Herbs and Spices: Add Flavor, Not Fat

Herbs and spices are a nutritious way to add flavor to your food without adding fat and calories. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring if you use the right combination of herbs and spices during food preparation.

Fresh or Dry Herbs?

A variety of fresh and dried herbs and spices are readily available, making their accessibility simple. However, it should be noted that dried herbs do not have the same flavor that fresh herbs have. If you plan on using dry herbs, use 1/3 tsp powder or ½ tsp crushed for every 1 Tblsp of freshly chopped herbs. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 Tblsp of basil, substitute with ½ tsp crushed basil in the bottle. Fresh herbs do not last as long as dry herbs and dry herbs should not be kept any longer than one year.

Common Herbs and Spices

Some of the most common herbs and spices that can be found in kitchens across the world include black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, garlic and Italian seasoning. What can these herbs and spices be used for?

  • Black Pepper: Black pepper can be found in a powdered form or it can be crushed from whole peppercorns. The most common uses for black pepper include meats, vegetables, soups, pasta and casserole dishes.
  • Allspice: Allspice is a versatile spice that is composed of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Allspice can be used in a variety of sweeter dishes including fruit desserts, apple cider, apple pie, pumpkin desserts, cookies and cake. The spice can also be used when cooking chicken, pork, beef and fish recipes.
  • Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a common staple in most pantries as it can be used in so many recipes. Cinnamon is often used when making apple desserts, oatmeal, cookies, fruit salad, sweet potatoes, pumpkin treats, French toast, ham and pork chops.
  • Garlic: Garlic can be used dried or freshly minced or pressed. Garlic is often used in Italian dishes and offers a bold flavor to a variety of pastas and meats.
  • Italian seasoning: Italian seasoning is actually a combination of marjoram, basil, rosemary and oregano that is often used in Italian dishes such as spaghetti and lasagna. Seasoning chicken breasts with Italian seasoning is not only healthy, but flavorful.

Other Herbs and Spices

Although the following spices may not currently be found in your pantry, they can be added to multiple recipes for added flavor.

  • Basil: Basil is best when used fresh because of its potent flavor. Basil provides a nice taste in tomato dishes, egg recipes, stews and salads.
  • Cumin: Cumin is generally used as a powder for Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern foods. Cumin can also add a nice tough to a chilled chicken salad, made with mayonnaise, as well as chili.
  • Rosemary: Rosemary can be purchased as a fresh herb that looks similar to that of an evergreen branch or it can be purchased dried. Rosemary is a strong herb that pairs nicely with beef, chicken, pork, potatoes, soup and vegetables.

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