It might seem obvious to experienced cooks, but to newbies in the kitchen, adding flavor to your bland meals can be a challenge. If you fall into the latter camp, there’s no need to worry! We’ve got you covered with these nutritious and delicious herbs and spices that will add healthful benefits and incredible flavor to your favorite dish. If you’re experimenting with herbs and spices for the first time, add just a pinch, little by little, to make sure you enjoy the taste. Then, feel free to get a little more adventurous with amounts and combinations!
1. Basil – With a wide variety to choose from, you’re sure to find one to fit your taste. This herb has a slight peppery flavor with hints of mint. It contains a decent amount of vitamin K and has other potential health benefits as well. These include improved fasting blood glucose levels and blood pressure control.
2. Cayenne Pepper – If you’re looking to add some heat, then this spice is the one for you. Cayenne contains an active compound called capsaicin, which is believed by some to have pain-relieving properties. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which help remove toxic substances from our bodies.
3. Dill – This one is often paired with salmon because of it’s slight citrus flavor. Dill contains antioxidants as well, that may protect against liver, heart, kidney, and brain diseases. Some studies, done on diabetic animals, have related improved fasting blood sugar levels with regular doses of this herb.
4. Cilantro – Some describe the taste of this herb as fresh, citrusy, and mildly spicy. Cilantro is usually added to a dish just before it’s served and is commonly used in salsas, salads, sauces, dips, and dressings. Some studies have linked “dodecenal”, a compound in cilantro leaves, with increased ability to fight salmonella.
5. Rosemary – With such a strong flavor, it’s important that you use a light hand when adding this to a dish. It’s flavor is described as piney and sharp. It can be used fresh or dried, and is commonly used in chicken dishes, casseroles, and stews.
6. Sage – Native to the Mediterranean, this herb has a bitter-sweet taste. Some also describe it’s flavor as earthy and slightly peppery. Sage is known to possibly have some oral health benefits, and could protect against some cancers. Enjoy it in a variety of “comfort food” dishes, like stuffing and creamy pasta.
7. Thyme – This herb is versatile, due to it’s gentle, lemony flavor. Thyme is commonly used in Italian dishes and sauces. By volume, it’s quite high in vitamins A and C, which are important for vision and immune function, respectively.
8. Turmeric – A common ingredient in mustard and relish blends, Turmeric pairs well with rice and other grain based dishes. It’s a popular ingredient in many Indian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern recipes. Curcumin, a compound in Turmeric, is thought to contain health benefits, such as fighting inflammation and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
9. Parsley – With a light and “fresh” flavor, Parsley is used in a wide range of dishes. Due to this, it might be a great choice to start with in your cooking. Not to mention, it’s a great source of vitamins A, C, and K, by volume.
10. Garlic – Most people have tasted garlic before, as it’s popular to add to breads and other savory dishes. Due to it’s strong flavor, it’s usually added to a dish long before actually serving it (so the flavor mellows out a bit through the cooking process). Garlic is popular for it’s potential health benefits, too. These include boosted immune function, reduced blood pressure, and improved cholesterol levels.
Now it’s time to get cooking! Use your new found knowledge of spices and herbs and flex your creativity in the kitchen. Make sure to show us your delicious creations on our Facebook page.