Food Prep and Recipes

Top 10 Herbs to Use in Your Plant-Based Cooking

hanging herb bunches

Incorporating Herbs in Your Vegan Dishes Adds Taste and Interest

Creating plant-based dishes that you love can be a challenge at first. As you are transitioning from a standard diet to a vegan diet, your  body will be going through many changes.   You will no doubt be craving your former foods and you could be struggling to get exciting about your new plant-based fare.  Your cravings may be due to the body crying out for specific tastes or flavors.  You’ll need to be willing to hang in there – your tastes WILL change very soon!  However, it is good to learn to use herbs right from the start of your plant based meal preparation.

One thing that can help is to ensure that your plant-based meals are tasty.  This is where the addition of fresh, natural herbs and spices can make all the different.   The article notes some of the top herbs that can be used in your cooking.  Incorporating some of these ten herbs into vegan recipes will help greatly in reducing cravings, making the transition to a vegan lifestyle easier, and provide a terrific blend of flavors to any vegan diet.

basil pesto

1) Basil

Basil is a mint herb from India that has been used in recipes for over 5,000 years. It was popular in ancient Greece, and has been referred to as ‘the royal herb.’  It is used in pesto and pho, commonly added last in a recipe to add some extra spice.  Incorporating basil into a vegan diet will add a great deal of Vitamin K to it, which is essential for many processes in the human body: protein synthesis, blood flow, and bone strength, to name a few.  Basil is great for pestos and when added in thin slices to many dishes.

2)  Thyme

Thyme is another ancient herb, having been used for many medicinal purposes by the Romans and Egyptians. It’s a staple in most Italian dishes, and pairs especially well with eggplants and peppers. Thyme adds a strong aroma to any dishes, but it also serves medical purposes, such as soothing a sore throat and lowering cholesterol. This is due to its high concentration of Vitamins A and C, as well as its natural antimicrobials.  Thyme is one of the great herbs and it is very good when fresh.

3)  Oregano

A flowering mint plant native to the Mediterranean, oregano has a bitter taste when dried. It pairs well with vegetables that are fried or grilled, as well as making a great addition to salad dressing.  Oregano has some medicinal purposes as well, due to its high amount of antioxidants strengthening the immune system and preventing inflammation.  Oregano is also a very powerful antimicrobial – the oil can be taken to help the body fight off a variety of infections.

4)  Marjoram

Marjoram is a sweet, citrus-flavored spice found in Turkey and Cyprus.  It is often compared to oregano, sometimes being referred to as ‘sweet oregano.’  It can be used to add flavor to sauces, soups and salads, or can be steeped in hot water to make tea.  Marjoram is a great vegan spice, since it contains high amounts of iron: a tough mineral to find in non-meat based diets.  I suggest this is one of the herbs you experiment with in your cooking.

rosemary

5) Rosemary

Another terrific spice for adding a wonderful taste to your food is  rosemary.  It’s a bitter-tasting herb with a strong aroma, smelling similar to mustard when roasted with whole veggies.  Rosemary is very high in camphor, an antimicrobial nutrient that promotes heart health and can treat congestion.  It also makes for a terrific addition to any garden, as it doesn’t require much water and sprouts lovely purple flowers.  Fresh rosemary pairs very well with porcini mushroom in pasta sauces.  I also make a wonderful whole wheat rosemary foccacia that is amazing.  It is one of the herbs that is very good fresh – consider trying it today!

6)  Mint

Also known as mentha, this is a general term for around 18 different species of plant.  Known for their distinctive minty taste, they are very popular spices in a variety of recipes and fragrances. S pearmint and peppermint are used in teas and jellies, and the menthol contained in this plant makes it effective at treating upset stomachs and sore throats.  Fresh mint can be used with lemon to flavor water.  Take the time to get familar with the mint herbs.

fresh cilantro

7)   Coriander (also known as Cilantro)

This spice is commonly referred to as cilantro, and grows naturally around Asia and parts of Africa. It is often used in salad, chutney, salsa and guacamole, and can be used for pickling vegetables. Cilantro has the unique properties of being able to help the body clean and detoxify from heavy metals.  Fresh cilantro imparts a distinctive flavor on food – not everyone loves it so it is good to check with your guest before liberally adding it to your dish.

8)  Cumin

Found in Mediterranean and Asian provinces, cumin has a very distinctive taste and aroma.  It is often mixed with coriander, and can be found in many Brazilian and Indian recipes. It’s high in protein, fiber, and iron, making it a vital source of nutrients for anyone in a raw plant-based diet. It is one of the primary spices in chili.  This one of the herbs you will buy fresh ground.

9)  Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a bit different from the other spices on this list since it is derived from tree bark. It also has a drastically different taste: a tantalizing mixture of sweet and tangy. It’s insanely versatile, being useful in dishes all around the world as a complement to sweet and savory dishes.  It can be used in both savory and sweet dishes, and has been reported to positive health effects on the heart and metabolism.    I suggest Ceylon cinnamon (as opposed to the Cassia varieties) when using this spice.

10)  Parsley

Available both as flat and curly, this versatile leaf is commonly used as a garnish on many dishes, due to its potent taste and aesthetic appeal.  It’s great with rice, potatoes, and vegetable stews.  Parsley is common in Italian cooking.  It is high in Vitamins A, C, and K, and is perhaps the most widely used of all the fresh herbs.

Make it a point to splurge on some fresh herbs each week and experiment with them in your cooking!

fresh parsley

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Thriving on Plants is a resource for a whole food, plant-based way of eating and living. Here we celebrate all things plant and honor the power of informed awareness and a diet focused primarily of unprocessed vegetables, fruit, legumes, and whole grains to support good health and happiness. Discover what a little more plant can do for your life!

Disclaimer

This website is for educational and informational purposes only. Nothing presented here should be construed as a substitute for medical advice. Before beginning any type of new diet (natural or conventional), it is advisable to seek the advice of a licensed physician, nutritionist and/or healthcare professional.
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