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10 ingredients you need to try this National Nutrition Month
This month is National Nutrition Month and to mark it we are taking a deep dive on world flavours, cuisines and ingredient combinations that not only taste sensational, but are insanely good for your overall health. We all know a healthy diet starts with a balanced diet, but when there are thousands of ingredients, spices and herbs to pick from when cooking and an unknown amount of ways to combine them, it can sometimes be easier to stick with what we know. So we’ve highlighted five superstar herbs and spices, along with five ingredients to get you started. Try just one or two of these to get you started and see how you get on. We’ve added a few tasty suggestions for ways you can use each ingredient, as well as included three bonus recipes below.
The question is, what will you try first?
5 Herbs & Spices to try this National Nutrition Month:
Herbs and spices are essential for cooking, even if it’s just a touch of salt and pepper. We suggest stocking up on the below and adding to your spice collection, when you have them ready and available, it makes it a lot easier to incorporate quickly into recipes.
What is it: Turmeric is a bright yellow spice (why it is often called ‘golden spice) and is tubular shaped, with a rough skin (although you will rarely find it looking like that in the supermarket).
Why is it good for you: Turmeric is essentially, a superstar inflammation fighter. This is due to the active ingredient carcumin, which also gives this spice it’s popping yellow colour. Turmeric is a well known and historic remedy for fighting diseases due to it’s anti-inflammatory properties.
One of the simplest ways to increase turmeric’s bioavailability is to add a sprinkle of black pepper (sounds a bit grim, but if you add just a dash, you won’t even notice).
How to eat it: Try a turmeric latte, add it to a smoothie and it is also delicious in curries.
What is it: Ginger is a flowering plant and very well known, you have probably used this one plenty of times before. Similar to turmeric, ginger comes in a tubular form and has a rough skin. Often this is how you buy it in the supermarket.
Why is it good for you: Fresh and ground ginger have powerful properties, and both are incredibly versatile. Like turmeric, ginger is an antioxidant and has been used for years to soothe colds, flus, diseases as well as pain and nausea.
How to eat it: Ginger tea is incredibly popular, as well as ginger in Asian based dishes. Try marinading salmon in ginger and soy sauce with broccoli for a simple weekday dinner.
What is it: Cinnamon commonly comes in stick form, or you can buy it ground in a pot/jar.
Why is it good for you: Perfectly sweet but can also be used in savoury dishes. Cinnamon is also packed with antioxidants, and super concentrated so you only need a teaspoon to get a healthy boost. Antioxidants can help slow the ageing process, as well as being anti-inflammatory just like turmeric and ginger.
How to eat it: Sprinkle cinnamon on lattes, hot chocolates, porridge and add to smoothies and juices. Add to curries for a sweet flavour.
What is it: Sage is a staple herb in many cuisines across the world, and is famous for its deep earthy flavour. It was used a lot in the middle ages, and was even used for healing during the plague.
Why is it good for you: Some studies say that sage helps with brain function and memory and is also high in vitamin K, as well as helping maintain cholesterol level and improve blood sugar level.
How to eat it: Sage is so good on so many autumnal and winter dishes, but can also be a great addition to summer plates. Try it in casseroles, stews and on top of pies. A gorgeous addition to your Sunday roast too. For more summer vibes, try pork and sage meatballs with fresh pasta, or sage gnocchi.
What is it: The famous chilli – we love it, we hate it, we want more of it or we want A LOT less of it. We all have our individual chilli vibe, but did you know it also packs a nutritional punch?
Why is it good for you: Chilli has some serious immune boosting properties, packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E.
How to eat it: There are SO many ways to eat chilli, in fact you can add it to almost any dish. Curries, pasta and noodles with lots of veggies and protein is just one example. You can even find chilli chocolate on the shelves these days.
5 ingredients to try this National Nutritional Month:
As well as the above delicious herbs and spices, why not give one of these five ingredients a go. There are some killer flavour combos when you start mixing the above and the below (a few suggestions from us if you keep reading..)
Why is it good for you: Garlic is well known for improving immunity, decreasing inflammation and even supporting heart health. It is also an absolute staple ingredient in cooking across the world.
How to eat it: Garlic can be added to pretty much any savoury dish, from garlic in your spinach at breakfast, to your brunch shakshuka (baked eggs), to pastas, curries, noodles and dipping sauce for your pizza (or even on the pizza itself). Now you know the properties of garlic, you’ll notice just how many recipes it’s in.
Why is it good for you: Walnuts are packed with important phytochemicals, as well as high amount of polyunsaturated fats (essentially ‘good’ fats). They also support a healthy digestive system.
How to eat it: Walnuts are a great grab and go snack, and so just one handful a day is enough. Walnuts can also be added to salads and cooked with – see our recipe for walnut stuffed mushrooms below.
Why is it good for you: Lentils are an ingredient old as time, and used in many different cuisines. Lentils are high in fibre but low in fat, and are a great meat alternative in many dishes. They are also packed with folate, iron and potassium.
How to eat it: Lentils are a delicious substitute in vegan cooking, for example in a bolognaise or a curry. Dhals also bring out all the flavours of lentils if used with the right spices.
Why is it good for you: Mushrooms are another rich source of fibre, as well as protein and antioxidants. There are so many different types of mushrooms, all of which can be used in different types of recipes.
How to eat it: Mushrooms on toast with garlic is a super easy breakfast. Add mushrooms to your curries, stir fries and pastas. You can also make it the star of the show – see below for a delicious simple recipe.
Why is it good for you: Dubbed as ‘a potent source of nutrients’, spirulina has a lot to bring to the party. Spirulina contains a powerful ingredient called phycocyanin. Research shows that this ingredient contains antioxidants along with anti-inflammatory properties.
How to eat it: Best eaten in a smoothie, try it with a plant based milk, some leafy greens and a natural sweetener like maple syrup or agave syrup.
3 Recipes to try:
Super easy weekday meals incorporating some of the above.
1.Walnut and garlic stuffed mushrooms
Super easy, super delicious. Get yourself some portbello mushrooms and set the oven to 180C. Saute some spinach in a small frying pan with 1 teaspoon of garlic and 1 teaspoon of pesto. Top the mushrooms with the pesto spinach and sprinkle with walnuts. Bake for 15 minutes.
2.Lentil bolognaise with courgetti
Fry off a teaspoon of garlic and 1 red onion, finely chopped in a deep saucepan with olive oil. Add 400ml of passata. As it bubbles away, take a packet of pre-cooked lentils (they come in a sachet, a bit like rice sachets). Add the lentils, one tablespoon of tomato paste, 1 teaspoon of mixed herbs and a glug of red wine (or balsamic vinegar). Reduce down until thick and serve with pasta, or spiralised courgette.
Take a small bowl and mix together 1 tbsp sesame oil, 1 tsp soya sauce, 1 tsp garlic and 1 tsp ginger. Chop up some chilli, and add half to the sauce. Heat a pan and fry off whatever veggies you have available (literally anything!). Pop the noodles on the heat and boil to the packet instructions. Once the veggies are softening, add the sauce, along with the cooked noodles and combine. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and the remaining chilli.
Which of these recipes are you going to try first?