Cooking With Herbs and Spices Part III

I started this series of posts on becoming familiar with herbs and spices by telling you to pick an herb or spice and spend one week trying as many different recipes as you can that feature or at least use your chosen subject. I am still saying the same thing. Consider yourself reminded.

Bu t seriously, mastering the use of herbs and spices can really open up worlds of new flavors and dimensions and will add so many dishes to your repertoire: dishes that don’t vary much except for the herbs and spices used. Trust me on this.

Let us continue our look at a few more herbs and spices that are considered quite healthy by the World’s Healthiest Foods website. These are all typical in most western kitchens and easily found at your run of the mill supermarkets. In other words, start with these.

Sage

This herb has a sweet savory flavor and is available dried whole or powdered and fresh year round. It has a long history of use in cooking and in medicine. Sage’s health benefits come from its flavonoids, phenolic acids and volatile oils. These contain anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are also studies that point to sage as helping to boost brain function. Pretty nice.

As with so many other herbs and spices, fresh sage is the way to go if you can. You can store fresh sage by wrapping the in a damp paper towel place inside a loosely sealed plastic bag. They should last for several days.

Thyme

Thyme is an herb that has a history of use in natural medicine involving chest and respiratory problems. Several of Thyme’s volatile oils are now known to specifically hold the properties that natural medicine users have taken advantage of for centuries. It has also been used, like so many other spices and herbs, as a preservative. It has been scientifically shown to have anti-microbial properties.

Thyme has a great fragrance and is known to go well in vegetable, egg and bean dishes. It is also popular in soups and stews. Thyme has an impressive amount of nutrients in dense quantities for an herb. These include a lot of vitamin K, iron, manganese, calcium and dietary fiber. As with selection and storage instructions for sage, fresh thyme is preferable and storage technique is the same as sage.

Turmeric

Turmeric is a wonderful spice that is known for its use in Indian curries. Its flavor is peppery, warm and bitter. Its smell is mild as a mix of orange and ginger. It has a deep yellow or orange color. Turmeric has been used in natural medicine as a healing agent and as a textile dye.

Turmeric has been investigated and given positive results in use as an anti-inflammatory (including for inflammatory bowel disease), rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis, cancer prevention (including colon cancer), improving liver function, cardiovascular function and as a cholesterol lowering agent.

Turmeric powder is preferable to curry powder if you are interested in the above mentioned health aspects. As stated, it comes in a powder form, although you can make your own. It does stain, so be careful with clothes and surfaces during preparation.

That does it for this installment. Don’t hesitate to do some searching for recipes in your personal cookbooks or on the net. Then prepare those recipes and enjoy.