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Spoonful of Nutrition: Getting Started with Herbs

 Whether you are an experienced chef or someone looking to make healthy choices, incorporating herbs is a great way to add flavor and nutrients into your diet. Fresh herbs are a fantastic way to add flavor, color, and nutrition to any dish. H3’s Registered Dietician Elizabeth Huggins guides you on how fresh herbs can boost flavor, so you can skip adding too much salt. Substituting additional sodium for vitamins and minerals sounds like a good plan to me!


We use basil every day in True Dining and in the lots of Healthy Kitchen recipes, so basil may be our favorite summertime herb! It is a great compliment to tomatoes and pairs well with onions, garlic, and olives. That’s why you can find it in many Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Combine basil with oregano, rosemary, and sage for an irresistible flavor combination. Also, try to add fresh basil to any sort of salad, soup or beverages for a bit of added flavor.

With its many uses, basil is an absolute staple in any kitchen. Whether you choose to use fresh basil or keep dried ground basil on your spice rack, you’re sure to find that this is one herb you reach for again and again as you cook. Try our favorite Basil Hummus recipe or pesto to incorporate basil into your diet.


Fresh mint is great to have when wanting a refreshing, clean, and sweet twist to any beverage or dish. Add it to cut down on added sugars to beverages like tea and water. We love to drink Cucumber Mint infused water around H3. Incorporating mint may be the catalyst for starting your healthy habit of drinking more water. Mint is rich in antioxidants and contains a number of compounds that make it useful for treating digestive problems and muscle pain (peppermint oil). It pairs well with other herbs like parsley and cilantro as well as with fresh fruit like watermelon and strawberries.


Rosemary is a perennial herb with its incredibly familiar fragrance. When rosemary leaves are roasted with meats or vegetables, a distinctive mustard-like aroma is produced displaying its peppery, piney, and woody flavors. You can also roast potatoes with rosemary to bring out those same flavors as a side. While memory improvement is rosemary’s most well-known benefit, there is a vast array of other benefits this herb can offer. In our Whole Wheat Apple and Rosemary Stuffing, you can give your traditional Thanksgiving stuffing a #H3althy makeover.


When using oregano, do understand the difference between fresh and dried oregano. Oregano is unlike most other herbs because fresh oregano is much more pungent when compared to dried. Fresh has a stronger flavor, so use in moderation when cooking. It pairs well with thyme and basil like in this recipe. In all, oregano is a staple in Italian-American dishes with great flavor and seasoning when asked in any recipe.


This earthy, peppery, sweet, warm tasting herb has a subtle and rather dry aroma. Unlike many other herbs and spice, thyme isn’t particularly aromatic. This herb has the wonderful quality of blending with other herbs, spices, and flavors rather than dominating, which makes it an essential addition to even the most basic of spice racks. Of all the herbs and spices you will utilize in cooking, thyme is without a doubt one of the most versatile. Whether you choose to use it in traditional dishes and recipes that call for it specifically, or you play around with seasoning less conventional types of cuisine, you’re sure to love it.


Chives are related to onion, leeks, and garlic, and you can tell in the taste. Because their flavor is relatively mild, we recommend adding chives at the end of cooking to keep the flavor from being destroyed by high heat and long cooking times. Chives also make an excellent garnish as they serve as a lighter alternative to the more intense flavor of green onions. In the U.S., chives are known to pair well with seafood and used widely when cooking fish.

They are many more herbs to choose from. Experiment with growing your own or check out your local farmer’s market to find fresh and local herbs. Special thanks to The Greenery Garden Center in Hilton Head.