How To Spice Things Up When Cooking

Large collection of metal bowls full of herbs and spices -How To Spice Things Up When CookingHerbs and spices are used to enhance the flavor of food, either it be for cooking spaghetti carbonara or baking an apple pie.

An herb or spice can be a seed, fruit, root, bark, berry, bud or leafy part of the plant. They are principally used for flavoring food among other uses. They can be used fresh or dried.

Herbs And Spices Through The Ages

It is said that by the Middle Ages, the most common spices and herbs being traded and used were black pepper, cinnamon (including the alternative cassia), cumin, nutmeg, ginger and cloves.

Herbs and spices are useful for many things, among others are medicinal uses, cosmetic or perfume production uses, and of course they are used add flavor to a meal.

By 1000 B.C. medical systems based upon herbs were found in China, Korea, and India. Also the Egyptians used herbs and spices for their embalming practices and their demand for exotic herbs and spices helped stimulate world trade.

Extracting A Spices Flavor

The flavor of an herb or spice is derived by exposing the volatile oil compounds of the seed or leafy part, that oxidize or evaporate when it comes in contact with air.

As an example, fresh ginger is usually more flavorful than its dried form, but fresh spices are more expensive and have a much shorter shelf life.

Flavor of herbs and spices can be maximized by storing them whole and grinding when needed, as grinding greatly increases its surface area and so increases the rates of oxidation and evaporation.

If you decide to use dried spices, be sure to use them within 6 to 8 months of purchase. Ground spices are better stored away from light, as it also increases the oxidation of the volatile oils.

metal bowls filled with spices

How To Use Herbs And Spices

When using herbs and spices you’ll want to pick flavors that complement each other, such as the spice mix known as “pumpkin pie spice.” The ratios of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg add great flavor to the pie, and each spice doesn’t over power the other.

The key or rule of thumb to spicing things up is that less is more. Avoid adding too much all at once. Instead, add a little at a time and add more to taste.

A good example of over spicing and unable to fix it, is when you use oregano or cloves. Their volital oils are great for flavoring culinary and pastry dishes, but they are strong in flavor, and only require a small amount.

When using spices to flavor your meat or vegetables, use only 3 different types at a time. You can even use herbs and spice to replace salt. Choose your spice or spices, add a little lemon juice and unsalted butter.

Which spices pair well together for the best culinary dishes you can make? Let’s examine some of the most commonly used spices and which spices pair well with them.

Improve Your Health in the Kitchen Not the Medicine Cabinet

 

Improve Your Health in the Kitchen Not the Medicine Cabinet

When we don’t feel good, most of us might turn to the medicine cabinet. As it may have pain relievers for sore muscles or a headache, stomach ache, fever or even diarrhea. The medicine cabinet and what it may offer to you in times of failing health is only temporary.

Why not look to your kitchen to relieve your aches and pains? Are we crazy asking that question, you may say. There is only food in the kitchen. That is the point. Our health is dependent on what we are eating.

When you choose to start living a healthier lifestyle and look for alternative ways to better your health, have you ever considered what the kitchen has to offer you in this respect?

There are particular food ingredients, and there are many of them that have positive health benefits, that are actually good for your aches and pains.

What are they, you are asking?  They are herbs and spices.

Here are a few of those healthy spices and what they can do for you.

Cayenne Pepper – This is known as a spice with a zing to it. Many spicy dishes contain cayenne pepper, and for this reason some shy away from eating it.

But actually, you should embrace it and use it more often. It’s known to increase your fat burning metabolism so you help shed pounds by as much as 25%. It also is an anti-inflammatory spice, reducing pain.

Garlic - Improve Your Health in the Kitchen Not the Medicine Cabinet Ginger Ginger is known for its ability to help with nausea, but can also calm an aching stomach, as well as reduce acid reflux.

Cinnamon – This is an excellent spice to help aid the bowls with diarrhea attacks and an upset stomach. It coats and sooths the stomach and digestive lining.

Garlic – Garlic can help keep lower cholesterol levels and it can decrease your blood pressure. Garlic is also an anti-inflammatory, relieving pain.

Allspice - Improve Your Health in the Kitchen Not the Medicine Cabinet

 

Allspice – Allspice is a natural stimulant that can help relieve problems in the stomach with indigestion and gas. It works much like cinnamon, coating and soothing the digestive lining, relieving pain and inflammation.

Mustard – This is an excellent spice for those who suffer from respiratory problems.  It’s another stimulant that is a helpful aid in squashing respiratory ailments.

Peppermint - Improve Your Health in the Kitchen Not the Medicine Cabinet Peppermint – This is a pleasure-filled spice that is tasty and helps with insomnia.  As an added benefit, it can help with digestive disorders and also bouts of tension.

Turmeric – This is an antioxidant that defends against free radicals.  It is a great anti-inflammatory and reduces pain throughout the body.

Herbs and spices are more commonly known as methods used to liven up our food. What most don’t realize is that there are certain spices that actually help you lead a healthy life while making your food taste good.

The next time you’re planning your dinner menu, think to yourself, “What can I be doing for my health when I spice up our favorite recipes tonight?”

 

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Herbs and Spices Through the Years

Herbs and Spices Through the Years

Humans have used herbs for 1000’s of years. They were either used in cooking for flavoring foods or for medicinal purpose. Spice trade first began around 300 BC by the people in the Mediterranean region. There are also records of the Chinese using over 300 types of herbs and spices for making medicine. Herbs and spices were used for embalming in Egypt, over 5,000 years ago.

Shakespeare himself made a reference to rosemary saying, ““There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember.” Believe it or not, rosemary is an herb that is used for brain function.

In Roman times, young children would put a sprig of rosemary either on the left or right ear, when they would be tested in school. It was said they would smell the aroma of the rosemary, and remember the things they had learned before the tests.

Medical science today is even looking into the prosperity’s of rosemary as a possible cure for Alzheimer’s.

Herbs and spices have always been sought after and fought over. Herbs and spices then are like gold and silver is today. From the 15th to the 17th century, there were wars fought for domination over the Spice Islands, the countries involved were Spain, Portugal, England and Holland.

Today herbs and spices play an essential role in our day-to-day life. Just about everyone has access to culinary herbs of one type or another. Thеrе аrе several types of culinary herbs, they are used еіthеr fresh or dried.

Thеу flavor main dish meals, delectable desserts, and add flavor to side dishes. Herbs and spices can even lower or delete thе uѕе оf salt. In addition tо flavoring prepared foods, many herbs contain high amounts оf antioxidants, whісh аrе responsible fоr protecting thе body against diseases, and premature aging.

Herbs fоr Cooking

Thе best way tо start using herbs іn cooking іѕ tо understand thе flavors аnd benefits they have. Doing ѕо wіll help tо create уоur own special delicious recipe enriched wіth flavorful herbs. Following аrе ѕоmе оf thе herbs commonly used in cooking.

Basil

Different types of basil

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Fresh аnd dried basil leaves аrе used fоr seasoning various dishes. Though most of the time they are paired with garlic and tomato dishes. Basil in recent times has even been served with strawberries or watermelon and goat cheese.

Thеrе аrе different types оf basil, оf whісh thе most flavorful аrе thе sweet аnd purple basil.

There are different varieties of basil. There’s the lemon basil and lime basil , next is the African blue basil, Thai basil, and even the Licorice basil which contains anethole, the same chemical that makes anise smell like licorice, and in fact is sometimes called “anise basil.”

Fennel

FennelBоth fennel leaves аnd seeds аrе used іn cooking. Thе flavor resembles thаt оf aniseed, except thаt іt іѕ mild аnd sweet. Fennel seed іѕ used іn thе preparation оf fish curry, meat recipes аnd sausages, whеrе аѕ the bulb and leaves аrе added to salads аnd оthеr vegetable dishes.

Mint

Mint іѕ а common culinary herb found іn many varieties, nаmеlу, peppermint, apple mint, lemon mint, аnd chocolate mint. Mint tea іѕ used fоr therapeutic purposes. In cooking, mint leaves аrе used fоr seasoning lamb, fish, аnd poultry recipes. It іѕ аlѕо used іn salad dressings аnd preparation оf sauces.

 

Oregano

oreganoOregano оr wild marjoram іѕ available іn fresh leaves. Its warm aromatic flavor аnd robust taste makes іt а wonderful culinary herb. Oregano іѕ used fоr flavoring  vegetables, fish, аnd meat recipes since ancient times. Chopped leaves оf oregano аrе used fоr seasoning Greek, Mexican аnd Italian cuisines.

Parsley

ParsleyThе flavor оf parsley іѕ mild аnd nоn obtrusive. Fresh leaves оf parsley аrе used for garnishing salads, vegetables, and legume recipes. Parsley blends wеll wіth оthеr culinary herbs like basil, mint, and oregano. Dried parsley leaves is added to the preparation of sauces.

RosemaryRosemary

Rosemary іѕ best paired wіth garlic аnd thyme tо flavor roasted lamb аnd оthеr stewed meats. It has tea like aroma аnd pine like flavor. Fresh аnd dried rosemary leaves аrе used іn cooking vegetables, fish, and poultry.

Sage

Sage has а distinctive musty аnd smoky aroma. Its leaves аrе used еіthеr іn fresh оr dried form. Sage іѕ used fоr adding flavor tо poultry, lamb, аnd sausages. Fresh chopped sage leaves аrе added іn salads аnd pickles. Ground sage іѕ used tо marinate fish аnd meat bеfоrе cooking.

thymeThyme

Thyme іѕ used еѕресіаllу іn French cuisines. Its flavor resembles thаt оf mint. It іѕ used іn soups, sauces аnd аlѕо іn fish, poultry аnd meat recipes. Fresh thyme leaves аrе available іn summer months, where аѕ dried leaves are found throughout the year.

Yоu саn grow аll thеѕе culinary herbs іn your own garden оr іn a sunny window seal, if you’re in an apartment. Herbs and spices аrе easy tо grow аnd develop faster thаn many оthеr plants.

Fоr all the culinary herbs уоu саn delay flowering bу pinching them back. This way the plant doesn’t go to seed right away, but you are able to regularly harvest thе leaves.

Explore уоur culinary talent bу using thеѕе flavorful herbs tо make each meal a splendid recipe and more.

Here are some of our recipes using the mentioned herbs. Watermelon goat Cheese Salad using fennel, Lemon Grass Basil Thai Chicken using Thai basil, Garlic Lime Chicken Fajitas using oregano, and Citrus Herb Roasted Vegetables using thyme, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, and fennel seeds.

 

 

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10 Best Spices And Their Health Benefits

10 Best Spices And Their Health Benefits

10 of the most common spices used to cook with. They have benefits for two reasons, adding flavor to your recipes, and better health.

Chili Peppers

Benefits: Antioxidant, anti-irritant properties, cold remedy, helps with weight loss, hearth health, digestion, balances LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
(Source: webmd.com)

Turmeric

Antioxidant loaded with nutrients: Protein, Dietary Fiber, Niacin, Vitamins C, E and K, Sodium Potassium, Calcium, Copper, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc.
Benefits: Cancer Prevention, Arthritis Reliever, Diabetes Control, Heals Wounds, Alzheimers Prevention, Improves Digestion, Natural Liver Detoxifier, Weight Management, Reduces Cholesterol, Boosts Immune System.
(Source: cnn.com)

Garlic

Benefits: Atherosclerosis, High Cholesterol, Heart Disease, and Hypertension.
(Source: WebMD)
Oregano

Benefits: Antioxidants for Immune System Support, Antifungal, Antibacterial, Anti-inflammatory Properties, Cancer-Fighting Effects And Upper Respiratory Infections.
(Source: Mercola.com)

Basil

Also Known As Saint Joseph’s Wort, This Spice Is Rich In Antioxidants, Vitamins A, K, C, Magnesium, Iron, Potassium, and Calcium.
Benefits: Reduces Inflammation and Swelling And Anti-Aging Properties.
(Source: Medical News Today)

Thyme

A Wonderful Herb With Culinary, Medicinal and Ornamental Uses.
Benefits: Acne, High Blood Pressure, Protection From Foodborne Bacterial Infections, Colon Cancer, Breast Cancer and Yeast Infections.
(Source: Medical News Today)

Rosemary

Great Source of Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatory Elements.
Benefits: Improves Digestion, Engances Memory and Concentration, Neurological Protection, Prevents Brain Aging and Helps In Cancer Treatment.
(Source: Medical News Today)

Parsley

Nutrients: Vitamins K, C, A, Folate, Fiber, Iron, Anti-Oxidant Nutrients,
Benefits: Heart Health, Protection From Rheumatoid Arthritis.
(Source: WHFoods.org)

Ginger

Used In Antacid, Laxative and Anti-Gas Medications
Benefits: Muscle Pain From Exercise, Chemotherapy Nausea, Ovarian Cancer, Asthma, High Blood Pressure, Painful Menstruation and Migraines.
(Source: Medical News Today)

Clove

Benefits And Uses: Diarrhea, Upset Stomach, Expectorant, Hernia, Bad Breath, Intestinal Gas, Nausea, Vomiting, Tooth Ache Pain, Topical Remedy for Pain, Mouth and Throat Inflammation.
(Source: WebMD)

 

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How to Use Herbs in Cooking

How to Use Herbs in Cooking

An important part of cooking is also to know the flavors of herbs and spices and how to use them. Seasonings are the key to making a great meal.

If you are not familiar with different herbs, experiment. Get to know the flavors and how herbs work to flavor your food.  Also be aware herbs are not just for flavoring foods, but also have nutritional value as well as medicinal traits.

The following are the most popular used herbs.

Basil: This herb has a very aromatic odor and some can even be sweet. It can be fresh or dried. The herb goes well with lamb, fish, roast, stews, ground beef, vegetables, dressing and omelets. Basil should always be added after cooking your recipe dish, as heat chances the color and texture of basil.

Basil is also best used as whole leaves or torn. Do not use kitchen shears to cut basil as this will brown it. Smaller leaves at the top of the bunch are the sweetest.

Chives: This herb is part of the onion family. Though it can be sweet, and does have a mild flavor. They can be used dried or fresh. They go well with salads, fish, soups and potatoes.

Cilantro: It has a lively aromatic flavor. It looks similar to flat-leaf parsley, though it is not parsley. This herb originated from the Middle East and goes well with Asian, Mexican, and Indian dishes. It is also used in salsas and chutneys.

Cilantro is best used fresh. If you do grow this herb in your garden, note that the leaves become bitter after the plant flowers. The dried seeds of cilantro are the spice called coriander, which is popular in use with making Chai Tea.

Dill: This herb is very aromatic. The herb has grassy and feathery like leaves. It is used in pickle brine, as well as fresh in tuna salad, omelets, vegetables, seafood dishes, yogurt dressings that use cucumbers, and herbed vinegars.

Marjoram: Though not a popular herb, it is used either dried or fresh. It is used to add flavor to fish, poultry, omelets, lamb, stew, and stuffing.

Oregano: A very strong herb with a strong aromatic odor. Be careful when using this herb, as it is strong, adding to much will over power other flavors you will use in your recipe preparations. Oregano is unforgiving. If you have added more than the recipe calls for, there really is now way to fix it.

It can be use fresh or dried. It is added to recipes using fish, eggs, pizza, omelets, chili, stew, gravies, poultry and vegetables.

Rosemary: This herb has a pungent aroma like smell or pine flavor. It goes great with Mediterranean dishes, lamb, poultry, fish, and breads. Fresh sprigs or finely chopped leaves can be added to long-cooking stews.

It is noteworthy, that when grilling, sturdier stems of the plant make good skewers for broiling or BBQ dishes. Adding flavor to the meats and vegetables placed on the skewers.

Paprika: This spice works well when marinating steaks, in use with vegetables, soups or as a garnish for potatoes, salads and deviled eggs. The Paprika we are familiar with using is Hungarian and is sweet. There is also Smoked Paprika that is used in Mexican dishes. Most of the paprika we buy today is grown and processed in California.

Thyme: This delightful herb can be used fresh, though it is popular used dried. The leaves are dried than crushed, and can be sprinkled on fish or poultry before broiling or baking.

Here’s a tip using thyme as a meat smoking agent if you’re grilling fish or poultry: Place a few sprigs directly onto coals shortly before meat is finished grilling.

Rules to Using Herbs

The basic rule to using herbs is ¼ teaspoon for every 4 servings. Also, if you are using whole dried herbs, crush them before using to release their flavor. The rule of thumb is to use 3 times more fresh herbs if substituting for dried.

When preparing your dish, dried herbs should be added at the beginning and fresh herbs should be added just before serving the dish.

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