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The benefits of cooking herbs, herbs generally thought of as kitchen herbs or spices, are more amazing than you could imagine if you haven’t studied much about herbs. Today I’ll talk about the benefits of Rosemary and Basil in particular.
Kitchen Cabinet Herbs Are NOT Just For Flavor.
I never learned a tremendous amount about the importance of herbs until just a few years ago when I started taking classes through a great herbal school out of Boston: The CommonWealth Center for Holistic Herbalism. I admit, I really thought these herbs and spices in my kitchen cabinet were really just for flavor and even then, I only used them when a recipe called for it and only the amount called for. My mindset on herbs has completely changed!
Rosemary And Basil
Since taking classes and buying a ton of books on herbs, my mind has really broadened and, my shelves are possibly a little too full of herbs: I may have as many herbs as books. Well, okay, maybe not. Anyway, I really want to talk a LOT about herbs here because I think there’s a lot of women out there that really want to do a lot more for their families regarding health. However, not only are they overwhelmed not knowing where to start, they may also not know they have a sort of medicine cabinet already right there in the kitchen. So while I’m going to talk about a broad array of herbs as I did in my post on Chamomile Tea and want to continue talking about herbs such as Tulsi, Ashwagandha, Dandelion, Licorice Root and more, let’s start with what most of us already have: Rosemary and Basil.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus – formerly known as Rosmarinus officinalis) are both common aromatic herbs in the mint family. The mint family is full of nutrient-dense beneficial herbs! These two herbs, Rosemary and Basil, are full of flavor and often used in a variety of dishes. Both of these plants are fairly easy to grow in an outdoor herb garden. The benefits of Rosemary and Basil are numerous.
The Benefits of Basil
Let’s start with Basil. Usually termed sweet basil, basil has a number of varieties: There is though, while similar, a difference between Ocimum basilicum and Ocimum sanctum (Tulsi , otherwise known as Holy Basil) and I’ll write about that lovely herb I use almost daily another time. It’s mild, slightly sweet herb full of health benefits.
- Basil has a high flavonoid count. Flavonoids are antioxidant rich compounds found in fruits and vegetables. The antioxidants have ability to fight free-radical damage. Free-radicals are reactive, unstable molecules made by the body naturally, but are increased by exposure to toxins. It would also seem that compounds within Basil are capable of increasing antioxidant activity, which may positively alter gene expressions, inducing cancerous-cell apoptosis and stop cancerous tumors from spreading.
- Studies indicate that basil has anti-inflammatory effects through it’s enzyme inhibiting oils.
- Basil’s antibacterial oils may help fight antibiotic-resistant illnesses and infections. They provide protection against harmful bacterial growth. These oils appear to be helpful in inhibiting resistant strains of bacteria that don’t respond to antibiotics.
- The oils of Basil also antimicrobial properties which indicates an ability to fight against viruses, bacteria, yeast and molds.
- Basil contains a number of vitamins and minerals including vitamin k, lutein and beta-carotene.
The Benefits of Rosemary
Rosemary has definitely taken a higher place in my kitchen. It’s a perennial herb that I just started growing in my herb garden over the last two years. It’s fragrant leaves give me great pleasure and the benefits of rosemary deeply impress me.
- Rosemary has been known for centuries as natural way to boost memory. I just read that Greek students often braided rosemary into their hair to assist them with their exams. I’m not sure how much this really helped them, but what a interesting picture in my mind. Modern science has shown that rosemary does, indeed, increase memory and cognition.
- The aromatics of Rosemary has been used to lift mood, fight mental fatigue and increase alertness.
- Rosemary is also an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a compound that counteract free radicals.
- Rosemary is a known nervine which means it acts on the nervous system reducing anxiety, or tension, and stimulates or strengthens neural function.
- Rosemary stimulates blood circulation. This is a bonus for those who may have headaches and migraines caused by insufficient blood flow to the head.
- Rosemary has potential to stimulate hair growth.
- Rosemary also serves as an antimicrobial. Have you ever heard of the popular combination of aromatic oils commonly referred to as thieves oil or blend? Rosemary is one of the oils used in this blend as well as fire cider due to the antimicrobial and expectorant qualities.
Incorporating the Benefits of Rosemary and Basil into Your Cooking
I work with these herbs a lot more now that I understand the benefits of rosemary and basil. Just now I reheated a left-over baked potato for lunch and smothered it with Kerrygold butter and fresh basil leaves. Delicious! Here’s a few more ways to incorporate Rosemary and Basil into your cooking.
Cooking With Rosemary
- I love roasting potatoes in the oven at about 425 degrees for 40-60 minutes with ghee, coconut oil and a slathering of herbs including LOTS of rosemary. This is probably my FAVORITE way to work with the herb. Other herbs I blend here are usually salt, pepper, garlic (powder or minced), onion powder, parsley, basil, and whatever looks good on any given day. (Rosemary and potatoes are always a great option regardless of whether the potatoes are roasted or made otherwise)
- Lemon and Rosemary make a great blend with a mild fish.
- Rosemary is a great addition to soups and stews.
- A few sprigs of Rosemary can be added to an oil(I prefer a nice extra-virgin olive oil), allow to sit and infuse for a day or so. It makes a nice dressing when you add a bit of lemon and perhaps a touch of other herbs.
Cooking With Basil
- Basil is supreme with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes. I try not to eat too much dairy, but this combination is to tempting to pass up. I usually have it as an ‘appetizer’ or lunch or a salad presentation, but I think I may try it on pizza soon!
- Basil, like rosemary, is also a great addition to roasted potatoes, soups, and stews.
- Basil is a main ingredient in pesto. Some people like to blend spinach and pesto together for a different blend of flavor and nutrients.
- Fresh basil is a delightful addition to tomato soups and sauces. Really, anything tomato. Basil and tomato were made for each other.
Your Wellness Basket
Rosemary and Basil make a easy addition to your wellness basket. I like to grow mine in the herb garden. Their aromas are so nice and uplifting when I am harvesting. Rosemary, especially, has a long season and is easy to harvest. The plants can get really big and plentiful. In the winter, I like to buy fresh organic plants from the produce section in my local grocery store. When those aren’t available I resort to the spice cabinet where I keep my organic dried spices.