APR
17

Tempt Your Taste Buds With Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs are an opportunity to take flavor from bland to brilliant, without adding salt, sugar, or fat. In fact, a bunch of herbs contains a bunch of nutrients. In addition to vitamins and minerals, the oils in most herbs lend antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can deliver impressive disease-fighting health benefits. Whether you're using a bunch or just a pinch, fresh herbs add aromatic flavors and an attractive pop of color to your plate. 

Unsure of how to use fresh herbs in the kitchen? Fresh herbs fit into just about any dish. Keep in mind that in most cases, heat destroys the flavor and nutrients of fresh herbs, so they're best when added at the end of the cooking process. Exceptions are hardy, woody herbs like rosemary and sage, which can stand up to some heat. Otherwise there are no "rules" when cooking with fresh herbs—only that you and your guests enjoy eating them. Use the table below as a guide, but don't be afraid to get creative and use herbs in innovative ways! 

 Flavor ProfilePerfect For...World Cuisines to Inspire YouRecipes to Try
Basil
Basil 1
Bright, minty, and peppery with a bit of sweetnessAdd basil to salads, sandwiches, pizza, marinara sauce, and pasta. Pair with anything involving tomatoes. Or make homemade pesto. Italian
Greek
Thai

Summer Pasta with Figs, Pancetta, and Basil

Chives
atp gen gourm 0210 246 chives
Refreshingly light onion tasteThinly slice and use as a garnish for any savory dish. Chives are great in dips, in quesadillas, with eggs, and atop baked potatoes. They can also balance the heaviness of rich foods like cream sauces and risotto. Chinese
French
Tri-Colored Penne, Argula, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives, and Fresh Mozzarella 
Cilantro
Cilantro
Bright and citrusy, sometimes soapyAdd it to salsa, guacamole, soups, stews, salads, tacos, fish, and chicken dishes. Pairs well with any Mexican-inspired dish. Mexican
Indian                 
MiddleEastern 

BBQ Chicken Sandwich with Jalapeno Cilantro Coleslaw

Jicama Salad with Pomegranate Lime Dressing

Dill
atp gen gourm 0210 222 dill cm
Clean, grassy, tangy, and earthyPairs well with seafood (especially salmon) and anything involving cucumber. Add it to potato salad, omletes, yogurt dressing, and watery cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, and goat cheese. FrenchBBQ Pork Ribs and Creamy Dill Potato Salad
Mint
mint1
Refreshingly sweet flavor with a cooling aftertastePairs well with lamb, stone fruit, berries, and chocolate. Add it to ice cream, frozen yogurt, iced tea, and mojitos. Indian
Mexican
Moroccan
Thai

Greek Spinach Salad

Lemon Mint Freekeh Salad

Parsley
parsley foodpedia dr steven lin
Grassy and slightly peppery. Curly parsley is less assertive that flat-leaf parsley (which is also called Italian parsley)Use it as a garnish for just about any savory dish. Chop it up and sprinkle it over eggs, grilled steaks, fish, chicken, lamb, rice, or vegetables. French
Greek
Italian
Herb-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Lemon Pepper Green Beans 
Oregano
Oregano
A hint of earthiness combined with a slight spicenessChop it up and add it to vinaigrette, pizza, rice, or tomato sauce. Pairs well with poultry and wild game. French
Italian
Greek
Sun-Dried Tomato Soup
Rosemary
rosemary2
A strong, sometimes pungent, pine-like earthy fragrance and flavorPairs well with garlic and olive oil. Add it to beef, lamb, chicken, turkey, pork, or potatoes. Simmer stews, soups, or sauces with a sprig on the surface; remove before serving. French
Italian
Greek
Roasted Lemon Chicken Sausages with Rosemary Garlic
Sage
sage
Mild to slightly peppery taste, with a touch of mint, eucalyptus, and cedarStands up well to bold, savory dishes, like cured meats, sausages, por dishes, rich and creamy dishes, and anything invovling brown butter. It's also an American staple in turky dishes and stuffing. Italian
French
Apple Sage Wild Rice Stuffing
Tarragon
2c569b95797e49bac05e3b22c1a9b320
A delicate anise or licorice flavor that's more sweet than strongPairs well with white wine vinegar and mustard. Add it to omelets, fish, and chicken dishes. Add it to stews, rice dishes, dips, and sauces.FrenchYogurt-Herb Dressing
Thyme
thyme3
Lemony, slightly minty, piney, and earthyInlcude it in a bouquet garni to season stocks, soups, and sauces. Pairs well with pork, lamb, or duck, as well as with other herbs like rosemary, parsley, sage, and oregano. Add it to stews, rice dishes, dips, and sauces. 

French
Italian
Greek
Moroccan
Caribbean

Leek and Goat Cheese Tart

Store Your Herbs Right
To keep fresh herbs from going to waste, treat them like fresh flowers. Place them in a small jar or glass with an inch of water at the bottom. Place a plastic bag loosely over the leaves. Store them in the fridge or on the counter top.Parsley bunch in a glass copy

 

OR freeze your herbs for later. Chop your herbs up and pack them into an ice cube tray. Fill each cell with olive oil and place them in the freezer until you're ready to up. Then simply add a cube to your dish, allow the oil to melt, and voila—a pop of herb flavor!

herbs ice cube tray

 

Meet Your Farmer: Meyer Farms 
Sunset's selection of fine culinary herbs comes from Meyer Farms in Wauconda, IL. Vern Meyer is a pioneer in the packaged herb industry, and Sunset was his first customer back in 1990! His family-run organic farm continues to grow a superior product. 

Screen Shot 2017 04 17 at 6.26.57 PM

Click here to learn more about cooking with fresh herbs!

Continue reading
3999 Hits
MAR
21

Sweet Nothings: Facts on Added Sugar

The Nutrition Facts label is getting a face-lift. Among other changes, such as updated servings sizes and more prominent calorie and percent daily values, a major change to the label involves added sugars. On the new label, added sugars will be listed separately from natural sugars. 


original and new nutrition facts label

Manufacturers have until July of 2018 to adopt the new label and declare added sugars. However, you may notice that some food labels are already beginning to adopt the new label.

What are added sugars? Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods and beverages when they are processed or prepared. This includes sugars that are added by manufacturers, as well as sugars you may add at home. Added sugars are linked with a rise in chronic diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Added sugars are found in processed foods. The largest sources of added sugars in Americans’ diet include: 

  • Soda, soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Pies and cobblers
  • Pastries, sweet rolls, and donuts
  • Fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch 
  • Dairy desserts, such as ice cream

Added sugar goes by many names on ingredient lists. Pseudonyms for added sugar include: 

  • Agave nectar
  • Anhydrous dextrose
  • Brown sugar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Cane juice
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Crystal dextrose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated corn sweetener 
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar 
  • Lactose
  • Liquid fructose
  • Malt syrup 
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Nectar (e.g. peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • Pancake syrup
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose 
  • Sugar cane juice
  • White granulated sugar


Some of these different forms of sugar may seem more wholesome than others, but our bodies generally do not differentiate between them. 

How are added sugars different from natural sugars? Natural sugars occur naturally in fruits and dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese. Natural sugars are found in smaller amounts in vegetables, beans, and some grains. 

Our bodies process all sugars, no matter the source, in very similar ways. However, there are big differences in the nutritional value of the foods in which those sugars are found. Foods with natural sugars are healthy foods that contain important nutrients. Besides sugars, fruits contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Dairy products contain calcium, vitamin D, and protein. 

So gram for gram, the sugar content of a candy bar may be similar to that of a couple oranges. However, the sugars in the candy bar are “empty calories” (i.e. calories that don’t offer any benefit besides energy), whereas the oranges provide vitamin C, fiber, and other health-promoting pytonutrients. It’s also important to note that the fiber in fruits and the protein in dairy products slow the digestion of sugars, leading to a healthier blood sugar response. 

natural versus added sugar

Why bother to declare added sugars? According to the FDA, the decision to declare added sugars “reflects our greater understanding of nutritional science…including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease.” A key recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is to reduce intake from solid fats, sodium, and added sugars because all have been linked to chronic disease. Solid fats and sodium are indicated on the nutrition label, whereas added sugars are not. The FDA recognizes that consumers are better able to make informed choices about added sugars when they know how much they normally eat. 

The FDA also notes that mandatory declaration of added sugars may also prompt reformulation of foods high in added sugars. A similar situation occurred with trans fats; once the labeling trans fats became required, manufacturers voluntarily began removing them from their products. 

How much is too much added sugar?
American Heart Association recommends no more than:

  • 6 teaspoons, or 24 grams, of added sugars for women
  • 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams, of added sugars for men

To put that in perspective, one 12-ounce can of soda contains about 38 grams of added sugars. Most Americans far exceed added sugar recommendations.

How can you reduce your added sugar intake? 
In light of National Nutrition Month, try replacing a source of added sugar with a natural sugar. For example:

  • For snacking on the go, swap out a granola bar for a banana or a handful of dried fruit
  • Sweeten plain yogurt with berries in lieu of pre-sweetened yogurt. 
  • Beverages account for almost half of all added sugars consumed by Americans. Switch to a non-caloric beverage, like water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, or carbonated water. 
Continue reading
4770 Hits