Food of the Week : Rosemary

The needle like rosemary leaves are rich in phyto-chemical compounds that are known for their ability to fight disease and improve our health. Although we don’t consume huge quantities of rosemary, its concentrations of vitamins is excellent and not to be undervalued. Think small and powerful…

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Let’s begin with its vitamin profile. Rosemary is super rich in the B-vitamins. We’re talking folic acid, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin. Broadly speaking these vitamins are responsible for cell metabolism, and generating energy from the carbs, fats and proteins we ingest. Folic acid in particular is vital for cell division and the construction of our DNA, which is why it is a key nutrient for expecting mums and healthy babies.

Next up is Vitamin A. This vitamin has a huge impact on our eye health, and is key for a healthy immune system. It’s an anti-oxidant, known for its cancer fighting and age defying properties.

Then we have the King of the Antioxidants… vitamin C. Without vitamin C, our bodies cannot synthesis collagen. You may have heard the word in skincare adverts, but collagen is much more important to us than beauty. It is the main protein responsible for cell structure of our blood vessels, bones, organs and our skin. Vitamin C is also the antioxidant which keeps our immune system in top-notch condition. It helps protect us from infections and destroys those pesky free-radicals which have such destructive, ageing and cancer forming potential.

Rich in iron (which is vital for transporting oxygen in our blood stream) rosemary is a good dietary addition for any vegan who does not take on a haem (or animal) form of iron. The herb is also a good source of calcium, manganese, copper, potassium and magnesium. Great for water and fluid balance in our cells and for blood pressure.

There are two particular compounds which give rosemary its nutritious kick. Firstly rosmarinic acid which is a powerful antioxidant, secondly, a plethora of essential oils including a-pinene, camphene, camphor, cineol, borneol, bornyl acetate and limonene. Together these bad boys provide awesome anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-allergic and anti-septic properties.

How to use…

Buy fresh when possible, and freeze, ready for use whenever you need it. Crush and chop the leaves to release the oils before cooking.

Create your own oils for drizzling on salads: stuff good quality extra virgin olive oil bottles with fresh clean and dry (not dried!) rosemary springs.

Chop and crush rosemary leaves and liberally sprinkle over potato wedges and chopped up vegetables before roasting.

Make rosemary a staple in all of your cooking sauces: fry onions, add a tin of chopped tomatoes, chopped fresh rosemary and simmer until the sauce reduces. Serve with wholegrain pasta and a big serving of protein, or smother over roasted veggies.

Suffer from dry scalp or dandruff? Steep rosemary sprigs in boiling water overnight, and after washing and conditioning your hair slowly pour the (sieved!) cooled water over your entire head. Soothing and healing.

As an essential oil, rosemary is great in very small or diluted quantities for coughs (rub a few drops into the chest), headaches (sniffing the oil, or rubbing into the temple), and bad breath (diluted as a mouthwash).

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