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How to Create your Own Herb Packets

By Ali Struhs

Too much salt can really derail your diet and increase your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 2,500 milligrams of sodium each day. That’s just a teaspoon each day! So instead of reaching for your salt shaker to season your Jenny Craig meals and side, create your own healthy herb packets to bring out the flavor in your food with a customized twist! Here’s how:

You can grow your own favorite herbs in your garden or even in small pots inside your kitchen windowsill. Basil, rosemary, sage, oregano, and even cilantro (coriander) grow well potted inside with a little water and sunlight. Pick fresh herb leaves to dry and mix together for homemade seasonings.

Harvesting and drying:
Cut herbs when they are at their best in midmorning. Rather than air drying, which can take days, you can dry herbs at a low temperature in the oven. Spread herbs, like thyme, rosemary, or basil, on a cookie sheet and bake for 2-4 hours at a low temperature (less than 180 degrees).

Store dried herbs in airtight containers, such as canning jars or zipped freezer bags. Keep the leaves whole until you’re ready to make a spice blend. When creating an herb packet, crush the leaves and mix together your desired ratio of spices, keeping them in zipper baggies or small glass jars for quick access when cooking.

Herb mixture ideas:
Concentrated flavors of herbs bring out the best in grilled meats and vegetables. Dried rosemary, basil, and thyme crushed together is a tasty way to season chicken. Oregano or sage and a pinch of garlic combined is a savory herb mixture for pork. A simple herb packet that resembles traditional Italian seasoning (garlic, thyme, oregano) can be added to summer’s fresh veggies like zucchini, onion and yellow squash for a flavorful side.

Even if you don’t grow all of your herbs, you can still mix together store-bought spices to create your own herb packets. For example, a dash of cumin, red pepper, paprika, coriander, and cloves mixed together make the perfect seasoning for Mexican-inspired dishes. Or try drying your own lemon zest to combine with crushed peppercorns and garlic for a savory, tart addition to chicken.

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