Hello hello friends! I am on the blog today to chat about herbs and spices. This month at ESO is plant medicine month, so it’s only fitting that I educate you all on this topic! So many people question whether or not to use herbs and spices in the diet, and I am here to clear this subject up.
Let’s start by me saying this: herbs and spices are INCREDIBLE for your health. You probably already use herbs and spices in your everyday cooking without even thinking about it. If you’re not, or if you wish to diversify your herb and spice use, keep on reading!
All spices and herbs come from plant sources, either from roots, flowers, fruits, seeds, barks and leaves. They each offer their own unique variety of nutrients, including anti-inflammatory properties, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and of course, flavor. You can mix and match different spices and gain all of the health benefits, and I highly encourage you to try some new ones and to cook at home using organic spices (or even grow your own).
Here is a list of my favorite spices and herbs which all pack a nutrient-dense punch:
- Cinnamon. Cinnamon is my favorite spice for the morning and cozy baking. It brings a warm sweetness to dishes, and is great in combination with salt as well. Cinnamon actually has the highest antioxidant properties of all the spices, and aid in reducing inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar, all which promote weight loss. Use cinnamon in healthy baked treats, in a peanut butter and cacao smoothie with frozen bananas, on granola, or on top of fruit!
- Basil. This is an herb which you can easily grow at home on a windowsill in your kitchen. I find that home grown basil tastes so amazing, and it is easily available. This herb contains anti-viral properties that aid in immune health, and is also known for reducing the risk for osteoarthritis. If you don’t have space at home for a basil plant, you can get it in stores or use a dried version as well. Shave it over pasta, make homemade basil pesto, or incorporate it into tomato soup, yum!
- Garlic. This one may seem obvious, as it is used a lot in cooking, but what you may not realize is how amazing garlic is for your health. Garlic has been linked to risk reduction for cancer and heart disease, lowered blood pressure, good hair health, and is effective in fighting off colds and flu symptoms. I encourage you to use garlic every day, whether that be in tacos, pasta sauces, salad dressings, eggs, on potatoes, or really anything savory to add a nice flavor and kick.
- Turmeric. Turmeric is a root which you can purchase fresh or in powdered form. There is an active ingredient called circumin in turmeric, which is amazing in reducing inflammation and promoting immunity. Consistent turmeric consumption has even been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s. It is used a lot in Indian and Thai cuisine, but it is tricky to reap the benefits of turmeric without taking a supplement or incorporating it in sneaky ways. I would recommend a supplement, but if you use it in cooking, I would recommend putting it in smoothies, curries, or in a tofu scramble (makes the tofu yellow like eggs!). Also, note that turmeric must be used with black pepper in order to activate the beneficial compounds.
- Rosemary. This herb is a common plant found in the wild and around gardens. This herb has an antioxidant called carnosol, which has cancer-fighting properties. Rosemary also has lots of anti-inflammatory properties which aid in weight loss. This herb can be used in hearty stews, soups, on potatoes, in mushroom dishes, in a spice rub for meat, or incorporated into salads.
I hope you all learned a bit more about spices and herbs, and I encourage you to try new ones and to cook! Other great spices and herbs to have in your pantry are ginger, thyme, oregano, mint, cayenne pepper, paprika and nutmeg. If you need any help with pairing spices or are unsure what to make with them in yummy harmony, let’s get you scheduled for a Holistic Kitchen consult with Vas! We are experts in the kitchen over here at ESO, and we want to help you make the healthiest, most satisfying meals in your own homes.