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I don’t know about you, but I’m SUPER excited about this year’s National Nutrition Month theme Savor the Flavor of Eating Right. When I hear or see this phrase I automatically think about flavoring dishes with herbs and spices. For me, the thought of herbs and spices brings up good childhood memories from spending summers in the island of Haiti. In my family’s hometown there are these things called “maches” which is pretty much the equivalent of a farmer’s market. I can almost smell the aroma of the dried seasonings, hear the sounds of chickens clucking, people haggling and bargaining. Reminiscing about those sounds reminds me of the warm feeling of the blazing sun beating against my skin.  I experience these memories every time I go to a herb and spice shop. I’m confident that I’m not the only one who has found memories of farmers markets back “home” from another country or even here in the USA! This is the greatest part of the shopping for herbs and spices. It kind of makes me feel like I am one with the Earth, citizen of the world.

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This is a mortar and pestle from Haiti. We use this to grind herbs and spices to make “epis”.

 

The excitement with this theme doesn’t only come from childhood memories but also the endless possibilities. Seasoning food doesn’t have to be only about salt and pepper. No,not at all. Did you know certain herbs and spices match well with others? Also certain foods go better with certain spices. I took up cooking last year and when I learned about the idea of flavor pairing my mind was blown!!!!

Throughout the month I will be exploring different herbs and spices and the many ways you can pair  flavors together.

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Spices, Spices, Spices!!!

 

But before that let me give some Salut Facts on herbs and spices.

  1. Herbs are taken from the leaves of plants.  They are usually grown in temperate locations like the Mediterranean.
  1. Spices are taken from all the other parts of the plant (root, stem, bulb, bark, or seeds). They are usually grown in tropical places.
  1. Using herbs are spices can help you reduce your sodium and sugar intake. For example, some people flavor their oatmeal with cinnamon instead of using sugar.
  1. Some herbs and spices can potentially lower blood sugar and cholesterol.
  1. Certain spices like turmeric are said to have anti-inflammatory properties while cumin is shown to have antibacterial qualities.

One example of a flavor pairing is onions & garlic. Onions and garlic are pretty much the peanut butter and jelly of the spice world. You really can’t go wrong with this flavor pairing on any dish that you make. Usually if I’m too tired (or lazy) to cook but too cheap to order out, I would chop up 1/2 onion and 2 garlic cloves and whip something up real quick. The only thing is that onions can make you tear when cutting it. I usually run the peeled onion under cold water to help reduce the burning sensation in my eyes.

Do you have any tricks for reducing the tears from cutting onions? What are your go to flavor pairings?

Stay tuned for the next flavor pairing!

Until then,

Salut!

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