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Add flavor and spice with fresh herbs

Elizabeth Hall, Food City Registered Dietitian • Sep 25, 2019 at 4:30 PM

We have been celebrating National Family Meals Month this September, but it’s the end of the month now. You may be looking for new recipes or tasty creations to keep your family coming back for more home-cooked meals! A great way to add flavor and spice is through adding fresh herbs to your recipes. Fresh or dried herbs add a pop of color and a flavorful boost to an otherwise boring meal without adding sodium. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. Here are some quick and easy tips for using herbs in your family meals:

First, learn about which herbs go with different foods. Classic options like parsley, basil or oregano can complement nearly any protein, pasta or soup. Cilantro is a staple for Mexican dishes but also goes great in Asian-inspired cuisine. Less well-known options like tarragon or rosemary are often paired with meats and poultry but go great with roasted vegetables or in salad dressings as well. While certain herbs may traditionally season certain foods, that doesn’t mean you can’t think outside the box. When in doubt, go for it! Be creative and find what your family likes.

Second, add herbs into your recipe at the right time. Sturdy herbs with a tough stem can be added prior to cooking methods like roasting or added earlier in the cooking process. On the other hand, more tender herbs like parsley or cilantro should be added toward the end of cooking or as a garnish.

Third, know how to store herbs properly to keep them fresh longer. Herbs that are purchased in a “bouquet” form can be stored in a jar or vase with a small amount of water. Put the whole “bouquet” in a sealed plastic bag for even longer storage. If your herbs are about to go bad, try roasting or dehydrating your fresh herbs to be used in the dried form. Typically, the ratio for adding to recipes is 1 part dried to 3 parts fresh. Another option is to freeze chopped herbs in ice cube trays with water or oil to use in cooking.

Elizabeth Hall, MS, RDN, LDN, Food City Registered Dietitian

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