Herbs and Spices – Getting to Know Them

Part 1

Herbs and spices are a wonderful, and many would say, crucial aspect of cooking delicious food. There are literally hundreds of different herbs and spices from across the globe. That is intimidating to a lot of people and can be a barrier in getting them started on their herb and spice educational exploration. What we need to do in this situation is make it simpler. I suggest you start by just exploring a few herbs and spices at a time. Give each a one week period in which you experiment with several different recipes and combinations. This will allow you to get to know the herb or spice in a variety of contexts and taste and smell how the herb or spice of the week blends with a few other selected herbs and spices.

I will help you get started by selecting a few examples that you can experiment with. I am going to pull some herbs and spices from the World’s Healthiest Food List because these are common spices with a lot of health benefits that have been demonstrated many times through research and study. You will be able to find recipes that use these spices by doing simple Google searches. It’s all free and waiting for you.

Black Pepper

Black pepper is one of the most well known spices and is available throughout the year in a wide variety of locations. Black pepper makes the World’s Healthiest Food List because of some key nutrients found in it. These include good quantities of manganese, vitamin K, iron, and fiber. Of course it is also very low calorie and has been shown to help improve digestion and promote intestinal health.

Rosemary

Rosemary has a great smell and strong flavor. It is known to be a great flavor to add into meat dishes like chicken, pork, lamb, tuna and salmon. It is also commonly used in soups and sauces. It’s year round availability makes a part of almost every western kitchen, and it has some nice health benefits as well. Rosemary has been found to stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, improve digestion and increase circulation.

Oregano

Mexican and Mediterranean dishes are perfect for Oregano. This low calorie herb has good amounts of vitamin K and manganese along with several other nutrients. An in-depth nutritional profile of Oregano and the numerous health benefits of this amazing herb are too great to detail here. Fortunately, it is easily found on the internet. Oregano is available year round.

Dried Chili Pepper

This last spice may not be for everyone due to its literal spiciness, but there are numerous health benefits from dried chili pepper and even more are being discovered and studied as we speak. When we lived in Thailand, a country known for its spicy cuisine, the locals told us to eat spicy foods to combat the heat. It sounded counter intuitive, but we love spicy food and gave it a go. It really seemed to work for us. I can certainly say it didn’t make me any hotter in the long run. We were told the same thing in Taiwan, but there they extended it to hot beverages as well.

Dried chili Pepper contains some great nutrients in good amounts including Vitamin A, Fiber, Vitamin C, potassium and iron. The capsaicin is what makes a chili pepper spicy and it is thought to produce some health benefits as well. Even if you don’t like spicy foods, I encourage you to find some recipes that incorporate chili pepper. Many times a small amount can be used and it won’t lead to the dish becoming too spicy for your taste.

For those of you that do love the spicy, please be careful. I have witnessed people overdoing it on numerous occasions in America and abroad. Too many peppers can even send you to the hospital. Inflamed intestines and bowels do not sound like fun at all!

Pick your herb or spice and start experimenting and learning. I’ll be back with another post soon introducing more wonderful herbs and spices. Check out our homepage to learn what we and this website are all about.