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Food and Nutrition

Elevate Your Summer Dishes: The Power of Fresh Herbs

Kathy Pariani, RD | Nutrition Specialist
/ August 10, 2023
Live herbs from Trader Joe's

Two common themes I’ve been hearing from members in the past few weeks is that it is too hot to eat or cook, and that they are bored of the same ol’ same ol’. One way to brighten up your meals and make them more appetizing during the summer heat is to add in fresh herbs. A lot of them! I think people are often shy with fresh herbs, and might add in just a tablespoon or two, but I challenge you to really go for it — I’m talking a full cup of fresh chopped herbs here! OK maybe 1 cup of rosemary would be a bit excessive, but parsley, basil, mint, and cilantro especially will add great flavor and freshness to your dishes. 

Of course you can buy them in a bunch from the grocery store, but what I am really enjoying right now are these live potted herbs available from Trader Joe’s (other stores sell them as well). Place them in your sunny kitchen window sill, water when dry, and trim off what you need when you need it. No more guilt over rotting herbs in your fridge! 

How to Incorporate Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs pair very well with olive oil and lemon juice, as follows:

  • Meatballs or patties: 1 cup chopped herbs with 1 lb ground meat, 1 tablespoon lemon juice or zest and ¼ cup of feta
  • Bowls: 1 cup chopped herbs along with farro or bulgur, garbanzo beans, any greens, cucumbers, avocado, tomatoes, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper
  • Marinade: 1 cup chopped herbs with olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. Add 1-2 lbs chicken or salmon and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before cooking.
  • Pesto: Blend up that same combination of fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Add into a low carb tortilla or lettuce wrap along with roasted chicken and veggies
  • Salad dressing: For a super zesty dressing, blend ¾ cups of fresh mint with the juice and zest of 2 lemons (meyer are best), 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 shallots and salt and pepper to taste. Add a small amount of water if it needs to be thinned out.
  • Drinks: add a sprig of mint, basil or rosemary to sparkling water and ice. Stir vigorously to infuse the flavor into your water.

Try them in these recipes, too!

There are many other ways to use fresh herbs in your meals and drinks. Hope you enjoy experimenting with cooking and gardening this summer.

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