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A Beginners Guide to Herbs and Spices

//A Beginners Guide to Herbs and Spices

A Beginners Guide to Herbs and Spices

A Beginners Guide to Herbs and Spices

One of the very best ways to add flavour naturally to your food is using delicious herbs and spices, and at the same time you’re also introducing extra nutrition and antioxidants to your diet. Whether you are preparing sweet or savoury dishes, the taste that these aromatics provide can really bring your food to life. They can also take you and your meals on a culinary journey with different influences from around the world…

Just look at how you can modify a simple mince or lentil based dish cooked with onion, garlic, vegetables and canned tomatoes:

  • Spice it up Mexican-style with paprika, cumin, coriander and chilli, and serve with avocado, salsa and pita bread
  • Add fresh herbs such as rosemary and thyme for an Italian meal and serve with pasta, parmesan and/or fresh basil
  • Try Indian spices like cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric and serve with brown rice, natural yoghurt and fresh coriander
  • Go Greek by adding herbs such oregano and parsley and serve with chickpeas, Tzatziki yoghurt cucumber dip and fresh mint

Herbs or spices in their fresh or whole form are great in certain recipes or used as a garnish, however, the dried or ground versions also have a definite place in cooking and baking too. Having a combination of some key herbs and spices in the pantry and garden or kitchen, means you always have the benefit of wonderful flavour enhancers on hand.

Some commonly used herbs and spices:

Ground Spices

Often Used For

Cinnamon A versatile flavour that works in sweet and savoury recipes – such as baking combined with apple or banana, or in an Indian curry.
Chili or Cayenne (fresh or ground) A hot peppery taste, commonly used in Cajun, Mexican, Spanish, Thai and Indian dishes.
Coriander Coriander comes from the seeds of the cilantro plant. Often used in Latin-American and Mexican cooking in soups, stews, curries and rice dishes.
Cumin Often used in Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Especially good with lamb, beans and legumes, carrots and other vegetables.
Ginger (fresh or ground) Can also be used in sweet or savoury meals such as Asian stir fry or Thai inspired dishes, or great with pears in a dessert.
Paprika Common in Spanish food, paprika goes well with tomato based dishes, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry as well as soups and stews.
Turmeric (fresh or ground) Often used in Indian cuisine, goes well with potato and rice dishes.

Fresh or Dried Herbs

Often Used For

Basil Classic Italian herb, perfect in pesto and paired with tomatoes, chicken, pasta or pizza.
Bay Lovely in soups, stews and casseroles with meat or beans.
Coriander (cilantro) A very fresh flavour often featured in Mexican and Asian dishes. Used in salads, salsas and rice dishes.
Dill A delicate fresh herb that goes particularly well with fish, poultry or eggs.
Mint Refreshing in salads and yoghurt dip, and great with lamb, potatoes and peas. Very easy to grow!
Oregano Used in many Mediterranean dishes and excellent with tomato based meat and poultry recipes.
Parsley A versatile mild fresh flavoured herb that can be used with almost anything – vegetables, seafood, poultry and red meat.
Rosemary Great with roast vegetables and meat such as lamb or chicken, also lovely with lentils.
Sage Goes very well with pork and poultry as well as potato and bean dishes.
Thyme Another herb that works well with roast vegetables and meat, as well as mushrooms and beans such as cannellini.

A few helpful tips

Avoid confusing a dish with too many flavours, unless you are making a recipe with a specific spice blend – using just two or three complementary herbs and/or spices usually works well. Or use a store-bought spice blend in cooking such as Italian dried herbs, Moroccan, Cajun, Chinese Five Spice, Garam Masala for Indian, or Mixed Spice for baking.

When cooking, you usually add dried/ground herbs early on and fresh herbs towards the end or when serving.

Fresh growing herb punnets last for many weeks if you keep them watered or herbs can easily be grown in the garden or even as a pot plant if you have limited space.

Try some of the above ideas in these flavourful wholesome recipes from Wicked Wellbeing…

Dips – great for Summer entertainingThai Larb

Smoked Baba Ganoush

Basil Hummus

A taste of Thai

Tofu Soba Noodle Salad

Thai Pork Larb

Spicy flavours

Black Bean Lentil + Chili Soup

Smoked Chili Barbecue Sauce

Sweet healthy treats

Spiced Banana and Walnut Loaf

Healthy Hot Cross Scones

Carrot Apple Muffins


By | 2017-03-20T03:26:32+13:00 November 24th, 2016|The Weekly Wick|0 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a mother of 3 who's passionate about empowering and inspiring you that healthy food can taste amazing, and it's not hard to create.

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