In Season: Benefits of Oregano

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On a beautiful Mediterranean spring day, we all have that deep, gut feeling that there must be something more to that beautiful oregano-infused fresh air.  And over dinner, as we chew through a morsel of pita-wrapped oregano salad, we just know that something so sublime, so fresh, and so aromatic must have some hidden secrets beyond taste and beyond smell.

There certainly is something, way more than meets the eye–or nose–or tastebuds…

So what is it exactly that fresh spring oregano is hiding? Whatever it is, it certainly is worth exploring!

These are some of the benefits of this uber-tasty/fragrant herb…looks like the benefits transcend nutrition, as oregano also has some anti-bacterial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties.

1. Thymol and Carvacrol, 2 effective anti-bacterials: Oregano’s antibacterials have been shown in different studies to be highly effective against 41 strains of the food pathogen,  listeria. Not only that, but research has also shown oregano to be more effective than the drug Tinidazol in treating infections against giardia lamblia. Moreover, further studies on the antibacterial properties of oregano have proven its ability to kill the hospital superbug MRSA, which is resistant to many antibiotics.

2. A potent antioxidant: Oregano contains two powerful antioxidants, Rosmarinic acid and Thymol (also an antibaterial), rendering a gram of oregano’s antioxidant activity to be 42 times more than that of apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges, and 2 times more than blueberries! According to the Journal of Nutrition, oregano is one of the herbs with the highest concentration of antioxidants (>75 mmol/100 g).

3. Anti-inflammatory properties: Beta-Caryophyllin, an anti-inflammatory in oregano which may protect against osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis.

4. Protection against cancer: Biologists have been able to show the anti-cancer properties of oregano through encouraging cancer cell apoptosis (in other words, cancer cells commit suicide):

“The scientists concluded “Our findings identify Origanum majorana as a promising chemopreventive and therapeutic                 candidate that modulate breast cancer growth and metastasis.” Put simply, they believe components in oregano may help slow down or prevent the progression of cancer in patients with breast cancer.”

5. Nutritionwise: oregano is a great source of vitamin K and manganese, as well as iron and calcium. zoube3 1

How to eat it: Oregano can be sprinkled on tons of foods, from salads to savory pies and pizzas, to pasta dishes and casseroles. However, in our region, oregano is also eaten in dishes where it is a primary ingredient rather than just a garnish or an aromatic herb. The most common traditional oregano-based dish is the oregano salad, a simple melange of oregano leaves, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil (see pictures above).

However, if you’re in the mood for baking, I can highly recommend my spicy oregano pie recipe. Just take a look at this piece of heaven:

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All you need is the following:

For the dough: This is my special dough recipe, for a crunchy exterior and moist, melt-in-the-mouth interior spicy goodness, mix

1 cup of whole wheat flour

1 cup of self-raising flour

one cup of whole grain spelt flour

2 tbsp instant yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp honey

1/3 cup organic rapeseed oil (canola)

1/3 cup organic olive oil

1 tbsp biber salcesi (or an equivalent mix of sweet pepper paste and chili pepper paste)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together. In a cup, mix the water, salt, and honey together, and pour over the dry mixture.

2. Add  canola oil and knead thoroughly, adding some more flour if needed.

3. After kneading the dough mixture, roll into a ball and cover with the olive oil.

4. Cover the dough container with a damp cloth and leave overnight (or for a couple of hours).

Do not mix in the pepper paste until you are ready to use the dough. You will need to knead it again so that the pepper paste is evenly distributed into the dough mixture.

For the topping, mix the following together, except the feta cheese crumbles:

2 cups oregano leaves

1/2 cup thyme sprigs

1 finely chopped tomato, seeded

1 medium onion, finely chopped 1 tbsp tomato paste (or tomato sauce)

3 tbps olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

a few crumbles of feta cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, knead the dough well with the pepper paste (until it has an even orange color), and roll onto a floured surface. cut the dough into a large circle.

2. Lightly grease a flat oven pan, and place the dough. Alternatively, you can simply stretch the dough on a pizza pan. This is how I do it (on a flat oven pan):

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3. Spoon the oregano mixture onto the dough, and then crumble the feta cheese on top.

4. Bake for around 10-15 minutes. You’ll just love it!

P.S.: You have enough mixture to make 2 huge pies, with some leftover dough to make another 2 large pies.

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Tags:

Categories: Benefits of Oregano, Nutri-Nut, Recipes, Vegan

2 Comments on “In Season: Benefits of Oregano”

  1. September 12, 2014 at 2:27 am #

    This looks so delicious! I’d love some traditional lebanese dishes/apetizers veganized. So hard to find original arabic recipes 🙂

    Like

    • September 12, 2014 at 4:31 am #

      Thanks Stephi! I agree, it really can get hard to find some traditional vegan Lebanese recipes. However, you can try the “zoushe” at zaatar w zeit for a similar oregano pie 🙂

      Like

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