As part of our ongoing series about how fresh herbs bring fantastic flavor and heart benefits, today we take a look at parsley. Yes, there are other uses for parsley besides that little garnish sprig on the side of your plate!
Last summer, my parsley plants blessed me with an endless supply of delicious, flavorful leaves. I tried new recipes, tried different ways to save it for later and gave it away to friends and neighbors. In return, my friends and neighbors shared their plans for making chicken soup, tomato sauce and roasted chicken.
The flat leaf varieties of parsley have a peppery taste that is a little stronger than the curly variety. While tabbouleh often comes to mind when I think of parsley, this herb is used in soups, egg dishes, salads and marinades or sauces. Parsley combined with other herbs enhances the flavors of the entire dish.
If you grow your own parsley, cut leaves from the outer portions of the plant, which allows the newer inner leaves to keep maturing. If you are purchasing your parsley from the farmer’s market or grocery store, bring it home and put it a vase of water that is covered with a plastic bag. Parsley tolerates storage at room temperature or in the refrigerator for approximately 2 weeks.
Chock-full of nutrientsAlthough large amounts of parsley aren’t often a part of American meals, even 2 tablespoons of parsley provide small amounts of Vitamin C, beta-carotene (which converts to Vitamin A in our bodies), folate, calcium, potassium and health protective phytonutrients. Vitamin C and beta-carotene act as antioxidants, which can protect our arteries from hardening and plaque development. In addition, parsley is rich in Vitamin K. Two chopped tablespoons contain 123 micrograms of Vitamin K, slightly less than the amount of Vitamin K found in 1 cup of raw spinach. If you take warfarin or other anticoagulants, it is important to maintain a regular or consistent intake of Vitamin K and you should take note of parsley as a high Vitamin K food.
Since parsley adds flavor and depth to your foods, you may be able to avoid the saltshaker. Add flat leaf parsley to cooked dishes close to the end of cooking. Parsley is also delicious uncooked.
MHealthy has many delicious recipes that include parsley and. Here are two recipes that make me wish my parsley plants were already up:
Take the next step:
- Read tips for adding the fresh flavor of basil.
- Learn how to cook with cilantro.
- Check back next month to learn more about herbs and how they can be used in specific recipes.
- What would you do with a big bunch of parsley? Share your ideas here.
Brenda Allison Fay, RDN, is a senior dietitian and cardiovascular nutritionist with the Cardiovascular Medicine Clinic at Domino’s Farms. With more than 15 years of experience as a dietitian, she provides nutritional counseling to help people reduce disease risk and improve health.
The University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.