Herbs and Spices
Herbs and spices do more that just add flavor to a dish. Here is a quick guide below that you can use to pair herbs with what your body may be needing. Herbs and spices were the first medicine that we used and still participate in bringing us to optimal health. Mother nature, yet again, being all bad ass.
Most herbs have been cultivated for their healing and culinary properties. For healing purposes you can find essential oils bottled in the vitamin section of natural foods stores.
Parsley: Bright, Light
health: aids in digestion, “chemoprotective”, excellent lung antioxident, anti-inflamatory, high in Vitamins A, C, and K
use: fresh, add to salads, great for garnish, gremolata, chimmichuri, Italian cooking
Sage: Bold, Warming
health: antioxident, anti-inflamartory, memory enhancer, can help reduce hot flashes
use: warming, fall dishes. great with pork. best when cooked. add at the end of cooking
*commonly burned to cleanse spaces of evil spirits. .
Rosemary: Piney, Strong
health: anti-oxident, estrogen blocker
use: great on potatoes, perfect with lamb. best cooked.
Thyme: Delicate, Versitle
health: antiseptic, digestive aide, hangover cure, blood clot prevention
use: most common herb used in French cooking. great to flavor stocks, potatoes
Basil: Abundant, Friendly
health: enhances mood, helps relieve headaches, kidney cleansing, freshens breath
use: raw. add to salads. finish tomato sauce. loves tomatoes and Italian cheese (parmesean and mozarella)
Lavender: Calming, Sweet
health: oil can stop bleeding, tea can relieve stress and congestion, dried lavender in a pillow can help bring sleep.
use: wonderful in butter cookies, teas, great combined with rosemary for a meat rub
Oregano: Loud, Distinctive
health: antibacterial, antifungal, antioxident. good for teeth and gums
use: toward the end of cooking. one of the few herbs I will use a dried version of... lemon, feta, tomato...Medeterannean Food!
Cilantro (aka Coriander): Soapy, Cooling
health: Vitamin K, essential for blood coagulation and bone health. Vitamins A and B9 and Manganese
use: Best fresh. Great with spicy dishes, as it has a cooling element to off-set the heat. Very popular in Mexican, Southeast Asian and Indian cuisines.
Mint: Awake, Happy
health: soothing to the stomache, helps with allergies and athsma
use: dried for a tea, fresh addition to drinks, salads, fruit, great to just chew on leaves.
Bay Leaf: Bitter, Medicinal
health: antimicrobial (can fight staph), improved insulin function, aides in digestion
use: great for long cooking in stews or stocks. remove before serving, they are not fun to eat!
*Storing Herbs-wrap in damp paper towel and put in ziplock bag or if using that day store like flowers, cut stems and submerged in water.
Cinnamon: Warming, Sweet
health: may help with memory, can lower blood sugar, antimicrobial, used to relieve cold symptoms in Chinese medicine
use: baking, five spice blend, holiday food, add to coffee
Nutmeg: Warming, Complex
health: antibacterial, anticonvulsant, memory improvement
use: a little goes a long way, baking, to finish some long cooking sauces (Bolognese), *too much nutmeg powder can cause hallucinations.
Cumin: Toasty, Earthy
health: aides digestion, thought to lower blood sugar
use: start with the whole seed. great to toast and then grind fresh. common in Middle Eastern, Indian food.
Coriander: Sweet, Exotic
health: lowers blood sugar, neuroprotective
use: common in curries, nice to round out spice mixes
Allspice: Jamaican pepper
health: “may help ease digestive problems, reduce pain, fight disease-causing pathogens and improve circulation” livestrong.com
use: beef, Jamaican cuisine, winter squash (think soup)
Mustard: Sharp, Low
health: cancer prevention, anti-inflammatory, increases metabolism “The addition of 3/5 tsp. of mustard seeds to a daily diet may increase the body's metabolic rate by 25 percent, which is comparable to burning an extra 45 calories an hour.” (livestrong)
use: Add to stocks and soups for extra flavor, can be strained out. Ground up can be added to spice rubs for protein.
***Much of the health information has been collected from www.livestrong.com It is a great resource for information on food and health.