Healthy Harvest Highlight: Parsley

Gardening, Parsley, Home grownMore than a garnish on your plate, parsley packs a nutritional punch when added to your cooking repertoire.  This popular herb is native to the Mediterranean region of the world, but can now be found globally.  Parsley can be found year round in supermarkets and is relatively easy  to grow – and is best grown from seed. It is a slow germinator, so be patient. To speed up the process, soak the seeds in a wet paper tower overnight before you plant. Parsley likes the sun and can be grown in the garden, containers, or among your other flowering annuals. Harvest parsley by snipping stems close to the ground. When flowers appear, the plant can be pulled from the ground as it will be too bitter to use.

Although parsley is considered a biennial, it is not hardy in the North, so you either have to bring the plant indoors or grow more the following year.

Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. If you have excess parsley, it can be frozen and dried, but loses a lot of its flavor. I prefer to cut off the leaves of the flat leaf variety and place them in ice cube trays with Olive Oil (or broth), then freeze them.  I find this method restores a lot of its fresh picked flavor.  When blocks are solid, I remove them from the ice cube tray and store in freezer bags.

Parsley can be added to meat and egg dishes, potato and pastas, salads, soups, rice, and butters. With such nutritional value, it’s a great plant to keep in the kitchen so you can snip off some leaves and top all your dishes before serving.  Said to be good for digestive ailments and bad breath (for people and animals – see dog bone recipe at the end of this post, some people make a tea to sip.

Parsley Tea
2 T of fresh parsley, chopped & 2 cups of water.Steep for several minutes before straining.
Add to smoothies.

Parsley is a great source of vitamin C and beta-carotene – just one tablespoon of parsley contains 61.5 micrograms of vitamin K.  It is said to neutralize cancer causing agents and has been shown to prevent tumor growth. The herb also has other beneficial properties including:

  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antioxidant

Once again, I turn to the folks at the World’s Healthiest Foods for a great nutritional overview.

In addition to adding parsley to soups and sauces, here are a few of my favorite recipes to try:

 

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