Oregano ~ Super Spices
The warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor of this particular spice or herb makes it the perfect addition to Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines.
This very popular herb whose name means "mountain joy" is available throughout the year.
Oregano is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram.
It's a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers.
In Mediterranean climates it grows as a perennial plant, but in the harsher climates of North America, they grow as annuals.
You may have seen a bottle marked "oil of oregano" in a health food store.
There are good reasons why!
An Effective Anti-Bacterial
The volatile oils in this spice include thymol and carvacrol, both of which have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria, including Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus.
In Mexico, researchers have compared this spice to tinidazol, a commonly used prescription drug to treat infection from the amoeba Giardia lamblia.
These researchers found it to be more effective against Giardia than the commonly used prescription drug.
Potent Anti-Oxidant Activity
Oregano contains numerous phytonutrients, including thymol and rosmarinic acid, that have also been shown to function as potent
that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body.
In laboratory studies, it has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food - BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole).
Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries.
A Nutrient-Dense Spice
Our food ranking system qualified this super herb as a very good source of fiber.
Fiber works in the body to bind to bile salts and cancer-causing toxins in the colon and remove them from the body.
This forces the body to break down cholesterol to make more bile salts.
These are just some of the reasons that diets high in fiber have been shown to lower high cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of colon cancer.
While many people think of pizza when they think of oregano,
this wonderful herb can add a warm, balsamic and aromatic flavor to many different dishes, especially those of the Mediterranean cuisine.
This herb is known botanically as Origanum vulgare and is called wild marjoram in many parts of Europe since it is closely related to the herb that we know as sweet marjoram.
Its' name is derived from the Greek words "oros" (mountain) and "ganos" (joy) since not only was it a symbol of happiness, but it made the hillsides on which it grew look beautiful.
Oregano is native to northern Europe, although it grows throughout many regions of the world.
It's been recognized for its aromatic properties since ancient times, with the Greeks and Romans holding a bunch as a symbol of joy and happiness.
In fact, it was a tradition for Greek and Roman brides and grooms to be crowned with a laurel of the flowers.
It's been cultivated in France since the Middle Ages and has come to be an important herb in Mediterranean cooking.
It was barely known in the United States until the early 20th century when GIs returning from Italy brought word of this fragrant and delicious herb back to the United States.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose the fresh variety over the dried form of the herb since it's superior in flavor.
The leaves should look fresh and be a vibrant green in color, while the stems should be firm.
They should be free from dark spots or yellowing.
Even through dried herbs and spices are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area.
Often, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular super-markets.
Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing, try to buy that which has been organically grown, since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.
Fresh, it should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.
It can also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers.
Alternatively, you can freeze it in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock, that can then be added when preparing soups or stews.
The dried variety should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months.
Tips for Preparing:
Either in its fresh or dried form, it should be added toward the end of the cooking process since heat can easily cause a loss of its delicate flavor.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Next time you enjoy a slice of pizza, garnish it with some fresh oregano.
It goes equally well with healthy sautéed mushrooms and onions.
Adding a few sprigs to a container of olive oil will infuse the oil with the essence of the herb.
Fresh oregano makes an aromatic addition to omelets and frittatas.
Sprinkle some, chopped, onto homemade garlic bread.
Add it to salad dressings.
It's not a commonly allergenic food and isn't known to contain measurable amounts of goitrogens, oxalates, or purines.
Oregano is an excellent source of
and a very good source of iron, manganese and dietary fiber.
In addition, it's a good source of calcium, magnesium, vitamin-A, vitamin-C and omega-3 fatty acids.
So, if you're now wondering what to have for dinner this evening, may we suggest;
Personal Veggie Pizza
Make ‘em big or small.
Your family will love ‘em all!
Plus, they have a ton of flavor, while low in saturated fat.
This is such a satisfying snack or meal of pizza it's hard to believe they're low fat.
You can load as many veggies onto the muffin as it will hold, and you'll be surprised how much 1/8 c. of shredded mozzarella really is when melted.
And, for a little bit of cell-soothing nutrition, add an extra sprinkle of these zingy flakes to your slice;
That’s right, oregano doesn’t just add pizzazz to your pizza sauce.
It may have the power to prevent tissue-damaging inflammation, too.
The essential oils in oregano are rife with a substance called (E)-beta-caryophyllene, or (E)-BCP for short.
These compounds bind to certain cell receptors in a way that could mean less inflammation, according to mouse studies.
Good news, since inflammation has been fingered in a bunch of bad health outcomes, from heart disease to cancer.
Researchers suspect (E)-BCP may have a similar inflammation-fighting benefit in humans.
A Little Dash Will Do Ya?
It’s not clear (yet) how much (E)-BCP is in oregano, but surprisingly, the lowest dose of the compound was often the most effective in a recent study.
Black pepper, rosemary and cinnamon all have the compound, too.
"This is a healthy, guilt-free meal and kids love it too...at least ours always have!"
Prep. Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 3 minutes
* 1 English muffin, split
* 1/4 c. tomato sauce.
* 1/4 c. chopped mushrooms.
* 2 Tbs. chopped green, yellow, orange or red bell pepper.
* 2 Tbs. chopped onion.
* 2 Tbs. shredded low fat mozzarella cheese.
* oregano flakes
1. Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Toast the muffin halves.
3. Evenly divide the sauce, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion, and cheese between the muffin halves.
4. Sprinkle lightly with oregano flakes.
5. Bake for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is melted.
Makes 1 Serving
10 g. Protein,
41 g. Carbohydrates,
3 g. Fat,
6 mg. Cholesterol,
717 mg. Sodium,
4 g. Fiber.
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