What are herbs? Herbs are the leaf of a plant most commonly used for flavoring or garnishing food. They can be obtained fresh, dried, in teas, syrups, essential oils, capsules, and tablets (1). Herbs add flavor to dishes without adding fat, salt, or sugar. Herbs that are considered to have a sweet taste are basil, cilantro, parsley, sage, tarragon, and dill. Garlic and oregano are thought to have a bitter taste. Thyme, rosemary, and chives are thought to have a savory taste (1,2). Besides the additional flavor, herbs benefit dishes by adding anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and antioxidant properties; herbs are thought to benefit chronic and acute diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes (1,3). Oregano and thyme are two herbs with high antioxidant properties Studies suggest they inhibit NF-kB, a factor in immune and inflammatory responses (1). Another benefit of herbs is that they are biochemically similar to vegetables, containing high amounts of vitamins A, C, and K (1).
Which is better, fresh or dried herds? Fresh herbs are suggested to have more antioxidant concentrations compared to dried herbs. On the other hand, dried herbs hold more flavor than fresh. Therefore, if you are using herbs for antioxidant benefits, be sure to use fresh ones.
· Suggested pairing for basil is chives, chili, garlic, and oregano.
· Basil is most often used in dishes such as pesto, tomato sauce, potato dishes, chicken, pasta, and rice.
· Suggested pairing for cilantro is basil, chives, dill, garlic, ginger, mint, and parsley.
· Cilantro can be used in guacamole, salsa, rice, coleslaw, and pasta.
· Suggested pairing for parsley is basil, chives, garlic, mint, oregano, rosemary, and tarragon.
· Parsley can be used in pasta sauce, soup, or stews. It can also be tossed in salads, pasta, roasted potatoes, or grilled vegetables.
· Suggested pairing for sage is bay leaves, ginger, parsley, and thyme.
· Sage can be used in poultry, sausage, or season root vegetables.
· Suggested pairing for tarragon is basil, chives, dill, and parsley.
· Tarragon can be used for poultry and salad dressings.
· Suggested pairing for dill is basil, parsley, garlic, and ginger.
· Dill can be used in fish and egg dishes, light dressings, or dressings.
· Suggested pairing for rosemary is bay leaves, chives, garlic, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme.
· Rosemary can be used in dishes such as soups, salads, or stews. This herb is commonly used to season poultry, lamb, pork, fish, and steak.
· Suggested pairing for thyme is basil, oregano, parsley, chives, sage, and rosemary.
· Thyme can be used to season vegetables, meats, or fish.
· Suggested pairing for chives
· Chives can be used in egg, fish, potato, and root vegetable dishes.
· Suggesting pairing for oregano is basil, cumin, rosemary, parsley, garlic, sage, and thyme.
· Oregano can be used in egg, fish, poultry, pork, potato, or vegetable dishes. This herb can also be added to your pizza!
· Garlic can easily be paired with any herb.
· Garlic can be used in most dishes.
An herb that can be used during cooking but not consumed is the bay leaves. This herb is most commonly used in soups, stews, and stocks. THIS is your sign to start your herb garden and experiment with different flavorings using herbs you have not tried before.
Paur, Ingvild, et al. “Antioxidants in Herbs and Spices - Herbal Medicine - NCBI Bookshelf.” National Library of Medicine, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92763/. “Food Herb & Spice Pairing Chart
Pennsylvania State University.” Penn State Extension, bkc-od-media.vmhost.psu.edu/documents/HO_PE_foodherbspicepairing.pdf. Accessed 14 June 2023.
“Herbs.” Better Health Channel, 12 Dec. 2019, www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/herbs#