Aside from kicking up your food to a much more enjoyable experience, herbs and spices have a whole list of awesome things going for them including phytonutrients, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. It pays to get a little spicy!
I often talk about getting creative in the kitchen, but it's hard to know where to start when it comes to ingredients. Do you find yourself standing in front of your open cabinet, holding a jar of oregano in one hand and thyme in the other, cursing the meal ahead of you?
First. What the heck is the difference between an herb and a spice? Well, here's the jam: Herbs are usually from the leafy part of the plant and Spices are from everything else (seeds, bark, etc.). Though, nowadays, I think people use the terms interchangeably. Kind of like “ocean” and “sea”...
Anyhow, lets talk about getting past that make-it-or-break-it moment in front of your spice rack.
Generally going by cuisine is a good start:
BUT WHAT ABOUT FRESH OR DRIED?!
Dried herbs and spices are more pungent (because the water has been sucked out). If a recipe calls for 1 Tbsp of fresh herbs and you only have dried, cut it down to 1 Tsp. If you're cooking on the fly, I generally use fresh when the cooking time is short. If it'll take time to cook (like a simmering sauce), I use dried. And, don't forget to crush the dried stuff between your fingers, too. This releases oils and really gets the most flavor from your ingredients. At the end, fold or sprinkle the fresh stuff in to give it an extra zing along with a textural difference. Not to mention it just looks pretty.
Some of my fave combos?
Get ready for the next bit of instruction! It's very technical. This is what the pro's do...
Step one - Grab a few spice jars or bunches of fresh herbs together in your hands
Step two – Shove them up in your face and take a giant whif
Herbs and Spices are great additions to your meal. They can change things up and immediately alter the flavor. In addition, you get a healthy kick of nutrients and antioxidants.
So, spice up your life! ...turns out that terrible 90's girl band was onto something...
About Sarah: Sarah E. Jacobs is a certified Holistic Health and Nutritional Counselor and the co-founder of The Wellness Project NYC, which provides NYC businesses with a fun and creative new take on Corporate Wellness. She's also an award winning Actress and writer of the widely popular blog Acting Like Sarah. She believes in making holistic health approachable (no kumbaya necessary!) and thinks that laughter is critical to total body wellness. After auto-immune conditions broke down her usually very active body, she sought alternative treatments and was able to heal herself through diet and lifestyle changes. She's a fitness freak and can often be seen double fisting an almond milk latte and a green juice. Connect via Facebook with The Wellness Project NYC or follow her on Twitter.