Did you know some of your favorite herbs and spices contain as many antioxidants as a serving of fruits or veggies? (I realize this is a departure from my usual post, but if you read through the lesson, there’s cake at the end!) This is not an in-depth lesson. You can google any of these and discover their health promoting qualities. This is just a post to say you should try to incorporate these herbs and spices into your daily diet, and a few suggestions to help you do so. And maybe by doing so, you’ll cut down on your salt intake if that is an issue for you., plus you’ll be doing your body good.
Generally speaking, a half teaspoon of these dried spices and herbs provides the same or more antioxidants than a half cup of fresh fruit. Hence, they are Super Spices.
Cinnamon is among the highest in antioxidants. Of course we all add cinnamon to our muffin and cookie batters. TRY adding a half teaspoon cinnamon to coffee or tea before brewing. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon over peanut butter and banana sandwiches. When you bring home that pint of Soy Delicious Vanilla, let if soften, then stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon and refreeze. There’s nothing better on a hot summer evening than cinnamon ice cream over fresh fruit.
Ginger – I love my fresh ginger, but I do keep ground ginger as well. It’s not just for holiday baking. TRY sprinkling ground ginger over fresh fruit or adding a half teaspoon to a quart of lemonade.
Turmeric – DID YOU KNOW turmeric is a root and is in the ginger family? It has long been used as an anti-inflammatory to aid in treating conditions such as IBS and arthritis. We all use turmeric to make yellow rice and dals. TRY adding a half teaspoon to your next batch of hummus, or to a bag of popcorn to give it a buttery look, or to your next tofu scramble if you want an eggy look.
Pepper – this includes paprika, chili powder, red pepper, and cayenne. DID YOU KNOW the hotter the pepper, the more antioxidants it contains? TRY sprinkling some crushed red pepper flakes into your next batch of pizza or pasta sauce. Add it to store bought sauces or relishes for a real flavor boost.
Rosemary – Rosemary may be abundant in Mediterranean cooking, but it’s abundant in Texas too. The bushes grow roof high here! DID YOU KNOW rosemary is great for your hair and scalp? We are used to adding rosemary to focaccia and roasted potatoes. TRY adding a half teaspoon to your recipes for greens and dried beans, especially fava beans.
Oregano – This wonderful herb has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all the dried herbs, up to 20 times more than all others studied. Fortunately for us, oregano can be used as a flavor enhancer for practically any vegetable or legume. DID YOU KNOW there are 3 varieties of oregano - Italian, Greek, and Mexican? Mexican oregano is my favorite and I buy the dried whole oregano flowers. It’s the secret ingredient in my delicious and healthy ranch dressing and also in my favorite pinto beans. TRY adding fresh tomato slices and dried oregano to your grilled cheese sammies. Sprinkle it over those frozen pizzas when they come out of the oven for a more homemade flavor.
Thyme – This is another herb that goes with most veggies, as well as mushrooms and grains. It is a key component in the classic mire poix. Thyme lends an especially hearty flavor to bean soups, mixed vegetable soups, corn (think cornbread, cornbread stuffing), and tomatoes. DID YOU KNOW there are approximately 60 varieties of thyme? TRY a lemon juice, thyme, and white wine sauce on your artichokes. Sprinkle it on your tofu scrambles and into your tofu salads. And always season your homemade vegetable broths with thyme.
REMEMBER to crush your dried herbs before adding them to your food to release their full flavor. If you need just a pinch, simply rub the herbs with your thumb and forefinger as you sprinkle them onto the food. For more, pour it into the palm of one hand and rub your palms together to sprinkle it over your pan.
Thanks for sitting through your lesson! Now you may have cake, as promised. This is a picture of a slice of my mom’s lemon cake I made her for Mother’s Day. She LOVED everything about the cake – the flavor, the moistness, the bit of a crust it made on the outside, and the cute little personal size.