Herbs and spices healthy and tasty

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH -

What are your favourite herbs or spices to use in cook­ing and why? Thanks Dan

Hi Dan. I ab­so­lutely love us­ing fresh herbs and spices inmy cook­ing – along with fresh in­gre­di­ents, good qual­ity oils and a lit­tle salt and pep­per can go a long way to pro­duc­ing a de­li­cious yet sim­ple meal.

These are just a few of my favourites. PARS­LEY Pars­ley is a de­li­cious and ver­sa­tile herb, the nour­ish­ing prop­er­ties of which are of­ten ig­nored. Con­tain­ing a won­der­ful va­ri­ety of nu­tri­ents in­clud­ing vi­ta­mins C and K, it’s also a great source of flavonoids. The flavonoids in pars­ley, such as lu­te­olin, have been shown to func­tion as an­tiox­i­dants, sub­stances that help to pro­tect the cells in our body from dam­age from pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing skin cells. Mak­ing your own pesto is one of the quick­est and eas­i­est ways to trans­form your evening meal. Us­ing many fresh herbs in­clud­ing pars­ley, good qual­ity oil such as cold pressed, ex­tra vir­gin olive oil, salt, lemon juice and nuts or seeds – it can trans­form the medi­ocre into a taste sen­sa­tion. Use it to flavour veg­eta­bles, sal­ads or sim­ply serve as a condi­ment. TURMERIC Turmeric has long been used in cook­ing as well as her­bal medicine. It is known for its bright or­ange colour and po­tent an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ef­fects. Cur­cumin, the pig­ment that gives turmeric its or­ange colour is also the chem­i­cal re­spon­si­ble for the an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory ef­fects. Cur­cumin is a nat­u­ral an­tiox­i­dant, mean­ing turmeric also helps pro­tect against free rad­i­cal dam­age and helps the liver do its crit­i­cal de­tox­i­fi­ca­tion work. Try adding fresh or dried turmeric to juices, cur­ries, stir-fries, rice pi­laf or mix up a warm­ing winter drink made from nut milk, cin­na­mon, turmeric and a dash of pure maple syrup. GIN­GER Tra­di­tion­ally gin­ger has been used to al­le­vi­ate symp­toms of gas­troin­testi­nal dis­tress and nau­sea.

Gin­ger is part of the botan­i­cal fam­ily that in­cludes car­damom, turmeric and galan­gal, which are all con­sid­ered hearty, warm­ing spices but also won­der­ful an­ti­in­flam­ma­tory agents.

Gin­ger is a de­li­cious ad­di­tion to Asian cook­ing, green veg­eta­bles and fruit crum­bles to name a few.

It’s espe­cially de­li­cious in warm­ing drinks, such as chai.

I’m al­ler­gic to nuts and find lots of recipes I like that have nuts, what can I use in­stead? Thanks, Sa­man­tha.

Hi Sa­man­tha. Typ­i­cally nuts are used in recipes due to their nu­tri­tional value and their fat con­tent. Seeds such as sun­flower and pump­kin can be used in the same quan­ti­ties as­most nuts, how­ever, it’s best to soak them first – typ­i­cally they have a stronger flavour than nuts such as cashews. Al­ter­na­tively you can also use co­conut – des­ic­cated, cream/milk or even oil de­pend­ing on the con­sis­tency you need to achieve.

❚ Dr Libby is a nu­tri­tional bio­chemist, best-sell­ing au­thor and speaker. The ad­vice con­tained in this col­umn is not in­tended to be a sub­sti­tute for di­rect, per­son­alised ad­vice from a health pro­fes­sional. Dr Libby’s cook­book Real Food Kitchen is filled with recipes to in­spire and nour­ish you. Avail­able from all good book­stores and www.dr­libby.com.

Pars­ley con­tains vi­ta­mins C and K and can be used to flavour veg­eta­bles and sal­ads.

WITH AU­THOR AND NU­TRI­TIONAL BIO­CHEMIST DR LIBBY

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