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Top Tips For Using Herbs At Christmas


I like hardy herbs; those that, once used can be planted in the garden, they will survive and go on to flourish. Good examples are Rosemary, Thyme and Sage which do not need too much looking after; a little at the beginning and then they're settled. When we think of Christmas herbs, we think of scrumptious stuffing with sage, parsley and thyme, that compliment the turkey so well and can be used as a great flavour combination in nut loaves too.

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A story that might tickle you - once, I was kindly given a mint plant by my mum. For a whole summer I made mint mojitos, homemade burgers with mint, mint sauce and so on. The flavour was mild and not like any mint flavour I'd known of before - I thought it was a different variety of mint. One day, my aunty came to visit and, upon seeing my little herb pot on the window sill, commented on the how delightful my Sage plant was coming a long - thriving! What a surprise that was! If you're after something a little different, try a herbalicious twist with: sage mojitos, sage burgers and sage sauce! That very same sage plant has lasted over five years now and although I have had to repot it a few times - it continues to go strong.

Ever wondered just what goodness is hiding in herbs and why we only need a small amount of them? Let me tell you.

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Sage Nutritional Goodness

Also known as the 'Guardian of the Herbs'. Have you ever wondered where you can get your intake of Vitamin K from? Sage is the answer. Just two teaspoons of dried sage will give you 27% of your RDA of Vitamin K. It is also rich in b-complex vitamins and vitamin c. It contains minerals: potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, copper, manganese and magnesium. Fresh or dried, this herb is packed to the brim with nutrients.

Sprinkle it onto food, or make a health benefitting tea. Sage tea will help with sore throats and coughs if you use it to gargle with! Alternatively, add liberally to your foods for a very good memory enhancer!

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Thyme Nutritional Goodness

As a herb in our cupboards or grown in the garden, the benefits of this small but mighty herb are definitely worth noting. When used in our food it helps increase circulation; when brewed in a tea it energises your whole system, especially your nervous system as it treats both physical and mental exhaustion along with anxiety, tension and depression.

It helps relieve stomach cramps or tension in the bowel and reduces IBS. This herb has antibacterial and antiseptic properties that can assist and relieve a wide range of symptoms, such as congestion in your nose, throat or chest; fungal infections; dissolves mucus from intestinal tract; aids in tonsillitis; eases upset stomachs and diarrhoea. It is nutrient rich and a good source of iron, manganese, potassium, calcium, selenium and vitamin k.

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Parsley Nutritional Goodness

What exactly is parsley good for? Firstly a little bit of history.... did you know that, the benefits of parsley have been around for over 2000 years and parsley is cherished in Mediterranean cuisine! Ok now for the nutrition facts; it is rich in chlorophyll, iron, vitamins A, B, C and K - the latter being good for blood clotting and bone strength. It is a good source of mineral elements such as zinc, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium.

Parsley assists with improving anaemia; flushing of toxins from the body; water retention; arthritis; bad breath; hair growth; is immune boosting; healing for vision health due to high carotenoids; reduces bloating; it cleanses and oxygenates the blood and has antibacterial properties which inhibits the growth of bad bacteria. Regular consumption can also help to reduce blood pressure.

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Although not a herb, this nut blends incredibly well with herbs - especially for Christmas dishes. Chestnuts create a delicious flavour in nut loaves and also provide nutritious body to gluten free and vegetarian stuffing. Chestnuts are unlike nuts & seeds; they are very low in calories and fat, high in starch and similar to that of a sweet potato. A great source of fibre, minerals & vitamins. Exceptionally rich in vitamin C and folates, which is a rare and unique feature for nuts & seeds, and an excellent source of iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. They naturally taste sweet and are often found in gluten free recipes to thicken, stick or bind.

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Ideas for herbs

- Keep cut herbs in a glass jar or a vase of cold water on a windowsill - treat them like flowers and they will last a little longer.

- Another use would be to take the herbs and freeze with oil in an ice cube tray - just pop a herb cube out and straight into the cooking pot and once melted, you'll be treated to herb infused oil. Great for adding in to gravy - especially vegetarian gravy!

- Why not create combinations for infused water with herbs? Cucumber and mint, strawberries and basil, rosemary and ginger... there's nothing quite like a refreshing infused water - especially when feeling the after effects of a large Christmas meal or a rather heavy festive function!

- Infuse your herbs in oil, this makes a great dressing; parsley, oil and lemon juice - delicious.

- Create homemade pesto - try out my recipe. You don't have to limit yourself to Basil pesto, try coriander, mint or parsley, or get really creative and try rocket, beetroot or spinach pesto!

- Pears are delicious when roasted with rosemary and a lovely dessert option, try this recipe. Add dairy free cinnamon cream for a real luxurious taste! Just open a tin of coconut milk- leave over night, take the cream off the top, add the cinnamon & mix well. Serve with the roasted pears & enjoy!

- Sage, parsley and thyme are delicious sprinkled on roasted vegetables, whether it's roots in the Winter or aubergine, tomato & courgette in the Summer.

Photo Credit: Food At One

There's heaps of goodness hiding in our herbs and Christmas is the time we get to see them really work their charm in transforming our festive dishes into flavoursome magic! Merry Christmas!

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