Lemongrass, Refreshingly Nutritious
Lemongrass is the triple threat of herbs – it is not only used to cook a variety of dishes, it is also used in many countries in traditional medicine and as a beauty aid.
Native to South India, lemongrass is a popular herb for cooking and medicinal purposes in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia. Its stems are commonly used in a variety of dishes such as stir-fries, salads, soups, curries and marinades. Its delicate citrus flavor complements fish, seafood, poultry and red meat.
To placate the tropical heat, lemongrass is used to create refreshing iced teas and cocktails in these humid countries. Lemongrass tea also is common in Latin American countries, Togo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Lemongrass not only makes your dishes taste better, it is really good for your health as well. According to Nutrition Data, it is low in calories, has no cholesterol and is a good source of potassium, iron, manganese, folate, magnesium, zinc and copper, and vitamins B6, C and A. These minerals and vitamins have anti-oxidant and disease prevention elements.
According to Nutrition and You, lemongrass is also used in certain countries to alleviate colitis, indigestion and gastroenteritis ailments, as well as sore throats, bronchitis and laryngitis. Its essential oil is used by aromatherapists to ease headaches, nervousness and body aches, and as a skin toner in beauty regimens.
Thai and Vietnamese cuisines have become popular in the United States, and lemongrass stalks are more available in farmers’ markets and grocery stores. Although it grows best in hot tropical climates, you can easily grow lemongrass in California in summer and even in colder months by growing it from roots of lemongrass stalks from the grocery store or farmers’ markets.
During the winter, grow the plant in a pot next to a sunny window or in a protected area of your garden that stays warmer (our founder, Amber, grows her plant against the wall of her garage). It is an awesome herb to have handy whenever you feel the hankering for Thai food or a glass of warm lemongrass tea.
Check out our vegetarian Thai coconut soup recipe with lemongrass, tofu and shitake mushrooms. It’s easy, delicious and warms your tummy on a cold winter’s night.
Article by Heather Teoh