A sprinkle of herbs adds freshness to dishes in cultures around the world. Possessing the colors and qualities of leafy greens, herbs often offer a similar nutrient profile. Herbs like parsley, mint, basil and cilantro are rich in vitamins A, C and K. In fact, a single half cup of parsley offers an impressive 547% of the daily recommended intake to support blood coagulation and bone health. Beyond these properties, herbs have polyphenols. These are powerful plant compounds that have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show polyphenols can be protective against certain types of cancers and may reduce the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Herbs start their seasonality in the spring and flourish throughout the summer in Michigan. Here are three recipes that take advantage of the wonderful flavors herbs have to offer:
Sizzling Garlic and Herb Yogurt Dip
This Greek yogurt-based dip features olive oil infused with garlic and spring herbs. Simply heat olive oil and pour it over garlic and herbs, such as parsley and basil, then spoon the mixture on top of the creamy Greek yogurt mixture.
- 1 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 2% milkfat
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. paprika
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp. fresh basil
- 1 lemon wedge
- In a bowl, mix Greek yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for about 2-3 minutes, until the oil is shimmering but not smoking.
- In a glass bowl, add spices and herb, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour the hot oil over the spices and let infuse until the oil has cooled slightly, about 5-7 minutes.
- Spread yogurt in a serving dish and spoon over the oil mixture, making sure all spices are grabbed from the bottom. Sprinkle juice from the lemon wedge on top. Serve with your favorite dippers. Enjoy!
Chili Lime Chimichurri
This delicious herb mixture is simply made from fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and some pepper for spice. Simply add to a blender and top on your favorite grilled meats, salads or tacos.
- 1 cup firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 to 4 garlic cloves
- 2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 red chili pepper, seeds removed (use half to reduce spice level)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a blender, combine all ingredients until smooth. Drizzle on top of your favorite food.
Cucumber Mint Feta Salad
A little preparation of the cucumbers and onions will lead to tasty results in this refreshing summer salad. Olive oil in the dressing component adds healthy fat and ties together the creamy feta in the dish.
- 2 English cucumbers
- 1 tsp. salt
- ¼ cup chopped red onions
- 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 tsp. honey
- Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
- ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
- Cut the cucumbers in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the seeds, then cut into ¼-inch-thick slices. Toss the cucumbers with the salt in a colander to release remove excess moisture. Let drain in the sink for about 30 minutes, then lay cucumbers on a towel and blot dry using the ends of the towel.
- While the cucumbers are releasing water, soak the red onions in a bowl of ice water for ten minutes, then drain in a strainer. Blot dry with a paper towel.
- In a large bowl, toss the cucumbers, onions, vinegar, olive oil, honey, pepper to taste and mint. Add crumbled feta and serve.
Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family. For more recipes and health information, visit ahealthiermichigan.org.
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