Bring the Garden Inside

By Ryan Rafacz

Ever wonder what small changes you could make to raise a healthier family? After becoming a parent, I found it more important than ever to find new and interesting ways to keep my family healthy. One easy step toward health was to grow my own fresh herbs. Nearly every kitchen window holds the power to grow an abundance of sweet, savory, and aromatic herbs to complement any meal and help your family kick the salt shaker to the curb.

The average American takes in between 3,000 and 3,600 milligrams of sodium per day, while the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a sodium intake of less than 2,300 milligrams per day. Using fresh herbs to season your favorite dish allows you to leave out that extra salt without sacrificing flavor.

Start enhancing your own meals with a window herb garden today by following three easy steps.

  1. Select your favorite starter herb plants from your local farmer, market or garden store.
  2. Take home and replant into a pot of loosely packed potting soil.
  3. Place new plants in a sunny window, provide adequate water, and use as needed.

The benefits of growing your own herb garden donâTMt just start and stop with eating them though; growing herbs in your home freshens the air as well and creates a unique opportunity to teach children about fresh ingredients. Growing herbs from seeds can take a few weeks to start producing usable plants, but purchasing herb plants from your local farmer or garden store that have already started to sprout enables you to start enjoying your new herbs as soon as you plant them. So start your own window herb garden today and start reaping the healthy benefits of your very own indoor garden.

Sage is an herb with green-gray fuzzy leaves.

The taste is slightly peppery with a touch of mint.

Sage goes well with pork and is more commonly used with turkey and dressing. Rosemary has a strong woodsy or pine-like flavor.

The needles are stripped from the stems before use.

This herb is a great complement to pork, chicken, and potatoes. Thyme is a combination
of sweet and savory flavors.

It combines well with other herbs such as oregano and rosemary.

Thyme is a great herb to season fish, eggs, and it can add more depth to soups and stews. Basil can range in color from green to purple.

The taste is slightly sweet to peppery.

This herb is often used in dishes such as pizza, pesto, and mozzarella- tomato salad.

Grilled Chicken with Herbs
2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried sage
3 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of pepper
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts

1. In a blender combine the parsley, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, oil, vinegar and pepper. Blend together. Place chicken in a nonporous glass dish or bowl and pour blended marinade over the skinless chicken. Cover dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 2. Preheat grill to medium high heat OR set oven to broil. 3. Remove chicken from dish (disposing of leftover marinade) and grill or broil for about 6 to 7 minutes per side, or until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF.

Nutrition Facts (per serving) Calories: 221; Fat: 10.5 g; Carbohydrates: 3.8 g; Sodium: 0.0 mg; Protein: 26.5 g

Ryan Rafacz currently is a dietetic intern at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He is originally from Michigan but moved to middle Tennessee where he completed a bachelorâTMs degree in economics as well as completed a didactic program in dietetics from Middle Tennessee State University in August 2013. He hopes to practice medical nutrition therapy in critical care medicine.

  1. American Heart Association. Why should I limit sodium intake? Accessed September 27, 2013.
  2. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Nutrition Care Manual®. Accessed September 27, 2013.
  3. Sung, Esther. A visual guide to fresh herbs. Accessed September 27, 2013.
  4. Webb, Robyn. Grilled chicken with herbs. Accessed September 29,