With the advent of spring, the promise of warmed days and more sunshine, it is also a great time to be thinking about and planning home gardens that are not only serene and peaceful, but also sources of food sources that are particularly good for the body.
Herbs and spices are generally easy plants to grow, and many of them contain Vitamins A and C, two of the best vitamins for eye care, protection and health. Most herbs and spices are easily found in supermarkets both in and out of season, bother fresh and bottled or boxed. But combining the beauty of the garden and the satisfaction of watching something grow with the knowledge you can also grow the herbs that can be used in so many ways and help eyesight are all reasons just too good to resist to give it a try, even if you do not have a green thumb.
Let’s start with Basil.
Basil is really a member of the mint family, so already you can guess it’s busy, has green leaves, and a great aroma. Native to India, Africa and parts of Asia, it is usually more associated in the minds of culinary aficionados, with tomatoes, pizza, Italian tomato sauce, pesto and salad oils. While it is easy to find in the store, it’s also easy to grow at home, even starting it in little pots or aero gardens at home, then transplanting to the garden, window boxes, or simply bigger pots.
Another plus for growing basil in your garden is its ability to fight off insects, just like marigolds, rosemary and sage do.
The same Vitamin A that is so good for the eyes and is found in all the orange and yellow fruits and vegetables is also said to possibly lower the risk of cancer, not a prove fact, but nice to think about.
For the eyes, though, there is no doubt it’s an excellent source. An ounce of basil leaves, for instance, has about as much Vitamin A as about two ounces of cooked carrots, and more than 400 percent of the minimum recommendation for women in a day. Add the fact it’s also full of calcium and Vitamin C, and you’ve got a definite winner.
Fresh basil should be kept in the refrigerator in tightly sealed glass jars, or, if it’s for long term storage, blanch the leaves, wrap in plastic bags and keep in the freezer.
It’s a fun herb that should be explored a bit more. We already know it’s terrific with tomatoes, for fun, try it with apples, or sprinkle some chopped up basil on top of a baked apple. Be creative! It all tastes great!
Whip up some Basil Butter. Try it on that fresh roasted corn on the cob!
1 stick softened butter
2 Tablespoons chopped basil
½ tsp chopped thyme
That’s it! Blend together.
Basil Oil Salad
½ Cup basil leaves
1/3 Cup olive oil (extra virgin olive oil is worth the difference I price)
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp. brown sugar
Using a food processor, finely chop the basil, then add oil in a stream, while keeping the processor on, until the mixture is smooth. In a bowl, add the lemon juice and sugar and continue to mix well.
Great served over sliced tomatoes, or any green salad. Top with any extra basil leaves for an attractive garnish.