Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Oregano - Roasted Vegetables GF SCD

The picture above shows the oregano I grew from seed two years ago peeping out from the snow which fell a couple of days ago, the first snow of the Winter.

Oregano (origanum vulgare) is closely related to the herb, marjoram (origanum magorana), both are members of the mint family and Oregano is sometimes called wild marjoram. The herb originated in the Mediterranean Region, probably Greece, where it continues to grown wild on the mountains today. In fact, "Oregano" comes from two greek words, oros (mountain) and ganos (joy) and translates to "joy of the mountain". Some believed it was created by Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and happiness, to bring joy to mankind. One of the oldest known medicinal plants, it was mentioned by Aristotle and Dioscorides as well as Hippopocrates who used it as an antiseptic.

Apparently, according to Aristotle, tortoises who ate a snake would immediately eat oregano to prevent death! Have you ever seen one of our small tortoises catch a snake, let alone eat one!

Oregano is also supposed to have powerful magical properties. In the Middle Ages, the leaves were used to create love potions. Both marjoram and oregano were deemed to protect against evil powers and sprigs of oregano were placed in a bride's shoes and her bouquet.

Oregano can fit nicely into any garden plan, even if you're not thinking of harvesting it. I've planted oregano in tubs, window boxes and in my flower beds. If you're using it for culinary purposes, remember to make sure you harvest the leaves before the flowers appear or they will taste bitter.

Medicinal Uses

The ancient Greeks made poultices from the leaves to treat aching muscles and sores. Oregano contains the antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-parasitic compounds, carvacrol and thymol. I mentioned the amazing properties of thymol in my post about thyme. Carvacrol is antiviral, antifungal (as in Candida Albicans yeast), antibacterial and anti-parasitic. Oregano also contains another powerful antioxidant, the phenolic acid named after Rosemary, rosmarinic acid. Both the oil and the leaves are used medicinally. These are just a few of the ailments it can help :
  • arthritis
  • rheumatism 
  • UTIs
  • dyspepsia
  • athletes foot
  • eczema
  • colds and flu
  • sprains
  • colitis
  • candida albicans
  • headache
  • toothache
  • bee stings

Nutritional Benefits

Oregano boasts health promoting omega 3 fatty acids as well as : 
  • iron
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • manganese
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin K
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin B6

Cooking with Oregano

Oregano can be used fresh or dried but the dried leaves give a stronger, more pungent flavour. Often jars of dried oregano contain a mixture of different varieties but it is the Greek oregano which appears to receive the most applause by cooks world-wide. If you decide to use fresh leaves add them towards the end of cooking to maximise the flavour. I use oregano in all types of dishes, a chilli just wouldn't be the same without it and have you ever tasted a classic pizza without oregano? It is a very versatile herb which works especially well in tomato dishes, with Mediterranean vegetables and the fresh leaves can be thrown in to salads to boost their nutritional value.

Roasted Vegetables GF SCD

Roasted vegetables taste delicious with a generous sprinkling of oregano. You can roast most vegetables including :

butternut squash
red and yellow bell peppers
red onions
parsnips (not SCD)
potatoes (not SCD)
sweet potatoes (not SCD)

You will also need :

extra virgin olive oil
dried oregano
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

  • Set the oven to 200°C.
  • Chop the vegetables into chunks but remember some will roast faster than others so if you want to put them in all at the same time, make sure you cut larger pieces of those which roast the fastest but if you are using mushrooms, add them near the end of the cooking.
  • Tip the chopped vegetables into a large bowl and add one or two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and two or three heaped teaspoons of dried oregano.
  • Mix well with a spoon until all the vegetables are coated. You can put some cling film over the top of the bowl and give everything a good shake, this is a very good method of coating all the vegetables. Preparing the vegetables this way cuts back on the amount of oil you need to use. Tip into a roasting tin.
  • Add some freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Cook in the oven for 50 to 60 minutes, turning the vegetables over a few times throughout the cooking time.