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Herbs and Spices

Nearly all cultures incorporate herbs and spices into their regional cuisine. Unfortunately, American food culture focuses on heavily processed sugar, salt, and unhealthy fat to enhance the flavor of many of our dishes. Herbs and spices not only make food more palatable, but offer a wealth of nutritional benefits as well.

IMG_2428 (1)Fresh cilantro, basil, and home-dried dill.

During the warmer months, you’ll find a bountiful supply of fresh herbs at your local farmer’s market. Look for basil, mint, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and dill. You can easily grow your own herbs at home either in a garden or indoors in pots. You can also dry your own fresh herbs by hanging a bunch in a sunny spot for one to two weeks.

Don’t compromise quality when it comes to spices. An organic, high-quality spice will taste more potent and consequently last longer since you don’t need as much of it to enhance a dish.

Here’s a list of herbs and spices along with their respective health benefits and ways to incorporate them into your diet. This list doesn’t include everything… I encourage you to try any herb or spice that intrigues you! Many of these herbs and spices have a long list of health properties; I’m only highlighting a few. Remember when it comes to herbs, fresh is always best.

Fresh Herbs
Basil: Antioxidant, decreases inflammation. Use in home-made pasta sauces or pesto.
Cilantro: Antioxidant, digestive aid. Use in home-made guacamole or to add more flavor to any Mexican dish.
Dill: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, diuretic. Combine with greek yogurt to make a creamy dip or make Creamy Cilantro Dill Dressing.
Thyme: Antioxidant, inhibits bone resorption. Add to organic scrambled eggs.
Mint: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, stomach soother. Make your own herbal mint tea by steeping leaves in boiling water.

Spices
Cayenne Pepper: Boosts metabolism, decreases inflammation, improves digestion. Sprinkle on soups, stir-fries, or anything that could use a spicy kick.
Turmeric: Antioxidant, decreases inflammation, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal. This Indian spice is being widely recognized for its astonishing health benefits. The taste is similar to mustard. Sprinkle on salads for flavor, or use in curry powder to make Indian dishes.
Cinnamon: Antioxidant, antimicrobial, controls blood sugar, boosts metabolism. Add cinnamon to fresh fruit or any sweet dessert to help manage blood sugar levels.
Garlic: Antioxidant, lowers cholesterol and blood pressure, decreases inflammation, boosts immunity. Add to sautéed vegetables.
Ginger: Antioxidant, decreases inflammation, boosts immunity, digestive aid. Use fresh ginger in stir-fries or home-made vegetable juices.

This only skims the surface of what herbs and spices have to offer. Not only are the health benefits are astounding, but they’ll bring your cooking to life, too! What are your favorite herbs and spices and how do you use them?

Spice things up,
Emily

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