From Backyards To Kitchen Tables – Rosemary Has Many Delicious Benefits
Rosemary is a common cooking herb, but does it have other beneficial effects besides tasting good?
The rosemary plant is native to the Mediterranean area, but can now be found all over the world- from backyard gardens to indoor planters as a perennial herb. The plant itself has an inedible woody stalk, but the rosemary needles are a consumable treat. There are many different and beautiful varieties, so make sure to buy the “cooking rosemary” to grow indoors or outdoors, but make sure to place it in a sunny place. The plant is extremely resilient, so even I couldn’t kill one with over-watering and long spells of neglect! Don’t want to grow it? No problem! You can easily buy fresh rosemary, dried whole rosemary needles, dried powdered rosemary, and rosemary oils. When buying fresh rosemary, keep it in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator, and it will stay good for several weeks.
Rosemary has been used for centuries as a medicinal component to treat and improve memory, relieve muscle pain and spasm, prevent indigestion, and support the circulatory and nervous systems. Rosemary branches were placed on the floors of medieval homes to combat diseases during the “black plaque,” and used as an incense due to the wonderful scent it emits.
In more recent scientific research studies, rosemary has been shown to have potent antioxidant properties and may have antimicrobial capabilities. Just a reminder that antioxidants act to neutralize free radicals in our body- this protects the cellular membrane and cellular DNA from being damaged which can cause our cells to die. We receive oxidation daily to our cells through basic living, and being highly active athletes- you endure more with physical stress and increased respiration! Therefore, antioxidants reduce oxidation and should be consumed through our food on a daily basis through a variety of colorful foods and herbs.
• The German Commission E in Europe examines the safety and efficacy of herbs, and has approved rosemary’s use in a few different ways:
~ Rosemary leaf treatments for indigestion
~ Rosemary oil applied topically to the skin to treat muscle pain, arthritis, and improve circulation
• Several studies indicate that rosemary inhibits food-borne pathogens like Listeria monosytogenes, B.cereus, and S.aureus.
• Rosemary used as an aromatherapy can increase concentration and memory, and relieve stress. One scientific study conducted with rosemary in combination with other pleasant-smelling oils suggested that use might lower cortisol levels and help reduce anxiety. Another study using rosemary and lavender oil sachets on graduate nursing students and found that the aromas reduced test-taking stress.
• Rosemary may help prevent and reduce cancer development. Several studies suggest that rosemary extract may inhibit tumor growth by preventing cancerous cells from replicating.
Rosemary for Athletes
It’s apparent that rosemary may have many beneficial medicinal uses, and continues to be researched as an extract and aroma. But how can this help athletes? Rosemary has antioxidant components, as I previously touched upon, which are highly beneficial for athletes to consume on a daily basis. Antioxidants are necessary not only to stay healthy, but also to help shorten recovery times, improve muscle adaptation, and avoid sickness. While more research needs to be done on rosemary aromas with respect to reducing stress and improving memory, I see no studies indicating that it is harmful or works negatively against memory and/or increases stress. Therefore, I say- give it a try! See if you like it. If it works for you, it might be worth considering incorporating it into a nightly or weekend destress routine, or even as a pre/post-race focusing tool. If you can’t find the aromatherapy products, simply squeeze a bunch of fresh rosemary needles in your cupped hands and smell! It could help you transition from a racing/working state to a relaxation state and get you involved with cooking your meals (enhancing the fun part and reducing the stressful part of nutrition- always a good thing!).
I do however want to caution those of you who are tested routinely for doping from taking a concentrated rosemary extract oil for relief. Unfortunately, with this extract oil there is no pre-approval and could potentially be a vehicle for contamination (which might accidentally show up as positive for doping). I’ve never heard of it happening, but there’s always a first- so don’t let that be you! It’s always best to be more cautious than less under these circumstances. That said, there should be nothing stopping you from using rosemary in your food! Unless you fall within the categories listed below, it should be safe for you to cook and bake with! Enjoy
Some Must Take Caution
Rosemary is considered safe for most when taken in doses less than 4-6 grams of dried herb. That said, some individuals are allergic to rosemary and should avoid all rosemary and rosemary extracts found in many foods. Additionally, pregnant women should avoid higher doses of rosemary as it may cause miscarriages, but the herb is safe to eat in food. People with high blood pressure, ulcers, Crohn’s Disease, or ulcerative colitis should not take concentrated rosemary supplements. Rosemary concentrates should not be taken with anticoagulant drugs, ACE inhibitors, diuretics, and Lithium.
Nutritional Fun with Rosemary
Cooking with rosemary is the best part of this plants use! Adding rosemary to fish, poultry, meatless, and meat dishes can be quite simple. Below I introduce two baking recipes with rosemary perfect for the holidays! I hope you enjoy the taste and benefits this amazing herb can bring…
Recipe #1- Sweet
Rosemary Olive Oil Cake
This cake is a wonderfully healthy treat to satisfy any palate at any type of celebration.
Preheat the oven to 350*F
Rub a 9 ½ inch tart pan with olive oil or line a long loaf pan with parchment paper.
¾ cup spelt flour (or other flour of choice)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup organic sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 cup olive oil
¾ cup whole milk or coconut milk
1 ½ Tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 Tablespoons organic sugar + coarse salt for top crunch
1. Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, until everything is sifted together. Set aside.
2. In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk, and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined.
3. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spread evenly to smooth the top.
4. Sprinkle the top with the remaining chocolate and salt, and run a fork along the top to incorporate a little of the chocolate and salt into the batter. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the organic sugar.
5. Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is domed shaped, golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Remove from the pan when it’s finished baking, and eat warm or cooled. Wrap tightly in plastic to keep.
Sweet Potato and Rosemary Bread
This is a great source of vitamin A, iron, fiber, and protein. A perfect addition to soups or a salad.
Preheat oven to 180*C
135g cooked sweet potato (boiled or baked)
300g liquid egg whites or 4 whole eggs
90g unflavored rice protein isolate
75g oat flour
15g psyllium husks
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 ½ Tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1. Line a loaf pan (21cm x 10cm) with non-stick silicone paper or grease and dust with a little flour.
2. Place all ingredients except the rosemary into the bowl of a food processor. Process until the dough is smooth. Alternatively, you can puree the sweet potato and combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a mixer and mix on low-medium until the dough is smooth and light.
3. Stir in the rosemary until well-distributed in the dough. Transfer the dough to the loaf pan.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes until completely cooked. Do not over-bake the loaf. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
5. Once cooled, turn the loaf onto a rack, and slice and serve. Keep in the refrigerator.
We want to hear from you- tell us your favorite Rosemary recipe on the WCA facebook page or blog.