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herbs



Season with Cilantro for an Extra Dose of Good Health

 

cilantro

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

“Do you like cilantro?” was the subject line of an email I recently sent out to a few people coming to my home for dinner. A cilantro-hating ex-boyfriend taught me that when you dislike the herb, it’s with a passion. (To find out why, check out the “I hate cilantro” Facebook page with more than 13,000 likes, and the blog of the same name.)

If you fall into that camp, then you can stop reading now (or, continue, just to see what you’re missing). No matter how you feel about its taste, there’s no denying that nutritionally, it’s a bona fide super food. Here’s why:

  • It’s very rich in carotenoids. This group of antioxidant phytonutrients is important for the skin and eyes, as well as overall health. When tested along with other common herbs (basil, dill, mint, parsley, rosemary), cilantro was the richest in beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • It may fight cancer. In test tube research at University of Malaya, ground up stems, leaves, and roots help kill breast cancer cells, a benefit that can be chalked up to cilantro’s plentiful carotenoids and other antioxidants.
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DIY Flavor: The Best Herbs to Grow in Your Garden (or Window)

herbs

Have you ever considered getting into the whole herb gardening thing? I certainly have, but as always, I need a strong resource to wrap my mind around what is the easiest and most beneficial thing to grow at home. I didn’t find this quickie guide, so I did the research and created one for us all. It turns out herb gardening is easy and a super healthy and cost-effective way to add heapings of extra flavor to your food. Here are the best greens to grow in an indoor or outdoor herb garden. All you need to get started are a few pots, a little bit of soil and some seeds! 

 

basil

Basil
Basil is super easy to grow at home. All you need is some seeds and the sunlight. Basil is so versatile—use it in soups and salads or make pesto with it. It works great in Italian dishes (obviously) and it can add a fun flavor blast to stirfrys too! Basil is also awesome for clearing your skin and mellowing your stress. Who knew?

Try it in a summery peach caprese salad!
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Simple Apple and Herb Dutch Oven Roasted Chicken Makes Healthy Dinner for Days

My personal food philosophy is that it has to be healthful, flavorful, and no more complicated than is necessary. I genuinely enjoy cooking for my family; it’s not a task to me. That doesn’t mean I’m not busy and I don’t have to find ways to save myself time, but I’ve made the type and quality of food we eat a priority, so that means I cut corners in other ways.

The Dutch Oven roasted chicken is my “microwave dinner,” if you will. I can give up less than two hours (often on a weekend) to roasting this bird and have more than just one meal. So when I pay a hefty price for the free-range, feel-good chicken I’m getting my money’s worth for sure.

roasted chicken

It’s not just any dried out, salt and pepper roasted chicken though. This thing is singing with flavor with plenty of juices to make you forget that whole white meat vs. dark meat debate.

And forget asking for seconds. No one can have them because I’m making a second dinner with this chicken.

The trick is to all that flavor and juice is to stuff this chicken full of flavor agents, things that offer plenty of good flavor without jamming it up with salts and fats. Fresh herbs, oranges, apples, garlic, onions, and whole peppercorns are my go-to flavor agents. These give the chicken a subtle flavor that makes it delicious enough to eat on its own, or save to use in other meals throughout the week.
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Chef Sebastien Archambault’s Toasted Farro Recipe Offers DC’s Blue Duck Tavern Diners More Whole Grains

By Janis Jibrin, M.S., R.D., Best Life lead nutritionist

Ever notice how hard it is to find a whole grain in a restaurant? That’s why I was surprised—and thrilled—to see “Toasted Farro” on the menu of Washington D.C.’s highly acclaimed Blue Duck Tavern. Farro is an ancient form of wheat grown in the Middle East and Italy; it’s a wild ancestor to the cultivated wheat we use now.

farro blue duck tavern

I loved the dish—it was both chewy and hearty. The mild-tasting grain was infused with flavors of lemon and herbs. I managed to wrangle the recipe, below, from Chef Sebastien Archambault. A stickler for using fresh, local ingredients, Archambault grew up in France and Texas and has worked with world-famous chefs such as Alain Ducasse. I guess that unusual upbringing is what it takes to put whole grains on the menu!
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Food Blogger Spotlight: Michael Natkin of Herbivoracious

If you thought Michael Natkin’s popular blog, Herbivoracious, was a quaint little site about basil and thyme, boy are you in for a surprise. This chef, blogger, cookbook author and busy father of two wants to expand your mind about the world of meatless dishes. From his website: “I love to draw inspiration from cuisines around the world, and stay abreast of the latest developments from the best chefs, then apply all of those ideas to create vegetarian dishes that you can rock at home.” With 400+ recipes to his credit, Michael has definitely been busy creating inspiring dishes for his readers.

Hey, Michael, it’s Father’s Day, put your feet up and let the kids cook for you!

m natkin resize

Why did you start your food blog? Honestly, I started the blog out of pure frustration. I wanted to be a restaurant chef, but five years ago wasn’t the right time in my life to quit my day job and make that leap. I have young kids and a wife with chronic fatigue syndrome, so it just didn’t work. I also have this unstoppable passion for food, and needed to find a way to share and connect with the larger culinary community. Food blogs were just starting to become popular, and I thought that “Hey, at least this is something I can do.”


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