Everyday Herbs: Recipes and Remedies

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Frugal For Everyone, Gardening, Green Living, Health, Herbs, Recipes | 49 comments

popular herbs

Herbs in my garden

This is the time of year when herbs really come into their own and I consider myself fortunate to be able to harvest them straight from my garden. But it’s not necessary to have a backyard garden to benefit from the bounty. Right now you’ll find a great selection of the freshest herbs at the best prices at Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands and even Supermarkets.

Herbs are the most useful plants. For the longest time we thought using herbs was to add a basil leaf to tomato soup or to sprinkle chives on a baked potato. We have now become much more aware and accepting of herbs contribution to healthy living. Many of the herbs we use everyday have multiple uses – culinary, cosmetic, and medicinal. In this post I’m sharing just a few of the many ways to use Basil, Chives, Dill and Parsley.

Herbs

Basil, Chives, Dill, Parsley

If you have no allergic reaction when using herbs in cooking or drinking, you should be fine using them for FIRST AID or cosmetic purposes. Unless you are trained to do so, NEVER use herbs to replace medical diagnosis or treatment.

FOUR EVERYDAY HERBS.

BASIL. This is one of the herbs that everyone knows and loves. It’s a pretty plant that grows equally well in the flower bed, the window box, the vegetable/herb garden or indoors during the winter. It’s also a must have plant for the pollinator garden. It is one of the most versatile plants with many uses – culinary, beverage, medicinal, cosmetic and even as insect repellant.

Culinary Uses: Try basil with beans; pasta; chicken; fish; meatloaf; Italian cooking of all kinds; anything with tomato; and of course, to make pesto or boursin.

More Uses: I wrote an earlier post about basil and rather than repeat the information, I’m simply adding the link: http://frugalforeveryone.ca/culinary-cosmetic-antiseptic-and-more-basil-does-it-all/

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CHIVES. We grow garlic chives that have the pretty purple flower balls like little lollipops that the bees go crazy about. They are extremely easy to grow, indoors or out, and act as an aphid repellant (unfortunately not as eliminator) for our roses. Chives are used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Culinary Uses: Chives are great added to butters, cheese dishes, dips, eggs/omelets, potatoes, salads, sauces, seafood, soups and vegetables. We enjoy the mild taste so much that we have completely replaced green onions with chives.

Medicinal Uses: Chives are loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, Vitamin A and C and a host of other nutrients. Because of the high Vitamin C content, chives give chicken soup an extra boost when dealing with a cold. Added to a broth, soup or stew they are used to ease digestive problems; treat anemia; and as food for sick or convalescing patients.

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DILL:  There was a time when we made gallons of pickles and relishes and used lots of dill. We don’t bother with that anymore and also no longer bother growing dill. (The dill shown above is store bought.) But I still know enough about using it to share. Dill is used most often for culinary purposes but it has some excellent medicinal qualities. It contains many important nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C plus iron and calcium.

Culinary Uses: Eggs, poultry, salads, potato salad, and as a sauce (recipe below) for fish, especially salmon.

Dill Sauce:

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. chives, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Blend all the ingredients together. Serve with fish, delightful over salmon.

Herbs

Dill Sauce

Medicinal Uses: Dill is a centuries old herb which is most often used to:

  • Prevent digestive problems, such as indigestion, excess gas and to relieve constipation;
  • Help improve the immune system, reduce inflammation, and remove toxins from the body;
  • The essential oils have a hypnotic, calming effect which helps insomniacs get a good night sleep – make a cup of tea by steeping 1 Tbsp. dill seeds in one cup boiling water for 10 minutes;
  • The tea may also relieve stress related digestive problems;
  • A milder version of the tea, using 1 tsp. dill seeds and 1 tsp. chamomile flowers to one cup boiling water may relieve an infant’s colic – be sure to strain the tea well and allow it to cool before giving it to the infant;
  • Chewing some dill seeds will take care of bad breath.

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PARSLEY. Parsley is often served as a sort of ‘throw-away’ food at restaurants. Usually it’s a small sprig of green that people quickly slide off to the side, never thinking to eat it. That is a shame because parsley tastes refreshing, cleanses the palate and freshens the breath.

Culinary Uses: Add parsley to soup, stews, roast meat, poultry and vegetables. Use to make persillade or replace the basil in pesto with parsley. Makes a great herb butter (1/4 cup butter, 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, 2 Tbsp chives, all mixed together). Parsley can be added to  dough for homemade bread and crackers. It makes a nice tea and since it has lots of Vitamin C is a good drink for when you have a cold – one Tbsp. bruised parsley leaves to one cup boiling water, let steep for 10 minutes. Because of the many health benefits as listed below, parsley would be a great addition to a green smoothie.

Medicinal Uses:

  • Parsley is a powerful anti-oxidant which may reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, colon cancer, diabetes, and asthma.
  • It has shown to be effective in controlling cholesterol levels and in maintaining good blood pressure and a healthy heart.
  • It is a natural anti-septic agent for gums and teeth.
  • It promotes the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, making it a necessary part of a healthy weight-loss program.
  • Its high Vitamin K content promotes strong bones and a healthy brain.

This is not a complete list of parsley’s benefits by any means, but it should be enough to have you eat that sprig of parsley next time you’re dining out.

One warning: Excessive amounts of anything, whether it be drugs, food or herbs, are dangerous to health. Pregnant women, especially, need to be careful using parsley as it can bring on contractions. 

Cosmetic Uses: The cosmetic use for parsley is limited, but here are two ways to use it:

  1. Make a strong parsley tea (1 Tbsp. chopped parsley to 1/2 cup boiling water, steep 10 minutes), add 4 cups water and use as a hair rinse to add body and shine. 
  2. Mix 1 Tbsp. of the strong parsley tea with 1/4 cup coconut oil and use to moisturize dry skin.

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I’ve only covered a very small portion of the huge amount of herbal information available. I will be sharing more ways to use other familiar herbs in the future. If you have any favourite ways of using herbs, or would like to know more about a specific herb, please let me know in the comments below.

Talk to you again next week,

Lenie

49 Comments

  1. Love fresh herbs but buy them at the market or in a store:-) Great recipes and suggestions for what they can do for you.

    • Hi Catarina, I really do feel fortunate to have the herbs growing in my back yard. I don’t mind shopping at Farmers Markets but am not particularly keep on store shopping anymore. I’m glad you like the recipes and the other uses.

  2. I’m a great grower of herbs, as you know!, but cannot for the life of me coax Basil into anything more than a grumpy pathetic looking lump. The plot is VERY windy and I suspect this is the problem. Next year I’m sowing it under the tomatoes.
    Dill is another favourite but I must say I grow it and Fennel for cutting for the house, they both bring a wonderful fresh fragrance in with them and last and last. I also let one or two of each go over for the seed which I use all through the winter. Delicious

    • Hi Rosalind – and here I go on about how easy it is to grow basil – must be the different climates. I hope you do find a way to protect it because it really is one of my favourite herbs, second only to lavender. I never thought about growing dill or fennel as air fresheners for the house but that does make a lot of sense – both herbs have a cool refreshing fragrance. So next year you find a place for your basil and I’ll grow some dill and fennel – don’t you love sharing ideas?

  3. Mmmmm – that dill sauce you suggest for pairing with (or even baking I think!) with salmon sounds delicious. Wait. Can a tasty recipe “sound” delicious? In any case, I’m going to give it a try. We have salmon once every couple of weeks. Thanks Lenie.

    • Hi Patricia – that dill sauce is yummy and I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t bake the salmon with it. You can bake fish with a mayonnaise sauce and this would be similar, only healthier. You’re right about the sound, I don’t think the recipe makes any, delicious or otherwise LOL.

  4. I love this post, Lenie. The list of medical properties along with uses in recipes is awesome. I should have a garden that looks like that. With our drought, it’s impossible.

    BTW, Your images are really getting good… way to go my friend.

    • Thanks Susan. We keep hearing about the drought in California and everytime I think of you. It must be awful having those water restrictions in place and seeing plants suffer or die because of lack of water. We’ll just have to keep praying that the rain will come soon.
      I love herbs and use them mostly for cooking and cosmetic – not so much for medicinal simply because we haven’t had the need.
      On the images – I have plans for how to make a lightbox, very simple and low cost. May write a post on it when it’s done.

  5. My neighbors grow garlic chives and I can always tell when my kids have been over there eating it (straight up!) because they come back smelling terrible. My favorite is basil and my mouth is watering over that picture of the bail mozzarella bread and salad!

    • Meredith, that is not a terrible smell, that is the smell of good health LOL. With the Vitamin C in garlic chives, your kids should never have a cold. Making up those recipes is a bit of a side benefit because I don’t include a recipe I haven’t tried so naturally if I make it, we have to eat it. Both the bread and the salad were yummy.

  6. It’s funny that I should read this post just as I am in the process of preparing to freeze some of my basil. I love fresh herbs. I only have a small herb garden now, but I’m still getting lots of flavour from it. I used to have chives just outside my door and loved cutting them fresh whenever I needed. I don’t have space for them now (they spread so much), but next year I intend to grow some dill mixed in my flowers in my small flower bed.

    • Donna, I haven’t bothered growing dill but after reading Rosalind’s comment, I am going to next year- both to freeze but I also like the idea of using it as an air-freshener. The chives do spread a lot but I just keep cutting, using and freezing. I am having fun with these herbs and the more I play around with them, the more uses I find for them. I hope more people will start adding herbs to their flower beds, such a smart thing to do.

  7. I love herbs. Not only do they make food taste even better, they also smell great. I have an herb garden that come I add to each year. My favorites herbs are Rosemary, parsley, and basil. This year I found camomile. I don’t know what to do with it though. Thanks for sharing the recipes.

    • Hi Sabrina – with the chamomile, you use the flowers to make tea. Just put some flowers in a ceramic pot, add boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Then if you have more flowers (don’t be afraid to cut them, they keep coming back) put the flowers in an ice cube tray and cover with the tea. If you have enough chamomile, you’ll be able to make a cup of soothing chamomile tea all winter long. Hope that helps.

  8. I use a range of herbs in everyday cooking; primarily thyme, parsley and basil.

    I had no idea fresh herbs had so many uses.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Phoenicia, there are many people who only use herbs for cooking but if you have the herbs and time available, you should try some of the other ways. You may surprise yourself and get totally hooked on their other uses.

  9. I have a pretty healthy amount of basil and chives growing in my backyard so I happy to hear about other ways to use them.

  10. Lenie, your posts always make me want to actually start a garden (though I’ve been a horrible procrastinator with that.) I had a recipe the other day that called for parsley, which I didn’t have, and I thought, “I really should finally start that herb garden. Maybe this will be the push I need. By the way, I’m definitely trying your dill sauce for salmon.

    • Erica, I don’t know if you’ve seen Donna’s post, but if not, that is one to visit. She has a picture of dill growing in a flower garden that is absolutely gorgeous – something I’ll be doing next year. As for parsley, it is one of the easiest plants to grow, almost thrives on neglect. Don’t you agree that parsley belongs in a green smoothie?

  11. Hi, Lenie

    I am Asian, who traditionally uses herbs in the dishes daily: ginger,garlic, parsley, cilantro, etc. Your post expansed my knowledge about some of the herbs that I don’t use much on daily bases.Becasue of your recipes,I will make some dishes with the herbs you memtioned.

    Thanks! – Stella

    • Hi Stella, it was really the Asian herbal practices that got our interest in herbs going – and I’m so glad it did. I’m going to have to start working with ginger more because it’s good for arthritis and painful joints, which I am no starting to experience. I’m glad that you found my post useful.

  12. I love growing fresh herbs and am always sad when fall comes and they have to move inside the house as I don’t have good luck growing them in our house. Perhaps the air is too dry, and likely just not enough light/sun during the long winter months. I’ve never had good luck growing basil or rosemary in the house, but on the deck … they flourish!

    • Doreen, herbs are funny that way. I’ve had years when the herbs grow just fine inside, then other years you can almost hear them say ‘I don’t like it here’. I’ve never tried it with rosemary but basil will grow fine as a microgreen. Has the same great smell. Maybe you can try that.

  13. Hi Lenie,

    This is a lovely post. I love herbs too, lots of different types. They smell amazing and add rich flavors to food. I’ve never had Mozzarella Basil Bread before but from the pic it looks delicious.

    Regards,
    Samuel.

    • Hello Samuel, welcome to my blog. So nice of you to stop by and add your comment. Basil is definitely one of my favourite herbs and the more ways I can find to use it, like the Mozzarella Basil Bread, the better I like it.

  14. We use herbs in every meal; my favorite being dill. I had no idea of its medicinal value though. Just thought it made the potatoes look and taste good. Thanks for cluing me in.

    • Tim, you are one of quite a few who gave me different ways of using dill. I have never heard of it used on potatoes so am going to have to try that. With the many suggestions offered by commenters for dill use, I am for sure going to have to grow some next year. Isn’t it great how we just keep learning?

  15. I’m all over the “Mozzarella Basil Bread” I’ve never thought of that. Which I van’t believe because it’s basically pizza in a different form and without the sauce! duh!

    • Pamela, you now have me thinking – what if you mixed pizza sauce with the butter and used it to spread on the slices – can’t you just smell it? I’ll bet that would be fantastic and something I’m going to try next time one of my boys comes home.

  16. Lenie – Every week I look forward to your posts as they always have such useful information some of which is so familiar to me. I like the idea of growing herbs. I really must try and organise this next summer. We use a lot of herbs and spices too for home remedies- Turmeric, ginger, garlic, carom seeds, fennel seeds, dill seeds – all ingredients in my cooking but also great for home remedies.

    • Mina, you are so right about using the same herbs for cooking and healing. I have used ginger,garlic and dill seeds, both in food and for medicinal – gave a bottle of ginger vinegar to my friend to help with her arthritis. I’ve never used turmeric – it sounds interesting and something I must play around with. Thanks for adding that info.

  17. This is a terrific article Lenie! I have all the ingredients on hand to make that yummy sounding Mozzarella Basil Bread – all I need is a good bottle of wine – so guess what we’re having for dinner! The uses and benefits of parsley are a bit surprising – I can see I’ve been taking that herb for granted. In fact I don’t often use fresh herbs because they are so expensive in our local stores. I had to laugh the other day when I came across a MSN News headline “Are $6 egg prices on the way?!” because we passed that point some time ago. But back to the herbs. I recently started a couple of small container gardens for chives and basil so I’m thinking as soon as I can figure out a place to keep them out of the trade winds it’s time to branch out and try my hand at other herbs. See how you’ve inspired me?!

    • I knew I forgot something when I took the picture – that bottle of wine LOL. Very few people are aware of how they can use parsley – it has always been sort of a ‘use what you need and throw the rest away’. But it is so good for you so I’m glad that you found this helpful. I have a question for you though. If the cost of food is that high – what are the wages down (up?) there. Are they higher than here in Canada (minimum wage $11.00/hour)?
      Anyway, back to the herbs. Success with your herb garden – nothing like cutting them fresh as you need them. I love being an inspiration when it comes to herbs so thanks.

  18. Okay, so the mozzarella basil bread looks divine! I’m planning on harvesting my basil soon and making a big batch of pesto. If I could get my smoothie game one, I would definitely stick parsley in smoothies. The facts about making a tea with it is interesting. I’ve trimmed my bunch of parsley once but failed to use it all because I couldn’t think of what to do with all of it. Now I know 🙂

    • Hi Jeri – that was always one of the problems with parsley – not knowing what to do with it all. I’m glad that I gave you some ideas – don’t forget you can also puree it in the blender, freeze it in the ice cube tray and have parsley to add to soup or smoothies all winter long. I love pesto and since mu husband can no longer tolerate tomato sauce of any kind, pesto makes a wonderful substitution for pasta.

  19. Lenie – I loved the Mozzarella basil bread recipe and plan to try it. I adore basil and dill. Many years ago I worked for the PR agency that had the Campbell Soup account and we developed many recipes in our test kitchen. I would alway attend the taste tests and I remember the lead on the account tasting a new recipe and saying, “it could use a little dill.” It didn’t matter if if was a meat loaf or a stew, she always wanted to add dill. That’s so many years ago but your post retrieved the memory.

    • Jeannette, I enjoyed hearing your story about the ‘it could use a little dill’. I have received quite a few comments about dill – all good. Other than for pickles or relishes, and of course fish, I haven’t really been a great user of dill. I am definitely going to have to grow some next year and experiment. Tim uses it on potatoes, something I’ve never heard of before. BTW, that was a neat job you had, I’ll bet it was a lot of fun trying out all those recipes.

  20. I didn’t know parsley had that many uses. I have some at home and honestly it has been sitting for a few months. I’m definitely going to use it this week in a few dishes.

    • Jason, for years we overlooked the goodness in herbs like parsley. We used it mostly to make the plate look pretty but I’m glad you’re going to be using it in other ways. With the decreased nutritional value of many foods, we need to zero in on the ones we know still have value.

  21. Not a big fan of chives or dill, but I have 5 containers of basil, 1 each of oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme growing on my deck. If you know a trick to get both basil and rosemary to grow indoors, I’d love to learn it. We try and after about two months, toss them out.

    Yummy sounding recipes, Lenie!

    • Hi Rose – I can just see those large containers of herbs on your beautiful deck. I’ll bet it smells wonderful when you’re sitting out there. As to basil and rosemary indoors – basil does better than rosemary and I manage to keep it going until early in the New Year – rosemary survives and that’s about it. Up until Christmas I can keep pinching of a twig or two but after that I need to let it rest. This year, instead of throwing the rosemary out, try placing it in a cool spot, wih indirect light, and watering it lightly only once a week – see what happens. The basil needs lots of light and heat, but again limited water (but not dried out).

      • Thanks for those tips, Lenie. All of our basil just died–poof, gone! Off to the local grower to see if they still have any. Looking forward to trying these ideas to keep the basil and rosemary going.

        • Hi Rose, sorry to hear about the basil – that is weird but I hope the suggestions I gave you will help. Just had a thought – if you can’t find any plants, try some seeds, get them started outdoors and then bring them in when the weather gets colder to keep them going. Good luck.

  22. I’m a big fan of Van Holten’s Pickles-in-a-Pouchthe “Hot Mama” is my favorite – and the Dill section of this post has inspired me to go out and get one. 🙂

    • Andy, I hope you’ve enjoyed your “Hot Mama”. I’ve never heard of those pickles but they sound interesting. Maybe I should add ‘pickle inspirator’ to my LinkedIn profile.

  23. A very informative post. My father had a herb garden, and I often think about growing one myself soon. They are so beneficial, also if you grow your own, you know what was used to fertilize them. Thanks for sharing this with us.

    • Hi William, I think you would enjoy an herb garden. Maybe think about having a large mixed herb planter on your patio next year. With you being as busy as you are that may be just the thing for you. At least you know that they’re grown organically.