National Nutrition Month, Experiment with Herbs and Spices

New and Exciting Tastes: For National Nutrition Month, Experiment with Herbs and Spices to Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.

Discover new and exciting tastes while trimming fat and sodium from your cooking. For National Nutrition Month®, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics encourages everyone to experiment with new combinations of herbs and spices as you “Savor the Flavor of Eating Right.”

“Today’s popular cuisine embraces a wide world of flavors that you can enjoy in all sorts of combinations, while still following a healthful eating pattern,” says registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy Spokesperson Libby Mills.

It’s worthwhile to note the difference between herbs and spices, Mills says. “Herbs, like basil and oregano, grow in temperate climates and are the fragrant leaves of plants. Spices, like cumin and paprika, grow in tropical areas and come from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds and stems of plants and trees.”

Innovative use of herbs and spices offers a real flavor advantage, especially if your goal is to cook with less fat and sodium. “While the exact types of herbs and spices depends on the cuisine, every culture has its traditional favorites,” Mills says.

Mills offers a top ten list of popular ethnic cuisines and the flavors associated with them:

  • China: Low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine, ginger
  • France: Thyme, rosemary, sage, marjoram, lavender, tomato
  • Greece: Olive oil, lemon, oregano
  • Hungary: Onion, paprika
  • India: Curry, cumin, ginger, garlic
  • Italy: Tomato, olive oil, garlic, basil, marjoram
  • Mexico: Tomato, chili, paprika
  • Middle East: Olive oil, lemon, parsley
  • Morocco/North Africa: Cinnamon, cumin, coriander, ginger
  • West Africa: Tomato, peanut, chili.

    In addition, Mills recommends keeping a basic assortment of dried herbs and spices on hand for all types of cooking: oregano, garlic powder, thyme, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, chili powder, Italian herb seasoning blend, thyme and rosemary.

    “Then, explore new flavors beyond these basics with curry powder, turmeric, cumin, clove and bay leaf and experiment with new flavor combinations. Remember to store dried herbs and spices in airtight containers in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry,” Mills says.

    follow National Nutrition Month on the Academy’s social media channels including Facebook and Twitter using the #NationalNutritionMonth hashtag.