Have you looked around your kitchen lately?
Do you have one of those revolving spice racks given to you by a well-meaning friend or relative? Is it sitting on your countertop looking a bit forlorn with full jars of dried herbs and spices?
What about your pantry? Do you have a shelf dedicated to dried herbs and spices? How often do you remember to use them in your daily cooking?
Or do you ever wander down the spice aisle of your local supermarket in your quest for some other food item on your grocery list?
Adding a variety of flavors to the foods that you eat, there are differences among herbs, spices, and dried vegetables in your spice collection.
- Herbs refer to the leaves of plants that can be used fresh or dried. Fresh herbs are often added to the meal preparation later in the process. Whole, crushed, or ground, dried herbs are added in the beginning stages of meal preparation.
- Spices come from tropical plants and trees in the form of bark, roots, buds, seeds, berries, or fruit.
Spices aren’t necessarily spicy. Spices add flavor, and may or may not add an increased heat factor to your dish. Think of the flavors of cinnamon versus cayenne pepper.
- While commonly listed as herbs or spices, dehydrated vegetables, like onion, celery, and garlic, are also found in your spice racks.
There are many ways to start incorporating herbs and spices into your meal preparation. In fact, you may already know how to do this. If you like world cuisines, you may already know what herb and spice combinations to start with:
- Italian food? Bring on the oregano, basil, garlic.
- Mexican? Think cilantro, cumin, chile peppers.
- Indian? Try curry, cloves, cardamom.
- Greek? Add dill, lemon, mint.
- French? Include rosemary, marjoram, chervil.
- Chinese? Combine sesame, anise, ginger.
Beyond this cursory knowledge of world cuisine, use a reliable, well-tested recipe. Bear in mind that you will also need to evaluate the freshness of your dried herbs and spices (each should give off a distinctive scent). You will invariably adjust the recipes according to your personal preferences.
Depending on your recipe and what herbs or spices you have on hand, follow this simple conversion:
¼ teaspoon powder = ¾ teaspoon dried = 2 teaspoons freshNow how do herbs and spices boost your nutrition? With the added flavors, you will be able to reduce your calories as well as your sugar and salt intake, and maybe even those sweet and salty cravings.
Food Label Info: While food labels may use the term “spices” with out being specific, salt must be identified as a separate ingredient.
In addition to enhancing your meal, herbs and spices provide a natural pharmacy in your kitchen. As your herbs and spices come from plants, they contain phytonutrients which are designed to help your body function properly and help prevent disease by providing varying amounts of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, affecting your appetite, and even cancer prevention.
You have probably heard of garlic boosting your immune system. You have had some peppermint or ginger to settle your upset stomach. Or hot pepper to help you sweat and possibly release toxins in your body? Did that raspberry tea help relax a muscle spasm? These are those phytonutrients at work.
With the assistance of healthy recipes and meal planning, herbs and spices can help you make better food choices and help keep your body healthy.
Contact the experts at your local Metabolic Medical Center for your weight management solutions.