Do you have a spice or herb rack? Probably you do. Did you ever use it? If you’re not a passionate cook, you probably didn’t. Why not?
There is nothing to be afraid of. I admit, on the one hand using herbs and spices can be somewhat scary, mainly because it might ruin the meal. On the other hand there is so much to gain, from using herbs and spices.
With a couple of grams of curry powder, or a few leaves of parsley you can transform a regular dish, to a incredibly tasty dish.
Okay, it might take a bit more than a few leaves of parsley, but the transformation will still be there.
Not only do spices and herbs upgrade your dish, they will also give you (over time) your real taste back, in case it has been worsened by flavour enhancers often present in processed foods.
Another incredibly important reason to use herbs and spices are their health benefits.
Let me give you a few common examples:
- Cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, which has been shown to lower blood sugar & cholesterol. It can also improve insulin sensitivity and fights inflammation due to its antioxidant properties.
- Tumeric is part of most curry spices and is an incredible antioxidant. It fights oxidative damage, which is believed to be a major cause for ageing and some diseases.
- Oregano is a herb often used in the Italian cuisine. It as antibacterial & anti-inflammatory properties and can also be protective against cancer. There are several other health benefits, such as reducing acne, allergies or bloating, toothache, etc.
Besides all these health benefits, herbs also contain a lot of vitamins and nutrients, especially phytochemicals.
Oregano for example contains Vitamin E, iron, calcium, omega fatty acids, manganese, as well as Vitamin K.
I would even go as far as to say that herbs are the new vegetables, which, I admit, is a bit exaggerated. The nutritional value of many vegetables has decreased over the last 60 years, but many herbs still contain high amounts of them.
Another benefits of herbs is that you can grow them yourself, without much hassle.
To get you started here are some of the most common combinations that will work every single time:
- Basil – Tomatoes
- Chives – Eggs
- Dill – Fish
- Rosemary – Pork
- Thyme – Lamb
If you want to go beyond the beginners guide and start mixing herbs I recommend the following:
- Basil – Thyme – Oregano
- Parsley – Chives – Basil
- Dill – Chives – Parsley
If you still have herbs (fresh/dried) or spices at home, check if they’re still good (although most of the won’t go “bad” and start using them today!
By the way: The difference between herbs and spices is that herbs come from the leaves and green parts of the plant, while spices come from the root, seeds, bark or the stem of the plant!
Steps to take:
- Check your kitchen if you have any spices or herbs. In case you don’t, get the most common ones: cinnamon, curry, basil, oregano and parsley are a good start.
- If you have a freezer you might get frozen herbs.
- Start using them for different tastes and as decoration.