Healthy Eating Reaps Bountiful Solutions #HERBS

My definition of HERBS above is why I always have a few in my kitchen. Right now I have  cilantro and parsley as you can see from the picture above. Can you tell which is which? I love fresh herbs and use them daily. From planting, watching them grow, picking them fresh to nibble on, to use when cooking, and we can’t forget all their extraordinary medicinal benefits. So grab your garden tools, get down on your knees, and start planting! I promise the end result will be rewarding.

Below are seven favorites that are easy to grow in your garden or containers if you don’t have the space. All the herbs below enjoy plenty of sunshine, who doesn’t, but can tolerate light shade. Don’t stress when planting. Enjoy the fresh air and getting dirty; it’s good for the soul. If all else fails, you can always run to your local garden store and hand pick your ready to use herbs to enjoy. No judgement here!

BASIL
A go-to herb in the summer. Give it well-drained soil and you’ll be making pesto in no time. Be sure to pinch off any flower buds because once basil begins to flower, the leaf flavor declines.

OREGANO
A beautiful herb to plant in a pot to control growth. The small leaves are packed with flavor and perfect for topping homemade pizza.

ROSEMARY
A woody shrub with an unforgettable aroma and needle-like foliage that adds flavor to roasted potatoes and chicken dishes. The quickest way to kill container-grown rosemary is by watering it too much. It needs consistent moisture, not wet feet.

THYME
Looks beautiful when planted at the front of a container where the tiny leaves can mound over the edge of the pot. Don’t overwater; it’s drought-resistant making it easy to grow.

MINT
Love, love, love! It will quickly take over so grow mint in pots where its aggressive growth can be contained. Growing mint in your garden can help ward off ants and flies.

PARSLEY
A favorite culinary herb used in sauces, salads, and soups. It also lessens the need for salt. Parsley makes a perfect garnish and it’s also good for you; it’s rich in iron and vitamins A and C.

CILANTRO
Love it or hate it. Me, I can’t get enough of it. Cutting off the flower heads redirects the plant’s energy back into leaf and not flower or seed production. With Cinco de Mayo this weekend, what better way to celebrate than with a cilantro lime shrimp taco and tequila; the perfect pair but that’s for another post.

Rebecca Louise | Realife Co

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Food for Thought

Weather this weekend along the New Jersey coastline is calling for wind and rain…yuck!  So my weekend activities will include drinking wine and cooking. I love to create new dishes with just what I have in my kitchen. My Italian grandmother, Grandma Lena, taught our family how to make delicious dishes with the bare minimums.  She was from Abruzzo, Italy where Italian cuisine, I believe, is at its purest. Why? Located in central Italy it stretches from the heart of the Apennines to the Adriatic Sea. On mostly mountainous and wild terrain and being surrounded by its famous nations parks between the North and South it has been protected from centuries of foreign cuisine influences.

A small town in Abruzzo called Villa Santa Maria is known as the “Home of Chefs”.
Some of the world’s best chefs have been learning to cook for royalty and renowned restaurants around the world in Villa Santa Maria. In October there is an Abruzzo food festival celebrating Italian cooks, which prominent chefs attend. I would love to celebrate my birthday in this small town one year. You guessed it…my birthday is in October! Abruzzo food is a mixture of different traditional tastes and even today, its variety mirrors its background from a large number of Abruzzo cooking customs from years of uninterrupted traditions – it’s where the cuisine from both the sea and the mountains comes alive!

Here is one of my favorite dishes:  Sagne e Fagioli or better know as Pasta e Fagioli, a pasta and bean soup.

Ingredients:
1 cup Ditalini pasta
6 thick sliced bacon, diced
2 cups onion, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cans (15 oz.) white beans, drained
3 cups chicken broth
1 can (15 ½ oz.) kidney beans
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Directions:
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly and drain well.

In 5 quart saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Add onion, celery, garlic; stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, mash 1 can of white beans. Add chicken broth, remaining beans, cooked pasta, tomato with juice, bay leaf and oregano.

Add bean mixture to saucepan, heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.

Pour a glass of wine and buon appetito!

 

Rebecca Louise | Realife Co