The power of herbs- get rid of the sugar in your meals and add flavour!

Herbs- you could consider herbs as leafy vegetables, full of vitamins and minerals like any other vegetables, however herbs come full of many antioxidants and plant phenols-chemicals, that you won’t get from your regular vegetables. 

When trying to help people with a new way of eating- a new lifestyle, one of the most difficult hurdles is often  how to get flavour and variety into their meals now that most preservative and sugar filled supermarket bought sauces are off their shopping list.   Herbs and spices!  Herbs and spices are so underutilized with many people opting for sauces due to the “instant” flavour, but that instant flavour is thanks to the addition of many grams of sugar, the thickening agent of gluten and of course, the often allergy forming preservatives.

5 or 6 Tablespoons of sauce per stir fry for example, equates to about 100grams of sauce, most people add much more.  Per 100grams, you will find the following amounts of sugar in these commonly used and loved sauces- perhaps for their addictive sugary quality’s.

  • Hoisin  27 grams
  • Sweet chilli sauce 46 grams
  • Heinz Tomato Sauce 24grams
  • Relish 26 grams
  • Kraft spicey honey  35grams
  • BBQ   33grams of sugar

Soy Sauce isnt bad- with a mere half a gram of sugar per 100grams- however Soy sauce (like a lot of sauces) is full of gluten, autoimmune disease provoking, inflammatory producing gluten.  Gluten and sugar- the scourge of modern foods.
So let’s look at one of my favourite herbs- Basil

Abundant in polyphenols, powerful plant chemicals such the flavone Zea-xanthin, known for protecting your eyes from UV rays and Eugenol, a phytochemical well studied for the reduction of inflammatory pathways within the body. Basils internal benefits extend far.  Basil extracts reduce sugars as well as free radicals in your body, showing the potential to inhibit diabetes.  Get growing people!

The word Basil derived from the Greek word “basileus”, which means “king” is also considered the king of herbs.  Basil has a unique spicy flavour and smell with a hint of aniseed.   The French often refer to the herb as l’herbe royale – the royal herb, and in Jewish folklore basil is thought to give strength while fasting.  As you can see- Basil is revered world over and recognised for its unique therapeutic properties.   All basil is not however created equal with a choice of sweet and citrus, both with their own unique chemical agents providing different tastes and nutritional qualities.

The addition of fresh herbs into your meals is how you are going to turn your stir fries and meals into fragrant rapturous nutritional experiences and in the case of basil- mentally alert.  Basil will not only add unique flavour to foods it is also used to heighten sensors- especially of the brain.  When using herbs, fresh is always best,  although dried herbs are concentrated,  as with any herbs and foods, a majority of the nutritional content including  vitamins, minerals and antioxidant benefits are  lost in the cooking process.

Basil is rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium.  Let’s look at some ways to use basil.

Basil is a herb that should be added at the end of a cooking process, so that Sunday morning cook up of eggs, mushrooms etc should be at the point of done, with the addition of your fresh picked basil leaves thrown in to wilt for just moments before plating up.

The base of all traditional Pesto- Fresh Basil pesto kept in your fridge makes for a great snack with your vegie sticks.. so many recipes to choose from, so i will let you do your own Google search for that – i thought id give you some of my personal favorites.  Check out these no so common Basil combos below.
Apple Basil Vitamin Booster Smoothie

2 Green apples
3 limes- peeled
6-8 Fresh Basil Leaves
Pinch of Sea Salt
2-3 Cups of filtered water
1 Frozen banana
All ingredients into your blender- and voila!
Cucumber and Basil Slushy
        1 cucumber, sliced
        2 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
        1/4 cup basil leaves
        3 tablespoons sugar
        1/4 cup vodka
        1/4 cup water
        3 1/2 cups ice
Place all the ingredients in the blender.  Using the ice crush setting, blend until all the ingredients are even and finely chopped..  Pour the slush into a glass.  Garnish with a cucumber slice and straw.
Basil Cucumber Salad
1 cucumber, quartered
1/3 head of cauliflower (about 2 cups, chopped)
1/2 of a red onion, diced small
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Creamy Lemon Dressing
juice from 1 lemon
2 tablespoons plain hummus
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
sea salt, to taste
extra  chopped basil (optional)
In a food processor, add 1/3 of a head of cauliflower and process until crumbly and chopped small (makes about 2 cups).
Transfer to a large bowl. Add the cucumber, red onion and basil. Mix until combined.
Prepare the dressing in a small mixing bowl. Whisk all ingredients and pour over salad. Toss until combined and serve. Enjoy
Blackberry and Basil smoothie
1 cup fresh orange juice
Stevia to taste (optional)
2 bananas, frozen and cut into pieces
4 cups frozen organic blackberries
about 6 fresh basil leaves
2 tsp chopped ginger (or 1/2 tsp dried)
a handful spinach
In a high speed blender, combine all ingredients and puree until smooth, using the tamper to press the shake down into the blades. Pour into 2 tall glasses, and serve!
Orange Basil Cacao Cups
1/4c of raw cacao powder
2tbsp of raw coconut oil
1tbsp of coconut nectar or agave
Four large fresh basil leaves
zest of one orange
1 teaspoon of coconut oil 
 Melt the coconut oil in a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water and then added in the cacao powder and the agave.
Give it a good mix with a whisk until everything is combined.
Put about a tablespoon of chocolate into the bottom of silicon muffin cups… we chose to use silicon cup because they seem to hold their shape better than paper when pouring the chocolate in.
Place them in the freezer for about fifteen minutes.  Just enough time for the next step.
Choose the filling of your choice.
Of course- i will use Basil today.
Use four large fresh basil leaves and the zest of one orange with a teaspoon of coconut oil.  Put all of that into a spice grinder and briefly whiz it up.  Remove the chocolate base from the freezer and place about a teaspoon of filling right in the centre.  Smooth it out a bit, leaving just enough of an edge so that the chocolate top connects to the chocolate bottom.  Pour another tablespoon of chocolate over the filling, smooth out the top and place them back in to the freezer for another fifteen minutes or so- and then they are ready to go!