It’s National Nutrition Month, and the theme is Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right. This month, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics wants you to enjoy eating right by combining taste and nutrition to create healthy meals! Herbs and spices are an excellent way to add flavor to our foods without adding salt, fat or sugar. Not only do they help boost flavor, many contain phytochemicals and antioxidants that may have health benefits as well.
What are they?
The words “spices and herbs” are often used interchangeably. Both come from plants and are used to add flavor and aromas to food. The difference between the two is where they are obtained from the plant.
Herbs are obtained from the leaves of non-woody plants, whether dried or fresh, and are usually used in larger amounts than spices. Some examples are thyme, sage, oregano and parsley.
Spices, on the other hand, are obtained from other parts of the plants (roots, flowers, fruits, seeds or bark) and are typically dried. They are generally more potent than herbs and can even be used as a preservative. Examples of spices are cinnamon, cloves, ginger and pepper.
How do I store them?
Fresh herbs are sensitive to moisture and can spoil fast if not stored properly. Keep them fresh by wrapping them in a paper or cloth towel and storing them in your refrigerator. They can be stored this way for up to one week.
For dry herbs and spices, they can last about one year if they’re stored in a dark, cool, dry place. You can check to see if they are still fresh by opening the jar and smelling their aroma. If you can’t smell anything, it’s time to replace them.
Not sure how to get started? Check out the list below to get some ideas on how to use some popular herbs and spices. For more tips and recipe ideas, contact your HHO Dietitians!