Hello my dear readers,
For some of us is Monday already and some of you are still enjoy probably a Sunday evening, lucky you 🙂
Sunday or Monday, is August already! Can you believe it? Time does fly so fast! Soon we will hear Christmas songs 🙂 OMG! But first, let’s enjoy this summer! Oh well, I’m always living in summer, so…
My awesome readers know by now, that starting from this month, I’m trying to give a new route to my blog. I would like to concentrate a little bit more on what this beautiful planet has to offer us, to maintain us healthy and happy.
Join me in this amazing travel around the world, and let’s discover how simple and poor ingredients become stunning and delightful dishes, that not only keep us healthy but also make us happy.
Discovering our food
Today let’s discover the basil and all the amazing benefits of this fragrant herb.
I always loved to have in my kitchen window the aromatic herbs, fist because I think it gives a nice touch to the kitchen, that green spot, and second because are so fragrant when they’re fresh.
Back home in Italy, I used to have my little garden with aromatic herbs, cherry tomatoes, and several kind of lettuce. Living in Singapore, in a rented apartment, I don’t have the possibility to have a garden and I don’t have a kitchen window, but in my small balcony I try to grow a few plants that reminds me of home 😊
Today, basil is one of the most widely-used culinary herbs in the world and it is the herb that I use most in my kitchen together with parsley.
Basil is an aromatic tender plant from the mint family and is native from tropical regions from central Africa.
It is believed that basil has origins in India, but there are some indications that it may have originated even farther east than India, with ancient records suggesting that sweet basil was used in China, in the Hunan region. Basil eventually migrated westward as whole plants as it could be grown easily indoors and away from exposure to cold climates and frost and now can be found in all corners around the globe.
There are a number of types of basil, which differ in taste and smell. Sweet basil is the most commercially available basil used in Italian food, I believe you know pretty well pesto, and has a strong fresh, spicy, clove-scented flavor.
Alternatively, lime and lemon basil have a strong citrus scent and have become a staple in many Asian cuisines.
Basil is well known for its use in culinary traditions, but has also a rich history with other uses in society. For example, in ancient Egypt, it has been found in tombs and mummies, so most likely was used as an embalming and preserving herb and maybe because of its embalming applications, basil was also a symbol of mourning in Greece where it was known as basilikon phuton, meaning magnificent, royal, or kingly herb. In addition to other medicinal herbal traditions, basil has also a strong history in the traditional medicinal system of ancient India, like Ayurveda.
Basil is super sensitive to cold and loves very much the sun, pretty similar to me. It will grow best in a dry location, that gets 6 to 8 hours of full sun daily, though it can perform well also in partial sun, too.
The soil should be moist but well-drained.
The good thing is, if it flowers, the seeds will drop into the same pot and new baby plants of basil will grow. This is awesome! I always have new plants of basil and since is a pick-as-you-go kind of herb, I always harvest only what I need, but if you have an abundance on hand, you may clip a mass harvest.
Basil has diverse applications in the kitchen as in the science labs. In cooking, most of the time we use basil fresh and usually we add the fresh leaves at the last moment, as cooking quickly destroys the distinct flavor. The fresh leaves can be kept for a short time in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or for a longer period in the freezer, but there’s no better taste than the ones just picked and used at the moment.
I love the fresh taste of the basil. My caprese salad is a very often meal. Great ingredients without too much work in the kitchen and still a wonderful and fresh taste! I also like to use it as the last finishing touch. It gives that special touch to the dish.
Freshly made pesto is also a wonderful herb sauce. Back home in Italy, when the basil plant become too big I used to do pesto. The kitchen was smelling so damn good 😉
Now let’s see why we should always have a basil plant in our home.
Beside tasting amazing, basil has many other benefits on us. It’s highly nutritious and calorie light, rich in vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, magnesium, iron, potassium, and calcium, containing just 22 calories per 100 grams.
A few of the health benefits of basil are that it can act as an antioxidant, can reduce inflammation, has anti-aging and antibacterial properties, fighting against mold, yeast, and bacteria. Studies have found that holy basil has enhanced cognitive function and also improved other chronic health issues like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and is a great remedy for mental stress associated with depression.
It is also known for natural remedies such as calming the stomach, one-half teaspoon of dried or fresh basil leaves in water can often help soothe indigestion and alleviate feelings of fullness; chewing fresh leaves can help calm coughing or a hot tea from dried basil can help soothe the cold; a facial steam with dried basil leaves can help alleviate a headache and of course giving you a wonderful perfume; chewing up a basil leaf and applying to the insect bite or stung, will help relieve the pain and draw out the venom; drank as a juice or tea, can help level out blood sugar if consumed regularly; since is antibacterial, a few drops of basil oil can often relieve ear infections; and can help you also reduce stress and facilitate relaxation by adding a couple of cups of strong basil leaves tea to a warm bath.
This wonderful tender plant, beside helping us in the kitchen, have also so many benefits on us. I hope you have your basil plant already and if you don’t have it, try it!
Thank you for joining me in this journey and thank you for reading.
Italy is very well known for its use of basil, everybody knows pesto alla genovese right? So next time, I’ll take you to Genoa, the city where pesto was borne.
Join me and discover this beautiful city, fronting the Ligurian Sea, rich in art and notable architecture, an overlooked gem largely free of tourist crowds.
And last but not least, Monday or not, you know what kind of life you wish to lead then just go for it, one step at a time. But always remember to enjoy every step as is part of your journey and will never come back.
Have a great week!