Add Healthy Flavor with Herbs and Spices!

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Add healthy flavor with herbs and spices!

You can keep foods flavorful and healthy, too!

Using spices and herbs to season foods can make them tasty, without adding fat, salt, and sugar.


Herbs are the leaves of a plant, and spices are made from the roots, bark, berries, and seeds of a plant.

You can buy herbs fresh or dried. Dried herbs can also be crumbled or ground. You can find fresh herbs in the produce or salad section of your grocery store. You can find dried herbs in the spice aisle. Generally, you can use either fresh or dried, whatever you have on hand.

You can buy spices ground or in a cracked, crushed, or flaked form. You can find spices in the baking needs or spice aisle in your grocery store.

Citrus juices, like lemon juice or orange juice, and vinegar also add a lot of healthy flavor. They aren’t really herbs or spices, but they are tasty!


Generally, dried herbs have a much stronger flavor than fresh ones. Here is how to convert measurements from one form to the other.

  • 1 Tablespoon of finely cut fresh herbs equals
  • 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs equals
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon ground dried herbs


When you are cooking, start with ¼ teaspoon of ground spices or ground dried herbs for about four servings of food, 1 pound of meat, or 2 cups of soup or sauce.

Adjust as needed for the flavor level you want. Add just a little at a time. Remember, you can always put more in, but you can’t take it out!

If you are using crumbled dried herbs or fresh herbs, use more.

Red pepper and garlic powder

Start with 1/8 teaspoon for cayenne pepper and other hot peppers and for garlic powder. Adjust as needed for the flavor you want.

Remember that the flavor of red pepper becomes more intense as it cooks.

Doubling a recipe

If you are doubling a recipe, do not double the herbs and spices. Increase those amounts by 1 ½ times. Then adjust as needed for the flavor you want.

Using fresh herbs

If you are using fresh herbs, add them near the end of cooking or just before you serve the food. Cooking fresh herbs too long can reduce their flavor.

Add delicate fresh herbs just a minute or two before the food is done. Or sprinkle them over the cooked food before you serve it. Delicate fresh herbs are basil, chives, cilantro, and dill leaves.

Add sturdier fresh herbs about 20 minutes before the food is done. Sturdier fresh herbs are dill seeds, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme.

Here are some tasty flavors to try with your favorite foods! You can try just one, or make your own blend of spices you like.

Meat, Chicken, and Fish


Bay leaf, garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, onion, pepper, sage, thyme


Garlic, ginger, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, paprika, pepper, poultry seasoning, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme


Curry powder, dill, dry mustard, garlic, lemon juice, marjoram, paprika, pepper


Curry powder, garlic, rosemary, mint


Garlic, onion, sage, paprika, pepper, oregano


Bay leaf, curry powder, ginger, marjoram, oregano



Cinnamon, cloves, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage


Cumin, curry powder, onion, paprika, parsley

Green beans

Curry powder, dill, garlic, lemon juice, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme


Garlic, onion, pepper


Ginger, marjoram, onion, parsley, sage


Dill, garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, sage

Summer squash

Cloves, curry powder, garlic, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage

Winter squash

Cinnamon, garlic, ginger, nutmeg, onion


Basil, bay leaf, dill, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, pepper


This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. This institution is an equal opportunity provider.