The Daily Beet

27 Mar Adventures with Ami: Flavorful Herbs

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Life can get crazy busy sometimes.

Sometimes a little reset is necessary. Fresh foods, simple foods, flavored with herbs and spices, nothing processed, just whole, real, wholesome foods.  How many different herbs have you tried to incorporate into your meals?  Have you ever grown herbs on a windowsill or in your garden?Herbs are really easy to grow and can be just the thing to liven up your dishes.

At one of the national discount grocers the other day, I saw a ‘kitchen garden’ in a pot that included 5 different kinds of herbs for $7.99.  Not only was it pretty, but included all the things you would need put a fresh twist on dinner.  So even if you don’t have a green thumb, keep your eyes out for one of these ready to go gardens at a garden center or grocery near you.

If you are feeling adventurous and want to grow your own herbs, there are hundreds of varieties of seeds and seedlings available to choose from.  The first year that we grew herbs in our garden, we planted ‘one of everything’.  We had not really given much thought to what we would use in our kitchen.  We had a bunch of peppermint and lavender that we didn’t know what to do with.  We ran out of cilantro upon the first batch of salsa.  So give some thought to what herbs you really like and how you might use them.

Now that we’ve been around the garden a few times, we plant a bunch of basil, thai basil, oregano, dill, rosemary, sage and a bunch of cilantro – because we love it.  We skip the others, as we just don’t use enough of them to warrant a spot in our garden.  We also warn against planting mint directly in the ground.  Plant it in a pot instead – as it runs rampant.  Even if you think you pulled it all up…think again.  Tendrils of roots and shoots from my peppermint plant, had woven their way underground four feet from the original planting site. I must have pulled up 2 pounds of peppermint roots.  Another recommendation is to read about the variety you plan on planting.  We picked and planted a gorgeous African basil plant, that mushroomed into a huge 3 foot by 3 foot shrub! Not the smaller more compact variety that we usually plant.

Pick a patch of yard that gets good sun or a place on your patio where you can stage some pots to plant your herb garden.  If you plan on planting on a window sill, look for a ready made kit to get you started.  Most include the most popular kinds of herbs that you will enjoy using in your kitchen.  Enjoy fresh herbs in your kitchen and get creative with your meals by adding fresh herbs to your recipes.

Some great guides to growing herbs can be found here:

http://www.garden.org/foodguide/browse/herb

http://www.backyardgardener.com/herb/index.html

One of my favorite recipes using herbs is from Cathy Fisher at Straight Up Food!

http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2010/05/07/kale-basil-salad/

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Ami Mackey
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is a food coach at Engine 2 Extra and has been plant-strong since 2011. She is also the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

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