooking and can withstand higher heat so it's perfect when roasting vegetables and meats.

12. Parsley- available in several varieties, this broad-leaf herb can add a bright, fresh taste to any dish. You can also juice parsley along with other fruits and vegetables for a fun flavor. 

Looking for recipes that utilize some of these herbs? Check out this packet of Herbalicious Recipes I use in my programs.

Want more on herbs? Check out these posts by clicking the links below:

7 reasons to grow & use fresh herbs

How to make herbal jelly