A solid selection of herbs and spices should be a staple in every pantry. They have zero calories, yet add huge flavor and make any kitchen smell like a chef is on staff. They are heart loving because they are sodium, total fat and saturated fat-free. They allow you to cut the sodium in many recipes by more than half without compromising taste. Their phytochemicals and antioxidants help enhance your immune system and foster healthy cell growth. Other than fruits and vegetables, not many other food stuffs can make that claim.
Like fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices contain healthy phytochemicals. Phytochemicals occur naturally in plants, giving them color, flavor, promoting healthy growth and reducing insect damage. When we consume phytochemical rich plants we also reap the benefits including healthier immune systems, reduced inflammation, improved digestion and antioxidant effects. Antioxidants help lessen, prevent or repair cell damage caused by environmental pollution, smoke, food processing, and normal body functions. They donate electrons, neutralizing these bad boys before they cause cellular damage.
Here are a few tips on cooking with herbs:
- Try fresh, tubes or lightly dried over the traditional shaker varieties. They have a lot more punch!
- Most fresh herbs and spices should be added at the end of stove top cooking time.
- When substituting fresh herbs, add 2-4 times dry recipe requirements
- When doubling a recipe, add only 1.5 times the spice.
- To improve the longevity of fresh herbs rinse well, pat dry, seal in an air tight bag with a moist paper towel, void of air, and refrigerate.
- Chop and freeze herbs in an ice-cube tray with a small amount of water or broth, or as is. Once frozen, transfer to air tight freezer bag and use within 3 months.
I love growing my own spices and herbs or picking them up at the farmers market. However, once summer is done or I’m pressed for time, my favorite kitchen cheat are these Gourmet Garden tubes and lightly, fresh dried products. They contain no:
- artificial colors
- artificial flavors
- pesticides or herbicides as they are organically grown
They are lacto ovo vegetarian friendly and the only allergen they contain is milk. The only additions to the herb or spice itself are a few simple ingredients that create an environment that inhibits bacteria growth. You will find them in the refrigerator section of your local grocery store, near the fruits and vegetables. They have a 3 month refrigerated shelf life upon opening.
I add them to pizza crust, bruschetta, sandwich spreads including low-fat mayo, pastas, potatoes, cous cous, quinoa, risotto and sauces. For more information on how to use these products or where to find them, visit Gourmet Garden. For optimal taste and flavor, make sure you date your herbs and spices when you purchase them. Unsure of how long your herbs and spices should last? Check out my guide below.
Full disclosure: Gourmet Garden did provide free samples used in the graphics for our local volunteer fire department, a heart healthy, convenient addition don’t you agree?
Categories: Nutrition & Wellness