Cooking with herbs and spices is a great way of adding flavor to food. Not only do herbs and spices make food taste better, they also offer a number of health benefits. Adding flavor with herbs and spices instead of salt can help reduce sodium consumption without forfeiting flavor. Picking which spices to add and which ones’ pair together can be tricky, so we’ve put together a guide on how to flavor foods with herbs and spices!

Try out these spices!



  • Great for Middle Eastern, Asian, or Mediterranean dishes
  • Seeds can be used whole in dishes or ground up fresh
  • Cumin is known to improve digestion and is a great source of iron (17.5% of your daily needs in 1 teaspoon!)
  • Try out some recipes that use cumin:




  • Great for baking or cooking!
    • Use fresh in savory dishes or ground up in baked goods
    • Ginger can help with nausea, indigestion, and morning sickness.
    • Try out some recipes that use ginger:


Ginger Chicken Zoodles 

Ginger Chicken Zoodles

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein

Red pepper/ cayenne

red pepper flakes

  • Used to add heat to food
  • Pepper flakes can be added at the beginning to release flavor during cooking, or can be used ground up to add at the end
  • These spices have been known to boost metabolism and potentially lower blood pressure!
  • Try out these recipes that use cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes:

One Pot Pasta with Spinach and Feta

Photo credit Kaitlin Williams Eckstein




  • Many different uses, can be used fresh in savory dishes or ground up for sauces
  • Try sautéing with olive oil before adding ingredients to give an extra boost of flavor
  • Garlic can help control blood pressure and lower LDL cholesterol
  • Try out these recipes that use garlic :

Garlic Teriyaki Zoodles

Teriyaki Zoodles

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein

Black peppercorn

  • Also known as regular table pepper! Try using whole, fresh ground peppercorns rather than already ground pepper for maximum flavor!
  •  Great to season nearly anything
  • Black pepper is a good source of manganese, vitamin K and iron.
  • Try out this recipe that uses black peppercorn:

One Pan Chicken and Ranch 

Chicken Ranch

Photo by Klara Knezevic



  • Often used in Italian and Greek cooking
  • Use it to flavor chicken, eggs, and dishes with tomatoes
  • Oregano can help with digestion, menstrual cramping and skin conditions like acne or dandruff
  • Try out some recipes that use oregano:

Beef and Mushroom Tacos 

beef and mushroom tacos

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein



  • You can often use this as a garnish, sprinkle parsley on top of nearly anything, or use dry as a flavoring agent
  • Parsley can boost immunity, improve bone health and help your body remove toxins
  • Try out some recipes that use parsley:

Sausage and Kale Soup

low sodium soup

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein



  • Great for adding a boost of flavor on savory dishes like pasta, chicken, and pizza
  • Use fresh in pasta salads and on top of pizza, or dry to add in to pizza sauce or a chicken rub
  • Tip: fresh basil and parsley makes a great pesto when blended with olive oil, pine nuts, and parmesan!
  • Basil can help with digestion, blood sugar regulation and mood
  • Try out some recipes that use basil:

1 Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs 

one pan spaghetti and meatballs

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein



  • Used in Mexican dishes such as guacamole, salsa, or rice
  • Cilantro can help lower blood sugars, help with UTI’s and improve sleep.
  • Fun fact: some people experience a soapy aftertaste due to a similar chemicals called aldehyde.  This is genetic and affects about 4-14% of the population.
  • Try out some recipes that use cilantro:

Guacamole and Homemade Tortilla Chips

Photo by Kaitlin Eckstein

Individualized and Personalized Nutrition

Contact us to find out how we can help you meet your specific nutrition needs at or call us at 301-474-2499.


Blog updated December 2019.

+ posts

An award winning recipe developer, Dietitian Kaitlin’s mission is to empower others to reach their health goals by encouraging them to get back into the kitchen. Co-author of Nourished: 10 Ingredients to Happy, Healthy Eating and Cooking with Diabetes.