The holiday season is one of the toughest times of the year to resist salty, greasy, and sugary foods. Who doesn’t want to enjoy the special dishes and treats that evoke memories and meaning – especially during the pandemic? Physical distancing and canceled gatherings can make you feel like pampering is a way to get some joy out of the season.
But stay strong. While it’s okay to have an occasional bite or two of marbled roast beef, buttered potato puree, or chocolate cake, frequent eating can lead to weight gain and increased blood pressure, blood sugar, and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Instead, skip butter, heavy cream, sugar and salt and season your food with herbs and spices.
The abundance of nature’s flavor makers goes beyond tempting tastes, smells and colors. Many herbs and spices contain antioxidants, flavonoids, and other beneficial compounds that can help control blood sugar, mood, and inflammation.
Fortify holiday foods with herbs and spices
Try spicing up your food with some of the herbs and spices in the list below. Play food chemist and experiment with combinations that you haven’t tried before. The more herbs and spices you use, the greater the rewards for taste and health. And that’s a gift that you can enjoy all year round.
Pimento: Use in bread, desserts and muesli; goes well with hearty dishes such as soups, sauces, cereals and vegetables.
Basil: Cut into salads, starters and side dishes; enjoy in pesto over pasta and in sandwiches.
Cardamom: Good in bread and baked goods, and in Indian dishes like curry.
Coriander: For seasoning Mexican, Southwestern, Thai and Indian dishes.
Cinnamon: Stir in fruit compote, baked desserts and bread, as well as hearty dishes from the Middle East.
Clove: Good in baked goods and bread, but also with vegetable and bean dishes.
Cumin: Accents Mexican, Indian and Middle Eastern dishes as well as stews and chilli.
Dill herb: Contained in potato dishes, salads, eggs, starters and dips.
Garlic: Add soups, pasta, marinades, dressings, cereals, and vegetables.
Ginger: Excellent for Asian and Indian sauces, stews and stir-fries as well as drinks and baked goods.
Marjoram: Add to stews, soups, potatoes, beans, cereals, salads and sauces.
Mint: Aromas of hearty dishes, drinks, salads, marinades and fruits.
Nutmeg: Stir in fruit, baked goods and vegetable dishes.
Oregano: Delicious in Italian and Mediterranean dishes; It goes well with tomatoes, pasta, cereal dishes and salads.
Parsley: Enjoy soups, pasta dishes, salads and sauces.
Pepper (black, white, red): Seasons soups, stews, vegetable dishes, cereals, pasta, beans, sauces and salads.
Rosemary: Try it in vegetables, salads, vinaigrettes and pasta dishes.
Sage: Enhances cereals, breads, dressings, soups, and pasta.
Tarragon: Add sauces, marinades, salads, and bean dishes.
Thyme: Excellent for soups, tomato dishes, salads and vegetables.
Turmeric: Essential in Indian foods; goes well with soups, beans and vegetables.