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Healthy Herb Surprise

by Amie Valpone

Photo credit shutterstock.com / supercat

Parsley and cilantro, long-perceived as lowly garnishes, now strut their nutritious stuff

Parsley and cilantro are wonderful cleansing agents for the body and can be used individually or combined in recipes. Parsley is often seen as a garnish, but it has become a staple in many recipes recently due to its nutrient-density.

It is full of vitamins K and C as well as folic acid, which is an important B vitamin. Parsley and other green herbs are also high in chlorophyll, which has been shown to block the carcinogenic effects of grilling foods at high temperatures. Toss fresh parsley into soups and smoothies for a fresh and refreshing flavor. It is also great for cleansing your breath!

Cilantro, high in vitamin K, is loaded with phytonutrients, it has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help with lower blood sugar in diabetes patients. Toss a handful of fresh, chopped cilantro into your favorite salsa recipe or add to tacos and fajitas for extra flavor.

These leafy herbs are more than just a decorative garnish; they are incredibly versatile and add vibrant color with a delicious bite to any recipe from savory breakfasts to dinner.

This Honey Lemon Quinoa Bowl combines fresh parsley and cilantro, along with fresh lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt and pepper (plus a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes), as a simple dressing. It can be served chilled or at room temperature.

Honey Lemon Quinoa Bowl

Serves 4


½ cup quinoa

2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced or diced

1 cup organic mixed salad greens

1 cup peeled and thinly sliced Fuji apple

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

Juice of 1 large lemon

½ teaspoon honey

2-3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional


Cook quinoa according to package directions. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork, cover and set aside.

Meanwhile, steam zucchini in a steamer basket over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until tender. In a large bowl, add the zucchini to the cooked quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Add the salad greens, apple, parsley, cilantro and sunflower seeds. Toss again.

In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Add crushed red pepper, if desired. Drizzle the dressing over quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Season to taste and serve.

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