Liven Up Your Cooking With Herbs

Eating healthy can be a challenge, especially when you start looking for ways to add flavor without adding a lot of fat or salt. One of the best ways to enhance the flavor of your foods without adding calories, sodium or fat, is cooking with herbs.

Cooking With HerbsFresh vs. Dried Herbs

Fresh herbs offer beauty, fragrance and flavor to all your foods. Try growing some of the most popular herbs, like rosemary, basil and thyme right on your windowsill. Whenever you need a sprig of herbs you’ll have them right at your fingertips.

You can also use dried herbs. These are easy to find in the grocery store, or you can dry them yourself from a summertime herb garden. When buying them, you’ll find them in dried leaf form and dried ground form.

Keep in mind when cooking, however, that dried herbs are much more pungent and flavorful than their fresh counterparts. When cooking with herbs, as a general rule one tablespoon of fresh herbs is equal to about one teaspoon of dried herb leaves or one-quarter teaspoon of dried ground herbs.

Classic Combinations for Cooking With Herbs

Using herbs in your cooking is, in many ways, a matter of preference. If you like an herb with a particular food, feel free to use it. However, there are some classic pairings that always work well together. These include

  • Adding Herbs While CookingRosemary – Pork, Chicken, Lamb, Potatoes
  • Basil – Anything Italian or anything containing tomatoes
  • Dill – Potatoes, Fish, Cabbage, Cucumbers
  • Cilantro – Anything Mexican and with lime
  • Oregano – Chicken, Beef, Pasta, Italian foods
  • Tarragon – Chicken
  • Sage – Poultry
  • Thyme – Poultry, Vegetables

Adding Herbs to Your Cooking

Though cooking with herbs is fairly simple, there are some ways to help your herbs retain their best flavor when you use them in foods. For example:

  • Woody herbs, like rosemary, oregano and sage should be added to foods as they are cooking, to allow the herbs to release their flavors and blend with the foods.
  • Finer leaf herbs like basil, chives, dill and fennel should be chopped and added at the end of the cooking process, so that they retain their flavor.
  • When you have herbs growing in a windowsill or herb garden, it’s always best to pick them just before use. Storing fresh herbs causes them to lose their flavor.
  • Some pungent and woody herbs, like rosemary and sage can be added whole to soups and stews, and then removed before serving.

Cooking with herbs is one of the easiest ways to give your foods a delicious boost in flavor. Choose the ones you like best and see what great combinations you can come up with.

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