Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Every Sunday my entire family gathers at my grandmother’s house to swim, eat, and chat about the events of the previous week. Upon arriving, my first stop (after saying my hellos) is straight to the garden to see what has newly grown. A watched pot never boils. That is what it feels like waiting for the great fruits and vegetables of late summer. Little green tomatoes, baby green pepper, leaves of beets, and plenty of mini cucumbers are just waiting to erupt! So in this moment, it is important to focus on the superstars that have already bloomed: the wonderful fresh herbs! Namely (in our garden): basil, mint, and dill.

Why Have You Done a Good Thing?

Fresh herbs are superstars for a few reasons.

  1. They add flavor without adding sodium (salt) or calories. Almost all store-bought spice mixtures contain a significant amount of salt. Thus, when seasoning foods, it is better to rely on fresh herbs for flavor and add your own salt, controlling the amount yourself. Plus, if you’re eating under-flavored foods, it is easy to overindulge in condiments and sauces- that can be filled with extra calories and salt. Adding fresh herbs increases the flavor and decreases the need for those extra dips.
  2. They contain essential vitamins and minerals. Fresh herbs, such as mint and basil, contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and even some calcium and iron! The vitamins are anti (fighting) oxidants (damaging cells). Thus, they help our body’s cells fight off damage, creating a fresher and healthier you!
  3. They make everything fancy. Serving a fruit salad? Adding some fresh mint will jazz up your dish. Making a pitcher of fresh iced tea or even a summer cocktail? Adding fresh mint and/or basil will up the anti on your entertaining glamour. And once those beets start coming out of the ground, add dill and light vinaigrette to make your beet salad gourmet. Plus, we think it is cool (in a nerdy-nutrition way) to garnish foods with vitamins and minerals!


  • Make a pesto! Nothing tastes better than a pesto made with freshly picked basil- trust me! All you need to do is combine basil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil in a food processor.
  • Add it to your tomato & mozzarella salad
  • Add it into your homemade salad dressing or
  • Use it to finish off a delicious pasta dish
  • Add it to a turkey sandwich in place of lettuce
  • Once those tomatoes turn red, basil will be in great demand for your homemade tomato sauce.


  • Add it into a pitcher of freshly brewed iced tea
  • Use it to garnish a fresh fruit platter. For a fancy dessert, place berries and fresh sorbet in a martini glass, adding agenerous amount of fresh mint leaves.
  • Make a fresh mojito, crushing lots of mint into a drink of soda water, sugar, and rum.
  • Make a watermelon salad with fresh mint goat cheese, and some watercress greens


  • Make a salad with beets, feta cheese, fresh dill, olive oil and vinegar.
  • Make a yogurt dip, especially delicious with grilled salmon. Combine Greek yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, and fresh dill.
  • Add dill into a fresh green salad
  • Combine dill (and basil) into the ground meat of your freshly made burgers

Good News: these herbs are so easy to grow! Yes, even for you people who only have a driveway. And yes, even for those of you who only have a window indoors! All you need is a pot, soil, water, and sunshine. There are many websites that can show you how and even sell you starter kits, such as and

So head to your garden (or nearest Farmer’s Market!) and pick up these wonderfully flavorful, nutrient-rich, FRESH herbs!

--Samantha Jacobs, MS RD CDN

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