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Spice Up Your Meals... and Your Life

You feel full of good intentions, prepare a heap of healthy steamed vegetables… and then watch your family pick at them. Is this scene familiar?  One of the best ways you can ensure everyone is eating enough fruits and veggies is to make them as flavorful as possible. And nothing fits the bill better than herbs and spices. Using the right combination of seasonings will take the food on your plate from good to great and encourage everyone to reach for second helpings!

Freshen Up
Fresh herbs give meals a burst of flavor that can’t be duplicated. A simple plate of whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce livens up when you toss some fresh basil on it, and a homemade taco becomes something special when you add cilantro.

One reason people object to buying fresh herbs is that it can be hard to use a whole bunch before it goes bad. That’s what makes growing your own herbs so attractive; you just use what you need. Some herbs, like parsley and chives, are hardy enough to grow well into the fall, and if you live in a mild climate, may overwinter. If you’re growing herbs in pots (or a Tower Garden!) you can also bring them inside for the winter.

When it comes to adding flavor to food, many people are passionate about fresh garlic. If you’re a garlic fan, try one of these recipes using the pungent bulb. The garlic and herb white bean dip sounds particularly good to me.

Get Spicy
Dried spices can also kick your vegetables’ flavor up a notch. Having a batch of your favorite homemade spice mix on hand can make cooking veggies more convenient. Whether it’s curry powder for a vegetable curry, Italian spice mix for eggplant parmesan, or Asian five-spice mix for a stir-fry, having ready-made spice mixes can help you come up with tempting ways to use the vegetables you already have in your fridge.

Spices can help fruit dishes shine as well. Cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg give a warm flavor to homemade applesauce or apple pies. I also just recently tried cinnamon sprinkled on watermelon, and it was surprisingly delicious! Saffron and pears, anyone? Or how about paprika and pineapple?

Feel like experimenting? Wondering what spices might taste good on carrots or in a Thai dish? This infographic explains which spices impart a bitter, sweet, or spicy flavor, which ones go with which vegetables, and which spice combinations are common in various cuisines.

What are your favorite herbs and spices to pair with fruits and vegetables? Share in the comments below!

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