Spice Up Your Life

Healthy eating doesn’t have to be boring or bland. Are you avoiding a change in your eating habits because you think healthy food isn’t exciting for your taste buds? Think again. Adding herbs and spices while cooking will add flavor to your meals and make eating healthy enjoyableFast food or processed food may seem tastier than freshly made, nutritious food but usually that’s because it’s full of sodium. Sodium is bad for the body in a number of ways. It effects our heart health, cholesterol levels and will dehydrate the body. Instead of relying on salt to add the flavor to our meals let’s take a look at other ways to create tasty meals.

Herbs Vs Spices

Herbs and spices both come from plants but the difference is that herbs are the green leaves and spices come in other forms. Spices can come from seeds, bark, roots or berries. You can find most herbs and spices either fresh or dried in the supermarket. To release the flavor in fresh herbs and spices you’ll want to cut or break them up before adding them to a dish. Dried spices have a higher concentration of flavor than fresh so recipes usually call for smaller quantities of dried spices. If you’re using fresh herbs while cooking, save them till the end so they keep more of their flavor. The highest concentration of flavor is found in extracts which are typically used in baking. Extracts are good because they add flavor without affecting the delicate wet/dry balance of a recipe.

Rack ‘Em Up

Grocery stores have a large selection of herbs and spices and it can be hard to determine which ones to buy. You can find fresh herbs in the produce section of your local store and dried herbs and spices down one of the aisles. Fresh herbs can also be grown in your garden or window box. If you choose dried spices read the labels before purchasing. You can find individual spices or spice blends. Spice blends are great for marinating meat or as an addition to soups and sauces but some can contain high levels of sodium. Look for low salt or no salt options.

There are a number of spices that could be considered staples in your kitchen and can be used in many dishes. These include:

  • Bay leaves – can be used in soups, sauces or stews
  • Cinnamon – works well in a variety of dishes and shouldn’t be limited to baking or desserts.
  • Cloves – use sparingly as they can be overpowering.
  • Garlic – all purpose and can be used in just about any savoury dish.
  • Oregano – great in tomato based dishes like pizza or pasta.
  • Chili Powder – used to add a little spice and can stimulate digestion.

Start by adding these spices to your pantry. If you’re just starting to add these flavors to your dishes use a small amount at the beginning. You want the spice to add flavor but not overpower the meal. Once you’re more comfortable with the flavor it’s easy to experiment but you may wish to follow recipes closely in the beginning. Try adding something new to tonight’s evening meal and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how great healthy can taste.

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