I love veggies and herbs! They’re the best ingredients for making your plate colorful, flavorful, and nutritious! Have you gone apple or pumpkin picking, yet? The fall season offers some delicious fruits and veggies to cook with. I recently read an article by the editors of Health.com called, “5 Reasons to Try a Vegetarian Diet.” They offer some shrewd reminders as to why veggies are so important for your nutrition and holistic health. The editors note that meals cooked with fruits, veggies, and herbs are more likely to give you more antioxidants and fiber. They also discuss how fruits and veggies can have a significant impact on your mood, citing that "Scientists found that a higher intake of produce resulted in more energy, calmness, and greater feelings of happiness, effects that positively impacted the volunteers [in the study] not only on the days they ate fruits and veggies, but also throughout the following day."
Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, vegan, ovo/lacto veggie, pescetarian, or simply an omnivore, it’s extremely important to include lots of fruits and veggies in your diet to keep from developing nutritional deficiencies. But another way to make sure you’re getting a healthy daily intake of vitamins and minerals is to cook with herbs. Not only will they help balance your diet, but they’ll also make your taste buds sing with every meal! The plainest base ingredients (like tofu, potatoes, lettuce, or chicken) will come alive simply by getting creative with herbs and spices. This is one of the best times of year to start experimenting with herbs in your kitchen, so I’ve compiled a list of five delicious herbs for feel-good fall cooking!
1. Rosemary Rosmarinus officinalis
You’ll be invigorated and reminded of fresh pine with this herb. Rosemary is a lovely ingredient to use when baking fresh, wholegrain bread or in a harvest-themed dressing with vinegar. Also use rosemary to season meat, fish, or chicken. With its piquant flavor, this herb may also be the salt substitute you’ve been searching for. When cooking, make sure to strip from the stem or use the sprigs; rosemary is particularly strong, so you may want to use sparingly according to your taste. You can also use the flowers as potpourri!
2. Calendula Calendula officinalis
The beautiful, golden flower petals of the calendula are ideal to dry and add some tang to soups, stews, and seafood. It will give your meal a mild, spicy kick. You can even use the dried petals to decorate for the harvest season and Thanksgiving! If you have fresh petals, you can add them to fruit parfaits and veggie salads. If you’re a tea drinker, brew up some calendula tea, which can help ease indigestion and has been known to soothe morning sickness.
3. Clove Syzygium aromaticum
Looking to spice up your seasonal desserts? Clove (pictured right) can really spice up the flavor of fruit, so try using a few pinches if you’re steaming up some hot apple pie or cider. Try blending cloves with cinnamon and nutmeg for some spicy and sweet pastries. But these flower buds can do more than just dessert. Clove is tasty in curries, and you can make a clove marinade for your holiday roasts!
4. Sage Salvia officinalis
Did you know the root of the word sage, salvere, means “to heal?” Sage has been shown to have diaphoretic qualities (something that assists with perspiration, helping you to manage fevers), and it was traditionally believed to enhance attention and memory. This woodsy, evergreen shrub will certainly bring out the flavors of autumn in your meals. Use chopped leaves in stuffing and omelets. You can also try fresh, whole leaves in a salad. Need a side dish for that upcoming Halloween party? Try adding some finely chopped sage to cottage and cream cheese to create a yummy spread! Sage also blends well with other herbs—so check out the recipe for Herbs de Provence below!
5. Anise Pimpinella anisum
This is the perfect herb for licorice lovers! It's another great seed to use when preparing desserts. Traditionally used in biscotti cookies and candies, you can also grind up the seeds to give your cakes, fish, and salads a very distinct and warm flavor. Try adding some anise to your espresso or tea to create a naturally sweet, licorice-flavored treat!
Ready to start boosting your nutrients by cooking with herbs? Try mixing up our Herbs de Provence seasoning to use in seasonal recipes!
Herbs de Provence
Makes about 3⁄4-cup. Use to season vegetables, poultry, cheese spreads, or meat.
1⁄2-t dried sage Salvia officinalis
3-T dried thyme Thymus vulgaris
3-T dried lavender Lavandula angustifolia flowers
3-T dried marjoram Origanum majorana or oregano Origanum vulgare
3-T dried savory Satureja L.
1-t dried basil Ocimum basilicum
Mix all together and use in recipes or as a rub for fish or chicken. This mixture is most flavorful if used within one year.
Interested in diving deeper into herbs and more recipes like this one? Check out our accredited programs and courses in Holistic Nutrition!
What are YOUR favorite herbs to cook with? Leave a comment to let us know!
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease. This article has not been reviewed by the FDA. Always consult with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor before making any significant changes to your health and wellness routine.
 Editors of Health.com. (2013, October 8). 5 reasons to try a vegetarian diet. ABC News. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/reasons-vegetarian-diet/story?id=20473782#1