Herbs and spices are a must for flavorful dishes. Herbs are derived from the green leafy part of a plant, while spices come from the root, stem, fruit or bark of a tree or plant.
The benefits of herbs and spices
Herbs and spices have several benefits.
Herbs and spices, in general, are low in calories, sodium and fat and have no cholesterol.
They also improve the taste of food, while adding color and preserving it.
Many people don’t realize that herbs and spices have antibacterial and antiviral properties and are extremely high in B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B6, biotin, B12 and folate acid) and trace minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, iodine and zinc.
One major benefit of herbs and spices is the high presence of disease fighting antioxidants. More antioxidants are present in herbs and spices than fruits and vegetables.
Herbs and spices are used in the prevention or treatment of for GI problems such as diarrhea, constipation, loss of appetite, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and heart attacks, and cancers such as breast, pancreas and brain.
Pairing of herbs and spices
Replace salt and sugar in foods with herbs and spices, but three questions must be answered:
1. What spice goes with what food?
2. How much can be used?
3. How can they be paired?
The following suggestions will be able to help with pairing herbs and spices together to achieve different flavors.
Strong or dominant flavor
Includes curry, ginger, pepper, mustard, rosemary, sage
Use in moderate amounts (1 to 2 teaspoons for 6 servings). Includes basil, celery seeds and leaves, cumin, dill, fennel, garlic, mint, oregano, savory, thyme, turmeric.
Includes burnet, chervil, chives, parsley. May be used in large quantities and combined with most other herbs and spices.
Includes cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, cardamom, anise, fennel, mint
Oregano, tarragon, chives, dill
Red pepper, mustard, black pepper, paprika. Use with care since their flavors stand out (approximately 1 teaspoon for 6 servings).
Storage of herbs and spices
Since herbs and spices are expensive, they should be stored properly. Your recipes will not be tasty if the herbs and spices have lost their flavorings. All herbs and spices should be kept in a cool, dry place and in airtight containers. Store dried herbs in plastic bags, glass jars or stainless-steel containers rather than cardboard. It is especially important to keep containers out of direct sunlight, which fades the color of the herb and reduces the strength.
Here is a look at the use, benefits and storage of several herbs and spices:
Use: digestion problems, heartburn, intestinal gas, loss of appetite.
Benefits: antioxidants, improve digestion, improve memory, prevent brain aging
Storage: cool dry place
Use: loss of appetite, stomach pain, diarrhea
Benefits: anti-inflammatory, antioxidants
Storage: refrigerate for 4-5 days
Use: occasional cough
Benefits: sore throats, antioxidants. antibacterial, antifungal, insecticidal
Storage: refrigerate for 10-14 days
Use: URI, GI disorder, UTI, menstrual cramps
Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic
Storage: refrigerate for three days
Use: loss of appetite, intestinal gas, diarrhea
Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
Storage: Refrigerate for 1 week
Use: diabetes, loss of appetite, bronchitis
Benefits: antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic
Storage: cool dark dry place
Use: natural laxative, improve digestion, relieve stress and anxiety
Benefits: antioxidants, improve immunity
Storage: cool dark dry place
Use: hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease, heart attack, atherosclerosis
Benefits: antioxidants, antimicrobial, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic
Storage: peeled — refrigerate for few days; unpeeled — refrigerate for 10 days to 1 month
Use: arthritis, colic, diarrhea, colds/flu, inflammation, clotting
Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging
Storage: refrigerate for about one month
Use: prevent heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer
Benefits: antioxidant, anti-inflammatory
Storage: Refrigerate for 1 to 2 weeks