Are you trying to cut back on salt? Do you have herbs growing with no idea what to do with them? Are you unsure how to use fresh herbs when you cook? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need to join the Cooking with Herbs class hosted by the Sampson County Master Gardeners on April 8th!
We are planning a fun hands-on workshop to teach you how to cook various dishes using herbs. We’ll be making an appetizer, salad, entrée, vegetables, and dessert all using herbs! This is a great class for the beginner or experienced chefs who want to use fresh herbs more often in their meals. Why use herbs? Herbs and spices give food an amazing flavor and eliminates the need to use salt. Nearly all of us eat too much sodium, which is found in salt. This can be found in processed foods, canned foods, and added to foods for extra flavor. Eating less salt is an important way to help us stay healthy and may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and some chronic diseases.
There are several other ways you can help limit the sodium in your diet. First, compare sodium content for similar foods using the Nutrition Facts label to select brands with lower sodium. This is especially helpful in soups or frozen meals, where you have a large variety of brands for the same product. Another tip is to look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on food products. Things like canned beans and canned vegetables typically have a “no salt added” option. When preparing foods, try to limit adding salt. Use herbs or other spices for flavor rather than salt. You can also add salt after cooking rather than during. Adding salt during cooking tends to cook down, so it’s not tasted as easily. We then tend to add salt after cooking to give it extra flavor because we couldn’t taste it. Lastly, rinse canned foods such as beans or vegetables with water before use to reduce the amount of salt in them.
You can also look for foods that are good sources of potassium, which counteracts some of sodium’s effects on blood pressure. Vegetables like sweet potatoes, white beans, potatoes, tomato puree and paste, and soybeans and fruits like bananas, dried plums (prunes), cantaloupe, honeydew, and orange juice are examples of foods to choose for potassium.
Come join us on April 8th to get more experience cooking with herbs! There will be two classes held, one from 10 a.m. to noon and one from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Registration fee is $15. Class size is limited, so make sure you call to reserve your spot today!
The Master Gardener Volunteers are also hosting an “Art in the Park” event. The Master Gardeners will be selling home grown three gallon azaleas, geraniums, and superbells. They will also have information on fairy gardens and herbs, so be sure to come by the Sampson County Extension Office!
Sydney Johnson is an Area Family & Consumer Sciences Extension Agent, with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.