Herbs and spices add colorful flavor to your favorite dishes. In addition they boost your dishes with some wonderful health and wellness benefits. The benefits range from regulating your blood sugar to reducing inflammation to reducing nausea to improving brain function and memory. Following I will share my favorite herbs and spices that I most often use with you. But first, I want to share the difference between the two as I get this question quite often. Herbs are the leaves, flowers, or the stems of plants. Spices can be any other part of the plant like the bud, bark, the berries, the root or the seeds.
Basil – Basil is a leafy green herb with its origins in Asia and Africa. Basil is an aromatic herb that is a member of the mint family. Basil is very common in Italian cooking. It is great in sauces, pesto and salads. From a health perspective it can be used as tea.
Thyme – This herb has small leaves and is often found in Mediterranean dishes. I use it to season chicken, omelets and fish. Thyme has many health benefits. It is packed with vitamin C, it can boost your immune system, and it’s really good as a tea for if you feel a cold coming on. Or as essential oil used along with a carrier oil you can rub it on the bottom of your feet.
Cilantro – Is one of my all-time favorite herbs. I use this one multiple times a week. I use it in guacamole, in curries, in vegetable salads, and in tuna salad. It has a strong distinctive pungent flavor. Cilantro is high in vitamin C and other vitamins. It is an antioxidant, it helps with digestion and it helps to lower your blood sugar just to name a few.
Rosemary – This fragrant herb has a bold lemony pine flavor. It has needle like leaves and is good in marinades, chicken, soups and beans. It is a good antioxidant, it improves digestion and can aid in enhancing your memory and concentration.
Mint – Another favorite. I use this in tea, homemade lemonade and salads. Mint is cooling and has a sweet flavor. I keep a vial of mint essential oil in my purse. I use it for alertness and to lift my mood. It has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties; it’s good for keeping the bugs and insects away.
Garlic—This is a powerhouse spice. It is used to help lower blood pressure, reduce the duration of colds and improve cholesterol levels. It promotes over all good heart health. It is known as a natural antibiotic. I cook with this spice almost daily. I find when I use it, I tend to use less salt. I use garlic to season vegetables, in my homemade salad dressings and to season meat.
Turmeric—I use turmeric almost daily as well. I add fresh turmeric in my smoothies and add it to almost all the dishes I prepare. I drink turmeric tea especially in the evenings. Turmeric is an Indian spice and is used heavily in the Indian cuisine and in their traditional medicine to treat common ailments like stomach upset, ulcers and arthritis. Turmeric is a potent anti-inflammatory agent with anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger— Another powerhouse spice; it’s an anti-inflammatory, it soothes an upset stomach, it may lower your risk of cancer, it fights germs, and it is linked to increased circulation. Ginger adds a zing of healthy flavor as a hot tea, in stir-fry vegetables and in most other vegetables.
Cinnamon—This one is used to flavor oatmeal, baked apples, apple pie and pumpkin pie. One of the super powers of cinnamon is that it may help regulate blood glucose in patients with type 2 diabetes. Using cinnamon was recommended to my mother by her doctor as a means to regulate her blood sugar.
Black Pepper –Black pepper is a supporting spice. Using it can increase the amount of nutrients that your body absorbs. For example, I use black pepper in my smoothie with the fresh turmeric for absorption. It is best used in peppercorn form and ground as needed. Black pepper is likely the most popular spice. It is also good alone as it is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties.
In closing, cooking with herbs and spices is an excellent way to add flavor and fragrance to dishes. They also are powerful antioxidants and have a range of other health benefits. I have merely scratched the surface on the health benefits and uses of the herbs and spices represented in this article. The ones in this article, I feel are common and easy to purchase and found at your local grocery store. If you aren’t using herbs already start with baby steps and I guarantee you won’t regret it!
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