I've often heard comments about how eating healthy can be boring. That it isn't satisfying. Plain chicken breast. Canned tuna in springwater. Salads without the creamy dressings. Where is the flavour? What will tantalize the tastebuds? Steamed vegetables are full of nutritious value but they aren't what many people crave. Below is a list of herbs and spices you should try out, not only to add depth to your meals, but also provide your body with even greater nourishment!
Uses: Great on top of salmon or pork, mix through a chicken salad or use it to make a bernaise sauce.
Benefits: Healthy for the heart. One teaspoon daily can lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (good cholesterol). It also contains Rutin, a chemical responsible for boosting circulation.
Uses: Perfect for any tomato-based dish, along with Mexican, Mediterranean and Italian cuisine.
Benefits: Contains high levels of anti-bacterial compounds and a host of antioxidants. Has also been used to treat gastro problems and a number of skin conditions.
Uses: Apply over grilled meats for an added pine flavour. Sprinkle over homemade healthy fries.
Benefits: Can boost alertness by increasing production of beta waves in brain and also includes Carnosol, a nutrient that helps fight fatigue by flushing toxins out of the body.
7. Bay Leaf.
Uses: Suitable for several soups, stews and pot roasts with its woody undertone.
Benefits: A pain reliever that is rich in eugonal, a natural anesthetic that can help eliminate headaches.
Uses: It's sharp taste goes great with fish, seafood salad, chicken and potatoes.
Benefits: A digestive aid, with a teaspoon a day able to reduce bloating. Its anti-bacterial oils assist with killing stomach bugs and can also help the breakdown of macronutrients.
Uses: Featured in Mexican, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. A key addition to Chili Con Carne or your next curry.
Benefits: Studies have shown it can protect against memory loss, fight against diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity and strengthening the immune system.
Uses: Flavour of pine and eucalyptus. Perfect with pork or in a stuffing. Also can be used as a herbal tea.
Benefits: The phytonutrients found have been proven to maintain neurotransmitter levels, which supports memory retention. Also helps regulate body temperature.
Uses: A sweet heat that goes well with most meats and cheeses. Adds a kick to your meals.
Benefits: This pepper is thermogenic, which means it can increase blood flow and metabolism. It has also been linked to appetite suppression.
Uses: Sweet and savory. Very versatile. I personally follow the adage; cinnamon on everything!
Benefits: Contains antioxidants that assist with insulin signalling, glucose transport and inflammation response. Help control glucose levels, a half teaspoon can slow carbohydrate absorption by almost 30%.
Uses: A key ingredient in many Indian, Thai and Persian dishes. Mixes excellently with scrambled eggs.
Benefits: It contains curcumin which helps control blood sugar, speeds up your metabolism, clears plaque, is anti-inflammatory and can help fight cancer.
So there you have it, ten herbs and spices you can experiment with if you haven't already. A fantastic way to not only add flavour to meals but also gain some extra health benefits too. Among my personal favourites; cinnamon on sweet potatoes post-workout, turmeric in my omelette and cumin when I'm cooking up red meat with veggies.
What are your own favourite herbs and spices and how do you use them? :)