BASIL CAN SPICE UP YOUR MEALS AND HEALTH
Basil is a staple in the kitchen because it’s so flavorful it can spice up almost any meal – from pasta and bruschetta to pizza and salads.
Now you can eat it with pride because it’s got some pretty good medicinal benefits too.
I’m specifically referring to Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum), as opposed to tulsi or Holy Basil (Ocimum santum).
Sweet Basil has many varieties including Genovese basil, Thai basil, and Lemon basil.
I have a pesto recipe at the end of this blog but before you start making it, let’s talk some benefits. You’ll get the most nutrition from eating basil raw.
Basil is an excellent source of vitamins K, A, C, manganese and iron. It’s also a good source of magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Even more, it’s full of flavonoids, known to protect your cells from oxidative damage; it’s a powerful antioxidant, and can help fight inflammation in the body.
Knowing that it has all of those nutrients, it’s no surprise that it’s used to treat all sorts of ailments including digestion issues, headaches and migraines, liver problems, it’s even used to treat wounds.
Look at the ingredients on some of your natural beauty products. You may see basil there!
HOW TO GROW
If you’ve grown the herb, you probably won’t be surprised that it’s a member of the mint family. It can take over a garden bed before you know it. So of course I recommend adding it to your yard.
Regardless of the type of basil you choose to grow, the instructions are pretty much the same.
I will talk specifically to Genovese basil because that’s one of the herbs I consistently grow and sell in our Etsy Shop (add shop link). It’s one of the sweetest varieties and it re-seeds itself!
You can grow it in pots or directly in the ground; just give it a little space. Genovese basil plants can grow up to 3 feet high but you can trim the plant to keep it smaller, especially if you’re growing in smaller areas, like a sunny window.
You’ll want to plant outdoor once temperatures are consistently at least 70 degrees, when all danger of frost is gone. If you plant indoor, sow your seeds about 5 weeks before the last expected frost.
They like moist (not wet), well-draining soil and full sun, at least six hours of sunlight per day. They are not fans of cold droughts.
I scatter my seeds over damp soil, then sprinkle soil on top because they don’t’ need to be planted deep. They should germinate within a week and once your plant is mature, it’s really easy to care for. You won’t need to fertilize because it isn’t a heavy feeder and you can pick your leaves until it gets cold.
Keep in mind that once your plants start producing flowers, which is where you will find your seeds for the next season, they tend to stop producing new leaves.
We have tons of other GMO-Free, open-pollinated seeds that I harvest myself in our Etsy shop (add Etsy link), so check it out!
We also have an entire page of natural remedies (add remedies link), so check that our for any ailments you may be experiencing.
3 cups of chopped basil
½ cup nuts (toasted pine nuts recommended, almonds cheaper and work great)
½ cup oil
3 tablespoons of garlic
2/3 cups parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon of chili powder
3 tablespoons of lemon (optional—keeps pesto from turning brownish)
Put basil in your blender or food processor, add one tablespoon of oil and blend into a paste. Add more oil as needed to make it smooth. Add the rest of your ingredients and continue to blend. That’s it!
It’s delish as-is but some people add parsley, garlic, salt and whatever else adds the flavor you’re looking for.
Either way, it’s a yummy addition to all sorts of meals and it’s a simple way to use the basil fresh for the best nutrition.
And you don’t have to use it all at once because it’s easy to store. I freeze mine in ice cubes trays and keep the cubes in baggies in the freezer.
Here’s a video making the recipe: