Are you interested in herbs and spices uses? I didn’t used to be. When I went to university, I spent the first year in a dorm and then lived in a house with two other girls.
We had a lot of fun, but one thing I didn’t do much of was cook. I like simple foods, and back then I liked things really simple. Making food for me was only about getting something to eat – cheaply, quickly and easily.
I have one vivid memory of this time that I bought a bag of carrots. Now, because I’m incredibly frugal I always bought bags of whole carrots rather than those little so-called baby carrots that other students bought.
So this one bag of carrots happened to contain some gigantic carrots. Who knows why these ones were bigger than usual, but I didn’t like to use half a carrot. When I sliced one of these carrots onto a plate full of lettuce, it took over the salad.
My roommate’s boyfriend called it a carrot salad with a bit of lettuce. It was kind of intense, and yet boring, to eat all of that plain raw carrot – even for me.
Since then, much to my roommates’ dismay at not having happened while I was living with them, I’ve started caring more about the flavor and variety of meals. I’ve taken cooking courses and become a nutritionist, so I’m a long way from the carrot salad now.
When Phil and I shifted to a vegetarian diet plan, I had to get more creative with vegetables to keep him satisfied. It forced me to experiment – and am I ever glad I did!
The area where I learned the most about cooking over the years is the use of herbs and spices for flavor. They make the difference between a pile of food and a meal. Using individual spices rather than a curry powder has showed me that it isn’t Indian spices I didn’t like – it was just the fiery mixes that didn’t agree with me.
Not only do they add flavor, but there are actually some significant health benefits to spices and herbs. Certain spices, like ginger and cinnamon, help to stimulate your digestive system and get your metabolism going so that you can process the foods you eat most efficiently.
Other spices, particularly the spicy ones like paprika and cayenne, work as appetite suppressants. You may find that if you add a bit of spice to your tomato sauce that you need to eat less to feel satisfied, making a weight loss plan easier. Turmeric has been shown to have beneficial effects not only on fat metabolism, but also regulating blood sugar levels and reducing inflammation.
Herbs like parsley and cilantro pack loads of nutrients, and are most beneficial and flavorful when you eat them fresh. Parsley gives women 22% of their daily vitamin C recommendation, and men 27%, in just 4 tablespoons. All fresh herbs have a high antioxidant content and chlorophyll, giving you energy and helping your body neutralize free radicals.