New Year Resolution: Herbs for Health

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My New Year’s resolution has been the same for a number of years: lose weight! The other night I was browsing through my back issues of The Herb Companion and came across the article “Eat Yourself Thin” by Debbie Whittaker in the March 2000 issue. She talks about replacing white flour for whole-wheat flour, white rice for brown rice and eating more fruits, vegetables and herbs among other ideas. Using herbal vinegars, oils and butters in smaller amounts and hincorporating herbs and spices into your recipes add great flavor without the extra calories. There is a recipe for Dilled Dijon Green Beans that sounds yummy. (Remember that dill is the 2010 Herb of the Year–there are lots of easy ways to use dill in recipes.) I’ll share some of them throughout the coming year.  Also you can start the year out right with Patsy Bell Hobson’s article in the January 2010 issue, “How to Make Herbal Oils & Butters.” It is packed with great recipes and tips to add flavor to your meals as long as you limit the quantity of oil or butter you use. I use an herb butter mix from The Village Herb Shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. I add it to my light mayonnaise for an extra bit of flavor or make herbal butter for a loaf of whole-grain bread on pasta night.

This a tin of bouquet garni from The Spice Shop in London, England. It consists of parsley, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram and sage. A very traditional bouquet garni includes bay leaves, thyme and parsley. As far as American spice companies go, I love Penzeys Spices. They have a wonderful catalog with great recipes using their herbs, spices and herb and spice combinations that they sell. 

For New Year’s Day dinner, The Herbal Husband and I had a pork roast that was marinaded overnight with white wine, white wine vinegar, garlic, herbs and spices. We have had this particular recipe several times now, but it only sunk in that vinegar and wine or some kind of stock adds flavor without adding additional fat. It was very tasty.

Of course the additional herbal flavor is a bit of rosemary garlic jelly! (Click here for the recipe: Rosemary Garlic Jelly.) I put some chives from my freezer on top of the mashed potatoes and then mixed them into the potatoes for extra taste. They were delicious. Here is the pork recipe:

Roast Pork Fillet in White Wine
Wonderful on a chilly night

• 3 pounds pork loin
• 1 1/2 cups dry white wine, stock or water if you prefer
• 1/2 cup white wine vinegar
• 2 cloves garlic
• 10 peppercorns
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 teaspoon thyme leaves (I did not have dried thyme leaves, so I used dried rosemary instead. Also next time I will use the dried bouquet garni in the marinading process. I also used an additional 1 teaspoon of bouquet garni after it came out of the marniade and before it went into the oven.)
• Salt and pepper

1. Combine wine, vinegar, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme (or whatever herb you chose) in a baking dish just large enough to hold meat. If you just put the marinade in a dish without the bag, it needs to be a glass pan or dish. I also use a gallon size sealable plastic bag to make marinading easier. Put pork and marinade in bag and then in the pan or dish and refrigerate overnight. 

2. Turn the pork several times until ready to roast. Drain pork and sprinkle with salt and pepper and additional herbs if you wish. Pour 1/2 cup of marinade over meat and roast at 325 or 350 degrees for 1/2 hour per pound or until a meat thermometer registers 170 degrees. Let sit 15 minutes before carving.

Recipe courtesy of Child Health Association of Sewickley, Inc., Three Rivers Cookbook II, Pittsburgh, PA:  Herrmann Printing & Litho, Inc., 1981.

The statement under the title of the recipe says it all–Wonderful on a chilly night. It is easy to add herbs to make my New Year’s resolution an herbal reality!

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