Anchiy for Getty Images
Anchiy for Getty Images

Salt, sugar, butter and ketchup aren’t the only things you can add to food! Cooking with herbs and spices gives you a healthy way to make your meals tasty.

Herbs come from shrubs and can be used fresh or dried. Parsley, chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, caraway, dill, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage and celery leaves are all herbs. Spices are captured from tropical plants and trees’ bark (cinnamon), roots (ginger, onion, garlic), buds (cloves, saffron), seeds (yellow mustard, poppy, sesame), berries (black pepper) and fruit (allspice, paprika). Dehydrated vegetable seasonings include onion, garlic and shallots.

Herbs and spices are essential in cultural cooking. A typical pairing would be:

The University of Nebraska/Lincoln Extension lists these helpful guidelines to using herbs and spices:

Reducing salt
In most dishes, you can replace salt with black pepper, garlic powder, curry powder, cumin, dill seeds, basil, ginger, coriander or onion.
Replace the salt when cooking pasta with basil, oregano, parsley and pepper, or use an Italian seasoning blend.
Use powdered garlic and onion rather than their salt form, and use only half as much of the powdered form.

Reducing sugar
You can replace sugar in some recipes with:

  • Allspice
  • Cloves
  • Anise
  • Ginger
  • Cardamon
  • Mace
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

Seasoning meats and veggies
Experiment with these herbs and spices to punch up taste on specific foods:

  • Beef—bay leaf, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme
  • Lamb—curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint
  • Pork—garlic, onion, sage, pepper, oregano
  • Veal—bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano
  • Chicken—ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme
  • Fish—curry powder, dill, dry mustard, marjoram, paprika, pepper
  • Carrots—cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
  • Corn—cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley
  • Green Beans—dill, curry powder, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme
  • Greens—onion, pepper
  • Potatoes—dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage
  • Summer squash—cloves, curry powder, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage
  • Winter Squash—cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, onion
  • Tomatoes—basil, bay leaf, dill, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper