Herb and Spice Guide

For some of us that are trying to eat healthier, replacing sugar, fat and salt with herbs and spices has two benefits. The first is obviously using them to enhance flavor of food cutting down on unhealthier choices, and the second would be the health benefits they have to offer.  They can help protect against some chronic conditions such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.  The following is a guide to some of the more popular herbs and spices, and how to use them.

Herbs are the leaves of plants and spices are made from flowers, berries, bark, seeds and roots. ( * ) signifies super spices or herbs.

Anise Seed - With the sweet taste of licorice, it can be used in baking cookies, cakes and bread. It adds a good flavor to macaroni and potato salad. It relieves gas and bloating, is an expectorant and can ease congestion and coughing.

Basil and Sweet Basil - It enhances any kind of pasta dish. Like all herbs in the mint family, it improves the appetite and helps settle the stomach. It can be applied to insect bite or wasp sting to draw out the poison. It is also a good insect repellent. 

Black Pepper - It stimulates the digestive system and helps clear lungs of congestion.

Caraway Seed - Has a sweet peppery taste that is good in soups, bread, cheese and potato dishes. It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Prevents gas and bloating. Helps with colds and congestion because it contains mild antihistamines. Also helps with rheumatism, eye infections and toothaches.

Celery Seed - You can use this with any recipe that you want to add celery flavoring to such as soups, dressing, or potatoes. It flushes toxins from the liver, helps lower blood pressure and helps with water retention. Although not a lot of research has been done, it is believed to help with gout.

Cilantro - With a pungent flavor, it is used in Mexican dishes, soups and salads. It is the same plant that produces coriander seeds. It improves digestion, eliminates excess water, proven to help reduce joint swelling and reduces fever.

Cinnamon*- It has a very sweet flavor that can replace sugar in most foods like cereal, sweet breads, cookies and cakes. It has a powerful antibacterial. It is shown in studies to help diabetics control their blood sugar.

Clove - Uses include to enhance flavor of meats, marinades, curries, fruit and baked goods. It is an antihistamine and soothes the digestive tract muscles to aid in digestion.

Cumin - Is best known as a partner with chili powder and used in Tex-Mex recipes, soups and stews. It is a diuretic and treats upset stomach.

Dill - Traditionally used in pickling, but also good in soups and potato dishes. It eases gas, bloating, and settles the stomach. Other uses are for nausea, liver ailments, jaundice and headaches.

Fennel - Has a similar flavor as anise and used in Mediterranean cuisine, eggs and fish. It improves digestion and is good for bad breath and body odor.

Ginger*- Is primarily thought of as an additive to Asian food, but can be used to season almost anything you want a sweet, spicy flavor to.  It is one of the super spices because of all the valuable things it does for our bodies.  It is known to eliminate toxins and raise body heat. Is a blood thinner so lowers blood pressure and relieves abdominal cramps.  Is also valuable for nausea and arthritis. 

Mustard - Good as a condiment with meats, or added to soups, eggs and potato salad.  It helps to digest your food and also stimulates circulation throughout the body.

Nutmeg - Teamed with allspice or cinnamon, it is an excellent additive to sweet baked goods.  It is known for treating illnesses of the nervous system, digestive system and coughs.

Oregano*- This is another herb that can be added to almost any food, but is mostly known for flavor it gives pasta dishes.  A super herb because it is high in antioxidants to help protect against heart disease, cancer, allergies and Alzheimer.

Parsley - Used as a garnish on meats, rice, potatoes and salads. It is high in iron and vitamins A, B, C. Aids in digestion and gas prevention. Is shown to help with gout and rheumatism and also can treat sinus infections.

Rosemary*- Used as flavoring for stuffing, lamb, chicken, turkey and pork. Is a potent antioxidant, stimulates central nervous system, lowers blood pressure, alleviates the pain of arthritis, improves circulation and memory.  Using rosemary oil on your hair can help with premature balding.

Sage - Has a slight peppery flavor that is added to many European dishes, casseroles and meats.  Good for digestion, remedy for colds and fevers, sore throats, gingivitis and sore gums. Helps eliminate body odor. Also helps relieve hot flashes and slows heavy menstrual bleeding. Also helps with memory and concentration.

Thyme*- A versatile herb that goes with many things along side of oregano, parsley, and sage.  It can relieve coughs and colds, settle upset stomach, soothe sore throats. Also helps eliminate toxins.

Turmeric*- Used in Indonesian and Asian dishes mainly, but can add flavor to many other savory foods.  It is a proven anti-inflammatory herb with is linked to reduced occurrence of cancer, cataracts and Alzheimer.  Relieves pain of rheumatoid arthritis and helps with psoriasis.