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Thread: Beginner advice on spices and herbs page

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    Aquamarine's Avatar
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    Beginner advice on spices and herbs

    Primal Fuel
    In general I never use spices, and don't like garlic or ginger much. I know they are healthy and I plan to slowly add more to my diet. I usually put sea salt on food, and that's it. I want to reduce the salt. Any suggestions for a beginner? I am planning to just sprinkle more spices on the raw meat/fish/veg then steam them. I suppose my tastebuds will adapt over the weeks.

    I don't know if I can use much, especially on veg. I love the taste of veg and with spices, I can't taste them as much. I feel like I'm just tasting the same spice no matter which veg I eat.

    I dislike hot-spicy. Can tolerate it a little. (I also HATE and seem to be intolerant to anything with mustard.) Should I be trying to make myself work in some of the hot peppers, or can I go without? (I do like taco meat seasoning if I use about half of normal.) I am cutting way back on nightshades but cayenne and chili seem so healthy.

    Also, black pepper. I like it on only one food (steak), and may be able to tolerate it on other meat, mixed with other spices. In general the taste bothers me, and if I added it to something more bland like eggs or fish, I wouldn't want to eat it.

    (Sage I like on burgers.)

    What are the absolute best ones that I should learn to like? No use in learning to like one that is less healthy. I also cannot afford too many bottles of organic spices. What should I start with?

    According to the WHFoods list, the best spices and herbs are:
    Basil
    Black pepper
    Cayenne pepper
    Chili pepper, dried
    Cilantro/Coriander seeds
    Cinnamon, ground
    Cloves
    Cumin seeds
    Dill
    Ginger
    Mustard seeds
    Oregano
    Parsley
    Peppermint
    Rosemary
    Sage
    Thyme
    Turmeric
    Last edited by Aquamarine; 03-19-2012 at 10:10 AM.

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    Honestly, I would never recommend forcing yourself to use any spice or food that you hate, so really my advice is to experiment and find what you like. Every spice/herb has some health benefit, and since they are used in such small amounts, I don't really think it matters that much.

    I've found that the sources and quality of the herbs makes a big difference for me. For example, I always used to think I hated oregano, because I associated it with cheap, crappy Italian restaurants that tend to use cheap, crappy oregano. Once I started using fresh oregano from my garden, or ordering some freshly harvested oregano from Mt. Rose Herbs (my all time favorite spice/tea/herb supplier), I realized that I actually love oregano in some dishes.

    That being said, some herbs are very flavorful when used fresh, but when dried they are tasteless and a total waste because the volatile oils dissapear. Basil, when fresh is very potent, but I find it to be tasteless when dried. (I've tried freezing it, which is ok if you plan to use it in soups or stews or cooking).

    The herbs I use the most in dried form (because I like them, and think that good quality dried stuff has a decent flavor) are:

    Freshly ground black pepper (I buy peppercorns and grind them in a coffeegrinder - wow, a little goes a long way!)
    Turmeric
    Rosemary (I often chop them or presoak them in the liquid I plan to cook with to release more flavor when they're dried)
    Himalyan pink salt (84 trace minerals, no pollution worries like with celtic gray salt)
    ginger - either fresh, or powdered
    cinnamon and nutmeg
    hot hungarian paprika (has a little heat, but not too spicy)
    Cilantro - I usually ony use it fresh, not sure how the dried version is.

    Good luck on your spice adventure!

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    Aquamarine's Avatar
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    I am using Himalayan pink salt too. I believe to be paleo you should minimize this good salt (If it's okay, I would be thrilled.) I believe in using some.

    Yeah, very true about the sources and freshness. (I think I only dislike fish because I was eating average quality, not great quality.) And I would need to learn how to preserve the natural goodness in each.

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    Your list looks like a good place to start. You might want to add bay leaf to that list. It's good for soups. I personally don't use a lot of herbs in my basic cooking. Mostly salt, pepper, and fresh chopped garlic. If I follow a recipe, then I use whatever it calls for. Lemons and limes are good to use for cooking. I've added lemon juice to slowcooked beef and it gives it a nice flavor.

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    Ah, how could I forget bay leaf! That goes in almost every soup, it's fantastic! Right on about the lemons and limes (though it's my understanding that heat destroys the vitamin C in citrus, so I always add it after I turn the flame off, if it's going in a cooked dish).

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    Ok. I also need to learn to like lemons and limes with food. (I do like lemonade, but that's it, and is not good for me because of all the sweetener.) Lemon may help me like fish more.

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    I put a blend 1:1:1/2 blend of cinnamon:ginger:cardamom on everything from fruit to meats to veggies. It is delicious. Might be something you find palatable.

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    Not sure what your palate likes, but one thing I enjoy is to chop up cilantro in the food processor, add some lemon and salt and use that as a topping for fish. I really like cilantro, though, so you could always substitute basil or another herb that you might like better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Madrox View Post
    I put a blend 1:1:1/2 blend of cinnamon:ginger:cardamom on everything from fruit to meats to veggies. It is delicious. Might be something you find palatable.
    Sounds interesting. Thanks.

    Quote Originally Posted by BestBetter View Post
    Not sure what your palate likes, but one thing I enjoy is to chop up cilantro in the food processor, add some lemon and salt and use that as a topping for fish. I really like cilantro, though, so you could always substitute basil or another herb that you might like better.
    Ok I will try that soon.

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    Use limes for fish and Mexican food and any time you use cilantro. It's actually more authentic and delicious too.
    Female, 5'3", 49, Starting weight: 163lbs. Current weight: 135 (more or less).
    Starting squat: 45lbs. Heaviest squat: 180 x 2. Heaviest Deadlift: 230 x 2

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