Today we are going to give you some ideas on how to incorporate those herbs into your and your Child with Cancer’s diet.
While you probably know how to use most of these herbs, there may be some with which you are not that familiar and unsure of how they should be used.
Learning more about these herbs and how to use them in different foods can be some fun that you and your child(ren) can share…. from planting to how they grow to harvesting to using them….
These herbs are really good for fighting cancer, so it is important that you make them part of your Child with Cancer’s diet – the rest of the family will also benefit from their use, and they can add great taste to your dishes too.
In the following weeks we will also give you some great easy recipes to make using these herbs.
Incorporating Aloe Vera into Your Diet
Aloe Vera is a heat and drought tolerant succulent. It’s called the Lily of the Desert for that reason, but it can pretty much grow anywhere irrespective of your gardening zone.
Make Your Own Aloe Vera Juice
You can start harvesting the lower leaves for juicing once the plants have 8-10 thick, fleshy, mature leaves. Make the cuts close to the base with a sharp knife and allow the sap to ooze out. You are going to use the fleshy meat of the leaves, not the sap.
Wash the leaf and place it on a plate flat side up. Using a sharp knife, slice off the top rind to expose the clear meat underneath. Scrape it out with a spoon, and you have the clear pulp of Aloe Vera. It is colourless unless you have scraped off a bit of the rind too.
Fresh Aloe Vera gel has a mild, watery taste with the slightest hint of sharpness, neither overly bitter nor sour. You can have around one to two tablespoons at a time, plain or mixed with water, lemonade, coconut water or fruit/vegetable juices.
If you want to make larger quantities and refrigerate, cut the leaves into 3” sections and remove the edges. Remove the rind from both sides to get the transparent ‘fillets’. Liquidise them and store in glass jars for up to a week.
Incorporating Basil into Your Diet
Basil has many health benefits. It cleanses the liver, restores nerves, and reduces rheumatic joint and muscle pain.
Basil originates in Thai, Indian and Asian regions of the globe where it is mainly used for meat dishes. Basil is the ultimate complement to tomatoes, pine nuts, onions, garlic and olives. It’s often used in both Italian and Thai dishes.
There is more than one kind of basil – you may be most familiar with the Thai or Sweet Basil, but, there are more muted flavours from the Purple Basil (aka Opal Basil), Lemon Basil or the raw plant.
When mixed with many spices this herb’s taste becomes overpowered, but when paired with oregano, thyme or sage, the blend is superb. To intensify the flavour, add it near the end of the cooking process; if heated for too long the leaves lose their flavour.
Basil can be stored easily; wrap it in damp paper towels and put it in a plastic bag for up to 4 days, place the basil, stem facing down, in a glass of water with plastic wrapped over the leaves, for about a week changing water regularly, or dry and store in a cool dark place for up to 6 months.
Basil can be used in the following ways:
- Use in salads of arugula, baby kale, spinach, and other garden greens.
- Skewer basil leaves, grape tomatoes and mini-bocconcini (mozzarella balls) cheese on toothpicks.
- Place it in ice cube trays.
- Make pesto with basil, garlic, nuts, cheese, and olive oil. Spread on sandwiches, potato salad, grilled fish, wraps and use in pasta.
- Pair with summer fruit (i.e. strawberries, blueberries and mango)
- Infuse it into olive oil: can be drizzled on chicken and/or salads
- Smoothies: blend kiwis, basil, banana, grapefruit juice and ice cubes together
- Add to stir-frys
- Pizza: this spice can be used to make a delectable homemade pizza sauce or placed on the pizza as a topping.
- Add to sorbet with lime or strawberry or even blackberries
Fresh vs Dried substitutions: 1 tsp dried basil = 1T chopped fresh basil. When substituting fresh for dried basil, triple the amount
Incorporating Cherry Tomatoes into Your Diet
Make sure to store fresh tomatoes at room temperature. Avoid refrigeration, as this causes tomatoes to lose their flavour.
Tomatoes can be easily incorporated into your daily diet, from using them in sauces and soups to creating a quick bruschetta appetizer.
- Dip grape or cherry tomatoes in hummus or plain yogurt dip and have as a side or a snack
- Add sliced tomato to your sandwiches and wraps
- Add tomatoes to marinara sauces when making pasta
- Used tomatoes in soups
- Have a piece of toast with avocado and tomato slices
- Make your own quick salsa with diced tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, cilantro and freshly squeezed lime
- Dice fresh tomatoes and add them to rice and beans, quesadillas or tacos. Add them to your omelettes or scrambles for breakfast
- Drizzle freshly sliced tomatoes and sliced mozzarella with balsamic vinegar and top with chopped basil
- Make a quick bruschetta for an appetizer.
Incorporating Cilantro/Coriander into Your Diet
Cilantro is a tender herb (along with mint and basil) which has gentle leaves that are best to add either raw or near the end of cooking in order to maintain their delicate flavour and texture.
When preparing cilantro, separate the leaves from the stems and only use the leaves. Use a sharp knife or herb shears and cut gently. Cutting with a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb, and much of the flavour will be misplaced onto the cutting board surface.
Cilantro pairs well with many dishes, especially Mexican or Thai dishes and those with beans, cheese, eggs, and fish. Cilantro is also great with creamy vegetable dips and as a topping or garnish for soups and salads.
Top 10 uses for cilantro:
- Add cilantro into a stir-fry, toward the end of cooking to maintain the fresh flavour and oils that can stimulate digestion and minimize gastric distress.
- Chop and toss into some of the fresh herb into guacamole. At my house, we like to add chopped calamata olives for a salty contrast to the creamy, sweet avocado flavour.
- Dab it. Essential oil of cilantro can be used topically to minimize skin inflammation. To use, add a small amount (a couple of drops) to your favourite cold sesame oil or almond oil for a light, soothing massage.
- Throw a handful into a smoothie.
- There’s nothing like a warming, ginger-cilantro curry to nourish and soothe.
- Chop it like salad and eat a whole bunch (tasty with chopped peanuts, mango, and crisp green lettuce) to boost gastrointestinal processes.
- Season your dishes.
- Finish sesame noodles with fresh, chopped peanuts and cilantro.
- Garnish roasted Brussels by adding a dash of soy sauce, garlic, chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Add cilantro to a fresh-pressed juice for a cooling effect for pitta doshas
Incorporating Ginger into Your Diet
Ginger is known for its spicy flavour and its ability to help with minor gastrointestinal issues. However, ginger has also shown promise as an effective anti-inflammatory agent.
Add more ginger to your diet in the following ways:
Drink ginger tea. One of the easiest ways to include more ginger in your diet is to start drinking ginger tea. You can make ginger tea using a commercial brand of ginger tea or by steeping fresh ginger root in hot water.
Season your food with ginger:
- Try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of minced ginger to a stir fry, soup, or curry recipe.
- Include about ½ teaspoon of dried ginger in your next batch of muffins or cookies.
- If you like the taste of raw ginger, then you can try adding about ½ teaspoon of minced fresh ginger to a salad or a bowl of soup.
Eat Candied ginger which you can either make yourself (recipe next week) or buy
Drink Ginger Ale which you can either make yourself (recipe next week) or buy
Incorporating Mint into Your Diet
Sweets – The easiest and most common way of incorporating mint into your diet is via dessert. Mint is often used as a garnish, but it can also be a great flavour component to sweets. Plus, by having it with dessert, all those digestive qualities will be put to good use.
Drinks – Mint tea is already a favourite for many tea drinks, and it’s great for getting into the sinus passages and relieving headaches and stuffy noses. However, this is not the only way to drink up your fill of mint. Another respected combination is mint and chocolate. Mint is a fine compliment to fruits, making it a perfect addition to smoothies
Chutney – While mint will rarely feature as the main flavour of a dish, it’s a great accent. Mint sauce has classically been combined with lamb and beef, and while it’s known to be a good companion to meat, it can also work well with plant-based dishes. For example, tandoori and mint chutney are traditionally fast friends. Pair it with curry as well.
Spreads – Mint with bread is probably not the first duo that comes to mind for most, but mint jellies are fantastic and can seriously do justice to a biscuit or slice of toast.
Salads – Some mint adds a twist to any good mixed green salad, and it’s also a fun with chunky salads donning apples or potatoes. Also, add mint to your fruit salads. Mint is also dynamite in citrusy salad dressings.
Incorporating Oregano into Your Diet
Oregano is a Mediterranean herb that goes well with pizzas and pasta sauces. It is a perennial, which means it can grow all year.
Other ideas include:
- chopping and mixing it in bread dough to make herby rolls
- adding it fresh to salad – Start with a small amount, as too much can make the food bitter
- Make a simple tomato sauce (recipe coming)
- Use it in a Bolognese sauce
- Add it to chili
- Season your pizza
- Make Oregano Pesto
- Put it in soups and stews
- Season fresh or cooked vegetables
- Sprinkling meat or chicken with oregano for flavour – Add it toward the end of the cooking process for maximum flavour
- Using it in marinades or stuffings – The smaller you chop or grind it, the more flavour will be released
One teaspoon of dried oregano is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh oregano
Pair Oregano with Other Spices
Oregano doesn’t have to be used on its own, and it actually complements a number of other herbs and spices very nicely. Some of the best and most popular spice pairings with oregano include:
Incorporating Parsley into Your Diet
Fresh chopped parsley has a spicy, peppery flavour and pairs well with potatoes, tomato-based sauces, poultry dishes, grain-based salads, seafood, Mediterranean flavours, and egg dishes.
Incorporate Parsley into your diet in the following ways:
- Marinate steak with parsley, chives, tarragon, lemon zest and a bit of olive oil
- Add chopped parsley to sandwiches
- Parsley brightens up and brings a bit of a peppery taste to meatloaf
- Use it in a homemade Salsa Verde (recipe next week) which you can use on salads, sandwiches, roasted chicken, pasta or anything else your heart desires.
- Finish off an omelette, quiche, or frittata with a handful of chopped parsley
- Infuse your homemade salad dressing with chopped parsley for maximum flavour while you’re putting together a salad.
- Throw a few sprigs of parsley into your favourite green juice
To store fresh parsley, rinse with cool water and then wrap in a slightly damp paper towel in a resealable plastic bag and keep in the fridge.
You can dry your fresh parsley by tying a bunch together and hanging it upside down in a cool, dry place. When the parsley is completely dry, remove the stems and store the dried leaves in an airtight container.
Incorporating Rosemary into Your Diet
Fresh and diced rosemary is a popular herb to add flavour and spice to various dishes including breads and other baked goods, roasted meats and fish, cheese dishes, and vegetables. Rosemary can also be used in a myriad of other ways.
Incorporate Rosemary into your diet in the following ways:
- Add 1 to 3 teaspoons to cheesy dishes such as macaroni and cheese, homemade baked cheese sticks, pizza, mozzarella sticks, cheese sandwiches, cheese fondue
- Roasted vegetables are another excellent way to use whole sprigs of rosemary to flavour a dish
- Make savoury baked goods and bread products such as rosemary bread, and focaccia, or rosemary & herb scones
- Add rosemary to any meat, including chicken, lamb, fish, shellfish, turkey, pork, and beef.
- Make an all-purpose rub for any grilled, sautéed, stir fried, roasted, or broiled meat
- Add rosemary to any type of potato, including with roasted potatoes, in mashed potatoes, or even sprinkled on scalloped potatoes.
- Whip up a rosemary & lemon sorbet
- Make rosemary tea – Place a sprig of fresh rosemary into a teapot and fill the pot with boiling water. Let the tea steep for three to five minutes
- Make a rosemary butter – Herbed butters are delightful ways to enjoy fresh herbs and spices, and you can make your own rosemary butter for a variety of uses such as spreading it on toast, as a sauce for grilled fish or meat, on baked or roasted potatoes, or melted in with hot rice, pasta, or vegetables
- Flavour your lemonade – add rosemary to your lemonade or favourite lemon cocktails. Add two to three sprigs of fresh rosemary to the pitcher and let the rosemary infuse into the lemonade for a few hours before serving.
Make Rosemary Salt
Rosemary salt is great for adding extra flavour to any dish. To make the rosemary salt, combine ¼ cup (75 g) of coarse salt and 1 teaspoon (1 g) of dried rosemary in a food processor. Pulse the mixture to fully combine the salt and rosemary. Transfer the mixture to an airtight container and let it rest for a day.
Use the rosemary salt in place of regular salt to season any foods, such as soups, stews, salads, meats, vegetables, popcorn, and more.
Incorporating Sage into Your Diet
Have you ever wondered why a wise person is sometimes called a “sage,” or why good advice is described as “sage”? It’s all because of a common culinary herb with uncommon health benefits. Sage builds your bones and boosts your brain, and there are many ways to use it in your diet.
Incorporate Sage into your diet in the following ways:
Drink Sage Leaf Tea – One of the easiest and most commons ways of adding sage to your diet is to drink it as a tea. You can drink up to three cups of sage leaf tea per day. Add one teaspoon of dried sage or several fresh leaves to hot water and let it brew for up to 10 minutes before drinking. Sage can be grown in the garden and is a hardy perennial, so it can provide fresh leaves throughout the year.
Add Fresh or Dried Leaves to Food – Sage is a delicious herb and is used traditionally in Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines, among others. Fresh sage can also be added to salads or to stir fries, or even fried on its own and eaten with potatoes.
Add fresh or dried leaves to stuffing recipes for turkey or chicken. Lightly coat a whole chicken or chicken pieces with oil or melted butter. Then, sprinkle on chopped fresh sage, rosemary, and marjoram with salt and pepper to suit your taste before baking the chicken.
Make Sage Flavoured Oils and Vinegars – Fill a bottle with sage leaves, preferably fresh ones and pour over a good quality olive oil or vinegar, and then seal the bottle. You should store it in the fridge and use in salad dressings or with bread, or to cook vegetables. These can also be sprinkled over other foods to add flavour.
Make Bouquet Garni – To do so, combine 1 tablespoon of chopped leaves from these herbs, sage, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, and marjoram. Use in a spice ball or tie in cheesecloth to season soups, sauces and stews.
Incorporating Thyme into Your Diet
Whenever possible, choose fresh thyme over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh thyme should look fresh and be a vibrant green-gray in color. They should be free from dark spots or yellowing.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Fresh thyme adds a wonderful fragrance to omelettes and scrambled eggs.
- Hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme.
- When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid.
- Season soups and stocks by adding fresh thyme.
- Sprinkle dried thyme onto cooked vegetables in place of butter or margarine.
- Add fresh thyme to chicken salad and chicken soup.
- Add thyme to your favourite pasta sauce recipe.
Make a Lemon, Thyme, & Pepper Rub. In a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon (15 g) of finely grated lemon zest, 1 tablespoon (15 g) of dried thyme, 2 teaspoons (10 g) of salt, and 1 tablespoon (15 g) of pepper. Before cooking your meat, press the dry rub into the meat, such as steak or pork chops, to add flavour.
Stuff chicken with fresh thyme. Place 3 to 4 whole sprigs of thyme and rosemary inside whole chickens that will be roasted or broiled. Remove sprigs and discard them after chicken is cooked.
Thyme, either in its fresh or dried form, should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavour.
Incorporating Turmeric into Your Diet
This is one herb you simply cannot go without if you have cancer (and you can never have too much of it either).
Combining turmeric with fresh black pepper increases the absorbability of turmeric by a huge 2000%!
To get the most out of your turmeric add 3% black pepper to the mix. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective. This works out to about 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper to 1/4 cup of turmeric.
Incorporate Turmeric into your diet in the following ways:
Chicken Seasoning – Incorporate the spice into your chicken seasoning before throwing it on the grill. If chicken’s not your thing, use it to add a punch of flavour to your meat of choice. Pair it with cumin, paprika, and allspice for a really flavourful dinner.
Chickpea Snacks – Snacking on chickpeas is very in right now and for good reasons. They’re healthy, easy to make and satisfying. These ones incorporate turmeric, paprika, and black pepper to make for a high-protein, nutrient packed snack that takes less than an hour to make.
Curry – Curry is a traditional Indian dish so it makes sense to use this classic Indian spice. Turmeric is actually one of the spices in curry powder. If you’re trying turmeric for the first time, try it in a curry where the flavour will feel natural.
Eggs – Change up your boring old scrambled eggs with a pinch of turmeric. You can add in any other spices you’d like, I suggest black pepper, and you’ll instantly step up you breakfast. This Indian inspired dish is exactly what you need to wake up in the morning.
Iced Tea or Ice Cubes – To cool off in the summer you can try mixing up a turmeric iced tea or even making turmeric ice cubes. They’re easy to make and once the tray is ready you’ll be able to get your turmeric fill instantly. Just pop them in your water and go.
Juice – If juice is more up your alley, that’s not a problem. All of the ingredients from the smoothie can be put in the juicer instead of the blender and made into a refreshing juice.
Latte – This special latte is called Golden Milk because of the orange flavour the turmeric creates. Combined with milk, ginger, honey, and cayenne, turmeric’s immune-boosting qualities will help you conquer any cold. This Golden Milk recipe will guide you through the steps.
Mustard – Ever wonder where mustard gets its vibrant colour? You guessed it. This spice is often the cause of mustard’s yellow colour, even in the cheapest of brands. So consider skipping the ketchup and going straight for the mustard at the next summer BBQ.
Oatmeal – This savoury oatmeal can be breakfast, lunch or dinner. Cook the oatmeal in coconut milk and then add in any spices you’d like (including turmeric). You can add vegetables and even meat if you crave more protein.
Pancakes – For a nice, warm breakfast on a fall morning, try these turmeric, pumpkin, and cinnamon pancakes. Not only do the spices complement each other, but the turmeric creates a beautiful orange colour that’ll scream fall.
Rice – Turmeric’s beautiful Indian flavours make for a delicious rice dish. Again, you can add any of those flavours that compliment turmeric and then add in the vegetables and meat of your choice. This vibrant orange rice dish will add a healthy component to your dinner.
Salad Dressing – Turmeric will make this healthy lunch option even healthier by contributing its wonderful healing powers. Keep it simple with lemon, honey, olive oil and maybe even some ginger. Ginger and turmeric come from the same family, so naturally, they taste great together.
Shots! – If you want to get even simpler, just take a shot of lemon juice, turmeric and ginger. Heck, take two.
Smoothie – This spice can add a lot of nutrients without adding too much flavour if you use the right amount. So, if you’re not digging to taste of this spice then blend it up with some flavours you do like. This recipe uses carrot, lemon, ginger, pineapple, and banana, each of which have their own major health benefits.
Soup – This vegan carrot soup recipe incorporates turmeric, curry powder, and cayenne pepper to give it that little bit of spice you need on a winter night. It also ties in some of the other flavours that pair well with turmeric such as ginger and coconut milk.
Turmeric Tea – Simmer 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric in 4 cups of boiling water for 10 minutes. Allow to cool to a safe temperature, and add whatever additional spices or sweeteners you prefer. Ginger, honey, lemon, and cayenne pepper are especially enjoyable additions. You can also boil a chunk of turmeric in water, perhaps with a chunk of ginger for the same effect. Discard the boiled roots before drinking!
Veggies – Whether cooked in the oven or in a pan, sprinkle turmeric on cooked veggies, along with salt and pepper. Cauliflower, potatoes, and sweet potatoes are especially well-complimented by the flavour offered by turmeric. You can even toss any of these veggies in oil — preferably coconut — before pan frying or roasting in the over. Lemon zest and cilantro will even further enhance such a dish.
Water – If you don’t want to get all fancy with turmeric, just put it in your water with a slice of lemon. This detox water will have your mind, immune system, and body thanking you. It’ll wake you up and have you feeling better than a morning cup of coffee.
Do not expose turmeric to prolonged heat, as curcumin can be rendered inaccessible by excessive cooking. To prevent this, add turmeric later in the cooking process.
Add turmeric to taste, but know that a 1/8 teaspoon per serving is a good amount to add to any dish, and will likely not affect the flavour of anything savoury.