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Volume III
November 30, 2012

Weekly Home / Cook'n & Eat'n

A Cancer-Fighting Herb
You Ought to Use Every Day!

By Alice Osborne

For centuries, savvy cooks used culinary herbs in just about every dish because they knew herbs added more than exquisite flavor - they knew herbs added solid doses of health benefits.

A recent USDA study says that many popular herbs are a great source of natural antioxidants - compounds that help neutralize free radicals - more so than those reported for berries, fruits and vegetables. To those dealing with blood sugar issues, this is great news. We need all the help we can get to keep our immune systems strong and healthy.

Isaac Cohen, a doctor of Oriental medicine, and one of the leading authorities in the field of cancer treatment, reported in the book Breast Cancer: Beyond Convention, that several traditional herbs show high anticancer activity against breast cancer.

For instance, one of my favorite herbs, common to so many recipes, rosemary, has been proven to help prevent cancer and age-related skin damage. The two key ingredients in rosemary, caffeic acid and rosemarinic acid, are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, which help protect the body's cells from damage by free radicals. Rich in carnosol, rosemary has been found to detoxify substances that can initiate the breast-cancer process. And it's a rich source of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), another powerful antioxidant.

Am I wearing you out with all this science stuff? Well wait, there's more: It's widely known that an imbalance of estrogen hormones in women can contribute to breast cancer. While conventional drugs like Tamoxifen help block the effects of estrogen, they can cause unpleasant side effects, including hot flashes, vaginal bleeding, headaches, and nausea.

Rosemary, on the other hand, offers a safe and natural alternative treatment. Researchers say rosemary stimulates liver enzymes, which inactivates estrogen hormones. (A word of caution, though: Because it affects menstrual cycles, women who are pregnant are advised against using rosemary. And since its oil is extremely potent, it should never be ingested directly.)

Medical Herbalists report that rosemary is good for energizing, cleansing, and mood enhancing. It aids digestion of fats and is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, and analgesic herb.

Rosemary is an evergreen perennial plant which can be harvested all year round and looks lovely in home landscapes. It produces small pretty blue flowers in the winter and early spring. A good time to prune rosemary into shape is after it has flowered.

This herb can be used fresh or dried. But because it is an evergreen, using it fresh is easier and preferable. You can either strip off the leaves from the woodier stems or use whole sprigs to flavor your food. Once the food is cooked, it's best to remove the sprigs.

The leaves and flowers of rosemary can be used in many different dishes. I found these ideas from author Madeline G on She suggests we remember that rosemary has quite a strong flavor so we don't need to add very much, even in dishes that are slow cooked.

The flowers can be used in desserts - sprinkled over ice cream or mousse, for instance.

Rosemary blends well with so many fruits, but especially oranges.

You could also make ROSEMARY SYRUP (recipe from Southern Living):

Rosemary Syrup

A delicious and unusual syrup to add to teas, atop pancakes or waffles, or anyplace you want a sweet touch.

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons honey
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool completely. Remove and discard rosemary.

Recipe formatted with the Cook'n Recipe Software from DVO Enterprises.

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One of the more traditional uses for rosemary is as an accompaniment to lamb dishes. If you blend rosemary leaves, garlic, lemon juice and seasoning and marinate your lamb before cooking it will taste delicious. This also works for chicken and pork dishes.

Another combination for lamb is to mix rosemary leaves with orange to create a glaze but some people may find this a bit too sweet.

Whatever meat you're using, be sure to use sprigs for roasting, grilling or on the barbeque.

The fresh shoots can be used to flavor olive oil or milk/cream or syrup to be used in puddings. Also delicious added to lemonade and other summer drinks.

Onions roasted with rosemary and made into a sauce is also tasty.

You can infuse olive oil with rosemary. This is amazing on baguette slices! Adding it to oil and vinegar also makes a wonderful dressing or marinade.

Adding rosemary to roast potatoes is another popular use and is one of my favorite ways of using it.

Make skewers from stripped, longer, stronger sprigs (soak in water before cooking) or use as they are as a basting brush.

Rosemary sprigs cooked with fried vegetables make a lovely combination (don't forget to remove the sprigs before eating!)

Add finely chopped leaves to soups, sauces, salads, pasta and bread such as foccacia.

Rosemary combines well with any of the following herbs: bay, chives, garlic, lovage, mint, oregano, parsley, sage, savory and thyme, and is an essential part of 'herbes de provence'. It goes well with the following foods: apricots, breads, cabbage family, eggs, fish, lamb, onions, oranges, parsnips, pasta, pork, potatoes, poultry, squash and tomatoes.

Rosemary infused tea makes a reviving drink and can also be used as a mouthwash for halitosis or a good antiseptic gargle. I like to add slivers of orange peel to this as well - YUMMY.


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