The longer days and warmer weather are evidence that winter is now history and spring has finally sprung; making this the perfect time to explore the incredible and vast benefits of growing and cooking with nature’s perfect pharmaceuticals… herbs. Nothing is more gratifying than the reality that your healthy eating recipes are prepared and made with fresh, home-grown ingredients.
Many herbs can easily be grown and kept in pots indoors or started inside and transplanted outdoors. Whether planted in deck boxes, planters or ornamental gardens; herbs offer beautiful foliage and color to any landscape, not to mention there are a myriad that are known to attract humming birds and butterflies. There is one in particular that is considered to be the “powerhouse” of herbs; it is easily grown; it has delicate flowers; and it is a culinary giant… Any guesses?
Hint… One herb – two names… Coriander, as in the seed, in the United States it is commonly known by the Spanish word for “leaf” or cilantro. Coriander is a fascinating herb that is actually a member of the carrot family, often referred to as “Mexican parsley” or “Chinese parsley” due to the fact that it is used in soups, salads, salsa, burritos, pickles, curries, and meat dishes of many cuisines.
Cilantro is one of my favorite herbs to cook with or add as a garnish to a variety of tasty and exotic recipes, however, many people associate cilantro with Mexican food as it can commonly be found in many Mexican dishes we are familiar with. Our recipe today is ‘Chicken Tacos,’ and nothing makes tacos complete like cilantro.
- 1 pound organic chicken breast tenderloins
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 whole wheat tortillas
- 1 1/2 cups leaf lettuce
- 1 cup black beans (drained) can also use dried
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 small avocado (peeled & sliced)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (optional)
- shredded cheese (optional)
- 1 cup fresh salsa
Preheat indoor or outdoor grill to medium. In a small bowl combine cumin, sea salt, cayenne, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Rub mixture onto chicken tenderloins, set chicken aside for 20 minutes. While chicken is marinating, drain beans, chop leaf lettuce, cilantro, and slice avocado, cover each with plastic wrap, I put in bowls and cover with plates, and set aside. Spray tortillas lightly with olive oil, and place on grill one at a time for 30 to 45 seconds each. Wrap in clean towel to keep warm. Grill chicken tenderloins 6 to 8 minutes turning once; cook until internal temperature reaches 165º F and juices are clear.
Unwrap warm tortillas and place 2 chicken tenderloins, 2 slices avocado, a generous helping of black beans, lettuce, cilantro and salsa. Top with 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese, a dollop of Greek yogurt and fresh salsa. Garnish with additional cilantro. This remarkable herb not only lends a fresh citrus taste but makes a beautiful and delicious garnish on any plate. Cilantro is as versatile as it is beneficial, yet, sadly many people are unaware of the amazing benefits of this powerful natural cleansing agent.
Some of the known benefits of raw, organic Cilantro include:
- Powerful anti-inflammatory capacities that may help symptoms of arthritis; stimulates endocrine glands.
- Protective agents against bacterial infection from Salmonella in food products
- Acts to increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind), and reduces LDL cholesterol (the bad kind)
- Relief for stomach gas, provides relief for diarrhea and feelings of nausea; overall digestive aid
- Eases hormonal mood swings associated with menstruation; shown to reduce menstrual cramping
- Adds fiber to the digestive tract, contains high antioxidant properties helping to detoxify the body.
- A source of iron, magnesium, and is helpful in fighting anemia; contains immune-boosting properties.
- Helps promote healthy liver functions; aids with insulin secretion lowering blood sugar.
You might be thinking… “I don’t like cilantro”. If you have an aversion to cilantro, you are not alone! The strong aversion to cilantro is so common, it inspired a website, “ ihatecilantro.com”. As a matter of fact, there is a persuasive study that suggests that having an aversion to cilantro may actually be a genetic response.
The great news is that you don’t have to like eating cilantro to reap the healthy eating recipe’s benefits; the prolific properties of cilantro oil have a robustly favorable effect on the inner digestive tract by aiding the digestive system in the production of digestive juices, acids and enzymes; also inciting digestion through peristaltic motion.