Vegetarian Cooking Tips: Add Zest with Herbs and Spices!

vegetarian cooking tips

One reason some people don’t stick with a vegetarian diet is that there can be a certain monotony in flavor if eating the same foods repeatedly.

That is a common complaint about eating vegetarian dishes exclusively.

However, the problem is typically not with the foods themselves, but the way in which they are prepared.

If you’re a novice at eating vegan or a long time devotee of meatless meals, but are just plain bored with your food, you can add flavor to each meal by learning how to use herbs and spices to add flavor and interest.

Cooking Tips To Create Tasty, Exciting Vegetarian Dishes

Know Your Herbs and Spices

All herbs and spices are vegan since they originate from plants, including flowers, seeds, fruits, leaves, roots, and barks.

Besides being low calorie flavor powerhouses, fresh herbs provide distinct health benefits and some even offer healing powers.

Many herbs and spices contain antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Many are also high in trace minerals and B-vitamins. They contain antioxidants that help prevent disease and improve wellness.

Here are just a few examples:

•  Basil

Basil is a very flavorful and diverse herb (typically used in Italian dishes) that can be added to many dishes and recipes. Basil has anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and is believed to help prevent osteoarthritis. Fresh basil can be used in salads, soups, stews, and sauces. It can also be sprinkled over steamed vegetables.

•  Dill Weed And Seed

Dill has a fresh and unique flavor. It also has potent antibacterial properties. It helps to settle upset stomach and queasiness.

Fresh, uncooked dill is best for health and flavor. A salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, onion slices, and fresh dill, with an oil and vinegar drizzle, is an old Russian favorite. The taste is exceptionally good.

•  Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper is used medically to increase circulation, as a cream for joint pain, and for many arthritis related conditions. Cayenne also revs up metabolism a bit which is a welcome benefit to weight watchers.

It ads a nutty, smoky flavor to foods as well as hot spiciness. It can be used to add a kick to boring vegetables, sauces, soups, tofu stir-fries and stews.

•  Mint

Mint is a pungent herb that helps ease nausea and alleviate digestive problems. It is often used in dessert recipes, but also tastes great when used fresh in sauces, salads and teas.

•  Turmeric

Turmeric is most commonly used in Indian dishes but greatly overlooked as a favorite spice in American kitchens. It contains a compound called Curcumin, which is a cancer-fighting agent.

In the U.S., it is widely used as a medicine for those with inflammation and joint problems. Turmeric can be added to vegan curry, soups, stews, sauces, muffins and sprinkled over vegetables.

•  Garlic

Fresh garlic is flavorful, diverse, supports heart health and has anti-cancer properties. Use fresh, raw garlic from the clove no longer than 15 minutes after preparation to prevent the loss of disease fighting anthocyanins that it contains.

Garlic can be used in sauces, over salads, grated over steamed vegetables, and in hundreds of recipes to provide great flavor.

How to Use Herbs and Spices in Vegetarian Recipes

Fresh herbs are a great addition to many dishes, both raw and cooked. Herbs and spices can add a completely new dimension to an old dish. For instance, you can make a dish with an Italian flavor or add an Asian flair by using the right combinations.

Regionally based spices can give your dull dish a tasty makeover.

•  Italian influenced flavors

If you’re looking for something reminiscent of your favorite Italian dish, get an Italian flavored seasoning. Oregano is loaded with antioxidants. It also has cancer-fighting agents and is a natural antiviral as well as an antibiotic. The oil and leaves of Oregano are used medicinally to treat body aches, fever, and cold symptoms.

You can also make your own blend with staples of Italian cooking such as basil, marjoram, garlic, oregano, rosemary and thyme to create a powerful, anti-bacterial, antimicrobial and cancer fighting blend.

This blend or simply Oregano by itself can be used in sauces, stews, over vegetables, in pasta dishes and in salads.

•  Asian influenced flavors

Asian flavors can really change the dynamic of your vegetarian dish. Soy sauce is a fundamental in Asian cooking and is used in all sorts of delicious meals.

cooking tips for vegetarians

Rice vinegar is another staple that can make salad vinaigrette especially flavorful. Rice vinegar has a mild, sweet tang and is the fundamental for many dipping sauces found in Chinese foods.

Asian style cuisines often use ingredients like coconut milk to add flavor and smooth, creamy texture to soups.

Fresh ginger has a potent, sweet flavor, and is often used to in soups, salads and marinades. It can be a fantastic addition to a vegetarian dish or even eaten on its own when marinated. Ginger is also used as a palate cleanser.

Learn how to combine the right herbs for great flavor

Never underestimate the power of a properly coupled dish. Some things just go together. Here are some tasty herb and spice combinations that suit specific foods:

•  Asparagus: Lemon, Garlic and Tarragon

 Cauliflower: Chives, Coriander, Sage and Turmeric

 Mushrooms: Garlic, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Sage, and Thyme

 Zucchini: Basil and Oregano

•  Sweet Potatoes: Allspice Cloves, and Nutmeg

•  Potatoes: Rosemary, Thyme, and Parsley

These are just a few examples of great flavor combinations that you can create. Even adding these spices to a standard steamed veggie dish can offer a lot more interesting flavor to plain vegetables.

Remember to Properly Season Meatless Meals

•  Salt and Pepper

Another thing to keep in mind is proper seasoning. Salt and pepper has been traditionally used to bring out the flavors in a variety of foods for centuries and vegetarian dishes are no exception.

Make sure to add the right amount of salt and pepper to your dish to bring out the bright and brilliant flavors that plant foods have to offer.

•  Dried Herbs

Dried herbs are more powerful than fresh, so be careful not to overdo. An overpowered dish is worse than a bland one. Add dried herbs slowly and make sure to taste, taste, and taste again.

Spices on the other hand, like nutmeg and bark are almost exclusively used in the dried and often ground forms. They are very potent and should be used in moderation or according to recipe directions.

If you continue to experiment with a wide variety of herbs and spices in your vegetarian recipes, you’ll find much more eating enjoyment as well as receive the health benefits.

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