Kids & Company Blog

Herb it up

Do you ever finish making dinner and feel like your food is lacking a little something? Whether comparing the taste of your food to a restaurant or the appearance to your favourite food magazine, there is often a simple solution…Herbs! Herbs are edible plants that can take your cooking to the next level with their fragrance and flavour! Not only are herbs an amazing garnish and flavour enhancer, they can also have great health benefits. Some of my favourite herbs to cook with are basil, cilantro and dill!

Herbs are a fantastic way to boost the flavour of your food with little to no calories! Many common ingredients we add to contribute to or enhance the taste of our foods such as salt and sugar can be very high in calories and have other detrimental health effects. However, herbs are the opposite with almost no calories, fat, sugar, or salt and lots of amazing health benefits! For example, compounds in basil have been found to prevent disease and protect the health of our eyes. Cilantro is another delicious herb that contains great antioxidants, fibre and essential vitamins such as vitamins A and K. Components in cilantro have been found to be great for detoxifying the body.

The wispy and fernlike leaves of the dill plant have a soft, sweet taste. It is also a good source of vitamin A. Dill was mentioned both in the Bible and in ancient Egyptian writings. It was popular in the ancient Greek and Roman cultures, where it was considered a sign of wealth and was revered for its many healing properties. Dill was used by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, in a recipe for cleaning the mouth. Ancient soldiers would apply burnt dill seeds to their wounds to accelerate the healing process. Though herbs are usually consumed in much smaller amounts than vegetables and fruit, their extremely high nutrient density can make their consumption just as beneficial!

Herbs can easily be included into meals whether it’s for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacks! This great food group is so versatile because it can be used as fresh or dried leaves and can either be cooked with food or left raw. Basil compliments strong acidic foods very well.  This herb steps up any tomato sauce recipe and is great in sweet or savoury dishes. Cool down and refresh this summer with delicious strawberry basil lemonade!  

Anyone who has tasted my cooking knows that I add cilantro to just about anything! Especially in the summer, cilantro freshens up some of my favourite salads, sauces and marinades. Dill leaves provide a tangy addition to pickles, salad dressings and fish dishes. My favourite use of this herb is to combine it with plain yogurt and chopped cucumber for a delicious cooling dip!

Fresh herbs should always be stored in the refrigerator either wrapped in a damp towel or with its stems placed in a container of water. Since it is very fragile, even if stored properly, the herbs will only keep fresh for a few days. But a great way to lock in the flavours of summer is to freeze the fresh herbs either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. My favourite way of storing herbs is to freeze them in ice cube trays covered with water or stock that can be added when preparing soups, stews or sauces.

Some of our favourite Kidco Kitchen recipes include delicious herbs! We use oregano in both our Turkey Bolognaise and Chicken Souvlaki which adds a deep, pungent flavour to these great dishes.

Many of our ethnic dishes include different herbs that introduce your little ones to a diverse pallet of flavours such as thyme in our featured Jolly Jerk Chicken. The Yummy Yogurt Dip is a Kidco Kitchen staple with dill as the shining star!

Try incorporating herbs into your favourite dishes to kick up the flavour and nutrition!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @kidcochildcare and on Instagram @cheflisaruscica!

Cheers,

Chef Lisa Ruscica

Chief Food Ambassador

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