Herbs and spices help us to use less salt and have been shown to possess health benefits of their own. Think about curry and cumin, chili and paprika, lemon and parsley.
National Nutrition Month happens in March. And this year we are called to “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.” Who can argue with that?
Take time to enjoy food traditions and appreciate the great flavors and social experiences food can add to our lives, advises Libby Mills, registered dietitian nutritionist and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, sponsor of National Nutrition Month.
Herbs and spices help us to use less salt and have been shown to possess health benefits of their own. Here are some traditional flavor combinations, says Mills, that can help you cut down on sodium:
• China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
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• France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
• Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
• Hungary: Onion, paprika
• India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
• Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
• Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
• Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
• Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
• West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.
For the less adventuresome, a basic assortment of dried herbs and spices for everyday cooking works just fine, says Mills. She recommends oregano, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, Italian herb seasoning and rosemary. Other flavors to be explored include curry powder, turmeric, cumin, clove and bay leaf. Turmeric, for example, contains a chemical called curcumin that appears to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects in animals. Human studies are under way.
Note: If you still have the same spices that you had four years ago, it’s time for a change. If stored properly in airtight containers in a cool dark cupboard, herbs and ground spices can last up to three years and seasoning blends will deliver the best flavor if used within one or two years, according to McCormick & Co.
When it comes time to eat, turn off any distractions so you can fully appreciate the tastes and textures of your meal, experts advise. It’s true; when we savor each bite, we enjoy it more. And when we eat slowly, we give ourselves time to feel satisfied, often on less food.