10 Awesome Herbs and Spices to Add Flavor to Your Paleo Recipes

Oct 31, 2013

When making the switch to the paleo diet, many people worry that they will have a hard time adjusting to the restrictions of the diet. A large majority of modern Western diets are based on processed foods made with refined sugars and bleached flour.

It's easy to believe that once you get rid of the processed foods, fried foods and sugary snacks you aren’t left with too many options. As you will learn, however, the paleo diet is still full of delicious options if you know where to look. Turn away from the processed foods and focus on wholesome, natural food products such as fresh fruits and veggies, lean sources of protein and raw nuts or seeds. With these foods as a foundation of your diet, the options are endless!

Flavoring Paleo Dishes

If you ever tried to follow a fad diet before switching to the paleo diet, you may already know what the downfall of many dieters is – boredom. Diets that force you to eat the same foods every day can be hard to stick to in the long term because you get bored with the repetition. Luckily, the paleo diet offers a wealth of fresh and delicious flavors as long as you are willing to try them.

The key to making your paleo dishes stand out without the help of processed and aritificial ingredients is to become acquainted with fresh herbs and dried spices. Adding a pinch of fresh ground pepper or a handful of fresh parsley can work wonders in changing a dish from plain to delicious. Below you will find a list of 10 herbs and spices that are full of flavor and easy to use.

10 Herbs and Spices to Add Major Flavor to Your Dish

Oregano: This herb can be used in fresh or dried form to add flavor to soups, vegetables, meat and more. Oregano is heavily used in Mediterranean and Mexican dishes, though it is also an element in a lot of Italian seasonings. This herb is known for its antibacterial qualities, helping to kill bacteria including staph and E. coli almost as effectively as penicillin.

Cilantro: Cilantro is an herb most commonly used in fresh rather than dried form. This herb is common in Mexican and Indian cuisine but it is also good for use in marinades for grilling meat. Cilantro has a light, fresh flavor and aroma that works well in salads, salsas and green smoothies. This herb has high levels of antioxidants and is often touted as a digestive aid.

Bay Leaf: Bay leaf is a staple in soups, stews and sauces – simply add a bay leaf or two while it is cooking then discard the leaf before you serve the dish. This herb is a natural pain reliever, known to help relieve headaches and migraines. Bay leaf contains a natural anesthetic called eugenol which is where its pain relieving properties come from.

Ginger: Ginger can be used either fresh or powdered and it has a very pungent aroma and distinctive flavor. Powdered ginger is often used in baked goods while fresh grated gingerroot is popular for use in stir-fries and ethnic dishes. This spice is known for its carminative properties – it is useful in eliminating intestinal gas and reducing symptoms of gastrointestinal stress.

Rosemary: Whether dried or fresh, rosemary has a distinct aroma and flavor. In fact, the smell of rosemary can increase alertness in as little as five minutes. Rosemary is an excellent herb for use in grilling meats and it can also be added to chocolate desserts for a unique boost of flavor. If you are looking for a simple way to dress up roasted vegetables, sprinkle on a tablespoon or so of dried rosemary. In addition to being easy to use, rosemary is also known to help boost cognitive performance.

Cayenne: If you are a fan of spicy food, cayenne may quickly become your best friend. This powerful spice is made from dried and ground cayenne peppers which are known for their potency. Just a pinch of this spice is enough to give any recipe a bit of a kick. This spice is also known for its use as an appetite suppressant due to its capsaicin content. Capsaicin acts to increase blood flow and metabolism which helps to reduce hunger.

Cinnamon: If you like to bake, cinnamon is already likely to be in your spice arsenal. This spice works well in sweet and savory recipes alike – you can use it as easily in a pie as you can in a stew. Another benefit for cinnamon is that it helps to slow carbohydrate absorption and control glucose levels. Cinnamon contains antioxidants called polyphenols which help to boost the levels of certain proteins responsible for glucose transport, insulin response and inflammatory response. A half teaspoon of cinnamon sprinkled over food can blunt an insulin response by almost 30 percent!

Garlic: Garlic comes in a variety of forms – you can buy it powdered or purchase whole heads. You can also purchase the cloves already minced and packed in oil. The great thing about garlic is that it works in a wide variety of recipes and it is very easy to use. Just sauté a little garlic with your cooking oil before adding meat or vegetables to make the most use of its flavor.

Peppercorns: If you have a grinder handy, you can grind whole peppercorns to use in flavoring your dishes. Freshly ground pepper has a deeper flavor than store-bought black pepper and it can be used in a variety of dishes.

Tarragon: Tarragon has a flavor similar to anise or licorice and it is particularly useful in flavoring chicken and seafood. This herb can be used fresh or dried, particularly in chicken soup. Tarragon is known to help reduce cholesterol levels by boosting circulation and reducing plaque in the arteries. A single teaspoon of this herb daily can reduce LDL by 40% and increase HDL by as much as 30%.

You can find a ton of paleo and primal recipes that use these herbs and spices plus many others inside of PrimalPal

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