Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Parsley, Mint and Lemon Herb Salad

Sometimes you come across a herb dish that is simple and a memorable occasion. Herb salads are generally underrated, but the health benefits and pleasure from eating herb salads are far reaching if you spend some time preparing them.

One particular recipe sticks in my mind from two years ago when it was made by a friend of mine when they cam to visit me in the summer. It is parsley and mint based as we had lots of it growing on the farm. This salad was a fresh, summer's evening herb salad that will make you taste buds come alive and give you a big tonic for living the good life. The vitamins it contains are full of healthy goodness.

The recipe was just made up off the cuff at the time, but I remember exactly how my friend actually made it and thought is was about time I put in down for others to share.

Parsley Mint and Lemon Herb Salad

It will serve up to four and shouldn't take more than 15 minutes to make.

Ingredients:

Sunflower Oil or Olive oil if you can get it
Juice of one whole lemon
2 cloves finely chopped
Two handfuls of fresh parsley (you can include the stalks)
One handful of fresh mint leaves
2 lemons
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Method:

Mix the oil, lemon juice, garlic, a touch of salt and pepper. Chop the parsley and mint leaves and put into a salad bowl. Peel the lemons and and chop them up finely, then add to the parsley and mint. Toss together add the salad dressing mixture prepared and toss again. Taste and add more salt or pepper is needed.

A great first course which will also give a paletable path for the main course ahead!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Ginger - It's Uses and Grow Your Own

Ginger - It's Uses and Grow Your OwnGinger is a herb that is well know throughout the world, but not much is known about it and what benefits it possesses? Did you know you can grow your own in your kitchen?

Young ginger is juicy with a mild taste. They can be pickled in vinegar or even sherry and eaten as a snack. Most ginger is used as an ingredient in many dishes. Ginger can also be used in boiling water to make ginger tea and accompanied by honey to sweeten it.

Ginger - It's Uses and Grow Your OwnOlder ginger is fibrous and lack moisture. Old ginger roots are very powerful and are used as a spice in Indian and Chinese dishes for flavour. The dishes that suit this are seafood or goat and many vegetarian recipes. There is the powdered version of ginger root, which is used in gingerbread and many other bread and cake dishes.

Ginger - It's Uses and Grow Your OwnGinger is well suited contender for making candy with many carbonated, non-alcoholic beverages using the unique ginger flavour and of course the famous ginger beer which is popular worldwide containing a minimal amount of alcohol as the original recipe involves some fermentation.

Fresh ginger should always be peeled before using in cooking. when storing for up to three months in a freezer if wrapped in a towel and put in a plastic bag.

Ginger is a very useful herb in medical uses. It used to be called 'Jamaica ginger' used as a stimulant with additional use for treating dyspepsia and colic. The taste of conventional medicines where often horrible and ginger was used to disguise this. Moving on, ginger also decreases joint pain from arthritis with the properties believed to thin the blood blood and lower cholesterol therefore effective for treating heart disease.

Ginger also treats Diarrhea and Nausea including seasickness, morning sickness and is especially effective if you have a hangover. Ginger eaten on an empty stomach is an effective cure for congestion, coughs and colds. And for settling stomachs ginger ale or ginger beer have been used for centuries. Ginger water was used to avoid getting heat cramps in America. Ginger has also been historically used to treat inflammation. More recently, treatment with ginger on rats indicate that the herb may be useful for treating diabetes.

Ginger - It's Uses and Grow Your OwnYou can buy ginger in most big supermarkets in all forms, fresh, dried and powdered. But did you know that you can grow your own? With spring coming up buy some fresh ginger in the shops. Make sure they have 'fingers' the show buds and cut off at least 5cm from the bud. Bury it bud facing upwards in a around 20cm depth of compost in a pot mixed with a little sand. Keep in a warm place and make sure it stays moist. When it get larger transfer it to a bigger pot. It will need feeding with a general pot-plant feeder. When autumn arrived stop watering and let them dry out. When dry you will have you own home grown ginger that you can use in the kitchen.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Herbs For Hangovers - And General Advice

Herbs For Hangovers - And General AdviceHangovers are a common problem to those who over indulge with alcohol. We've all been there, throbbing head, no energy, wanting the world to end there and then. There is no silver lining having a hangover and not much you can do about it after the event. The main cure is time, but you can do things to speed up the recovery some herb related.

There are a few reasons why we have a hangover, one is that the excess alcohol has overloaded our liver. The liver is an efficient machine which processed the alcohol, but if the liver is overloaded and your liver is preoccupied with dealing with side issues such as a viral infection. The amount of alcohol being presented won't cope to completely detoxify the system as efficiently as normal - Result a hangover! Added to which, alcohol does not possess good nutrition for our bodies, therefore if you drink too much your blood sugar falls leaving you exhausted and weak.


To combat this drink plenty of water. Alcohol dehydrates the body, so try and have a good drink of water afterwards - as much as you can. This will rehydrate your system helping it to ward off toxins and prevent too many uncomfortable symptoms occurring.

If you find the room still spinning round the following morning don't do the alcohol and meal trick, i.e. a short and a cooked English breakfast. More alcohol and grease will creates more work for your liver which is already overloaded. A hot breakfast consisting of porridge will work wonders as the oats will fill up your empty stomach that is such a common factor with hangovers. This breakfast will also nourish your nervous system. Brown rice, sweet potatoes or yams are very good options for the same reasons. Green vegetables are good too but we

Fruit is good, take pineapples, they help your digestion and subsequently ease the stress on the liver. Apples are great too, if you opt for the red or orange-skinned apples they contain a variety of properties that help the liver.

Herbs For Hangovers - And General AdviceOnto herbs now, these will give your system a boost. Ginger tea is great is your feeling a a bit sick. It is easy to make by putting a level teaspoon of dried ginger into hot water. Fresh ginger tea has an even better affect. Grate some fresh ginger root and squeeze this over a cup till the liquid runs out. Top up the cup with hot water, and drink. This great drink will soothe your stomach and come to the aid of your liver.

Fennel is very good for the liver and therefore is also good remedy for hangovers. Put a few fennel seeds to your ginger tea or you could try adding some milk thistle seeds in hot water to make a tea or even adding them to your food.

Herbs For Hangovers - And General AdviceFinally, there is the simple lemon. Lemon juice in a glass of water will always help the liver to work efficiently.

There you have it, some useful information on how to help get rid of that dreaded hangover. With all this aboard, I just hope you drink sensibly and never had the need to use the remedies given.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Strewing Herbs - Old and New Fashioned

Strewing Herbs - Old and New FashioneStrewing is a funny word, would you have any idea what it means? If the phrase strewing herb was put to you, would that make it any clearer? It actually means specific herb plants that are thrown on the ground in homes and other buildings. These specific herb plants are fragrant in the main and also act as insecticides or disinfectants. Long gone are the days this happens now as it is replaced with canned sprays and scents systems on a hi tech nature.

Strewing herbs was widespread in England during the middle ages through to the 1700's. The reason for this was the early middle ages taking baths wasn't fashionable or practical and fell out of fashion in UK. To disguise the smelly Brits the use of fragrant herbs became the in thing. These herbs were scattered, or strewn in all rooms in homes. They lay on the floor and the scents were released when the floor was walked on as the reeds, rushes or straw presented a cushion and air was forced out so that pleasant odours would be released. This acted as a pest repellent as well as a perfumed environment.

Strewing Herbs - Old and New FashioneThe strewing of herbs had no boundaries in social class as it was a free commodity, royalty and peasant alike used this system as a replacement of baths. There were many different herbs strewn and each one had its own unique property and purpose.

The church had a favourite strewing herb, namely rosemary, which may have something to do with the name.

To kill fleas and used to as a mattress and pillow stuffing alongside lavender. Lady's Bedstraw was used Pennyroyal also killed fleas. Still in the bedroom, there is Southernwood, which is also known as lad's love, it was understood that it was an aphrodisiac, hence used in bedrooms.

Strewing Herbs - Old and New FashionePurely for their scent Sweet flag, various mint and thyme herbs, tansy, meadowsweet, chamomile and rose petal were popular herbs that were strewn liberally, with the Hyssop that apparently gave the impress of cleanliness.

It is a full circle that many of these original strewing herbs are still used in many homes now as insecticides and air-fresheners, but for most does not replace showers of baths.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Tisane - Herbal Tea to You and Me

Tisane - Herbal Tea to You and MeHerbal tea is big business now, it has been recognised as a great substitute drink that can be enjoyed instead of other drinks, which generally pollute you body. But herb tea is not tea at all. It doesn't come from a tea bush. The only similarity is that the herb is brewed like real tea. By the way, tea is technically a herb as well!

Herbal tea is actually techincally called tisane This has been used for thousands of years for their healing properties. Today tisane is used in the same way to revive or relax the body. Many however just like the taste or as an alternative drink without caffeine.

Herbal teas that are sold in shops are defined as food not a drug. For it to be under the drug category the products has tell the customer that the product have benefits and these benefits have to be scientifically validated and proven to work. Herbal tea or Tisane has no such prove as yet.

Making a tisane is easy and the same method is used for a variety of herbs:
Allow about 1 tablespoon of fresh herb or 1 teaspoonful of dried herb per cup. Pour boiling water and leave to infuse for around 10 minutes or longer if you want a stronger flavoured drink.

For some herbs you will need to simmer for around 10 minutes, i.e. root ginger, cinnamon sticks, caraway or aniseed. I always find that the home made versions from herbs I have produced always taste better then the herb 'teabags' you can get in the supermarkets and health stores.

Tisane - Herbal Tea to You and MeI drink tisane all the time instead of the conventional tea and have found that I don’t miss the caffeine at all. It is just a case of getting in the habit, which is quite easy from key factors. They are that, I like the fresh taste, I know it is good for me and lastly, it cost me nothing as I use my own homegrown herbs.

Pictures courtesy of www.yogamrita.com

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