Healthier Cooking With Herbs and Spices

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Looking for a way to add flavour to your dishes without compromising on wellbeing? Herbs and spices add flavour, colour and variety while contributing minimal energy, fat or sodium.

Are herbs and spices the same thing?
The terms "herbs and spices” are often used interchangeably, but the best way to differentiate them is to think of herbs as the “leafy” parts of the plant and spices as the “non-leafy” parts such as buds or roots. For example, when we use coriander leaf we refer to it as a herb, however when we use coriander seed, it’s considered a spice. Typical examples of spices are cloves (bud), cinnamon (bark), peppercorns (berry), and cumin (seed).

What are the nutritional benefits of using herbs and spices in my cooking?
In addition to being low in energy, fat and sodium, many herbs are also packed with phytochemicals (plant chemicals). Including herbs and spices in your meals can contribute to your dietary intake of antioxidant phytochemicals. Dietary antioxidants can help support your body’s natural defences. Oregano, rosemary and mint are particularly rich in these, with basil, continental parsley and dill also containing considerable amounts.

Can fresh and dry herbs be used interchangeably?
In general it will come down to personal taste. Keep in mind that dried herbs have a more concentrated flavour than fresh herbs so you will need less to achieve the same strength of flavour or vice versa if replacing dry herbs with fresh.

Looking for inspiration?
We’ve put together a selection of CARNATION recipes that incorporate herbs and spices for added flavour and versatility.

BASIL
Semi Dried Tomato Basil and Olive Quiche
This delicious quiche features basil as one of its ingredients. There are a number of varieties of basil. This recipe uses sweet basil, the type of basil most widely used in Italian cooking. Thai basil is another popular basil that is found in many Asian style dishes.  Basil has a strong scent and sweet peppery flavour that can be used in both cooked dishes and salads such as a tomato, bocconcini and fresh basil salad.

GARLIC
Garlic Prawns and Asparagus with Fettuccine
For many, garlic is synonymous with cooking and garlic prawns are an Australian classic.  Raw garlic has an overpowering aroma and a strong, spicy flavour that softens and sweetens during the cooking process. It can be added to dishes minced, chopped or even baked whole and eaten one clove at a time.

CINNAMON
Crunchy Oat and Cinnamon Muffins
Cinnamon, which comes from the bark of a tree, is used in both savoury and sweet dishes. Cinnamon has a sweet spicy aroma and adds a warming character to dishes. Cinnamon is typically available in both stick and powder form. Cinnamon sticks make a great accompaniment to warm apple cider while ground cinnamon on toast is a childhood favourite.

DILL
Prawn and Asparagus Skewers with Lemon and Dill Sauce
This delicious prawn dish uses both garlic and dill! Dill has a soft feathery texture and mild aroma and flavour so it is more likely to complement a dish than overpower it. Dill works well in seafood, egg dishes as well as dips.

CUMIN
Creamy Pumpkin Soup
This warming pumpkin soup is made with cumin, a spice used commonly in Indian and Mexican cuisines. Cumin has a warm flavour with a strong aroma. This recipe calls for ground cumin but cumin seeds are also commonly used in cooking.

 

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