Along with adding flavor to your foods, spices and herbs can add health benefits as well. It’s easy for spices and herbs to become lonely little jars in the pantry that are overlooked. If your spices are being snubbed, this article may help reinvent their presence in your family’s meals and snacks.
The health benefits.
Herbs and spices have long been used for their medicinal value and recent research suggests that some spices and herbs may actually help with certain health conditions. For example, cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and triglycerides in people with diabetes. Cayenne pepper may reduce cholesterol levels and turmeric may reduce inflammation in people with arthritis. Many spices and herbs are also loaded with protective antioxidants. You can make meals healthier by using spices and herbs when cooking by decreasing the amount of salt, butter and sugar that you use without having to sacrifice on flavor.
Benefits for your children.
Many parents are surprised to find out that spices and herbs can be a great source of vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. This can be very helpful information especially if your little one is a picky eater. By adding a little flavor, you can also add healthy nutrition to the foods your family eats. Here is a brief list of some of the nutrients in a few common herbs and spices:
Basil: Magnesium and vitamin K
Cayenne Pepper: Vitamin A
Cilantro: Fiber, iron and vitamin K
Cinnamon: Fiber, calcium, vitamin K and iron
Dill: Iron and calcium
Paprika: Vitamin A
Parsley: Vitamin C, K and A
Rosemary: Fiber, iron and calcium
Thyme: Vitamin K
Turmeric: Iron, potassium and vitamin B6
Sage: Vitamin K
Make preparing foods interactive.
Preparing foods with your little one can be a great way to engage their sense of smell. For infants, take different bottles of spices that you have in your pantry and you and your little one can take turns smelling them. Try taking several exaggerated sniffs from the bottles and then put the bottle below their nose to smell. For toddlers, take out a small bit of the spice or herb and place it in from of them to smell and play with. Then let them try to choose which spice it is by letting them smell each bottle. This can be a fun way to introduce spices and herbs to your children.
Spices and herbs are also a great way to open your little one’s eyes to a variety of new flavors and tastes. Below are some simple recipes that include spices or herbs.
Try some of these pairings to create a new tasty treat for your little ones (or create your own):
- Corn with chives or sweet paprika
- Tomato with basil
- Avocado with cilantro
- Roasted potatoes with rosemary
- Green beans with garlic
- Cinnamon with apples, oatmeal or yogurt
- Nutmeg with butternut squash or sweet potatoes
- Garlic in tomato sauces
- Thyme with cooked veggies and soups
Preparation and storage tips.
- Spices and herbs are full of flavor, so a little can go a long way – start small and add more as needed.
- Spices can stay fresh for up to a year – try using permanent marker to write the date opened on each spice container so you’ll know when it is time to buy new ones.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment – try different spices with foods you already love for a new taste, or experiment with foods that are not so popular in your household to create a tasty treat everyone will enjoy.
- It is recommended that spices should be introduced after eight months in age. Try introducing one spice at a time in small amounts. Wait about five days before introducing a new spice to make sure that your baby does not have any allergic reactions.
*There are many other nutrients and vitamins in these spices, only a few are mentioned in this article.
What is the first spice or herb you plan to introduce to your little one? ***GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*** Leave a comment below and you will be entered for a chance to Designed to Nourish™ Divided Plates, Feeding Bowls, Long Spatula Spoons & Training Cup! TEN winners will be randomly selected from all comments (U.S. residents only). Check back on Tuesday, December 11th, when we will post the winners!
Here are the WINNERS: Jillian D, Christy, Jamie, Janice L, Alycia M, Mai, Mia G, Cyndi, Anteginni, and Chesca. If you are one of the winners, you will be contacted by e-mail. Thanks to everyone for commenting!
Jillian Dulac says:
December 1, 2012 at 2:11 am
cinnamon and dill!!
December 1, 2012 at 2:14 am
My kids loved Avocado with cilantro
Janice Lawrence says:
December 1, 2012 at 4:09 am
Cinnamon is a favorite
Alycia M says:
December 1, 2012 at 4:01 am
Cinnamon and garlic. Separately, of course. :)
December 2, 2012 at 3:38 am
Basil. I love it in italian dish. It’s easy to grow in your yard too!
Mia G. says:
cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika – all good to start with
December 1, 2012 at 3:03 am
My LO has oatmeal with cinnamon and applesauce every night before bed.
December 1, 2012 at 5:23 am
We started with cinnamon & nutmeg in homemade applesauce. Exploring more spices now that our daughter’s older. Recently added cayenne pepper+thyme+paprika+1 bay leaf to brown rice…she loves it!