Home ยป herbs & spices for flavor and health

herbs & spices for flavor and health


I love this time of year, (even if Ohio may be seeing its first snow fall towards the end of this week…ugh) NCAA basketball and football seasons overlap. Basketball games during the week and football on the weekends makes me a happy camper! 😀 Anyone else??

I found an interesting article yesterday on herbs and spices and I wanted to share a few tidbits. The article was written by a Registered Dietitian and discussed dried vs. fresh herbs, and the overall health benefits of herbs and spices.

First things first, herbs and spices are essential in the health-conscious kitchen. Herbs and spices come with powerful flavor and with negligible calories, fat, or sodium. Rather than adding salt, the use of herbs and spices can flavor cooking and baking for a most delicious result. The article notes that herbs and spices should be used within 6 months for the most nutritional benefit. Dried herbs and spices lose nutritional value if they lose color or scent, so it’s best to only buy what you need. Store your herbs and spices in a cool, dark, dry place to keep them fresher longer. And remember, dried herbs can always be substituted for fresh in a 1-to-3 ratio.

The Stars:

Rosemary: antioxidant, anti-cancer and helps cholesterol
Cinnamon: the most potent anti-oxidant spice, can reduce blood sugar, is anti-inflammatory, can reduce symptoms of nausea and stomach ulcers
Thyme: antioxidant, anti-bacterial, contains omega 3’s
Curry powder: Reduces joint inflammation, may help prevent heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s
Ginger: Anti-inflammatory, helps circulation, used to tread digestion, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, menstrual symptoms, headaches, and flu-like symptoms


On that note…a delicious recipe with curry powder!

Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup from Gina’s Weight Watcher Recipes

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp roasted cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp madras curry powder
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz (about 2 cups) chopped peeled butternut squash
1 cup light coconut milk
3 cups fat free vegetable or chicken broth
salt and fresh pepper to taste (1/4 tsp salt + pepper)
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)


Add oil to a medium soup pot, on medium heat. When oil is hot add onion, garlic and sauté. Add roasted cumin, masala and madras curry powder and mix well cooking another minute. Add broth, light coconut milk, butternut squash and cook covered until squash is soft, 12-15 minutes. Remove cover and using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (or puree in a blender). Season with salt and fresh pepper and serve with fresh cilantro. Serves 3.

Nutrition Information (per serving): 158 calories; 6.7 g. fat;  0 mg. cholesterol; 374 mg. sodium; 22.3 g. carbohydrate; 4.3 g. fiber; 2.3 g. protein

Result: This was amazing! The flavors are outstanding – sweet, spicy, and a party in your mouth. When I heated up the leftovers in the break room at work, people thought it was a dessert. This soup is excellent, not sure what more to say other than it’s healthy, too!

I have a 3 mile run planned before work…off I go! 😀

Trivia Question: What is the #1 most requested pizza topping in the US?

I am planning a Q&A for next week. Send your questions (nutrition-related or otherwise) to me at [email protected]!

Be well,

Share With Your Friends!


  1. November 3, 2010 / 6:24 am

    I have to try using fresh herbs and spices instead of dried one more often. Thanks for this info, Nicole! It’s so nice to get a little more healthy tips from you everyday ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. November 3, 2010 / 7:26 am

    I saw this article. I tweeted it because I love learning about the health benefits of herbs and spices. It’s fascinating to me!

    The soup sounds wonderful. I added coconut milk to my second batch of my butternut and acorn squash soup, what a great combo. I love coconut, it’s really too bad I can’t eat a lot of it.

    #1 most requested pizza topping? Has to be pepperoni.

  3. November 3, 2010 / 7:44 am

    First off, let me say, I am not very pleased about the snow event that will be coming our way this weekend! ๐Ÿ™ I still have about three tons of leaves in the yard to get rid of before the flakes fall…and they are predicting a few days of it with Lake enhancement…enough said! lol

    I have been wanting to make this soup….but didn’t have the garam masala in my pantry….guess I will be picking some up today at the store!! Will it take the place of my beloved creamy cauliflower soup I love so much? haha

    I would guess that the number one topping would be pepperoni…but I prefer the more exotic toppings…like pineapple, or figs or anything that you don’t normally get on a pizza. A restaurant in my neighborhood, had a smoked Gouda and caramelized onion pizza that was so good on their menu last month as a special. I hope they bring it back.

    • Nicole
      November 3, 2010 / 7:58 am

      A few days?! Ahhh! Coming back to the Midwest after the south for a few years is BRUTAL!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. wendy
    November 3, 2010 / 7:56 am

    i would say extra cheese.
    loving the blog still by the way! i really liked the article on the spices. thyme is one of my favs but cinnamon is the best!
    also i don’t know if you rememebr me from email but i went to weightwatchers website to find some meeting options and such and heard there will be a new plan coming out.
    i figured i would wait to join instead of learning one just to learn a whole different one in a couple of weeks. ๐Ÿ™

    • Nicole
      November 3, 2010 / 7:58 am

      Hi Wendy! Yes, I remember you! ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s interesting about a new WW plan…let me know how you like it!

  5. November 3, 2010 / 8:00 am

    Hmmmmthe number one requested topping…cheese?!? ๐Ÿ™‚ Does that count?

  6. November 3, 2010 / 8:40 am

    My favorite herb is basil, and thankfully the plant I potted on my balcony last spring is still growing like a monster.

    #1 topping? I’m guess we’re not counting cheese? I’d say pepperoni.

  7. November 3, 2010 / 8:43 am

    Ginger really works for me. When I do occasionally get an upset stomach, I always turn to ginger tea. I’ve heard mint is good for digestion too.

  8. November 3, 2010 / 9:00 am

    Spices are the best! I’d have to say cinnamon is my favorite though ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. November 3, 2010 / 9:04 am

    Extra cheese?? Everyone loves cheese on their pizza, right?

  10. November 3, 2010 / 9:34 am

    Love the spice info Nicole! I would say pepperoni is the most requested topping.

  11. November 3, 2010 / 10:03 am

    We got a spice rack full of spices for our wedding last year..we’ve barely gotten through any of them…makes me sad that they have probably lost of of their nutritional value *tears*

  12. November 3, 2010 / 10:40 am

    I agree spices are essential! Curry and squash (or sweet potatoes too) are one of my favorite flavor combos, the soup looks great!

  13. November 3, 2010 / 12:38 pm

    I love fresh herbs!! I add them to everything.

    I think the pizza topping is ham and pineapple. I dont know how many people actually LIKE ham and pineapple, but its either that or pepperoni and I dont like pepperoni. ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. November 3, 2010 / 1:12 pm

    i just posted on Jessie’s blog, The Happiness in Health, where the post was about health tips..and i mentioned about spices, saying that a great tip is to spice it up- go to the spice pantry and start finding tasty combos. spices, especially oregano, cayenne, ginger and turmeric all have medicinal and health benefits. they can lower the risk of many diseases and diet-caused health issues.

    good call on the shelf-life of spices. im going to go look in the pantry after i post this because i think i have a few that are WAYYY too old. need to make a list of the ones i need to ‘refresh/restock’


  15. November 3, 2010 / 2:38 pm

    I love spices – I go through cinnamon like it’s my job haha

  16. November 3, 2010 / 2:48 pm

    Great info on herbs and spices! I had no idea that thyme contains omega-3s…very interesting! Hmmm, I’m going to guess plain cheese pizza (my favorite!). ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. November 3, 2010 / 4:23 pm

    I think curry powder is, nutritionally, a very happy accident. Because really, when people started blending garam masalas, I don’t think they were thinking about all the individual health benefits of the spices being combined into a nutritional powerhouse. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    The soup looks so amazing and autumnal!

  18. November 4, 2010 / 5:04 am

    Nice job highlighting one of the most potent spices in your delicious coconut and butternut squash soup! ๐Ÿ™‚ I had NO idea that thyme has omega 3’s – wow! I’ll remember your tidbits, especially as Peter i really into herbs and spices and he even built an enormous spice rack for them (I don’t think we’ll be able to go through them in 6 months ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

    Have a great day, Nicole!

  19. wendy
    November 6, 2010 / 12:52 pm

    well i won’t be able to find out anything for like two more weeks.
    although that doesn’t stop me from trolling google and the WWs international site to see what is going on;)
    i have heard the american version will have some differances but still…..i am too nosey to just sit and wait!lol

  20. May 22, 2013 / 4:28 pm

    #1 Pizza topping? That’s gotta be cheese!

    I LOVED oregano and basil on pizza when I used to eat cooked food. I haven’t tried making a raw one yet.

    Someone said cinnamon, hadn’t thought of that on pizza!

    If you are talking about using herbs and spices for health, I don’t think any discussion is complete without mentioning that organic is the way to go. I know most people overlook this even though they might buy the “Dirty Dozen” (top 12 most pesticide contaminated foods) organic, but conventional herbs and spices are irradiated and chemically grown. You are defeating the purpose of consuming herbs for health if you do it non-organically!

    I moved to a remote part of the country and am learning to grow my own food and herbs. But for now, I support small businesses like http://maisonterre.net/ who are committed to selling organic herbs and spices. I like voting for a safer, healthier world with my hard-earned money.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get my newest recipes
Follow Me