Seven superfood recipes with herbs and spices

Though fruits and vegetables are lauded as superfoods because they are high in antioxidants and other phytonutrients, you may be surprised to find out that herbs and spices are just as nutritious. Herbs and spices are actually botanically classified as fruits and vegetables but are even more nutrient dense because they are dried. Dr. Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients, recommends using more herbs and spices to not only add more flavor to your fare but, better yet, to improve the overall quality of your diet. Here are some super recipes using seven super spices.

Assorted spices in metal measuring spoons
Be sure to read Seven super spices for super health to learn more about the super nutritional power of herbs and spices and check out SpicesForHealth for more healthy recipes teeming with satisfying flavor. The following recipes are courtesy of McCormick.


Southwestern Cinnamon Steaks

Serves 6 to 8

You may associate the warm spiciness of cinnamon with desserts or the holidays, but cinnamon brightens up savory dishes with its welcome flavor, fragrance, and high-power nutrition. Cinnamon has one of the highest antioxidant levels of any spice and even more than many foods. One teaspoon of cinnamon has as many antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice or 1/2 cup of blueberries.

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seed
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 pounds New York strip steaks

1. Toast cumin seeds in small dry skillet on medium heat 1 to 2 minutes or until aromatic. Remove from skillet. Crush seeds using mortar and pestle, spice mill, clean coffee grinder or rolling pin.

2. In a small bowl, mix brown sugar, cumin and remaining spices. Rub spice mixture evenly on both sides of steaks. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. Broil or grill over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until desired doneness.


Greek Pasta Salad with Oregano Dressing

Serves 12

For your next potluck or large dinner gathering, toss together this flavorful oregano-laced salad. Dr. Bazilian calls oregano a “mini-salad” because just one teaspoon of dried oregano has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli. Just think of the superfood nutrition you will get if you eat both!

8 ounces elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 1/4 teaspoons dried mint
1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 large tomatoes, cut in cubes
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3/4 cup pitted Kalamata or black olives, sliced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil

Cook pasta as directed on package. Rinse under cold water and drain well. Mix yogurt, mint, oregano, garlic powder and pepper in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add macaroni and remaining ingredients; toss to coat well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


Honey Ginger Grilled Salmon

Serves 4

It may surprise you but one teaspoon of ground ginger has the same antioxidant levels as one cup of spinach. And ground ginger can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. This honey and ginger-infused salmon combines the sweetness of honey with the high-power nutrition of ginger and salmon’s good for you omega-3 fats.

1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets

1. Mix all ingredients, except salmon, in small bowl. Place salmon in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add marinade and turn to coat well. Refrigerate 15 minutes or longer for extra flavor.

2. Remove salmon from marinade and discard any remaining marinade. Grill over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Salmon can also be cooked indoors in a grill pan.

Red Pepper

Savory Spice Blend

Makes 2 tablespoons

Spices derived from red peppers include cayenne, crushed red pepper and paprika. In addition to adding fiery flavor, these spices may just be a tasty friend to dieters, too. According to Dr. Bazilian, red pepper in its various forms is showing promise for enhancing metabolism, increasing satiety and potentially stimulating fat burning. This spice rub not only includes the smoky flavor of paprika, it blends the potent nutrition of other super spices.

1 1/2 teaspoons oregano leaves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients in small jar with lid until well blended. Use this all-purpose spice rub to flavor meats, poultry, seafood and vegetables as well as blended into creamy dips or vinaigrettes. Make extra and keep it in your spice rack.


Lemon Rosemary Pound Cake

Serves 12

Though rosemary is typically an herb for savory fare, this heady herb transforms ordinary desserts into extraordinary treats. Dr. Bazilian says, “The compounds in rosemary appear to help reduce inflammation in the body and inflammation is a trigger and indirect risk factor for many chronic diseases.” Rosemary in its fresh or dried forms fits nicely into an anti-inflammatory diet.
2 1/2 teaspoons crushed rosemary, divided
2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup orange juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure lemon extract
4 eggs

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sprinkle bottom of pan with 1/2 teaspoon of the crushed rosemary.

2. Mix 1 teaspoon of the crushed rosemary with remaining cake ingredients in large bowl. Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

3. For the glaze, mix confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and remaining 1 teaspoon crushed rosemary in small saucepan. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 1 minute.

4. Remove cake from oven and pierce cake surface deeply with a fork, about every inch. Spoon half of the glaze over hot cake in pan. Let stand 10 minutes and invert onto serving plate. Spoon remaining glaze over cake. Cool completely before serving.

Zesty Marinated Olives

Makes 3 cups

In addition to the antioxidant advantages of thyme, Dr. Bazilian says research is being conducted on thyme’s benefits to respiratory function. These marinated olives are full of flavor and can be served as finger food, added to salads and entrees, and pureed to make a savory spread. Olives, high in good for you monounsaturated fats, combined with the super spices make this recipe super healthy.

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon Season-All Seasoned Salt
3 cups assorted drained olives

Mix all ingredients, except olives, in medium bowl until well blended. Add olives and toss to coat well. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for six hours or up to five days, stirring occasionally. Serve as a first course or add to other dishes for a zesty olive flavor.


Curried Shrimp with Sugar Snap Peas

Serves 6
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice found in curry powder. Not only is curry a heart healthy condiment, the turmeric in curry is being studied for its benefits in brain health and protecting the brain from cognitive decline. Curry and coconut milk are a super nutritional pair (read Coconut Lover’s recipes to learn more about the health of coconut). This succulent spicy shrimp dish is perfect for a light supper.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 pound sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 can (14-ounces) lite coconut milk
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 green onions, sliced

1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Add shrimp and sugar snap peas and sprinkle with curry powder, garlic powder and sea salt. Cook and stir 5 minutes or until shrimp begins to turn pink.

2. Stir coconut milk, wine and lime juice into cornstarch in small bowl until smooth. Add to shrimp mixture. Stirring constantly, bring to boil on medium heat and boil 2 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions before serving.

Note: For a change, instead of shrimp, substitute boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces. You may need to adjust the cooking time, chicken is done when it is cooked through.