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How to select fresh herbs to flavour your meals

Fresh herb and lemon calamari recipe


lemon and fresh herb calamari

I need flavour! Give me something with a robust flavour I can savour – PLEASE. Since commencing my SIBO treatment almost three weeks ago I am undertaking a strict treatment diet. This has severely limited what I can eat. My freedom to eat anything, what ever I feel like, and how much I choose to eat has been removed. Hopefully, once my gut health is restored I will be able to re-introduce some of the foods I love. Being presented with a small list of foods that are allowed to be eaten during this treatment period has felt paralysing some days. I look at the list and cringe. What the heck can I make using those ingredients (again!) today? This is not a great way to start planning a family meal.

Feeling a little sorry for myself and craving real flavour this week I wanted something yummy to eat that also felt like a reward for getting through almost three weeks of the treatment with no deviations. This has involved removing sugar, all wheat and grains, potatoes, corn, eggs, beans and legumes, and most fruit from my diet. Wandering aimlessly at our local shops this week I ventured into the fish shop and spotted squid/calamari tubes. I love it when served with lots of fresh herbs and lemon juice. I can eat any herbs so this was my dinner treat while the kids had their requested favourite pizza (homemade). I have never made a habit of making separate meals for my kids, other than a little tweak of the same dish. On the night I made this I needed something easy to put in front of the kids that they would enjoy so they had their pizza and I had this, Mr Fresh had both….

While my new diet has been very restrictive herbs have stepped in as a powerhouse of flavour and helped keep me on track. I add fresh herbs daily to our meals, now I am adding even more. With garlic no longer part of my diet they herbs provide a strength of flavour.  Packed full of powerful antioxidants and vitamins when freshly picked and used they are one of the few things I am not complaining about in with this new diet.

Herbs in our vegetable garden

I maintain a constant supply of thyme, chives, sage and rosemary, lemongrass, oregano, vietnamese mint and mint in our vegetable garden. These grow all year round, as well as spring onion.  Currently my garden also has coriander and lots of parsley in it. They will continue to grow well until summer heats up.

With spring approaching and my use of fresh herbs higher than it has ever been I will be adding more plants of all varieties so I can keep up the supply. I am planting seeds now that will be ready to go into the garden beds in spring.

The seeds I am planting now include: coriander, spring onion, and chives. I will soon start basil seeds (indoors).

Choosing fresh herbs for meal types:

Recently a friend asked me how I know which herbs to add to meals. It hadn’t occurred to me that this was not intuitive. Here is my quick guide to selecting herbs to flavour your meals.

Mediterranean style meals

This includes tomato-based meals. These meals are all enhanced with the addition of herbs such as oregano, parsley, rosemary, thyme, and basil.

Asian style meals

The strong clean flavours of mint, vietnamese mint, coriander, lemongrass, basil, and spring onion work well. You will get the best flavour result if you add them right at the end of the cooking process, or as serving.

Seafood & chicken

Herbs dill, sage, tarragon, chives, lemongrass and parsley are wonderful additions.

Middle Eastern style meals

Most middle eastern style meals feature spices rather than fresh herbs. Parsley, mint and thyme will compliment the spices.


Mexican foods are enhanced with the addition of oregano, parsley and coriander.

Modern Australian

Steak/beef based meals that do not fit into any of the flavour profiles above – add parsley, spring onion, rosemary or thyme.

Pretty simple right? Really there are no rules, this is a summary of how I commonly use herbs in our meals.

Plant and use the herbs that you enjoy, add lots of them to and enjoy the nutritional benefits as they are freshly harvested.

Fresh herb and lemon calamari recipe

SIBO-friendly recipe with loads of flavour.

How to select fresh herbs to flavour your meals
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Add a burst of fresh flavour along with lemon zest to this satisfying, light meal.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian inspired
Serves: 2
  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 cm fresh ginger grated
  • zest 1 lemon
  • two tubes calamari - cut into thin slices
  • fresh mint, vietnamese mint, spring onion, coriander, chives
  • To serve:
  • Rocket
  • lemon
  • tomato
  • carrot
  • salt and pepper
  1. Heat a pan and add the ginger and lemon zest
  2. Increase heat and add the slices of calamari - stir to coat
  3. Cook until the calamari turns white all the way through
  4. Remove from the heat, add the fresh herbs and stir
  5. Place the calamari onto a serving plate and add a squeeze of fresh lemon
  6. Serve with a salad and season with salt and pepper.
lemon herbed calamari

Thanks goodness for fresh herbs. If you are not growing any at home spring is a great time to get them started. For growing tips see the Grow Fresh tab at the top of this page.

Have a great weekend.



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