Did you know that India has nutrition guidelines, just like America does? Similar to MyPlate, India follows a food pyramid which recommends eating many fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, and fewer meats, oils, high-fat foods, and added sugar. Preparing Indian recipes is a fun way to incorporate more variety and flavor into your meals. Continue reading
Herbs are a special category of vegetables. They are aromatic plants, meaning they have strong smells and flavors. Herbs, along with spices, garlic, and onions, give distinctive tastes to our favorite dishes. Many of the traditional flavor combinations of different cuisines from around the world are because of the herbs from that culture. Oregano is the underlying flavor of Italian tomato sauces. Cilantro is the love it or hate it flavor in fresh salsa or pico de gallo. Basil is the key flavor in pesto. Parsley adds to tzatziki’s unique flavor.
Grow Your Own
If you have a green thumb, herbs are a great addition to a home garden or container garden. Most herbs are continuously harvested, keeping your kitchen stocked all season long. Some are even perennials, so they will come back year after year. Growing your own makes fresh herbs more affordable. It can also be a great learning experience for kids to help grow some of their own food, too.
Health Benefits of Herbs
Herbs are full of antioxidants, special substances in plants that help protect the body from damage. Herbs are also very low in calories and naturally low in sodium, adding lots of flavor without salt. Different herbs can contain vitamin C, vitamin K, beta-carotene (plant-based vitamin A), iron, potassium, and many other important nutrients.
Cooking with Herbs
Check out this list of flavor combinations to inspire you in trying new herbs. This list shows many common herbs with serving suggestions. Herbs bring recipes to life, adding great flavor without fat or sodium. A sprinkle of fresh herbs on a dish adds a touch of elegance to an ordinary meal. Fruit and herb infused water helps kids and adults alike drink more water and less sugary drinks. If your plate needs a little zing, try these recipes that feature flavorful herbs.
Homemade Seasoning Blends
Sauces from Scratch
Flavorful Side Dishes
- Brown Rice Tabbouleh
- Whole Wheat Garlic Bread Sticks
- Herb-Stuffed Mushrooms
- Herbed Popcorn and Pretzel Mix
- Herbed Vegetables
Delicious Dips and Dressings
Eating too much sodium is harmful to our heart health, raising the risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attacks. Even with all the reminders of this fact, we still are eating too much sodium every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that reducing our intake of sodium to recommended levels (1500-2300 mg per day) would potentially save 40,000 lives and $7 billion in health care costs each year. That’s a pretty good reason to cut back.
But putting down the saltshaker is hard. What will our food taste like without it? This is where herbs and spices come in. They add tons of delicious flavors without adding salt (or sugar or fat, too!). Check out these great ideas for adding spices to your meals.
Fresh herbs can be more expensive, but are pretty easy to grow yourself, either in a garden or a pot. The best thing about growing them in a pot is that you can bring them indoors over the winter and have a fresh supply all year long.
Dried herbs and spices won’t go bad quickly and are great items to keep in your Better Pantry. Find a little wiggle room in your budget to start building up your spice rack one at a time. You’ll eventually have a nice variety to choose from when cooking. You can also buy herb and spice blends, like Italian Blend or Grilling Blend, which gives you more variety for your money right away. Just be sure that you’re buying salt-free blends to keep the sodium low.
My favorite flavors are:
- Basil- I use this in just about anything savory. Basil and Parsley are pretty “generic” flavors that work well in many dishes. Fresh basil is awesome for making pesto from scratch. It’s very easy to grow yourself.
- Dill- Dried dill is one of my favorite popcorn toppings. Fresh dill smells so good and is a perfect match with salmon.
- Cumin- This smoky spice adds flavor, but not heat, to chili, Mexican recipes or beef dishes.
What herbs and spices do you use the most?