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
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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!

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APR
04

Plant-Based Eating for Earth Month

Plant-based diets are best for our planet and our bodies. Research suggests that diets rich in plant foods have a significantly lower environmental impact compared to animal foods. Plant foods have also been shown to reduce risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.1

Earth appleRaising animals is taxing on our environment for many reasons. To put it simply, when we raise animals, we must feed and water them. Animals (especially cows) are quite inefficient at converting food and water into meat. This means it takes a lot of feed (usually in the form of grain) and water to produce small amounts of meat. For example, we must allocate a third of the Earth’s croplands to grow feed for livestock.2 Taking into account the water used to grow the grain fed to cattle, it takes over 1,845 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef.3 Rather than losing energy in the conversion from plants to animals, we could save resources by eating more plants.  

What about protein? While animal foods are a great source of protein, plant foods have protein, too. In fact, when we get our protein from plants, it is more affordable, has a smaller environmental impact, and doesn’t come with saturated fat and cholesterol like animal protein does. 

Beans and legumes—like chickpeas, black beans, and lentils—are an excellent source of plant-based protein. In addition to protein, beans and legumes are a great source of fiber. The combination of protein and fiber promotes a feeling of fullness—perfect for those trying to manage their weight. Beans also offer a host of other important nutrients like vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6, folate, copper, zinc, and manganese.

Banza boxDespite their superior nutrition profile, many people have a hard time adding more beans to their diet. Banza products can help break down those barriers to eating beans. Banza makes pasta from chickpeas. A cup of Banza pasta contains nearly half of one’s fiber needs for the whole day. It also contains a whopping 25g of protein—the same amount in a 4oz steak.
 
Still skeptical of pasta made from beans? Our Moroccan Chickpea Pasta salad will make you a believer. Featuring Banza chickpea pasta, fresh herbs and veggies, creamy feta cheese, and Moroccan spices, this pasta salad will satisfy even the most enthusiastic carnivore. Find it in our deli (and on sale for $6.98/lb through 4/12!)

Celebrate Earth Month by choosing nutrient-packed beans a few times a week. After all, if Americans were to reduce their meat consumption by just 20%, it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan to a Prius. With a dish as delicious as Moroccan Chickpea Pasta, you won’t miss the meat one bit.

CHICKPEA PASTA sm

For more tips about how to add beans to your diet, click here.

 

References

  1. Dietary Patterns and Sustainability: Modified NEL systematic review. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015-scientific-report/10-chapter-5/d5-3.asp.
  2. Livestock and Landscapes [PDF]. (2012). Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  3. Water Footprint Network. Product gallery: Beef. Retrieved April 4, 2017, from http://waterfootprint.org/en/resources/interactive-tools/product-gallery/
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