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If the only spices you have in your cupboard are salt and pepper, it is time for you to “Kick it up a notch!” Cooking with fresh herbs not only makes adds fragrance, color, and curb appeal to your dish; but, it enhances the flavor.
I never used fresh herbs because the dried herbs seemed simpler and less expensive, but it’s cheap if you plant your own herb garden. Spring is the perfect time to do just that! This year, I decided to start my garden from seeds indoors and it has been much cheaper. I only have my spinach in the ground as of now. Here are all my early vegetable starts–radish, pepper, tomato, zucchini, cucumber, onion, beets, squash—
and here are my herb starts—
basil, dill, cilantro, rosemary, chives, oregano, thyme, mint
Here is how easy it is to start your own herb garden…..AND FUN! Here are just a few of the most commonly used herbs:
Rosemary: My personal favorite. It is an annual (have to replant it each year), but can grow from late May thru August. It can flourish with little watering and even though it prefers full sun it can tolerate slightly shady areas.
Basil: It is also an annual, but once it “takes off” there is no stopping it. Plant it in various stages. In other words, plant one or two in May and then another in June and maybe even July. You can never have too much basil. At the end of the season, you can take what is left before the first freeze and make pesto sauce. (I will tell you how to do that later, when we get to that point.) Basil needs lots of sun and normal watering. The most important thing to remember is to always take from the top. You never want it to flower, so keep pinching the tops off.
Chives: Yea! Chives are a perennial (comes back without replanting) so if you get a good base and established roots, they will come back time and time again. Chives are a gimme. It likes sun, but can tolerate it at dusk or dawn. For best results you should divide your root “clumps” every 2-3 years.
Cilantro: Not so easy and personally I think the hardest herb to grow. It too, is an annual. Plant it in early spring. It does great until the end of May and then dies off. At that point I go to market and buy it at a dollar a bunch. Not worth the headache at that price.
Dill: It is technically an annual. However, I have seen dill “pop-up” throughout my yard via the seed that float through air after the season is over. It is pretty easy to grow. Like Rosemary, it prefers sun, but can grow in the shade.
Mint: It is a perennial and will take over your entire yard. Therefore, I would recommend growing it in a pot or other controlled environment. Especially, since I don’t know very many uses for it other than it is fabulous in juicing and beverages/desserts. It likes sun, shade, rain, no rain….beware.
Oregano: Is also a perennial that needs to be controlled or it will turn into fragrant ground cover. Now while there are several more uses for oregano, you need to be sure to keep it contained year after year. Like mint, it requires no TLC and is happy to get what it gets in hopes of being “picked” for that next marinade.
Parsley. It is a perennial. It is one of the most commonly used herbs. In fact, it is probably the only one that most people use fresh or regularly with salt and pepper. I always keep it in my garden mainly for color. It honestly costs about $ .75 a bunch at the store.
Sage. It is a perennial that demands little care. Most importantly, at the end of the season, cut the stems and split the roots periodically through the years. It likes sun or shade. Are you beginning to sense a trend….perennials are a piece of cake!
Thyme. Last but not least. It can come back, but it does demand care. It is a slow-growing herb so it’s only request is to keep weeds and all other herbs AWAY! It needs its space.
Posted on May 23, 2016 by
Healthy Spices You Should Add To Your Diet.
A diet doesn’t have to be boring. Eating the same thing every day can get repetitive and monotonous. I get this complaint a lot from people saying they can only eat so many chicken breasts, salmon fillets and stalks of broccoli before they need to change it up. Don’t let yourself get into a rut and add different fruits, vegetables, and meats to your diet. The second solution, and one which this article is based on, is seasoning your meat and vegetables with different spices which will give it a unique taste and provide numerous health benefits.
I cringe when I see people marinating a great piece of meat or fish in a sodium loaded sauce like barbecue soy sauce, or steak sauce. A small amount of marinade is generally acceptable but often times people over due it by soaking their meats in all kinds of preservative/sugar-loaded sauces. Instead of ruining a great tasting piece of meat with a marinade, opt for spices instead. Spices offer a wide range of benefits that all have unique health benefits and save you from the high levels of sodium, preservatives, and sugar found in most marinades that lead to several health problems
The Recommended Daily Amount of sodium is between 1500-2000 mg.
What to stay away from
The problem: Sodium content in 1 tbsp=1000 mg
The problem: While the sodium content is less, the sugar levels are still relatively high. The real problem lies in the ingredients and preservatives. Almost all BBQ sauces list high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, xantham gum, and artificial flavors as just some of the long list the it takes to make this stuff.
The problem: Most mesquite sauces are loaded with sugars and unhealthy carbohydrates to go along with the high sodium levels and artificial ingredients.
The Spices You Should Use Instead
Pepper is one of the world’s healthiest spices because it is known for its positive effect on the digestive tract. It also has antibacterial and antioxidant benefits. Pepper also provides Vitamin A, Calcium, Copper, Vitamin K, Iron, Manganese, magnesium and Potassium.
Cayenne pepper is derived from hot chili peppers. Cayenne pepper is great at fighting inflammation. Cayenne pepper is rich in Vitamin A, and also provides Iron, Manganese, Niacin, Niacin, Magnesium and Potassium, Riboflavin, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and Vitamin B6, making it one of the world’s healthiest spices.
Dried chili pepper powder adds heat and spice to chili, hot wings, and ethnic foods. Similar to cayenne pepper ground chili pepper provides anti-inflammatory benefits, as it contains capsaicin. Dried chili pepper is one of the world’s healthiest spices because it is also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Potassium, Iron and dietary fiber.
Ground Cinnamon is not only very low in cholesterol, and in sodium, it is low in saturated fat. Cinnamon also boosts your vitamin intake with its Vitamin C , Iron, Manganese, and Vitamin K.
Ginger, like most spices, is low in cholesterol, low in saturated fat, and low in sodium. Ginger is one of the world’s healthiest spices and provides Copper, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, and Vitamin C. Ginger, even when used in Ginger Ale, is known for its positive effects on an upset stomach, or medically, on gastrointestinal distress. Ginger is a great way to quell motion sickness. It also has some anti-inflammatory benefits.In addition to exuding and incredible aroma when cooked, cinnamon has health-promoting properties, making it one of the world’s healthiest spices. Cinnamon promotes anti-clotting, can control blood sugar and improves digestive health.
Tumeric is low in cholesterol and low in sodium. The yellow tumeric also provides dietary fiber, Iron, Manganese, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Potassium. Tumeric is considered one of the world’s healthiest spices because of its anti-inflammatory qualities, it aids in digestion and it can help heal wounds.
Thyme has a minty flavor and immune-enhancing properties. Preliminary studies show that it may increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids present in kidney and brain cells. Like other spices, thyme is an excellent antioxidant and is rich in antibacterial and antispasmodic properties.
Marinating meat, fish, and poultry significantly decreases the amount of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs) produced when the meat is cooked at high temperatures, like in grilling. Like i stated before, a moderate amount of marinade is acceptable. My suggestion is if you do decide to marinade, look at the ingredients of the marinade of choice and opt for something with natural ingredients and limited preservatives. If that isn’t an option opt for the spices listed above instead.
Thanks for reading and let me know if you have any questions.
From South Bend,
Posted on October 19, 2012 by
Besides coffee, I love tea and one of my favorites is chai. Chai has a combination of spices that are a blast to your palette and offer great health benefits. True confession, I got really excited to remember how much I love spice when I made homemade ravioli with spinach, ricotta and nutmeg tonight. At least the nutmeg was good for me….
Cinnamon – cholesterol, diabetes, inflammation, cognition
Nutmeg – digestion, asthma, memory, anxiety, depression
Cardamom – asthma, bronchitis, digestion, circulation
Anise – cold and flu, laxative, diuretic
Cloves – analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, ulcers, indigestion
Black Pepper – digestion, nasal congestion, metabolism, respiration
For most people on a normal diet, spices are a win-win food. They add flavor to otherwise bland foods and have a lot more going for them. Check out this interesting article online that addresses the antioxidant power of spices, promoted by McCormick as their seven super spices [article].
Posted on May 6, 2012 by