Total Nutrition Technology
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

5 Reasons to Use Basil

(and how to use it!)

Photo Credit: Stacey Gretka

You've got a bounty of basil by now (or always pass the wonderfully aromatic bunches in the grocery store) and you're wondering how can you possibly use it all! We've got some great ideas for you, in addition to the traditional caprese salad, and reasons why basil is a great, healthy addition to your daily life!

Basil, or Ocimum basilicum, comes in many different varieties, the most popular of which is Sweet Basil. It has a slightly peppery and clove-like flavor, making it a warm, yet refreshing addition to nearly any dish. But there are so many other uses for basil as well! 

Basil makes a great insect repellent and bug bite soother! 

When camping or gardening, simply rub a broken leaf on any bites and the itchy sensation will subside before you know it! And since the phytochemicals of basil are considered antibacterial, it makes for a decent and natural disinfectant when in a pinch, too. Make sure your basil is not covered in pesticides though before you rub it on a bite. And never rub any plants on an open wound. 

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To make simple, homemade insect repellent window strips (that are safe for kids and pets), simply dampen strips of clean cotton or paper towel, and rub freshly broken or crushed leaves of basil across them so that they turn slightly green in color! To enhance the effects, you can also use essential oils of peppermint, cinnamon, lemongrass, or thyme. 

Basil is a milder stimulant than caffeine!

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Instead of brewing a cup of coffee every morning, try a milder stimulant such as basil tea! A gentler way to open the eyes and mind, basil tea is often used in natural circles to help reduce headaches and settle stomachaches! But keep in mind, basil tea can increase your appetite. Simply cut or chop the leaves and infuse in hot water (try one of these tea balls) for five minutes or until the tea is cool enough to drink. Or add it to your TNT Infuser Water Bottle in the fridge overnight for a cool and refreshing start to your day! Add a touch of sweetness with stevia leaves, or try a lemon twist. 

Basil makes an amazing salad green!

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That's right! Just toss a bunch of fresh basil leaves right into any salad. It pairs very well with spinach and mesclun. But try it with arugula, romaine, swiss chard, mache, oak leaf lettuce, frissee, tango and more! 

Master Pesto

Photo Credit: Patrizia Schiozzi

We can't talk basil without at least mentioning its crowning culinary condiment: pesto. Without about a million different variations on the spread, it's easy to get lost thinking its a challenging feat, but making classic pesto is simple, delicious, and high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Try one of these classic recipes (and don't forget to monitor portions when enjoying this healthy fat):

Mortar & Pestle Classic Pesto from Serious Eats

Food Processor Classic Pesto from Cooking Light

Try using your new creation on sandwiches in place of mayonnaise, on pasta in place of a cream sauce, or even on pizza in place of the pizza sauce! Use it for Skillet Pesto Pasta & Shrimp or how about in place of the mayo in a potato salad! 

Use Basil to Brighten Desserts & Beverages

Give any of these delicious recipes a try for a new and exciting spin on cooking with this versatile herb. Alcohol can be left out to have fun hydrating coolers without the added calories. 

Lime Basil Sorbet

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner; Styling: Cindy Barr

Basil Cornmeal Sandwich Cookies (with Apricot Filling)

Photo Credit: Carrie Vasios

Kale Pineapple Basil Smash 

Photo Credit: Autumn Giles

Cucumber and Basil Slush

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