This is it … the #Victoriaday,  May 24 weekend (even though it’s not the 24th, I am sure there’s been a few 24’s opened up today) and is traditionally the weekend that Ottawa gardeners get down and dirty!

I’m not one of them … never had a green thumb even though I love flowers, garden fresh vegetables, beautiful landscaping and especially, fresh herbs.  Luckily, my better half actually enjoys gardening and landscaping … bonus!
Our yard has miraculously transformed over the weekend and there’s herbs (the one in the photo) planted in the garden.  I offered moral support by sipping on vodka and lemonade while doing my nails on the front porch.

With our rather short summers, tomatoes don’t always turn out tasty and leafy greens tend to get destroyed by bugs.  One sure bet, no matter what size of garden you have, is a herb garden.  Rosemary, thyme, oregano, sage and my favourite … basil.

Not only can you make your own pesto, add it to pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches and fish recipes, but basil is also anti-aging!  Basil is an excellent source of vitamin K and manganese; a very good source of copper, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), and vitamin C; and a good source of calcium, iron, folate, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids and studies have demonstrated that the properties of basil are key in preventing some of the adverse effects contributed to aging.

Basil lowers the stress hormone called cortisol and fights free radicals with potent anti-oxidants that are responsible for many of the health problems and degenerative diseases associated with aging. Basil is also an excellent anti-inflammatory food that can provide healing benefits for health problems like rheumatoid arthritis.  The eugenic component of basil’s volatile oils works very much like aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.  And get this … according to scientific research, basil boosts serotonin and dopamine production to give you a sunnier mood in as little as three days!

Mmmmm … basil is so delicious it’s not hard to think of ways to add it to your diet.  You can even add it to smoothies.  Because basil is so potent, you only need small amounts compared to other greens like spinach or kale.  Or how about some fresh crusty bread with goats cheese, fresh tomatoes and a few leaves of basil, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil?  Just remember that basil is best eaten raw or added to your dishes at the end of the cooking process.

In Italy basil is the symbol of love and they take their pesto alla genovese  molto serious!  There is even a World Championship of Pesto!  Here is the winning pesto recipe plus some interesting info on pesto.

Stay Young … Eat Basil and don’t forget a nice glass of Italian wine … that keeps you young as well!