- Written by Nancy J. Schaaf, RN Nancy J. Schaaf, RN
It is October; the air is beginning to turn crisp, and the leaves will change from green to blazing colors of orange, red, and yellow.
And along with these wonders of fall come the smells of rosemary, thyme, and other popular autumnal herbs. In addition to their deliciousness, these herbs also boast some excellent health benefits.
Using herbs in everyday cooking is becoming more popular. Culinary herbs are aromatic, edible plants used in small amounts to flavor dishes. Chefs and home cooks use fresh and dried herbs to make sweet and savory dishes, ranging from rich sauces to light salads and herb-laced baked goods.
As well as their culinary uses, people used herbs for centuries for medicinal purposes. Many today still prefer to use natural herbal remedies to cure ailments, and more people are turning to natural foods and fresh herbs to stay healthy.
Thyme: A Truly Timeless Ancient Herb
Thyme is an evergreen herb renowned for its use as both a culinary and a medicinal herb. It should be one of the first herbs in your spice collection as thyme is one of the most basic, versatile, and often-used herbs in almost any cuisine.
Thyme’s flavor is earthy and sweet, with a slightly minty taste. Warm, peppery undertones add depth to the flavor profile.
Thyme contains impressive amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients: vitamins C and A, fiber, copper, iron, and manganese.
It is known to stimulate the liver, aid digestion, and enhance the appetite. Thyme effectively treats diarrhea and gum and mouth infections and fights against various digestive and respiratory diseases.
This herb relieves sufferers of asthma, dry coughs, bronchitis, laryngitis, and whooping cough. Thyme is a potent antioxidant that protects the body from many of the adverse effects of aging.
Thyme is used in almost every type of cuisine. Traditional uses include seasoning blends for poultry stuffings and marinades, fish sauces, soups and chowders, and lamb and veal.
Eggs and custards seasoned with thyme are delicious. Italian spaghetti sauces rely on thyme to add a warm and earthy flavor, and it is a standard component of pizza sauce.
Thyme as an herbal tea is a popular health drink with a light flavor and numerous vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.
Of all the herbs utilized in cooking, thyme is undoubtedly one of the most versatile.
Rosemary: The Herb of Remembrance
Rosemary is a perennial herb and is incredibly fragrant, with needlelike leaves and flowers that may be white, pink, blue, or purple. It is highly aromatic and spicy and the most potent standalone herb in the kitchen.
Rosemary’s various aromas and flavors have a distinct and complex range; each aroma and taste within the herb perfectly complements the others.
This herb has a pronounced lemon-pine flavor but is also woodsy and peppery. The scent is tea-like, similar to charred wood, making it highly compatible with barbecued dishes.
A distinctive mustard-like aroma is produced when rosemary leaves are roasted with meats or vegetables. A release of aromas, including pine, menthol, and pepper, is noticed when cooking or handling the leaves of this herb.
This fantastic, unique flavor profile is something that only rosemary provides, and it blends extraordinarily well with a vast array of dishes.
Modern science indicates this herb increases memory and concentration. Its piney and energizing camphor aroma can lift one’s mood while helping to fight mental fatigue and promote alertness.
While memory improvement is rosemary’s best-known benefit, this herb can offer many others.
Rosemary is a natural insect repellent, muscle relaxant, antioxidant, and analgesic agent. It increases digestive health while decreasing fatigue and sluggishness. It softens and tones the skin when added to cosmetics and skincare products.
Rosemary is a staple in traditional Italian cuisine. Fresh or dried leaves pair beautifully with various dishes, including root vegetables, pasta, sauces, fresh cheeses, breads, poultry, and lamb.
Rosemary is used to infuse oil, sauces, and syrups. Its complex flavor combines exceptionally well with mushrooms, grains, sausage, and seafood.
The wonderfully fresh taste and unique aroma of rosemary infuse a dish with its entire range of flavors, giving each culinary creation an earthiness and pungent herbal bite that no other herb can produce. Rosemary is an absolute staple with uses that can benefit anyone.
Rosemary and thyme are two herbs that should be in every kitchen. Not only are they flavorful, but they also boast remarkable health benefits.
So, go into the kitchen, cut a few herbs, and care for yourself deliciously.
Nancy J. Schaaf, a retired RN, worked as a school nurse, a nurse supervisor at a men’s prison, and a health educator. She earned her BSN at Edinboro University. She is a freelance writer whose health articles appear in magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. She can be reached at email@example.com.