Eat Empowered, Healthy Eating Tips

The Easiest Ways to Cook With Fresh Herbs (and Why You Should)

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Ask Keri: I want to incorporate more fresh herbs into my cooking but I don’t know where to start. Are there simple ways to use them?

Keri Says: I love how fresh herbs can literally transform a meal, and you definitely don’t have to have chef skills to cook with them. Add some fresh basil or oregano to plain baked chicken, and you suddenly have a delicious, “gourmet” meal.

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Herbs and spices are not only meal-inspiring, they’re packed with antioxidants that fight inflammation. Oregano, for example, has four times the antioxidant power of blueberries (woah!) and also contains vitamins K and E and iron. Plus, herbs contain almost no calories and add a ton of flavor in ways that help you avoid overusing oil, butter, or the salt shaker.

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Still, I know they can be a little intimidating. Often, you’ll buy a fragrant bunch of basil at the farmers market, make a Caprese salad, and then the rest turns black in the fridge before you’ve had a chance to Google another recipe.

To avoid that sad food fate, try some of my favorite simple ways to start using herbs as part of your regular, everyday cooking habits. One of my oldest wellness tricks is including some kind of herb or spice at every meal, and this will help you get there.

fresh herbs

How to Cook With Fresh Herbs

1. Add them to salads…

When you think basil and salad, you automatically think of the aforementioned Caprese, which is an amazing classic. But basil can also be added to just about any salad. Just chop it into strips and throw it on top. If you’re making a summery salad with avocado, corn, and fresh tomatoes layered on your greens, throw a handful of cilantro in.

2….or to salad dressings

Option B: Homemade salad dressings are better with herbs. Basil pairs perfectly with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, for instance. Love Keri’s two-minute lemon dressing? Throw in freshly chopped parsley, chives, or oregano, depending on the flavor you’re looking for (or what’s fresh at the moment).

3. Sprinkle them on your eggs

There’s nothing like a scramble to use up leftover herbs. Just chop them up and throw them in with the eggs. I love basil, oregano, and chives for eggs, but you can really use any herb. Pair them with your favorite veggies and you’ve got a meal that’s good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

4. Make a dip

Here’s an awesome hack: Mix some chopped herbs with salt and pepper into Greek yogurt, and you’ve instantly got a delicious dip. (Get the full recipe here.) It works well as a topping for chicken and fish or you can dip your veggie sticks right in.

5. Spruce up your drink

And hey, you’re going to need something to drink, too. Mint, especially, is an herb that is delicious when you add it to water, iced tea, or even a low-sugar cocktail.

 

(Photos: Shutterstock)

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