There’s something very special about cooking with herbs you’ve grown yourself. Not only do they make your garden look beautiful, but they make your food taste great without sabotaging your weight loss with extra calories. Here are some tasty herbs that you could plan this season…
A beautiful herb, parsley likes a sunny windowsill, but will grow in other conditions as long as it gets enough light. You can buy it full-grown from a garden centre or grow it yourself from seeds. (Soak the seeds overnight in hot water to speed up the germinating process before potting.) Parsley can be used fresh or you can dry the leaves and store them in an airtight container, or freeze for a burst of flavour next time you’re cooking.
TIP: Sprinkle parsley into a bacon and goat’s cheese salad or a home-made quiche, or add it straight from the freezer to a casserole.
If you have a windowsill that gets at least four hours of sunshine a day, you’re one of the lucky ones who can grow this delicious herb indoors. It’s easier to grow from seed as most basil seedlings are very fragile. Keep your kitchen warm and it will germinate quickly. It comes in lots of different varieties, such as lemon basil and purple basil.
TIP: Whizz it up in a food processor with roasted pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and grated Parmesan for a delicious homemade pesto that takes seconds.
These flourish in a sunny corner outside or on a warm windowsill. Chives enjoy humidity so will be happy in a kitchen that gets steamed up once in a while. Group them together with other like-minded herbs, as they love the heat that comes from other plants.
TIP: Try chives chopped into scrambled eggs, or into quark or 0% fat Greek yoghurt, which you can then swirl into soups, or use as a topping for baked potatoes or as a tasty dip – fantastic with new season English asparagus or steamed baby new Jersey Royals.
Thyme’s delicate leaves and flowers will cheer up any garden. Thyme thrives in sunshine but can also grow in less-than-ideal conditions, so it’s perfect for a low-maintenance herb garden. Start it off by digging up or potting an outdoor thyme plant or, if you’re feeling adventurous, ask a garden expert how to grow it from seed.
TIP: Add thyme into any pasta dish or omelette. It’s a great match with meat, while lemon thyme has a tang that’s perfect with fish – place a fillet skin-side down on a sheet of foil, season, place lemon slices and a few sprigs of thyme on top, then wrap into a foil parcel and bake.