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Heart Healthy Tips on Cooking with Herbs and Spices

herbs and spices graphic

Part of following a heart healthy diet is generally making sure that it is low sodium. Using herbs and spices can add zest and enhance the flavor of food cooked without the added salt. When cooking with dried or fresh herbs, try for a subtle effect by using them sparingly.

A Good Rule of Thumb:In an untested recipe, 1/4 teaspoon of dried herbs should be enough in a dish serving four people. It is always easy to add more if needed. If you can clearly taste the herb, you have probably used too much.

1/4 teaspoon powdered herb = 1/2 teaspoon dried herb or 2 teaspoons fresh chopped herb
1 tablespoon onion powder = 1 medium raw onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder = 1 clove fresh garlic

Here are some useful tips when incorporating these dried and fresh herbs into your cooking:

  • Crush, mince, or finely chop fresh herbs before use.
  • Longer cooking time brings out more flavor, but avoid overcooking. Add herbs during the last hour of long cooked dishes like soup or stew.
  • For uncooked or quick-cooked dishes, either add the herbs several hours before cooking and serving; or steep the herbs in a hot liquid for a few minutes before adding; or moisten the herb in lemon juice or oil and allow to stand one hour before adding to the food.
  • Store dried herbs in a tightly closed container in a cool dark place.

Flavor Combinations to Spice Up Your Cooking

Some herbs work particularly well with certain foods or in combination with each other. Use a strong flavored herb with one or more milder ones to give a subtle blend. Use strong and accent groups for leading flavors and combine with blend groups to get the desired effect.

Types of Herb Flavors

Types of Herbs Examples
Strong Herbs Bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, sage, winter savory
Accent Herbs Basil, dill, marjoram, mint, tarragon, thyme
Blend Herbs Chervil, chives, parsley, summer savory

Flavor Combinations for Meats and Eggs

Type of Protein Complementary Herbs, Spices and Flavors
Beef Bay leaf, green pepper, chive, pepper, onion, dry mustard, sage, thyme, marjoram, nutmeg, garlic
Lamb Curry powder, rosemary, mint, mint jelly, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil
Pork Garlic, sage, marjoram, nutmeg, spiced apple
Veal Bay leaf, ginger, marjoram, curry, basil, oregano, currant jelly, summer savory
Fish Dry mustard, paprika, curry, bay leaf, lemon, tomato, dill, green pepper, marjoram, parley, tarragon, thyme.
Poultry Paprika, thyme, sage, parsley, basil, marjoram, summer savory, ginger,
Eggs Green pepper, dry mustard, paprika, pepper, curry, chives, parsley, basil, oregano

Flavor Combinations for Vegetables

Type of Vegetable Complementary Herbs, Spices and Flavors
Asparagus Lemon juice, rosemary
Broccoli Lemon juice, tarragon, thyme, oregano
Cabbage Mustard, dill seed, caraway seed
Cauliflower Nutmeg, parsley, chives, basil, dill
Corn Green pepper, tomatoes
Green Beans Dill, oregano, marjoram, nutmeg
Potatoes Parsley, chives, lemon
Squash Ginger, nutmeg
Tomatoes Basil, oregano, dill

About this Blog

The Penn Heart and Vascular blog provides the latest information on heart disease prevention, nutrition and breakthroughs in cardiovascular care.

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