Elements for a Healthier Life
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Flavoring Your Meals

Written by:
CK Kochis
Container gardens are a great way to bring herbs closer to the cook's domain.

Each spring I look forward to my favorite farmer's market re-opening and selecting the plants I will use to flavor meals. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, kale and parsley fill various pots on a rack located in a sunny spot. The chocolate mint I use in smoothies grows best in the shaded areas.

Herb Garden

A friend introduced to me to the concept of using fresh herbs in my meals instead of the dried version from the spice aisle. The flavor can truly turn a good meal into magnificent.

It didn't take long to discovered my favorite blends. For chicken and pork, I coarsely chop the leaves of rosemary, lemon balm, thyme, and parsley together and sprinkle the herbs on the meat just before it is finished cooking. I enjoy a juicy hamburger with coarsely chopped parsley, rosemary and oregano, and minced garlic and onion, salt, and pepper mixed into the meat as I'm making patties.

As a quick afternoon snack, I pinch off a few leaves of bail from the stalk, put it onto of a slice of tomato and sliced mozzarella cheese with a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper.

Herbs are relatively easy it is to grow. My property is mostly woodlands and I have found lemon balm, parsley, and mints grow well where they receive only partial sunlight (4-6 hours). I allow these three herbs to go to seed in the fall to expand my crop the next season.

Mint tolerates light shade and has the tendency to be invasive. Most of the varieties I grow are kept in containers as I've had the joys of experiencing run-away mint in a garden. It's amazing how fast it can overrun an area. My favorite has to be chocolate mint. I pinch off the leaves and use them in smoothies, teas, and with fruit. And yes, it tastes like minty chocolate. Mint comes in a variety of flavors including peppermint, spearmint, apple, chocolate, and orange.

Herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, chives, dill, basil, and others, do prefer at least 6 and more hours of sunlight and well-draining soil. When picking out seedlings, ask the staff at the garden stores and farmer's markets for growing and harvesting tips.

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