Herbs & Spices

Parsley (Dutch: Peterselie)

by Jennifer on

Parsley

As Marion and Rob are currently on Lesbos, it is maybe a good moment to speak about parsley. Oh, there is a connection between parsley and Greece?
Yes, there is! For the ancient Greek parsley was a symbol of joy. Laurel wreaths were made of parsley and worn at festive.
A combination of parsley and oregano was considered a cure against a hang over.

It were the Romans who spread parsley over Europe.

Anyway parsley (Petroselinum crispum), or “peterselie” as we call it in Dutch, is a species that belongs to the family Apiaceae.
Parsley is native to the central Mediterranean (southern Italy, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia). There are nowadays many cultivated species available.

Fresh parsley sprigs or chopped leaves are very often used as garnish of many dishes. Chopped leaves are also often used in soups and stews.
Sometimes it is even used as a snack. It has indeed a very nice flavor. Try it someday, you may like it.

Fresh parsley contains relatively large amounts of minerals (especially iron and silicon), as well as B-vitamins and carotene. The vitamin C content is exceptionally high (80-300 mg per 100 grams).
This only goes for fresh parsley. Dried parsley contains a lot less vitamins. So fresh parsley is always preferred over dried ones.

Apart from all mentioned before, parsley is also beneficial for your health.
Parsley is anti-inflammatory. Regularly eating parsley can help to prevent inflammations.
Parsley supports the digestion. If your digestion is not optimal, by, for example, a mostly sedentary existence, parsley supports the digestive process and reduces the risk of stomach ulcers.
It provides a clean, fresh breath.
Despite good oral hygiene you can suffer from bad breath. Eating parsley helps you to get a fresher breath. Parsley contains quite a bit of chlorophyll; a substance with an antibacterial effect. This substance fights the wrong bacteria in your mouth.
And these are just some of the positive effects of parsley.

There, how a simple herb as parsley can be so special!

Jennifer

 

 

 

(Photo was published in the public domain, see Public Domain Pictures)


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GemberHow does one get the idea to write an article on our weblog here about ginger (or “Gember” as it is called in Dutch)? Well simple, you walk in the kitchen and look at the shelf were Miranda keeps all her herbs and spices that don’t need special storage. You see there a ginger root and you notice something special about this root. But more about that later in this article.

Lets have a look at the plant that gives us the ginger root. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine.
It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a meter tall bearing narrow green leaves and yellow flowers. Ginger belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. Ginger originated in the tropical rainforest in Southern Asia. Although ginger no longer grows wild, it is thought to have originated on the Indian subcontinent because the ginger plants grown in India show the largest amount of genetic variation. Ginger was exported to Europe via India in the first century AD as a result of the lucrative spice trade and was used extensively by the Romans.
Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Because of its aesthetic appeal and the adaptation of the plant to warm climates, it is often used as landscaping around subtropical homes. It is a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems, about a meter tall. Traditionally, the rhizome is gathered when the stalk withers.

Apart from the fact that ginger is a very tasteful spice that can be used in many wonderful ways by the preparing of all kind of dishes, there are many other reasons to use this spice.

Chronic (hidden) infections underlie many of nowadays chronic diseases. Often, you do not feel these but they slumber in your body. Ginger is known as a powerful anti-inflammatory inhibitor and can help you with a wide range of chronic complaints and diseases. This active ingredient in ginger is called 6-gingerol.

It has been a herb for many years has been used for all kinds of pain including menstrual pain. Ginger also proved to be a good remedy for muscle ache after sports.

A lot of people get somewhere in their life problems with their joint. Research seems to find more proof that isn’t related to age, but chronic inflammation. Ginger helps to counteract these chronic inflammations, but also combats the pain.

Ginger improves the efficiency of insulin and your insulin sensitivity. It is able to increase the absorption of glucose from your muscle and fat cells, which will decrease your blood sugar levels as well as the insulin content in your blood faster

Ginger stimulates the pancreas to produce certain enzymes which stimulates the digestion. It increases the contractions of your stomach, allowing your stomach contents to go faster to your intestines. This will stop a bloated feeling. Ginger also improves the peristaltic (contractions) in your intestine, which can reduce flatulence.

Flu and a cold can be cured faster if you use ginger. It has also been shown that ginger can slow down the growth of the stubborn bacterium Helicobacter Pylori. This bacterium is present in your stomach and may be the cause of gastric cancer. There are several bacteria and viruses that are sensitive to ginger and like to clear the field if they come into contact with them.

Ginger has traditionally been used to improve memory. In a study involving 60 middle-aged women, a daily extract of ginger improved their reaction rate and concentration and thinking ability. There are many studies with rats that show that ginger can provide protection against the deterioration of brain functions in ageing, including Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This probably has everything to do with the anti-inflammatory action of ginger.

One warning though: As ginger thins your blood, you should be careful when using blood thinners.

Gember Loot

Well, the thing that I noticed on the ginger in our kitchen was that it is growing a green shoot. And yes, you can grow your own ginger plant and harvest its root.

Just go to a shop and buy a ginger root. It has be a dry solid and undamaged root. Place it with the buds up in soil. Remember that ginger is a tropical plant, so it is need a warm spot. Give it every day water. The soil should be wet, but not too wet.
The plant needs some care, but not real special care. Watch the plant grow and enjoy the flower of the plant. Then during the winter when the plant is in rest, dig up the root. You will see that the root really has grow. Take the best buds to grow new plants and use the rest of the root in kitchen with some delicious dishes!

The ginger root on the photo? It is now in our green house and hopefully it will start soon to grown and give us in the winter our own ginger.

Nothing so nice as to grow your own spices and herbs :-).

Jennifer

 

 

(Credit photo’s: Jennifer)


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Basil (or in Dutch “Basilicum”)

by Jennifer on

As people may know plants, herbs and flowers are my big passion. A part of the garden and the green house behind our house is reserved for herbs. It is great fun and very satisfying to grow herbs. Specially when you have, like us, a green house so you can have certain herbs all through the year. This to great pleasure of Miranda, who uses many of the herbs that I grow in the kitchen. I wanted to tell something about a well known herb called Basil (or in Dutch “Basilicum”). As said, a well known herb and yet there is so much to know about this plant.

Basil

Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called Saint-Joseph’s-wort, is a herb of the family Lamiaceae (mints) that is often used in the kitchen. The herb is also called the “King of Herbs” (Dutch: “Koningskruid”). The name “basil” comes from Greek βασιλικόν φυτόν (basilikón phutón), which means “royal/kingly plant”.

Basil is possibly native to India, and has been cultivated there for more than 5,000 years. It was thoroughly familiar to the Greek authors Theophrastus and Dioscorides.

Basil

Basil, in particular the species Ocimum Basil is an herb often used for cooking. It has a strong odour and flavour and is mainly used in the Italian cuisine and tomato dishes. Basil is used to make pesto.
But as Miranda always says: Use your fantasy and dare to try. You may discover wonderful combinations with a great taste. And if something really has a bad taste, it is a lesson learned and nothing more then that.

But talking about tomatoes, it is said that it is good to grow basil together with tomatoes. Basil would keep pests and diseases away from the tomatoes. In my experience this is correct.

Basil

Traditionally basil was used for skin problems, for colds and other infections, cough, headache, nausea and as an insect repellent, but also to calm the mind as well as improve mood.

Today, many of these applications are also scientifically explained and we know which components provide certain medicinal effects. See here the top 5 health benefits of basil:

  1. Basil is due to the high amount of eugenol an excellent anti-inflammatory and suitable to kill bacteria and to expel insects.
  2. Good for the heart-and-vascular system because of the high content of carotenoids and antioxidants which protect the cells against the damage of free radicals. Furthermore, the large amount of magnesium in basil it stimulates a good blood flow and healthy veins.
  3. The antioxidants in the form of flavonoids and carotenoids in basil protect the body against certain forms of cancer.
  4. Several essential oils in basil are effective in the treatment of a dry skin, acne and psoriasis.
  5. The tannins present in basil have a germicidal and wound healing effect on mouth, nose, and stomach, intestinal mucosa. Basil is therefore also ideal for use in all kinds of digestive disorders and inflammations in the gastrointestinal tract.
Basil

But whatever the positive effects of Basil and how a nice plant it is to grow, I am afraid that the main use here in our house will be food :-)

Jennifer
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