If you aren’t much of a fan of cooking, or don’t spend much time in the kitchen you may not be familiar with many of the herbs and spices that are available.
After all there is such a huge number of them, each with such a distinctive flavour profile and sequence of uses, that it’s hard to keep track.
Start with this selection of herbs and spices to help you out and learn some of the health benefits of them and why you may want to add them to your regular meals.
Have you ever had cinnamon sprinkled on apple or as part of an apple pie? If so, you’ll know how delicious it is! A natural sweetener, cinnamon is great for baking, but also has a place in African and Indian curries and rich soups and stews. In addition to having great antioxidant properties, it also has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels.
A fall and winter flavour that is perfect in soups, stews and thick sauces, rosemary is a classic herb that is great fresh or dried. A readily available option, it is a great place to start experimenting, in the kitchen, as many people are quite familiar with its flavour. This herb has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain, and offer help with memory. It is great to use to make a pasta dish, soup, or to put it to braise with your vegetables in the oven.
There are several different types of paprika, including sweet paprika, Hungarian paprika, mild paprika and smoked paprika. The latter offers a deep smoky flavour which is perfect for marinading vegetables, adding to dips and sauces or as an addition with cayenne and chili to Mexican dishes. If you want to try something fun and different, make your own hummus and add smoked paprika for Smoked Hummus!
Cumin is great for soups, curries, stews, and sauces; you can use it in Mexican cooking or a number of different ethnic cuisines and it tastes delightful on roasted vegetables with a sprinkle of Himalayan pink salt. It is a popular spice to use as a good all-around selection that can lend wholesome flavour to a number of different dishes and ingredients.
Offering medicinal properties, you can chew on fennel when you have an upset stomach or ate too much for dinner and need help with digestion. For using in your cooking, fennel adds some natural sweetness to food, as it has a liquorice flavoured undertone. It is great in soups, stews dips and curries.
Don’t let your cooking be boring and on repeat, using the same ingredients and spices all of the time. Instead, try some new spices or find a new ingredient you want to learn how to use and incorporate it into your dishes this week. Not only will you get to try something new, but you will likely be impressed with the new health benefits you can take advantage of!
By: Laura Peill, RHN, BScH