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    basil

Food Percentage of DRI per 100 grams
vitamin K
462  
manganese
57  
copper
42  
vitamin A
28  
vitamin C
24  
calcium
19  
folate
19  
iron
19  
omega-3 fats
14  
magnesium
14  

Basil is a delicate, pungent and aromatic herb widely popular all over the world, but especially associated with Italian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. Basil is a great source of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and iron. It also comes with a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. Basil adds a wonderful, traditional Italian flavor to dressings, dips, sauces, gazpacho, cheeses, pizza, salads, risottos, sandwiches and pastas and of course pesto’s. Basil can also be added to desserts, fruit salads, smoothies and cocktails. There are over 60 varieties of basil including sweet basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil and anise basil. The leaves are round and pointy, similar to its relative; peppermint. Most common is green colored basil although it is also possible to find purple shades of basil. Sweet basil should not be confused with the spicy and peppery Holy Basil (also called Tulsi) which common in India and widely used within Ayurveda. 

VOLUME: moderate-loud

 

FLAVOR PAIRINGS 

All vegetables, almonds, amaranth, apples, apple cider vinegar, artichokes, asparagus, aubergine, avocado, bananas, beans, bell peppers, blueberries, broccoli, buckwheat, bulgur, cashews, capers, cauliflower, chickpeas, chives, cilantro, coconut, coconut cream, coconut yogurt, corn, couscous, cucumbers, dill, flax seeds, galangal, garlic, ginger, greens, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, herbs, honey, jicama, kaffir lime, kale, leeks, lemon, lemonbalm, lemongrass, lime, macadamia nuts, majoram, mango, millet, mint, mulberries, mushrooms, nectarines, noodles, nutritional yeast, nuts, nut cheeze, nut cream, olive oil, olives, onions, oregano, papaya, parsley, passionfruit, pasta, peaches, peanuts, peas, pecans, pepper, pineapple, pine nuts, pistachios, polenta, potatoes, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, raspberries, rice, rosemary, sage, sesame seeds, spinach, sprouts, strawberries, sunflower seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, tarragon, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, tomatoes, vegan cheeze, vegan feta, vegan labneh, vegan mozzarella, vegan sour cream, vegan yogurt, vegan !ce cream, vinegar, walnuts, watermelon, young coconut, zucchini.

 

SELECTING 

You can find basil in both fresh and dried form. The fresh leaves are vibrant and green and superior in both flavor and color compared to the dried. 

 

 

Dried basil is commonly irradiated. Food irradiation is a processing and preservation technique wherefood is exposed to doses of radiation from infrared light, microwaves or electromagnetic waves. During this procedure, the herb will loose vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Also, irradiation formstoxic chemicals such as benzene and toluene, chemicals known to cause cancer, stunted growth, and birth defects. The best way to avoid irradiated food is to buy organic. Organic dried basil leaves are available in health food shops and online. 

 

HOW TO USE 

Dried and fresh basil can not be used interchangeably. Whenever possible, choose fresh basil since it’s a lot more flavorful. Fresh basil is best used raw or added at the end of cooking, as heat will diminish the flavor. A sprinkle of fresh basil on top of your food is a really great way of adding flavor and upgrading the health benefits of any meal. 

 

Basil leaves are very delicate and can easily bruise. The leaves will go black and loose nutrition and life force if cooked or excessively chopped, so it´s recommended to use them raw and carefully sliced. When cutting basil, use a very sharp knife and a dry cutting board and slice through only once.

 

 

STORING 

 

Avoid chopping or washing basil until ready to use. Store wrapped in a paper towel and in a sealed plastic bag or container in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that fresh basil has a short shelf life of just a few days. 

 

You can dehydrate basil, and store it in a sealed container in a dark, dry and cool place for up to 6 months. 

 

Fresh basil doesn’t freeze very well. However, if you make pesto first it is fine to store in the freezer. 

 

If you have an excessive amount of fresh basil, you can also dry the leaves whole or chopped in a dehydrator although beware that dried basil looses most of its original fragrance and flavor. Remove the stems and spread the leaves on a dehydrator tray lined with a non-stick sheet. It’s a good idea to place a mesh screen on top to prevent the herbs from flying around. Dehydrate at 35°C (95°F) until all moisture is gone and the leaves are crunchy. Dried basil is best stored in a dark tinted glass jar in a cool, dark and dry pantry for up to 6 months. For longer shelf life, keep refrigerated. 

 

SUBSTITUTIONS 

 

 

 

HEALTH BENEFITS 

 

The anti-microbial and antibiotic effect of basil leaves has shown to inhibit the growth of pathogens, meaning it can provide relief from food born illness, digestive disorders, bloating, gas, stomach cramps and IBS. One essential oil in particular, called Eugenol, has been extensively studied for its anti-inflammatory properties and has gained attention after proving to help with inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, celiac disease and crohn’s disease. Eugenol can also help when applied topically to wounds, skin rashes, warts, insect bites and cuts as a natural disinfectant. Simply crush the leaves and mix with a bit of oil before applying to the skin. 

 

The Beta-carotene in basil can help with respiratory disorders such as asthma and fighting off infections, colds and flu. 

 

Basil is also a great source of magnesium which promotes cardiovascular health, relaxes muscles and increases blood circulation. It has proven to prevent free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the blood stream, which in turn prevents atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. 

 

 

HISTORY 

Basil grows all over the world, but originates from India, Asia and Africa. 

There are several legends associated with basil, from being a royal plant to a cure to a green monster, it’s hard to tell where the name really came from 

In Latin, legend has it Basiliscuswas a lizard-like creature with a breath and glance that were believed to be fatal. Perhaps the herb basil was believed to be the antidote to the creature’s fatal venom and that is why the herb received the name Basil. 

 

In ancient Greece however, the word basilikohn, means royal. This reflects the ancient Greek’s reverence of the herb, and came about because basil was an ingredient in the royal perfume. 

 

Whether Basil gets its name from a monster, or from the royal perfume, to this day, the Latin word for monster and basil are still one and the same, Basiliscus.

 

 

READING LIST

 

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Calucci L, Pinzino C, Zandomeneghi M et al. Effects of gamma-irradiation on the free radical and antioxidant contents in nine aromatic herbs and spices. J Agric Food Chem 2003 Feb 12; 51(4):927-34. 2003.

 

Opalchenova G, Obreshkova D. Comparative studies on the activity of basil--an essential oil from Ocimum basilicum L.--against multidrug resistant clinical isolates of the genera Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas by usi. J Microbiol Methods. Jul;54(1):105-10. 2003.