Nutrition
  ·  
3 min read

Spice Up Your Life

In recognition of National Herbs and Spices Day, let’s celebrate the vibrant flavors and health benefits that herbs and spices bring to our lives. As summer approaches, adding herbs and spices to your dishes will enhance both their flavor and nutritional value. See below for how to make the most of these culinary powerhouses. 

Adding an assortment of either fresh or dried herbs to your dishes is not only a great way to add depth of flavor, but it's also s an easy way to sneak in vitamins and nutrients.

- Dill is rich in vitamins A and C

- Thyme contains thymol, a compound with antimicrobial properties

- Basil boasts anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits

- Rosemary is packed with antioxidants and may improve cognitive function

- Garlic is considered a functional spice because it contains high levels of vitamins and an antioxidant called allicin, which has been linked to reducing oxidative stress in our cells.

Add these herbs to salads, marinades, sauces, and soups to elevate the nutrition and flavor profile of your meals.

Using Fresh and Dried Herbs and Spices in Cooking

Fresh Herbs

  • Basil: Perfect for adding to salads, pasta, and pesto. Its sweet, peppery flavor brightens up dishes.
  • Rosemary: Excellent for roasting meats and vegetables. Its robust flavor adds depth to dishes.
  • Cilantro: Great for garnishing soups, tacos, and salsas. Its bright, citrusy flavor enhances freshness.

Dried Herbs

  • Oregano: Ideal for Italian and Mediterranean dishes. Its earthy, slightly bitter taste is perfect for sauces and marinades.
  • Thyme: Works well in soups, stews, and roasted dishes. Its subtle, minty flavor pairs well with a variety of foods.

Spices

  • Cumin: Adds a warm, earthy flavor to dishes. It's a staple in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines.
  • Paprika: Provides a sweet, smoky taste. It's perfect for seasoning meats, stews, and adding color to dishes.
  • Turmeric: Gives a bright yellow hue and a slightly bitter, warm flavor.The active ingredient is called curcumin, which has been shown to actively reduce inflammation. Studies have shown that curcumin may be beneficial for our brain by boosting mood and memory. Be sure to pair turmeric with black pepper as it enhances curcumin absorption by 2,000%!  It's a key ingredient in curry powders and can be added to rice, soups, and smoothies.

Storage Tips

Proper storage is essential to maintain the flavor and potency of herbs and spices.

Fresh Herbs

  • Refrigeration: Store fresh herbs like parsley, cilantro, and basil in a jar with a little water. Cover them loosely with a plastic bag and refrigerate.
  • Freezing: Chop herbs and freeze them in ice cube trays with a little water or olive oil. This method is great for preserving herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Dried Herbs and Spices

  • Cool, Dark Place: Keep dried herbs and spices in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat. This helps retain their flavor and potency.
  • Airtight Containers: Store them in airtight containers to protect them from moisture and air. Glass jars with tight lids are ideal.
  • Label and Date: Label containers with the name and date of purchase. Dried herbs generally stay fresh for 1-3 years, while ground spices are best used within 1-2 years.

Herbs and spices are not just flavor enhancers but also nutritional powerhouses. Whether fresh or dried, incorporating them into your cooking can boost both the taste and health benefits of your meals. Celebrate Herbs and Spices Day by exploring new flavors, experimenting with recipes, and enjoy the health benefits they offer. Happy cooking!

Be sure to check out some of Ahara’s herb and spice packed recipes: 

Cucumber dill Garbanzo Bean Salad

Garlic Shrimp & Asparagus Kebabs

Herb Salmon With Jasmine Rice

Lemon & Parsley Butter Beans

Couscous with Lemon & Mint

Ceviche with Avocado, Tomato, and Cilantro

Thyme- & Sesame-Crusted Halibut       

Apple Cinnamon Chia Pudding 

Sources

Take control of your health.