Simple herb-rich suggestions for kicking the winter funk
Winter can be a tough hurdle for some. There’s the cold weather, shorter days, colds, flus and putting on multiple layers to stay warm; but there are also fireplaces, mulled wine, roast dinners and guilt-free movie nights to be had. However, in winter we often indulge in more guilty foods, and our body might get less of the vitamins and nutrients it is used to in the warmer months. That’s why we’ve put together a list of hardy herbs that thrive in winter, as well as some of our favourite dishes to use them in, to keep your body strong and healthy — whether you want to grow them yourself or simply pick them up from your local farmers’ market or store.
Hardy winter herbs
There’s no secret that herbs are healthiest when they are fresh and nothing’s better than picking them chemical-free, straight from your own backyard or windowsill. Winter can be hard on more delicate herbs in your garden but others survive, and indeed thrive, in colder temperatures. The following herbs make for a great Australian winter herb garden, are versatile, and are full of the vitamins your body needs through the cold months.
Basil can grow right through winter on your windowsill but is also readily available in most markets and stores. It is rich in iron, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, omega 3 fatty acids and magnesium. Talk about giving your body a jumpstart! Put it in your pasta sauces, omelettes, soup or make your own pesto — basil goes well with nearly everything.
Mint is a powerful, aromatic herb which grows abundantly wherever it is planted. Watch out, however, mint is weedlike and can dominate gentler herbs and plants, if allowed to flourish. Mint comes packed with vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, vitamin B, iron and manganese, and reduces cholesterol, which can be good for those comfort food-rich winter months. Put it in your salads for freshness or put it in your morning smoothie, but our favourite easy mint “fix” is to put a couple of fresh leaves and some honey in a cup of hot water for a nutritious and delicious morning tea.
Thyme can survive Australia’s colder months and tastes delicious in a range of dishes. Again, thyme can also be found in most supermarkets and farmers’ markets, if you don’t feel like keeping a winter herb garden or if you don’t have the space. Thyme is packed with nutrients, including vitamins E, A, K and C, as well as thiamine, zinc, magnesium, copper, dietary fibre, manganese, iron, folate and calcium. When it comes to using thyme in your cooking, its subtle aroma makes it an extremely versatile herb that goes well with most savoury dishes. Add it to your pasta or lasagne, omelettes, pies and soups – smell it and let your imagination take the lead. We think you’ll be hard-pressed to find an unpalatable combination.
Coriander is a famously difficult herb to grow — especially in Australia — because it so easily bolts to seed when the soil reaches hot temperatures, making it a winter herb garden favourite. Chew on some coriander for a dose of vitamins A, E, C and K, as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. Coriander is a ‘love it or hate it’ herb, but if you love it, you can safely put it on a range of foods for a boost in flavour and nutrition. Toss it in your chicken or chickpea curry, in your guacamole, or make a delicious and quick salsa verde. Coriander also works well as a fresh garnish for most dishes, so feel free to experiment!