Do you love to eat and aren’t the best cook? Is your cabinet filled with a variety of spices that you’d love to experiment with more on your chicken, shrimp and steak? As we are moving into the summer months and becoming more healthy, cooking with more herbs and spices is an excellent way to kick it up a notch and turn up the flavor of your meals without using salt, sugar and fat. Using herbs and spices is a healthier way to eat while enjoying savory dishes. Spices and herbs have more antioxidants than most fruits and vegetables, so take advantage and start spicing up your favorite dishes!
Below are a few spices and herbs that you can use in your foods and favorite cooking dishes that are beneficial and can boost flavor:
Benefit: Lower blood sugar, triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes. Try to get one-fourth to one-half teaspoon of cinnamon twice daily.
Get Cooking: Dip berries or bananas in low-fat sour cream, then dip in a mix of 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
Benefit: Can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Try to have 500 to 800 milligrams a day.
Cooking Tip: For an Indian flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking 1 cup rice.
Benefit: Stops gene mutations that could lead to cancer and may help lower heart attack risk by stopping damage to the blood vessels.
Cooking Tip: Combine 2 teaspoons rosemary leaves with 2 teaspoons seasoning salt and 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves to make a delicious chicken rub.
Benefit: Destroys cancer cells and may disrupt the metabolism of tumor cells. Studies suggest that one or two cloves weekly provide cancer-protective benefits.
Cooking Tip:Garlic is great on chicken, steak, potatoes, pasta and many more foods, but don’t substitute with garlic powder. Let fresh garlic sit for 10 to 15 minutes after chopping and before cooking so the active form of the protective phytochemicals develops. Saute fresh garlic over low heat and mix with pasta, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese.
Benefit: Contains capsaicin, whose anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects may lower the risk of cancer (also found in cayenne and red chili peppers). There’s no specific recommended dose, but moderation is probably the best way to go.
Cooking Tip: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme and 1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper to liven up popcorn.
Benefit: Can decrease motion sickness and nausea. Ginger may also relieve pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. A quarter-size piece of fresh root contains about 1,000 mg of powdered ginger. More than 6,000 mg can cause stomach irritation. Ginger can also hinder blood clotting, so if you are about to have surgery or are taking blood thinners or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor first.
Cooking Tip: For motion sickness, try having one or two pieces of crystallized or candied ginger. Check the labels of ginger candy products and ginger ale to make sure ginger is an ingredient and not a synthetic form of ginger. You can also add 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger to vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as fresh fruit such as peaches.
Benefit: According to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study, oregano is the most antioxidant dense herb out of 27 fresh culinary herbs. Oregano is even more antioxidant rich than apples and oranges. It offers many antibacterial benefits and can help strengthen the immune system.
Cooking Tip: To spice up tomato soup, add 3/4 teaspoon oregano to 1 can; add 1/2 teaspoon to 2 cups pasta or pizza sauce. Substitute 1 teaspoon dried oregano for 2 teaspoons fresh. Sprinkle oregano on top of spaghetti and other pasta dishes to add a dose of healthy flavor.