Herbs are pretty awesome. Their medicinal and aromatic properties can do wonders for our mental, physical and spiritual health. Essential oils, salves and tinctures – along with many more types of preparations – provide herbal remedies to treat a variety of ailments. But we can also benefit from the health promoting effects of many herbs by ensuring they are included in our diet.
Not only do herbs provide a balance of flavor for tasty meals, they are also rich in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, and help to maintain balance in the body. In culinary use, herbs are classified as the leafy green parts of the plant, while any other parts of the plant used (ie. berries, bark, seed) are identified as spices. Herbs and spices offer myriad benefits to the human body, such as aiding digestion, improving organ function, blood pressure, blood sugar and circulation, and boosting the immune system.
Here are seven popular culinary herbs and spices perfect for making healthy, delicious meals:
Cayenne aids digestion, improves circulation, fights infections, and is a good source of vitamins A and E.
Flavor: warm, pepper, spicy.
Pair with: beans, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, tempeh, tofu, tomatoes.
Cinnamon is a good source of manganese and calcium. It warms the body, enhances digestion, counteracts congestion, and has anti-fungal properties.
Flavor: fragrant, warm, sweet
Pair with: apples, chili, oatmeal, sweet potatoes.
Oregano is an all-rounder with high levels of calcium, iron, manganese, and vitamin K. It also fights free radicals, is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, and boosts the immune system.
Flavor: aromatic, warm
Pair with: mushrooms, pasta, pizza, potatoes, tempeh, tofu.
Parsley stimulates normal activity of the the digestive system, freshens breath, and improves bladder, kidney, liver, lung, stomach and thyroid function. It contains vitamins A, C and K.
Flavor: fragrant, mildly bitter
Pair with: eggplant, lemon, lentils, pasta, potatoes, tomatoes.
Rosemary is a good source of calcium and iron. It stimulates circulation and digestion, and fights free radicals, inflammation, bacteria and fungi. It is also helpful for headaches and menstrual cramps.
Flavor: pungent, pine.
Pair with: beans, mushrooms, onions, pasta, potatoes, spinach.
Thyme reduces fever, headache and mucus, has strong antiseptic properties, and helps in eliminating scalp itching and flaking. It is a good source of iron, manganese, and vitamin K.
Flavor: fragrant, sweet.
Pair with: carrots, lentils, onions, peas, potatoes, soup, tomatoes.
Turmeric is a good source of iron and manganese with antibiotic, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties. It protects the liver against toxins, improves blood vessel health, and is helpful for arthritic conditions.
Flavor: aromatic, bitter, warm, pepper.
Pair with: beans, curry, lentils, rice. Adds great color to vegan cheesy sauces and curry.
What are your favorite herbs to cook with?
Cinnamon Image via abcdz2000 Parsley Image via hejboel Turmeric Image via LotusHead Featured image via Bura