Finding herb and spice combinations that make your taste buds dance adds flavor and personality to your meal. We at 8fit provide herb and spice suggestions, but you can always adjust to your liking by adding more or less of them.
Herbs and spices don’t just make a meal tasty, they also help your body fight infection, reduce inflammation, improve heart health and detoxify. Seasonings can also play a role in weight control by giving our meals flavor without adding calories. In fact, some spices can lead to greater thermogenesis (energy-burning) and satiety.
Pantry herbs and spices must-haves
If you don’t currently have herbs and spices in your pantry, choosing the “right” ones can be overwhelming. You might ask questions like: Which spices are the tastiest? Which herbs are the most nutritious? How many different varieties should I buy?
Woah there, slow down. 8fit has you covered.
Start with the staples. I like having sea salt, black peppercorns, garlic powder, cinnamon and an herb blend like Herbes De Provence in my pantry at all times. I put garlic powder and this herb blend on almost everything savory such as vegetables, eggs and meat. The garlic powder tastes similar to salt, which helps me reduce my sodium intake. The Herbes De Provence adds a depth of flavor to dishes and also makes me feel like I’m vacationing in France.
The cinnamon comes into play when I make sweeter dishes like oatmeal, yogurt bowls or 3-ingredient cookies. The compounds found in cinnamon are anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immune-boosting and protect against heart disease and various types of cancer.
Spicy spice kit
If you like spice, I encourage you to buy the pantry must-have above as well as chili powder and curry. Chili powder is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, which helps improve skin and eye health and increase immunity. I like to add it to soups, stews and sauces or use it for dry meat rubs.
Pro tip: Spice up plain yogurt with chili powder for a fiery condiment or dip.
Culinary-level spice collection
Ready to take your pantry to the next level, then you might want to invest in the staples and spices above, as well as basil, cilantro, crushed red pepper, cumin, dill, ginger, nutmeg, onion powder, oregano, paprika, rosemary, thyme, and turmeric. It sounds like a lot, but you’ll be happy you have them to hand. Below are some health benefits of these sensational spices.
- Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial characteristics
- Rich source of magnesium, which helps improve blood pressure
- Delicious with meats, pasta or mixed in with chopped fruit (such as raspberries and strawberries)
- Contains fiber, iron, and calcium
- Helps increase circulation and improve digestion
- Compliments a variety of roasted meats (e.g. chicken, pork, salmon) and root veggies (e.g. potato, sweet potato, parsnip)
- A superb source of vitamin K, which helps improve bone health and protects cell membranes
- Contains mood-boosting carvacrol
- Add it to bean, egg and veggie dishes, or lamb and darker meats
- Contains good levels of manganese, iron and vitamin B6
- Known for its anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effects
- Frequently used in curry dishes, but can also add flavor and color to stir-fried veggies, soups, scrambled eggs or rice
Storing your spices
Ever wondered if those herbs and spices that have been gathering dust in your kitchen cabinet for what seems like decades have turned into flavorless flakes? Test them by rubbing them in your palm and giving them a sniff. If they still smell fragrant, keep on cooking. Otherwise, consider switching them out for new ones. Ground herbs and spices usually last 2-3 years, while the whole ones typically last about 4-5 years.
Store dried spices and herbs in airtight containers. Keep them in a dark, dry area that is close to 70°F (20°C). For optimal flavor and shelf life, store them away from heat. That means, keep them away from the stove and the sun. When you’re cooking, shake spices into your hand or a measuring spoon away from the stove. Shaking spice containers directly over a pot or pan allows moisture to creep into the bottle.
Dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh ones, so you’ll need about three times less than when you use fresh herbs. If you’re using fresh-cut herbs, then wrap them in a paper towel and store in the fridge.