Most of us truly enjoy adding lots of spices and herbs to our cooking. It may or may not surprise you that spices not only add flavor to our meals but also offer incredible health benefits.
Did you know that herbs and spices are not the same thing? I never knew this till quite recently. I thought the answer was far more exotic, but in actuality it is quite simple.
Herbs are simply the leaves of the plant while spices come from the roots, bark and seeds. Some plants can be used as both, like cilantro. Cilantro is what we call the leaf of the cilantro plant, while coriander is the name of the seeds.
Next time you add a spice or an herb to your cooking routine, you can think of the wonderful health benefits you are enjoying.
You may grow your own spices and herbs or use the dry version, the most popular for ease and shelf life. Having an herb garden is a fun hobby and provides you with fresh herbs, always superior in taste and texture.
Here are 10 of my favorite herbs and spices, but the actual list is much longer.
Many people use basil in their daily food preparation. This herb is often associated with tomatoes as the two love each other. Basil livens up many Italian dishes as well as casseroles, soups and salads. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals.
There is definitely a difference in texture and taste between coriander and cilantro. Coriander comes from the seeds and cilantro from the leaves of the same plant.
Cilantro is commonly used to flavor many Mexican salsas, soups and other dishes, while the coriander seeds are a different and tasty addition to soups, salads and curries.
Adding chopped cilantro to a healthy dip of sour cream and a little mayonnaise will greatly increase the flavor. Cilantro is rich in Vitamin K and potassium and is reported to help strengthen the bones.
Another popular spice for Mexican dishes, soups and stews is Cumin. Try adding a teaspoon or more of cumin to deliver a pungent and delicious taste to chili and curry dishes. Cumin is an excellent source of B vitamins and is an aid to digestive health.
A fresh fennel bulb, has a distinct licorice flavor. It looks like celery but possesses a totally different taste. I add this particular spice along with other herbs in curry dishes and sometimes soups and salads.
Fennel has a lot of dietary fiber, acts as a diuretic and can help keep balance in your digestive system. Try some Fennel tea when you have a stomach ache or constipation, and I have proof that it really works.
I absolutely love garlic, though it often does not love me back, given its ‘bad breath’ fame! Garlic adds a lot of culinary excitement to a variety of dishes, both in flavor and depth.
It is reported to be a great boost for the immune system, containing anti-bacterial properties as well as lots of vitamins and minerals.
Ginger is mostly known for its anti-nausea support. It often helps you avoid that really sick feeling during a long car ride or boat ride if you are susceptible to motion sickness. I grate or slice fresh ginger root and add to many sauces, curries, soups and stir-fries. It is loaded with lots of vitamins, minerals and vitamin B complex.
There are several types of oregano available. If you have a green thumb you might want to experiment growing a few different types. It is very hearty and grows easily, and you’ll always have some handy to spice up your cooking.
Oregano is integral to Italian and Mexican dishes. It can be used for respiratory issues and also aids digestion. Happily, many farmers are getting on the bandwagon and are now using oregano for their animals in lieu of traditional antibiotics.
I love the aroma of chicken baking with lots of Rosemary spread all over. The flavor it adds to meat, pork, lamb and many veggies is delightful. This spice blends well with a variety of other spices.
Rosemary possesses anti-inflammatory properties, aids digestion and circulation, as well as a host of other conditions. To boot, it is reported to nourish dry and dull hair.
Tarragon is the main spice in Béarnaise sauce. This aromatic herb is popular in meat dishes and herb butters. It is rich in antioxidants and minerals, as well as vitamins A and C. It is considered an herb as the leaves are primarily used.
Turmeric is an amazing spice that fights inflammation, offers brain support and can ease aching muscles. To get the most benefit from Turmeric there should be a large percentage of curcumin in the blend you purchase.
Check the Turmeric you buy as there are many blends on the market and most lack curcumin. Purchase a well-known brand and best choose organic. I use fresh, raw turmeric root in cooking or purchase the best organic brand. When using Turmeric always add black pepper as it activates the potency of this herb.
What are some spices you use in different dishes? Have you made any unique discoveries about spices and herbs? Please share in the comments below!
Tags Healthy Eating
I love using herbs & spices in my cooking, and grow my own. Just a thought – You referred to rosemary and tarragon as spices, but since they’re the dried leaves of the plant, aren’t they herbs?
Great information! I had no idea of the difference between herbs and spices! Also didn’t know to look for curcumin, and the black pepper add. I grow and use basil, mints, thyme, oregano, lemon balm and rosemary. I use a lot of rosemary when roasting a chicken which is THE BEST combo of smells ever. I use herbs in my turkey meatballs, sauces, and make teas. Thanks for this wonderful piece!