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pot-herbsPhoto by thomas pix

It seems that our small island culture most popular flavorings are sugar, salt, ketchup and mustard. The closest thing resembling culinary herbs on our plate is the sprig of parley,which at most times is perceived as a garnish!

Yet as gardeners and most of us know that there is are lots of flavors and nutrition that come with the use of culinary herbs. Adding herbs to your food give you the best of both worlds – concentrated nutrition with a whole world of health benefits as well as a variety flavors beyond salt and pepper. There is no question that herbs bring a depth of flavor and added nutrition to almost any meal.

Just as vegetable gardening, culinary herbs can also be very rewarding. In addition to the enjoyment of a wonderful variety of flavors, making use of homegrown herbs in the kitchen is a great way to enhance your wellbeing.

I’d personally love to see fresh garden-grown herbs become a larger part of every Dominican diet, let’s go back to the diets our grandparents and their parents grew up on. Where everything was grown and produced locally. Also I’d especially love to see kids more exposed to the variety of flavors and nutrients available in culinary herbs. I know there are lots Dominican parents who teach their kids the importance of eating health; but in a society where everybody wants everything quick-to-go we’re slowly losing our kids to the fast-food menus.

Remember, it’s the little things that we do each day that keep us healthy. Adding herbs to our food regularly is a better approach than just thinking of using strong herbs when we’re sick.

Here are some culinary herbs that can be grown in the ground, in pots, or even in small containers on the windowsill that get plenty of sunshine:

Note: Some herbs should be used with caution, especially if pregnant or nursing. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before using herbs for medicinal purposes.

Thyme

Health Benefits: Used as a cough remedy; considered antifungal and antibacterial. A primary constituent, thymol, is the main active antiseptic ingredient in Listerine mouthwash.
Culinary Uses: Savory, very versatile. Used in soups and stuffings, as well as marinades for meat, fish, and poultry.

Oregano

Health Benefits: Antimicrobial, antifungal, antiparasitic; has antioxidant effects. Traditionally used for coughs, colds, and mild fevers.
Culinary Uses: The “pizza herb.” Used in tomato sauces, and to flavor fish and meat.

Sage

Health Benefits: Has antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. Used traditionally for minor digestive complaints, sore throat, and headaches.
Culinary Uses: Mixes well with cheese; traditional in Italian dishes. Commonly added to stuffing, sprinkled on turkey and pork. Tasty in bread, as well as bean or pea soups.

Rosemary

Health Benefits: Used traditionally as a memory aid and to help concentration. Also for joint pain, sore muscles, and minor digestive problems. Antioxidant, antifungal. Currently being studied for its anti-cancer properties.
Culinary Uses: Herb used with roast lamb, chicken, pork, vegetables, cheese, and soups.

Hyssop

Health Benefits: Extracts of the leaves are antiviral and antimicrobial. Traditionally used for coughs, colds, and bronchitis. Added to a balm for cold sores.
Culinary Uses: Has a slightly bitter, minty taste. Can be used sparingly for salads, mixed fruits, vegetable dishes, stews, and marinades.

Dill

Health Benefits: Can aid digestion by relieving intestinal gas. Helps relieve bad breath.
Culinary Uses: Used with pickles, seafood, salads, cottage cheese, breads, soups, and vegetable dishes (cucumbers, cauliflower, beets, etc.).

Cilantro

Health Benefits: Antimicrobial. Traditionally used to treat indigestion, loss of appetite, and joint pain.
Culinary Use: Used to flavor meats, fish, vegetables, and rice. Popular in Mexican, Asian, South American, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Parsley

Health Benefits: More than a decoration on your plate! Mild diuretic. Chew on parsley for fresh breath. Supports digestion; helps relieve bloating and gas.
Culinary Uses: Sprinkle on fish and chicken. Used in vegetable dishes, soups, stews, and tomato sauce.

Basil

Health Benefits:Basil has demonstrated anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Culinary Uses:It is very versatile in the kitchen, a wonderful addition to soups, sauces, fish, chicken, vegetables, and meats.

Source:huffingtonpost.com

Readers: Are there any culinary herb gardening tips you would like to share? Favourite recipes using herbs? Please share them in the comments below. Lets inspire and encourage each other to grow and enjoy healthy, delicious food with unique flavors that can only come from herbs.

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Dominica local food produce.jpg

In our quest for eating healthier foods, we are advised to eat low-saturated fat foods, less sodium, more fiber, more complex carbohydrates and lower calories. The foods that are most promoted are usually imported ones to us in the Caribbean, since more is known about them than our local foods. Therefore, we seek out whole grain cereals and breads, fruits such as American apples, plum and grapes, and vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. How do our local foods compare?

Most people know the adage:  â€˜An apple a day keeps the doctor away!’ This is probably because the American apple has fiber to facilitate gut health and rid the body of waste. But do you know that one guava fruit has four (4) times the amount of fiber, slightly more potassium and 19 times the amount of Vitamin C as an American apple? In comparison to a whole bunch of grapes, 1 guava has 25 times more Vitamin C, four times more fiber and about the same amount of potassium. Likewise it would take 15 American apples to supply the Vitamin C content of just one West Indian Cherry!

Cranberry juice has become very popular because of its benefits to bladder health. But have you considered the benefits of Coconut water which has less than half the calories, and appreciably more potassium than cranberry juice? A glass of cranberry juice will provide about 150-200 calories, while the same glass of coconut water contains only 50 calories while giving 400mg potassium compared to the 60mg from cranberry juice.

For those of you concerned about the sodium content of coconut water, be assured that a single glass will provide only 60mg sodium compared to 700mg in V8 canned vegetable juice. Also, be assured that coconut water has no fat.

The fat of the coconut resides in the jelly and will thus be found in coconut milk, but there is no cholesterol since the coconut is of plant origin and cholesterol is only found in foods of animal origin. This means that butter has cholesterol, but coconut milk, like vegetable margarines, is free of cholesterol. Moreover, the traditional way of cooking with coconut milk for flavor is better than using margarine, which is often substituted in porridge, rice and peas, and soups. A tablespoon of coconut milk has only 38 calories and 4g fat compared to 111 calories and 11.5g of fat in the same amount of margarine.

Also the fat in coconut is healthier for the body than margarine fats. Two other fats that are often mislabeled are the Ackee fruit and the Avocado Pear. Neither has any cholesterol and the fat is monosaturated – the same type of fat that we pay so much for in Olive Oil

Admittedly, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts, like other vegetables, will provide Vitamin C, minerals, flavonoids, and other phytochemicals, but they are no match for Callaloo in terms of calcium, iron or Vitamin A (Beta carotene).  Callaloo has more than four times the amount of iron, with more than twice the Vitamin A of the American vegetables. Whole grain cereals are indeed a good source of fiber, but calorie for calorie our provisions are equally beneficial.

The Irish Potato, whole wheat bread, and whole corn provide the least fiber per serving. Those of better value are whole brown rice, Green Banana and Sweet Potato, providing 1.5g per serving of about 70 calories. Richer still is whole oats at 1.96g, but topping the list is our local Breadfruit at 2.45g of fiber for a serving of 2 slices.

So next time you reach for foreign produce in the supermarket, remember our local produce is best. For you ex?pat folks, next time you see Caribbean produce, consider trying something different; it is better for you. And that’s without even considering the amount of toxic sprays, waxes, and unnecessary plastic and polystyrene wrapping that adds to the polluting of our bodies and our precious ecosystem.


Editor’s Note: This post was written by Dr. Miranda Fellows, Director of Carib Wellness in Nevis and can be contacted at 869 469 2147 and 869 466 9355.

Source:www.kittivisianlife.com

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baby owners manual

If we continue to pile the blame for rising crime in our society on parents; many are led to believe that babies come with manuals and that every parent should know how to raise the perfect child. But this is certainly not so.

Just about every parent of today is raising his/her child just how their parents raised them, merely leaving out the areas they did not appreciate their parents doing to them. Few of them have read widely on the matter; even less has taken any classes and none can teach their children what was not taught to them. Many leave the raising of their children to maids nannies, or teachers.

And if this applies to mothers, it applies even more so to fathers who are often not present and when present, they leave this role to the mothers almost entirely. When we consider that young mothers are trying so hard to raise children in an environment that has changed considerably from the one in which they were raised, it is not surprising that they are struggling. Many present day parents have grown up without a TV, a cell phone, designer sneakers, or even without electricity much less having a fridge in the house.

Without making excuses for any parents, we know the sense of guilt mothers feel when they have to be out working all day and find little time to spend with their children. When they do get home, they must also attend to cooking, washing and cleaning, what happens then? They try to overcompensate. They want their children to like them so they buy material things for them and attempt to buy their love.

Sadly, in many cases they bend over backwards to please their children, and in so doing the child finds ways of easily preying on the mother’s desire to please them – also compensating for the absence of a mother’s love.

Let us shift from the blaming each other and let’s see what we can do to create an ideal society for our children.

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