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Healthy eating with basil (and recipes)

May 3, 2011
Tomato basil salad

Tomato basil salad

Here we go again with the weather. Just when I feel like I’m behind on gearing up for summer, I’m digging my sweater out of the back of the closet. By this time of year, most people’s gardens are in full swing and luckily the recent temperature dip wasn’t severe enough to tamper with that.

One of my favorite, and often the easiest, plants to grow is basil. You find these plants at local nurseries, HEB, Whole Foods and the like just bursting with growth and for nearly the same cost as the packaged fresh herbs in the produce section (sometimes the packaging on the rooted variety reads, “I’m a live plant!” just to make sure shoppers don’t confuse the two). Why not buy the plant and have this versatile and flavorful herb on demand?

I want to point out that basil is also a great for growing in small containers. Apartment dwellers, renters, condo owners: no excuses here. This plant will survive on a balcony or even in a sunny window, if that’s all you’ve got to offer.

When space is an issue, consider the usefulness of the plants you are growing. Basil, used in a variety of summer dishes including bruschetta, pasta, vegetables and pizza, is also a great source of vitamins and minerals, with the essential oils possessing antibacterial properties.

As for health benefits, I like to maximize these with a simple basil pesto –– heart-healthy olive oil and antioxidant-stimulating garlic mingle with basil’s summery flavor in a delicious and good-for-you combination.

Remember – growing your own herbs encourages you to cook with them, and cooking with herbs leans more to the healthy side of the spectrum. Think fresh, and go heavy on the herbs.

Classic Basil Pesto
2 cups packed basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup pine nuts (for authentic Italian taste, or you can use pecans if you want to keep it local)
½ cup olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
sea salt to taste

Combine the basil, garlic, nuts and cheese in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil and process until smooth (you may need to add more depending on how you like the consistency). Season with salt to taste.

Serve immediately or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Summer Basil Salad

2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
½ cup chopped basil leaves
1 clove garlic, chopped or crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Combine and enjoy. Awesome on its own, on bruschetta bread or with pasta.

Basil, the friend to container gardeners.

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  • Plant grow

    It’s great that you can just pick some of your ingredient at your backyard. I don’t have a basil herb in my outdoor garden, I will try to plant this so I can just pick it in my backyard.

  • clove essential oil

    Basil essential oil has a refreshing effect and hence it is used for treating nervous tension, mental fatigue, melancholy, migraines and depression. Due to this calming nature of basil essential oil, it is widely used in aromatherapy. It regular use gives mental strength and clarity.

  • Samuel

    Doing cycling is best exercise, It is the best exercise for thighs and makes cut and reduce your belly fat in days. Cycling is, if we do every day more than 45 minutes or one hour than its a good to helps you away from other several of diseases.

  • Eldon

    APPLES: Along with strawberries, oranges, peaches and grapefruit, apples contain pectin a form of fibre that can make you feel fuller for hours,
    DATES OR DRIED MANGO: These little gems have all the sweetness of jollies, with the added bonus of vitamin C and iron….