Community Health Services of Union County, Inc. 

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How to Use Fresh Herbs

 Whether you grow your own or buy at the market, fresh herbs can wake up any recipe, along with your taste buds, with fresh and bold flavor, without adding salt flavor. To learn about how certain herbs taste and how to pair their flavor with the most appropriate dishes, read on:


*Flavor: Sweet and fresh
*Prep: Basil leaves are delicate so a sharp knife is necessary. Roll them up tightly and slowly slice or chop.
*Tips: Add to a dish right before serving. Basil can be substituted for mint in most recipes.
*Pair with: Tomato sauce (no added salt), pastas, salads, low sodium salad dressings, low-sodium pizza, low-sodium soups, summer vegetables, eggs, chicken and fish dishes
*Simple Dish: Layer slices of tomato, low-fat, low sodium mozzarella and basil leaves. Drizzle with olive oil and a few shakes of black pepper.


*Flavor: Refreshing
*Prep: Also delicate, cilantro needs to be gently chopped.
*Tips: Do not cook fresh cilantro - instead, add to a dish just before serving.
*Pair with: Beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, avocados, rice, salads, low-sodium salad dressings and low-sodium, low-fat yogurt sauce
*Simple Dish: Mix together black beans, corn, chopped red bell pepper, chopped jalapeño pepper, cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice.


*Flavor: Sweet and cool
*Prep: Since mint is similar to basil, prepare the same way.
*Tips: There’s a reason gum and toothpaste is mint flavored, you can chew it to get a clean tasting mouth!
*Pair with: Fruit cups, carrots, cucumbers, salads, peas, lamb, beans, desserts, unsweetened ice tea, water and low-fat yogurt with no added sugar
*Simple Dish: Chop up watermelon and cantaloupe. Drizzle the fruit with a mixture of mint and low-fat vanilla yogurt.


*Flavor: Earthy
*Prep: Strip the leaves from the stem. Discard stem and firmly chop leaves right before using.
*Tips: A common combination in Greek dishes is oregano, mint and lemon.
*Pair with: Tomatoes, no-added-salt tomato sauce, zucchini, potatoes, peppers, beans, mushrooms, eggs, low-sodium soups, salad, low-sodium pizza, pastas, oily fish and poultry
*Simple Dish: Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, oregano and mint. Pour over cooked red potatoes.


*Flavor: Light and fresh (Italian flat leaf). Slightly peppery (curly)
*Prep: Gently chop both stems and leaves. Add to a dish during the final minutes of cooking or right before serving.
*Tips: Italian flat-leaf parsley looks a bit like cilantro and is the most versatile in dishes because of its light and fresh flavor. Curly leaf parsley has little curly leaves.
*Pair with: Chicken, egg dishes, fish, seafood, low-sodium soups, salads, potatoes, pasta, tomatoes, no-salt-added tomato sauce, carrots and eggplant
*Simple Dish: Whisk together olive oil with lemon juice and parsley, mint, garlic and chives. Serve over broiled white fish like cod or flounder.


*Flavor: Woodsy and lemony
*Prep: Pinch your finger and thumb at top of stem and firmly pull down length of branch to remove leaves. Discard stem and firmly chop leaves.
*Tips: Because rosemary is such a strong tasting herb, use in small amounts.
*Pair with: Roasted root vegetables, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, oily fish, shrimp, pears, apples, fiber-rich whole grain breads and low-sodium soups
*Simple Dish: Use sprigs of rosemary as skewers to grill shrimp.


*Flavor: Lemony and light
*Prep: Remove leaves similar to you prepare rosemary but more gently as thyme is delicate. Since the leaves are so little, you don’t need to chop them.
*Tips: Add at the beginning of cooking process for the best flavor.
*Pair with: Chicken, carrots, corn, mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, green beans and low-sodium: soups, chowders, stews
*Simple Dish: Add chopped tomatoes, onion, olive oil and thyme to a roasting pan. Slow roast for one hour at 300 degrees for a delicious chunky tomato topping for whole grain pasta.


Eating to Boost Energy

Let's face it, we are in an energy crisis. We, as a society, are busy, stressed, need more physical activity and sometimes have poor eating habits — all contributing to low energy levels. One way to fix our energy deficit is to eat better. The right combinations of food can give you a boost. Follow these five strategies to maximize your energy.

Eat Often

Eating every three to four hours can help to fuel a healthy metabolism, maintain muscle mass and prevent between-meal hunger that can lead to unwise snacking. If you only are eating one to two meals a day, this will be an adjustment. As you learn how to eat more frequently throughout the day, remind yourself that you will feel better and be more focused when you have fuel in your system on a regular basis.

Honor Your Hunger and Fullness Cues

Eating just enough, but not too much, helps to curb cravings and reduces chances of overeating. Keep in mind that portions often are too large. If your meal carries you five to six hours without hunger pangs, it's likely that you're eating too much. On a scale of 0 to 10 (where 0 is starving and 10 is painfully full), try eating to about a 5 or 6 level, where you are comfortably full but not stuffed.

Balance Your Plate

A balanced meal includes whole grains, lean protein, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat dairy and a small amount of healthy fats. Balance out your plate with all the food groups for sustained energy.

Snacks Are a Bridge

Don't skip this important eating event. Snacks should have protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates to provide lasting energy. Grab an apple and a handful of nuts; carrots and string cheese; or Greek yogurt and fresh berries. Keep in mind that snacks are not intended to fill you up, but to bridge you from one meal to the next.

Remove Energy Zappers

Skip the soda, sugary coffee and energy drinks. These foods may leave you buzzing for an hour, but likely will cause an energy crash. Instead, quench your thirst with water, fat-free or low-fat milk, low-calorie flavored water or unsweetened tea.


Tips for a Healthy Cookout

Think beyond the traditional favorites. Build a healthful barbecue of lean meats paired with seasonal fruits and vegetables. These foods are low in calories, high in fiber and ground turkey burgers. Turkey burgers can be as lean as 99 percent fat-free. Add cilantro, shallots or chili sauce to spice things up. Or, mix in feta cheese, Kalamata olives, oregano and pepper and serve on a pita with fresh tomatoes and cucumbers for a Greek-style burger. Just remember to use a food thermometer to ensure ground turkey reaches a safe temperature of 165°F.

Surprise them with grilled marinated Portobello mushrooms. Marinate mushrooms in balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, whole ground mustard and fresh herbs for about 30 minutes at room temperature. Grill mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side. Serve with tomato and onion slices, lettuce, and with or without toasted bun.

Roast Veggies

*Baste vegetables such as red peppers, corn, eggplant, summer squash, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms or onions with olive oil and season with herbs.
*Place directly on a hot grill (or a piece of tin foil) until they are tender and brown.

Try These Easy Mayo-less Salads

*Make caprese. Slice tomatoes and layer a small, thin piece of mozzarella cheese and fresh basil on each tomato slice, sprinkle with olive oil and lightly salt.
*Combine fresh fruit with fresh fennel. Thinly slice fennel and let it soak in freshly squeezed lemon juice for 20 minutes. Toss sliced peaches into fennel and add rice vinegar, lemon zest and a slight sprinkling of salt and pepper.
*Whip up a quick avocado salad. Avocados contain heart-healthy fats and are packed with vitamins and minerals. Cube avocados and toss with vinaigrette, fresh herbs, capers, sliced green onions and roasted pine nuts.

Grill Up Dessert

*Cook fruit kabobs, pineapple slices or peach halves on low heat until the fruit is hot and slightly golden for a tasty and nutritious dessert.
*Grill watermelon for 30 seconds on each side to bring out unique flavors. You also could carve out a watermelon to use as a bowl for fruit salad!
*Marinate strawberries in balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes, toss in fresh mint and serve a refresh savory dessert.

Look for ways to add physical activity to your cookout.  Set up some outdoor games such as croquet or volleyball. Or, invite everyone to take a short walk before you serve dessert.


Healthy Tips