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Add some spice to your life!

Sandhya Gugnani

Spices and herbs have been used in foods for centuries. A herb is a friend of a physicians & praise of cooks as said by Charlemagne.

Fat, Sugar & Salt Reduction Tips

Herbs & spices can help retain flavor in your food while reducing fat, sugar & salt / sodium.

Reducing Fat

Reducing 1 tablespoon of fat is about 10 grams of fat & 90 calories. The calories in herbs & spices are far less than in sauces, gravies & fried foods. So herbs & spices add flavor to the food without compromising on Reducing Sugar – Replace sugar by using these sweet-tasting spices like cloves, anise, ginger, cardamom, mace, cinnamon, nutmeg. 1 teaspoon of refined sugar is 20 empty calories. Whereas not only one is cutting down calories by replacing sugar to these spices but some of them are rich antioxidants too.

Reducing Salt

High Salt/ sodium diet not only causes hypertension but also causes water retention & further lead to weight gain & heart diseases. 1 teaspoon of salt has 2300 mg of sodium, As per WHO one is recommended to have less than 5 grams of salt per day. One can substitute salt with black pepper, garlic, ginger, coriander, dill seeds, cumin etc. Use of herbs like oregano, parsley, basil is widely used. Also garlic & onion powder can be used rather than salt.

When to add spices & herbs:

The type of food & type of herb influence the time to add it during food preparation. Fresh herbs like basil, mint, parsley dill leaves etc should be added at the end of the cooking time or just before serving. Prolonged heating can damage the flavor & aroma.

The less delicate fresh herbs such as dill seeds, oregano, rosemary, thyme etc can be added before 20 mins of cooking. But for bakery products it needs ot be added at the beginning of the cooking process.

Adding spices such as bay leaves & whole spices should be added during cooking as they release their flavor slowly as compared to ground spices & herbs. Freshly grounded spices such as black pepper, nutmeg provide more flavor than buying them already ground.

Storing Spices & Herbs:

To prevent flavor & colour loss, avoid moisture, light, heat & air.

1) Store in air tight containers.

2) Store in a dark place away from sunlight, in a drawer or cupboard.

3) Avoid storage above dishwasher, microwave, stove, refrigerator, near a sink or heating vent.

4) Use a dry spoon to measure herbs or spices from a container.

Shelf –life of Spices & Herbs:

As a general rule keep

1) One year for herbs or ground spices.

2) Two years for Whole spices.

3) Buy a small container until you determine how fast you will use a particular spice or herb.

4) Check a herb or a ground spice by rubbing a small amount in your hand. If the aroma is fresh & rich it can still flavor foods.

5) Label date of purchase on the container.

(Sandhya Gugnani is an expert Nutritionist. Visit her at: www.yournutritionandhealth.com)

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