Never eat your snacks or meals without dressing them up first! It’s easy to make them fancy! Just like going to a concert, you can amplify your mealtime by adding herbs and spices!
Add Spices and herbs to not only make your food taste better, but they can help you stay healthy too! When you cook, use herbs and spices regularly and not just one at a time, but mix them up! Incorporate a dry spice into your dish and finish with a fresh herb and you’ve not only boosted flavor, but added nutrients also! If you’re bored with the everyday food, give some love to that spice, and your family will love you right back!
Research has found that both herbs (leaves of a plant) and spices (seeds, bark, and roots of a plant) are loaded with healthy compounds that may have many health benefits. There’s so much research going on out there these days about these taste treats! Every day, we’re finding out more and more about how good they are for you. Studies are finding that spices increase cellular health in your body and help to fight inflammation. Inflammation is not just swelling around your ankles, it affects your cells as well. These awesome components have “phytochemicals” which are natural plant “chemicals”.
We all know that we should cut back on salt, fat and sugar and by adding natural flavor that’s good for you makes it easier to eat right.
Don’t fall for the supplements!
Of course, you can buy everything in pill form these days. You may have seen all the herbal supplements in your local drug store. Cinnamon capsules, garlic, oregano, turmeric, ginger. It’s always best to eat the whole herb or spice because supplements are not regulated by the FDA and they may not be what they say they are.
According to Consumer Reports magazine, Published: February 05, 2015, Pieter Cohen, M.D., assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an authority on dietary supplements. “There may be evidence that some botanicals in their pure state have medicinal effects,” Cohen says. “But consumers need to realize that what they’re purchasing in a bottle is completely different from what an ancient herbalist would have used, making it extremely unlikely that these highly processed products are going to confer any of the theoretical health benefits—even if they’re made from the plants they say they are.”
The newest dieting trend is to try to just eat whole foods, not processed. Well, the herbal supplements are just that! They are highly processed. And when you think about it, logically, can you really fit all the nutrients manufacturers claim are there in that tiny little pill? And how long have they been sitting in that little capsule on the shelf?
To me that says it all, and yes, I am guilty of buying so many of these herbal supplements. I got sucked in! The label says they’ll get rid of excess weight, depression, headaches, arthritis, etc., but you know what? None of them ever worked! And who really likes swallowing pills, especially large capsules all day long? Not me! They are also filled with additives that you don’t need.
So enough of the ranting about pills, I’d rather eat delicious, nutritious wholesome meals and snacks with the fresh herbs and spices mixed right in! Doesn’t that sound better, and definitely more fulfilling? The compounds from herbs and spices mixed with the other foods you’re eating work together to provide their special health benefits.
So once again, and I can’t stress this enough, if you’re new to cooking, especially with spices and herbs, start small. Baby steps, this is one time when more if not better! Please don’t try to add 10 different spices to a dish and expect it to be magical. It won’t be, and you’ll probably throw it away. It just won’t taste good.
Start with adding one herb along with salt and pepper to a sauce or sprinkled on vegetables you are going to roast. Sprinkle some rosemary or cumin on a pork chip along with salt and pepper. Broil or grill, see how you like it. Rosemary lends an Italian flavor, and cumin leans toward Mexican, or Latin cuisine. Once you know your spice profile, you can create a meal around that flavor and cuisine.
Throughout my site, you will be surprised with my almost “secret” No Recipe Recipe’s. These are recipes that you can modify for what ever you have on hand, protein, vege’s herbs, and make as little or as much as you need. I alway suggest to make at least enough for two servings, then you have your lunch ready made for the next day!
No Recipe Recipe-Quick, Easy Supper
Make a simple one dish meal. (Amounts are entirely up to you, make it your way!) Put chicken breasts or thighs, (boneless or bone in) on one side of a sheet pan, add cubes of potatoes, butternut squash or cauliflower florets, and washed, trimmed asparagus or green beans. Spray with olive oil or butter spray, sprinkle rosemary, fresh or dry, over the top, minced fresh garlic, and shower it with salt and pepper. Bake at 375 F until chicken is no longer pink inside. Stir veges’s around half-way through cooking. 40-50 minutes for bone-in, 25-30 for boneless. Always check for doneness, cooking time will depend on size of meat. Tip: Cut your veges’s either large or small depending on which type of chicken you’re cooking. Larger for bone in, small pieces for boneless. That way, your veges won’t overcook and get mushy.
There are so many ways you can make this your way. Use a different protein, different veges and for vegetarian, use triangles of tofu. Marinate your protein in your own homemade Italian or Ranch dressing. Cover with slices of lemon or lime for citrusy chicken. Spice it Your Way!
If you’re new to cooking with herbs and spices, start with just a pinch to figure out which ingredients and flavor combinations you like.
Here are some ideas to add to your next meal:
Cardamom. This sweet, pungent spice, popular in Indian cuisine, is also found in many pumpkin spice mixes. Herbalists use it to soothe an upset stomach, and lab studies show it might also help fight inflammation. Cardamom is especially high in minerals like magnesium and zinc. Magnesium is good to help your stress level and zinc can help to ward off colds.
Use green Cardamom for its delicate, ginger like, sweet flavor sweets and coffees and tea. Black cardamom is commonly used in curries.
Chili peppers. Fresh, dried, or powdered, we all know chilies, they will give your food a kick! Chilies have shown to also may boost your metabolism and help keep blood vessels healthy. Capsaicin is the compound that makes them spicy.
Cinnamon. Remember that cinnamon, sugar toast you ate as a child? Well, I think our Mom’s knew what they were doing! Cinnamon is awesome because it’s sweet therefore taking the place of sugar. Cinnamon is easy to find and not expensive. You can add it to yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal, cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, even coffee and tea.” Use a cinnamon stick to stir your tea, or added to chili, roasted pumpkin and squash soup while it simmers. Remove before pureeing or serving.
Cinnamon is a powerhouse. It may also help with inflammation. Studies have shown it to help fight free radicals that can damage your cells, as well as fight bacteria. Some research suggests it may help lower blood sugar in people who have diabetes or are likely to get the disease, but that has not been proven yet.
Cloves – Try to find high quality cloves which have high concentrations of essential oil. In the U.S., we typically use cloves in baking and to stud our holiday ham. Cloves are popular in North Africa in rice and meat dishes. Cloves are also added to curry dishes throughout many countries.
Cocoa. We can think of cocoa here as a spice. It is, of course, an ingredient in chocolate, but it has many health benefits. The cocoa bean is chock-full of antioxidants called flavonoids, which have been shown to promote heart health. Flavonoids also seem to play a role in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and help to keep your heart healthy. You can add cocoa to coffee and even chili for a depth of flavor. Everyone will wonder what that flavor is!
Cumin. Cumin may very well be the most common spice in the world. Cumin is naturally rich in iron, and it may play a role in weight loss. Cumin seeds are not used as much in the US and they are in other cuisines. Cumin seeds are essential to Indian cooking. They are toasted whole to bring out the flavor grinding with other aromatic spices to make blends like garam masala. They can be added whole soups.
Garlic. Garlic’s powerhouse is a compound called allicin. Research has shown that it may lower your chances of getting heart disease. Research shows that eating garlic regularly may help with high cholesterol and blood pressure. But to get the benefits, you have to use fresh garlic and chop or crush the clove: Allicin is formed only after the cells in the garlic have been cut or crushed.
Ginger. I love ginger. And, Yes, it does help with an upset stomach. Lab studies have shown that ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and may play a role in preventing diseases like cancer. Ginger is another ingredient in curries though out many countries around the world. Ginger is one component in the Asian holy trinity, the other two ingredients being garlic and scallion. These three aromatics are the base of almost all Chinese stir fries.
Rosemary. An ultra-fragrant herb, everyone knows the aroma of rosemary. Rich in antioxidants that prevent cell damage, even sniffing it may be good for you. Researchers think one of its compounds, called 1,8-cineole, may boost brain activity, making rosemary good for memory.
Turmeric. This bright yellow spice has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason. Turmeric contains curcumin, an antioxidant that eases inflammation. Researchers are now suggesting that curcumin may also help ease pain, and even small amounts eaten regularly may help prevent or slow down Alzheimer’s disease, possibly by helping prevent the brain plaques that lead to dementia. Turmeric adds a rich, woody flavor to curries, lentil stews, rice and vegetables. Add turmeric powder to smoothies, sauces, soups and baked goods. Eat turmeric often!
The possibilities are endless!
As you can see, spices and herbs will give you the edge on healthy cooking, and it’s so easy! This is a pretty basic list of commnly used spices and if you read through the list of herbs and spices here, I wonder if you saw a pattern. Garlic, ginger, and turmeric are very commonly used as the flavor base for many curries and stir fries. Chilies, garlic and cumin have a Mexican profile. Mix them with tomatoes and onion, and you got yourself a salsa! Garlic and Rosemary go together for an Italian flavor. When you understand which spices compliment each other, you can mix and match freely. Treat these flavor bombs with love and your health will love you right back.
Try my Super antioxidant tea, make a large batch and keep it in the fridge. Drink it over ice for a refreshing, hydrating break from water. I make a batch at least twice a week!
To start your own spice cabinet, I would use this list of easy to find ingredients. The really cool thing is that they all go together well in almost any combination. Well, I think I’d leave rosemary out of curry, but other than that, they’re sure to make a big hit with your family when you put dinner on the table!
Please let me know if you try a combination of these spices and come up with a great idea. I’d love to hear from you and I’m always looking for a new dish! Thanks! Jeanette