Herbs and Spice (Ali Eminov)Here are the most used Mediterranean herbs and spices. You will find some basic information about their usage and properties. Even if you are not on Mediterranean Diet, use this fantastic herbs and spices in your daily cooking, it will give some delicious intense aroma to all your meals and for sure make you healthier. Check out also our Healthy Recipes page.

 

Basil

Its name derives from the Greek “basileus” and means “king”. Basil is a very popular Mediterranean herb used in various pasta dishes, salads and sauces. It can be used fresh, dried, frozen or preserved in olive oil and should never be cooked for too long. You just toss a few basil leaves in your favorite salad or sauce before serving and you will enjoy all the fantastic flavor that basil can give. Basil herb contains high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin A, iron and lots of other super healthy compounds that are known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial properties and also liberating the body from the toxins. Thanks to the essential oils contained in it, basil consumption reduces bloating, intestinal spasms, stomach cramps, indigestion as well as it helps reduce the symptoms when having the flu, bronchitis or sinus infections.

So use this awesome herb when preparing some healthy Mediterranean dishes, you can find some ideas in our Recipes section like Tomato, Feta cheese, and Basil salad or the famous Pesto Genovese sauce.

Bay Leaves

Bay originates in the Mediterranean area, where is a very common plant both in the plains and in the hills. The bay laurel leaves can be harvested throughout the year and younger leaves are richer in active ingredients. The leaves should be dried before use, as fresh bay leaves are bitter. Bay leaves have antipyretic properties, reduce sweating, help with rheumatism and muscle strain, can also help to reduce intestinal gas and bay leaves are also recommended in case of fatigue.If you add a few bay leaves when cooking legumes, especially the beans, they will be more digestible and will reduce the formation of intestinal gas. For a long time, Bay leaves were used as a remedy against the plague.Use it when preparing some roast meat, legume soup, fish with herbs and in so many other recipes. Excellent for marinades.

Herbs and spices (spinning around)Oregano

Mediterranean climate is perfect for the growth of oregano. This is one of the most popular Mediterranean herbs, used in a variety of dishes. Can be used fresh or dried like other herbs, but if fresh is richer in flavor and nutrients. It has a unique aroma, similar to marjoram but more intense. It can be used in various recipes from pizza, pasta dishes, soups, sauces and it can give that special intense flavor to you marinade.But it is not just used for cooking, oregano has some important beneficial effects on our health. It is a natural antibiotic, useful in protecting us from respiratory diseases

Its essential oil in boiling water with bicarbonate ca be inhaled in the case of cold and sinus infection, this essential oil is one of the most powerful natural antiseptic. Oregano is famous for its anticancer properties, some experts from Long Island University have shown its effectiveness against prostate cancer. Scientist have made some interesting discoveries that the oregano and rosemary have some active compounds against diabetes. Oregano is also a natural antioxidant, containing vitamin C helps your body to get rid of free radicals. It can also be used as an analgesic, in reducing pain, all you need is a teaspoon of oregano, leave it 5 minutes in a cup of boiling water, filter and drink it when warm. The same tea preparation can be used as an anti cellulite treatment, drinking one cup a day, it will enhance blood circulation and will ease drainage of tissue liquids and elimination of metabolism products.

Parsley

Parsley is a typical Mediterranean herb, used in a great variety of dishes, it is an indispensable part of the Mediterranean diet. You can use it fresh or dried, will all types of meals, especially when preparing fish dishes and it an important part of a marinade. Of course, the parsley is commonly used to garnish any plate, but it is a healthy habit to use it in everyday cooking.  It is preferable to use raw parsley leaves to preserve all its properties, because this aromatic herb has a high content of vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin C, K and A, Calcium, Iron, and Magnesium. Parsley is a powerful antioxidant thanks to its flavonoid and vitamin content, it helps you body to get rid of bad free radicals that are responsible for the development of wide variety of diseases. It is also a great source of folic acid which is important for your cardiovascular health and in preventing tumors. Chewing parsley leaves is a good thing to do in case of halitosis. The seeds of parsley can be boiled to make a tea, but although the use of parsley is considered safe, the essential oil or too much of its tea can cause headaches, seizures, kidney damage and it can even damage the fetus increasing his heart rate. Its consumption should be limited during the pregnancy since it can stimulate the uterine contractions. Used from  the time of Ancient Romans this aromatic herb has many interesting facts related like it was thought that eating parsley provokes lust, Ancient Romans had always with them a bunch of parsley hidden in togas as protection from evil, even its addition to meals was a sign of protection against evil and contamination and it was also believed that one of this herb powers was to prevent pregnancy. But superstitious or not, use this delicious aromatic herb on a daily basis because it will give that perfect touch to almost every meal you prepare. See some of our healthy recipes where parsley is used and try it if you haven’t already.

Rosemary

Together with basil, oregano and thyme it is the most used herb in the Mediterranean cuisine. It is a famous Mediterranean plant that grows near the sea, from which its Latin name “Ros Marinus” – Dew of the sea. Used fresh or dried it releases its intense aroma with sweet and sour flavor. For cooking, you can use the whole form or just the leaves depending on the recipe. It is ideal for flavoring many dishes and recommended because it helps the digestion of fats. It is an excellent nerve tonic, acts effectively in case of physical and mental fatigue. Rosemary is a great source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium and vitamin B6. It stimulates the immune system, improves digestion, has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. For preparing the tea you put a teaspoon of rosemary leaves in a cup of boiling water and leave it for 10 minutes, filter and drink it warm, 3 times a day after main meals. Its use is not recommended during the pregnancy because it can stimulate contractions of the uterus. For stimulating your blood circulation you can add some essential oil in bath water, it will also help in case of rheumatism problems. heavy legs and stress.

Rosemary will give an intense flavor to your meat dishes, baked vegetables, soups, and marinades. See our Recipe section for some delicious healthy recipes with rosemary like Roast Pork with beer or Baked squid.

Sage

This plant has been known from the ancient times for its curative properties, its Latin name “salvus” means “healthy”. For example, the Gauls believed that it can cure any kind of disease and that it is very effective against the fever and cough. The sage is rich in vitamin B1 and vitamin C, estrogen-like substances and flavonoids. It is able to stimulate the body in many ways, improves the secretion of the gastric juice, reduces sweating, has blood sugar lowering effects, helps with painful menstrual periods, indicated in case of tooth abscess and gingivitis doing mouthwash. But there are some contraindications when using sage. The essential oil of sage has a high percentage thujone ans ketone with neurotoxic action and should be used under medical supervision. Sage is not recommended in case of kidney problems, also keep in mind that it shouldn’t be used during the pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Sage tea can be made by putting two or three leaves in a cup of boiling water, leave it for 5 minutes, filter and drink it when warm, once a day. Sage tea is recommended only for short periods. It can be very helpful when heaving menstrual pain or fatigue or just for doing mouthwash in case of gingivitis. Sage leaves can be used fresh or dried in cooking to flavor your meals, from pasta do meat and fish dishes, and even in pies. Some of the recipes that the sage is used in are: Roast veal with potatoes, Baked Sea Bass with herbs in salt crust or Greek style Mackerel.

Thyme

This aromatic evergreen herb is very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine since the time of the Ancient Romans. It is used fresh or dried in various dishes from soups, salads, sauces, pizza etc.  Depending on a recipe it can be used the whole sprig or form or just the leaves, usually it is specified in the recipe. Fresh thyme is more rich in flavor and nutrients so it is better not to overcook it, but the best is if used fresh. It is used also for making tea and beverages such as lemonade. It is rich in vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C and A, Magnesium, Iron, fibers and it is one of the most powerful antioxidants. Its essential oils are famous for their anti-fungal and antiseptic action, some studies have shown that it also help in case of acne problems. It is very common part of bouquet garni. Use this extremely healthy aromatic herb in your daily dishes and try some of our delicious marinade recipes in the Recipe section. Some the meals thyme can be used are: Marinated chicken, Baked Salmon with Lemon and thyme, Lamb shanks with eggplant and thyme or Mediterranean spiced olives.

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