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Live Well. Eat Well.

More Herbs, Less Salt (Part 2)!

In our last post we discussed what to consider when cooking with herbs. Today, we will explore substituting dried herbs for fresh (and vice versa), provide examples of great pairings for herbs and vegetables, and share the nutritional benefits of seasoning your favorite dishes with vegetables.

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Substituting Fresh Herbs for Dried Herbs

When converting fresh herbs to dried herbs, remember you will need more fresh herbs than dried herbs. Typically you will use three times the amount of fresh herbs as dried herbs, giving us a 3:1 ratio.

Meaning if you wanted to substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs, you would use 1 teaspoon of dried herbs. (There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon). On the flip side, if your recipe called for 1 teaspoon of dried herbs but you wanted to use fresh, you would use 3 teaspoons (1 tablespoon) of the fresh herb.

This ratio will work as long as the dried herbs are still potent and fresh.

How do You Know if your Herbs are Old?

Dried herbs and spices can last up to 2 years, but we recommend checking your spice cabinet every 6 months. Pour a little bit into your hand and rub between your fingers. If it's fragrant and smells pleasant, you're good to go. If you can't smell much or the aroma is musty or off, toss in the trash.

Based on how quickly you go through herbs and spices, you might want to buy smaller containers. This will help ensure you get the most flavor from your herbs and spices. It will also save you money in the long-run, because you'll cut down on food waste.

Herb and Vegetable Pairings

  • Asparagus: chives, lemon balm, savory, tarragon, thyme
  • Beans (lentils, peas), dried: allspice, bay leaf, celery seed, chili powder, cloves, cumin, garlic, parsley, mustard seed, onion, rosemary, thyme
  • Beans, green: basil, bay leaf, mint, onion, garlic, savory, cayenne,
  • Carrots: cinnamon, marjoram, nutmeg, parsley, thyme
  • Greens, kale: garlic, marjoram, onions, thyme, nutmeg
  • Squash, summer: chervil, marjoram, parsley, pepper, thyme
  • Squash, winter: allspice, basil, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, mustard seed, nutmeg
  • Squash, zucchini: marjoram, oregano, parsley, thyme
  • Tomatoes: basil, bay leaf, celery seed, chives, curry, tarragon, thyme, onion, garlic, oregano
  • Turnips (bottom): allspice, dill, nutmeg, paprika
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Seasoning with Vegetables

Certain vegetables are very flavorful and can be used to season dishes. Bell peppers, celery, chili peppers, garlic, and onions are versatile and are used as flavor bases in many countries (e.g., Spain, France, etc.). They work well for any meat, fish, poultry, or vegetable dish.

Besides flavor, these vegetables add pretty color as well as nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C.

Be Healthy with Small Changes

Being healthy doesn't mean we have to make huge changes to our diet. Often, it is when we make small, consistent changes over time, that we see the biggest improvements in our health. And finding new ways to be healthier, can be as simple as adding a few herbs to your favorite dish in place of salt.

Enjoying your favorite foods while cutting back on salt doesn't mean you have to sacrifice flavor. Instead it provides an opportunity to try new flavors and seasonings you may have never considered before.

Today's post was written by Diane Reinhold, MPH, MS, RDN, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving Jo Daviess, Stephenson & Winnebago Counties. She specializes in chronic disease prevention, food preservation and worksite wellness.