The New Superfood
I'm so over kale. A year ago kale was all anyone could talk about. Kale chips, kale caesar salad, kale toast. It's been all kale all the time. It was time to move on and I've done so, straight to the most over looked herb of all, parsley.
Before you yawn and go looking for reading that’s more salacious than a little garnish, read on. Your palate and your body will thank me.
My obsession with parsley began when I was hunting through the fridge for something green to throw in my morning smoothie. I was all out of kale (go figure) and I like to use my smoothie moment as an opportunity to add more vegetables to my diet. All I had was curly parsley (which is an herb, not a vegetable). I threw a small handful in the blender along with blueberries, plain 2% yogurt, a couple slices of apple, a squeeze of lemon juice and a splash of water. Very refreshing!
I didn’t have time to shop that day, or the next, so my parsley habit continued. By day 4 it was clearly having an effect. The bloating I have at certain times? Gone. A certain, ahem, irregularity that plagues me? Suddenly there were no barriers to exit. It was time to do some research.
It turns out parsley is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s packed with vitamin C (much more than an orange), which acts as an antioxidant and, among many other things, helps prevent some types of cancer. And antioxidants play a big role in great skin. Vitamin C is also an anti-inflammatory, another key to longevity and as an immune booster it goes a long way to keeping colds at bay.
And that’s just the start. Parsley has diuretic effects, which aids in weight loss and it improves the digestion of proteins and fats. It provides hormonal support for women and can help regulate menstruation and decrease PMS. It’s high in iron so it decreases fatigue and (since it also has Vitamin C) helps fight anemia. Parsley helps the liver and kidneys function at their best, it’s high in chlorophyll which helps alkalize the body, purify the blood and form new red blood cells. And the parsley root in particular strengthens the spleen!
Parsley has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years and was originally used for it’s medicinal effects. The Greeks considered it sacred (and now, so do I). It wasn’t until much later it was also used in cooking.
While it does indeed go a long way as a garnish, it can easily become the main ingredient in a dish. Try it as a pesto, using parsley, walnuts, garlic, olive oil, parmesan cheese and salt and toss with gnocchi or spoon onto chicken or fish. It makes a wonderful salad mixed with tabbouli, green onions, cherry tomatoes and an olive oil dressing and is a good choice to add to a mixed green leaf salad. The flavour of parsley pairs well with mint (as in, parsley-mint pesto over grilled lamb). Keep in mind that the darker flat leaf variety breaks down better with heat, making it better for hot dishes (try adding it to stews), while the curly type has a slightly more bitter flavour and is better in raw recipes.
So it makes you look better, feel better and possibly live longer. It’s also cheap and widely available all year long. And if that’s not enough, nothing beats it for eliminating bad breath.
Medical disclaimer: Please talk to your health care practitioner about a diet that’s right for you!