The good news: Herbs and spices are
naturally no salt added. (and for those of you who aren't clear on the
difference between herbs and spices, click here. ) Mother Nature doesn't ADD
salt to her bounty, so don't feel you need to run to specialty shops, conduct
complicated web searches or spend scads of money buying special herbs or spices
for use on this plan. You don't. The "Using Food to Lose Fat" section of your
binder lists a number of popular herbs and spices you can buy and use for this
plan-- or for any cooking purposes really. In addition to those listed, there
is a world of herbs and spices out there waiting for you to discover. The
best part is that they should be available at most any market.
For those not used to herbs and spices, I urge you
not to go hogwild on products you may or may not ever use. Start small. Pick
out recipes which sound appealing. If they call for seasonings you don't own,
purchase as needed and increase your collection as things are called for. I see
so many folks on our forums asking what spices they should purchase-- some even go out and spend obscene amounts of money purely on the recommendation of a total stranger. Tastes are very individual things: just because Member
A thinks cumin is the greatest thing since the advent of the microwave, it
doesn't necessarily follow that you're going to love it, too. Save money, time
and space by learning to trust the taste buds you're equipped with.
Many folks here prefer to use spice or seasoning
mixes. Basically, spice or
seasoning mixes are premixed blends of herbs and/or spices typically identified
by the use of somewhat nebulous names. You'll usually find them labeled
with descriptives such as "season," "seasoning," "spice," "mix," "rub" or
"powder" in the product name. I use the term "nebulous" because a bottle
of something labeled "Singapore Seasoning" doesn't exactly clue you in to what's
inside. Unless we take a moment to read the ingredients, we have no idea that
this product contains several varieties of pepper, lemon peel, garlic, onion,
turmeric, coriander, cumin, ginger, nutmeg, fennel, fenugreek, cinnamon and
cloves. So, it's spice and seasoning mixes where you need to exercise extra
care. Some manufacturers tend to be sneaky, finding that they can up the
flavoring quotient of their products by adding salt, sugar or cornstarch to the
mix. This means that if you're thinking about buying a spice/seasoning mix, it
will behoove you to read ingredient labels very carefully before you make a
purchase. We'd hate to see you come home with something with off-plan
ingredients. As a guideline, our "What is it and where do I find it?" forum
offers you a partial listing of some of the popular no salt added (nsa)
seasonings out there on the market. But honestly, if you take the time to read
labels, you don't need to get hung up on product names.
If you're not used to cooking with herbs or spices,
knowing where to start can be a daunting enterprise. Few of us have much luck
playing eeny-meeny-miny-moe with spices and grabbing one at random. This is one
reason why we're frequently pointing you to our recipe forum. Since recipes
normally tell you what flavorings to use, this eliminates some of the
guesswork. But, I understand that not all of us
want to follow recipes. So for those adventurous souls preferring to pioneer
their own trails through the wilderness of herbs and spices, I offer the
following reference sources:
advice about herb and spice storage, spice and food
Several pages of detailed information about herbs
and spices, describing flavors, offering suggestion uses. Not a quick
Tons of information about history, storage, usage,
spice and food pairing.
Gives detailed information about the history and
usage of various spices-- plus you can buy lots of good stuff! I've listed a number of other excellent sources for
spices and herbs in our "What is it and where do I find it?" forum.
As a general rule, seeds
falling into the realm of spices (things such as celery seed, mustard
seed, anise seed, cardamom seed, dill seed, fennel seed are some which
come to mind.) are fine for plan use. Seeds which won't be plan
friendly are typically those you use for garnishes, such as poppy,
caraway and sesame.
Good descriptions and usage suggestions for fresh
them! They'll add yet another taste to your cooking.
Descriptions, photos, usage, storage and freezing advice for fresh herbs.
Quick reference chart for fresh herb
When using herbs and spices, please bear in mind
that they are only one aspect of adding flavor to your foods. Pairing
interesting ingredients, using marinades, cooking with wines or vinegar,
alternating your cooking method and adding the right condiments (home made,
please, from our Condiment Recipe forum) will all further enhance the use of
your seasonings and make for far more interesting meals.