Depending on your flavor preferences, you may spice up your legumes, soups, or stews in many different ways. From the most basic, to the most complex spices used, your dishes will taste delicious and give you great health benefits. Here are some combinations of spices and herbs I use (omitting any of them is always an option, if you do not like them):
- Salt only (for legumes and grains, vegetables do not need salt);
- One herb at a time, fresh or dried: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, or all together;
- Herbes de Provence (savory, thyme, rosemary, basil, tarragon, lavender flowers);
- Fennel seeds;
- Ground: cumin, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves (use a very tiny amount!) (great for carrot dishes);
- Ground: cumin, coriander seeds, cardamom, fenugreek, turmeric, black pepper; whole mustard seeds (Indian style). Chopped fresh cilantro goes well with this mixture;
- Marjoram, bay leaves (for legumes and potato, cauliflower, or beet creamy soups). Bay leaves are known for relieving flatulence. Count bay leaves beforehand and take them out before eating to avoid choking;
- Ground: mustard seeds, coriander, caraway, chili pepper, bay leaves, allspice, nutmeg, dried onions, and carrot. This mixture is my favorite spice for beans and lentils. I buy it as a ready mixture in Poland, but you may make it yourself.
It is always a good idea to add chopped onions, pressed garlic, and hot peppers to your dishes. Fresh cilantro or parsley is always a nice addition.
A few words about salt
If you are a sedentary person, have high blood pressure, or heart disease, try to use only a little bit of salt. If you are an athlete or work hard physically, especially in the heat, you may use more because your body sweats it out. Sodium is harmful in excess, but your body needs it. Hyponatremia (low blood sodium) in extreme cases may even lead to coma and death (endurance athletes are at risk). If you were used to highly processed foods that are very high in sodium, a little bit of salt may seem to be not enough at the beginning. After eating the way I recommend, your taste will change quickly and you will start appreciating the flavor of the foods not suppressed by excess salt.