When we think of herbs it’s often about how they add flavour, a splash of colour and a delicious aroma to meals! In addition to this, fresh herbs have many health benefits because they are bursting with nutrients and are rich in vitamins and minerals.
We take a look at some of the best herbs for nutritional value and also provide tips on how to start your own herb garden at home.
A popular herb to use in meat dishes, especially with poultry, pork and sausage, sage is known for its strong, earthy flavour! Sage is also rich in vitamin K, which is essential for blood clotting and to build healthy bones (Source: Whfoods.org, 22 May 2017).
Traditionally used as a garnish, parsley is a versatile herb that goes well in many dishes. It is delicious when added to salads, smoothies, homemade dressings and sauces. Parsley is high in iron and is a good source of vitamins A, C and K. This herb is also a welcome source of beta carotene, which works as an antioxidant in the body. (Source: Nutritionandyou.com , 22 May 2017).
With its zesty and invigorating smell, mint is an easy herb to grow. It’s often used in salads, summer soups and in mint sauce for roast lamb. The aromatic oils in mint are also ideal for making desserts – think mint ice-cream! Nutrients in mint include phosphorous, calcium, Vitamins C, D and E and B complex vitamins to help strengthen the immune system. (Source: Thehealthsite.com, 22 May 2017).
This aromatic herb brings a Mediterranean touch to any kitchen. One of the most common uses for basil is to make fresh pesto, and you can also sprinkle the leaves over homemade pizza, toss them into a mozzarella salad or use in a pasta sauce. Rich in nutrients, basil provides vitamin A and vitamin K, calcium and iron. (Source: MedicalNewsToday, 22 May 2017).
With its needle-like leaves and strong flavour, rosemary complements many meat dishes, including lamb and chicken, and it also goes well with fish. In addition, rosemary can be used in soups, sauces and omelettes. It’s also delicious with roast potatoes! Fresh rosemary leaves boast good levels of vitamin A and vitamin C and are a good source of potassium, iron, calcium and magnesium. (Source: Mercola.com, 22 May 2017).
A kitchen staple, thyme adds a fusion of flavour to vegetables, meat, poultry and fish, as well as soups and casseroles. Thymol, a compound found in thyme, is said to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial benefits. Thyme is also a great source of vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, copper and manganese. (Source: Healthline.com, 22 May 2017).
Tips on how to start your own herb garden at home
The best thing about growing your own herbs is they really don’t take up a lot of room. Whether you are planning on creating a mini herb garden on your balcony or creating a bigger space in your back garden, the following tips will help you move things along!
1. Choose your herbs
Herbs that grow well in Ireland’s climate include sage, rosemary, chives, parsley, fennel and thyme. Mint is more suited to the spring and summer months, while it is best to grow basil in a pot indoors.
Once you have picked your herbs, you will need to decide if you are growing them from seeds or whether you will use young plants (seedlings). Seeds will take more time to grow indoors before they are transplanted outside.
2. Decide on the location of your herb garden
If you are limited for space, patio areas or balconies are ideal spots to place herb containers. If you are planting herbs directly in the ground, they should go in well-drained soil.
3. Gather your materials
You’ll need to take a trip to your local garden centre to stock up on supplies. Items you will need include pots and containers, potting soil, a watering can, a trowel, plant fertiliser and seeds or seedlings.
4. Prepare the soil and plant herbs
If you are planting herbs in containers or pots, make sure they have holes for drainage. Mix some potting soil with some fertiliser and fill your container. Moisten the soil with water and dig a hole to fit each herb plant. Place the plant in the hole and fill in around the edges with soil.
If you are planting your herb plants directly in your garden, dig the soil up and turn it, removing any weeds or large stones. Add some compost to improve the quality of the soil before planting your herbs. It is worth noting that mint will tend to spread quickly, so it is best to plant this herb in a large pot.
5. Keep your herbs hydrated
Water your herb garden regularly, especially over the first few weeks, to keep the soil moist.
Now that we’ve explored the health benefits of herbs, give yourself peace of mind with Health insurance. For more information, click here or give a member of our health insurance team a call on 1850 45 35 25.
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