“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” – words of wisdom from Hippocrates. Herbs and spices have been around since antiquity and have been used for medicinal purposes, trade, gifts, sacrifices and to flavor food. Spices are made from roots, seeds and bark, while herbs are from leaves and stems of young plants.

My favorite herbs and spices fall within the “great eight” category: parsley, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, ginger, dill, turmeric and oregano. Oregano, cinnamon and parsley contain a high oxygen radical absorptive capacity. This value is a number based on the antioxidant activity or power of the herb or spice. Antioxidants help remove cell destroying particles from our bodies.

Rosemary, when added to food, can decrease the heterocyclic amine production during grilling by 40 percent. Parsley and thyme contain apigenin, a cancer-fighting phytochemical. Thyme can be used as a mouthwash, antiseptic and a fumigant. Cinnamon may be used to help stabilize blood sugars, while ginger soothes the stomach and improves digestion. Turmeric is believed to fight against Alzheimer’s, and dill weed adds great flavor to just about any salad.

Spices and herbs are also wonderful replacements for salt. Americans consume two to four times the recommended amount of sodium, mostly from processed and restaurant foods (77 percent). Try using herbs in place of high sodium marinades for your summer grilling.

– Suzanne Forsberg, RD/LD, CDE, St. John Healthy Lifestyles

Vegetable Marinade

1/4 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 tsp. dried basil
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/3 c. olive oil

Bring all ingredients to a boil over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Pour over vegetables of choice. Serve hot or cold.

From The Complete Book of Sauces by Sally Williams

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