After an excellent birthday weekend, I’m sad to report that I left my camera cord for picture upload at my parents’ house, 2 1/2 hours away. So, I will delay blogging about my birthday festivities until I get my pictures up! In the meantime, I had a great question from one of my friends about herb usage.
There are amazing health benefits for both fresh herbs AND spices. They are loaded with beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that should be apart of your daily diet! Some people, including myself, get stuck in a rut when it comes to seasonings and end up using the same old dried herbs dish after dish. With the development of this blog, I have started to get a bit more creative and WOW have my taste buds been thanking me! Below, I listed a few herbs and spices that I suggest keeping around for an everyday boost of health!
With it’s natural anti-inflammatory properties, fresh, dried, or powdered turmeric adds a mild, peppery flavor, and contributes a deep orange tint to ethnic dishes; curries, stir fries, or rice dishes like Paella. Turmeric has loads of health benefits!! It is an excellent source of nutrients like manganese and iron and has been shown to aid in fat metabolism, prevent Alzheimer’s Disease, lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, prevent heart disease and cancer cell growth by destroying free radicals! Try incorporating turmeric into egg salad, steamed cauliflower, sautéed apples, or salad dressings!
Contributing flavors resembling sage and citrus peel, coriander seed or cilantro leaves have an extensive list of health benefits. To name just a few: aids in digestion, protects against salmonella bacteria, can help lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol, and is rich in phytonutrients and flavonoids. Use coriander seed in soups, sauteed spinach, and spice rubs.
The subtle tang and fresh aroma provides the perfect balance between savory and sweet. Dill is used in the pickling process but can also be added to seafood recipes, dips, egg dishes, sauces, and soups. Dill has medicinal properties like preventing bacterial growth and has also been found to neutralize carcinogens produced from things like cigarette smoke. It’s an excellent source of calcium and just one tablespoon has as much calcium as a 1/3 cup of milk!
Closely related to the herb sweet marjoram, oregano adds a balsamic-ish flavor, working well in many ethnic dishes; Italian, Mediterranean, Greek, and Latin. Fresh oregano is an excellent source of Vitamin K, has bacterial fighting properties, contains omega-3 fatty acids, and has been found to have more potent antioxidant properties than many fruits and vegetables.
Fresh ginger is a fantastic source of numerous vitamins and phytochemicals. Ginger is another medicinal herb that can help with nausea, motion or morning sickness, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and work as a natural blood thinner. Ginger offers a gentle sweet and spicy flavor and can be used in cookies or cakes, fruit salads, asian cooking, and in meat/poultry/fish dishes.
Sage is typically thought of when making “warm” dishes like stuffing or casseroles. Sage not only has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, but is also rich in vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
Cinnamon is well known as a tasty addition to many desserts, however, did you know that it can also complement certain varieties of stews, curries, and spice rubs!?? I found that cinnamon really adds a little something extra to my healthy chicken salad recipe! The health benefits? Cinnamon is great for controlling blood sugar levels, calming upset stomach or diarrhea, inhibiting bacterial growth and food spoilage, and posesses anti-clotting properties. Just a 1/2 tsp a day may even help lower LDL cholesterol! Give it a try!
I just mentioned a few healthy herbs and spices, but I strongly encourage you to be adventurous and really experiment with your recipes! Your palate will thank you and I would LOVE to hear about what you tried!