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Using Herbs and Spices

Using Herbs and Spices

Fill up with delicious food while you slim down. It sounds too good to be true, but when you eat a meal that truly tastes good, you're happy having a moderate amount, says Milton Stokes, MPH, a registered dietitian in the Bronx, New York. Your spice rack, which allows you to cook without fatty enhancements like cream and butter, holds the key to success. The secret? You cut calories without losing flavor. Plus, plant-based seasonings offer more (and arguably more important) benefits than just a thinner body. They've been linked to reduced risks for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer -- probably due to the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties of phytochemicals in all plant foods, explains Karen Collins, RD, nutrition adviser for the American Institute for Cancer Research. Pump up the flavor in your dishes with this guide to superstar spices and healthy herbs.

Spicy Tips

  • Keep a lid on it. Dried herbs and spices last only nine months to a year. Write the date of purchase on the lids with a marker or keep a list inside a kitchen cabinet. When color or scent fades, it's time to replace them.
  • Know your storage smarts. Heat and ultraviolet light break down the chemicals in dried herbs and spices, so keep them in a cool, dark drawer or cabinet rather than in a rack that sits on top of the counter near the stove.
  • Twice the spice? When you double a recipe that uses bold herbs and spices (like ginger, curry, and cumin), use only one-and-a-half times the original amount. Otherwise, the taste might be too pungent.

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