Spring is a glorious time to be out in the garden enjoying the sunshine and making the most of the outdoors before the heat of summer. This time of year has excellent conditions to grow new flowers, plants and even herbs. Our sub-tropical climate is perfect for cultivating herbs such as basil, chives, dill, mint, parsley, thyme, sage and the ever-controversial coriander.
When it comes to herbs, there are an abundance of health claims floating around including reducing inflammation, relieving nausea, improving memory, reducing skin breakouts, supporting the immune-system and many more. Whilst these benefits have not yet been proven, we do know that herbs are an excellent source of nutrients for the body. Herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus - all of which are important in supporting optimal health.
When following a low-calorie, low-fat or low-salt diet it can be challenging to find ways to flavour meals that keep in line with your goals. Both fresh and dried herbs are considered "free foods" - meaning they contain negligible calories, carbs and fat. Why not try adding herbs to sauces, dressings, dips, soups, curries and casseroles, or even just simply sprinkling as a garnish? Herbs are one of the lowest-calorie, lowest-fat, lowest-carb and lowest-salt ways to ensure your meals continue to pack a flavour punch!
Herbs can elevate your meals from being home-made (with love) to gourmet! Whether you use your herbs as a garnish, in a mocktail or infused in a favourite recipe, you won’t regret having them in your garden. Try one of these low-calorie combinations to enhance the flavour of your next meal:
Mexican – oregano, chives, cumin, chilli and lime to tickle the tastebuds.
Italian – basil, parsley, rosemary and garlic to send your palette to Rome.
Thai – coriander, lemongrass, garlic, ginger and kaffir lime for a burst of freshness.
For the best tips and tricks to cooking with herbs refer to the expert himself, Jamie Oliver, in his feature article How To Use Herbs.
Ready to start a herb garden at home? Better Homes & Gardens have a great Guide to Growing Herbs. Don’t have a garden, balcony or suitable windowsill? The Herbie Home is an innovative indoor smart garden that is apartment-friendly, provides its own light and even tells you when you should water your plants!
Herbs are an inexpensive plant to purchase and maintain, so support your local nursery or find them at Bunnings.