Known as the "pizza spice", oregano adds much more than characteristic pizza flavor - it's also packed with antioxidants. In fact, dried oregano has 30 times the antioxidant (ORAC) power of blueberries. There are two primary varieties of this palette-pleasing herb: Mediterranean oregano, which is the dried leaf of Origanum vulgare L., a perennial herb in the Labitae, or mint family;  and … [Read more...]

Mustard Seeds

The mustard plant belongs to the same cancer-fighting family as broccoli-Cruciferous family. Through the centuries mustard has been used for culinary as well as medicinal purposes, most notably because of its beneficial effects on the respiratory system. Two major types of mustard seed are used — white (or yellow ) and brown (or Asian ). Mustard seeds are sold whole, ground into powder or … [Read more...]

Fennel Seed

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Lavender (L. angustifolia and others) is a shrubby flowering bush native to the mountainous regions of the western Mediterranean. Known for its ability to calm and promote sleep, lavender has been found to depress the central nervous system (CNS) in a manner comparable to pharmaceutical tranquilizers. In addition to the use of lavender flowers in a brewed tea, many Mediterranean dishes use … [Read more...]


Salt (sodium chloride) is required by the human body for the regulation of fluid balance. Salt comes either from salt mines or from the sea. Table salt is a fine-grained refined salt with additives and typically iodine (sodium iodide). Kosher salt is additive-free and coarse-grained. Sea salt is the type used through the ages and is the result of the evaporation of sea water — the more costly … [Read more...]


Spices are aromatic seasonings derived from the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds or stems of various plants and trees. Prized long before recorded history, spices have always been used to flavor foods. In addition, they have been used as medicine, in perfumes and fragrances and in ceremonies. Once thought to only lend flavor to the dishes they accompanied, research now shows that spices are … [Read more...]


Chives are the bright green, long, hollow, thin leaves of Allium schoenoprasum, an onion-like member of the lily family. Chives are one of the ingredients used in "fines herbes" - a traditional French herb blend often used in egg dishes like omelets or quiche and in sauces and butters. Chives have a mild, onion-like flavor, with a hint of garlic. Estimated Glycemic Load=0 Antioxidant … [Read more...]


Paprika is an antioxidant-rich spice which comes from a mild red pepper - Capsicum annum. The peppers used in paprika are grown in Hungary, Spain, South America, and California. Paprika is the main flavor in Hungarian cooking, including dishes such as Goulash and Chicken Paprikash. Paprika is brilliant red and ranges from sweet and mild to hot. American Paprika is the most bland, while … [Read more...]


Thyme is grown in southern Europe and is indiginous to the Mediterranean. With its subtle, dry aroma and a slightly minty flavor, this herb is central to French cooking and a component of the herb medely "Bouquet garni". There are a number of varieties of this member of the mint-family, each having a distinct flavor. High in antioxidants, thyme pairs well with vegetables, meat, poultry and … [Read more...]


Vanilla beans are the long, greenish-yellow seed pods of the tropical orchid plant, Vanilla planifolia. Before the plant flowers, the pods are picked, unripe, and cured until they're dark brown. The process takes up to six months. To obtain “pure vanilla extract”, cured vanilla beans are steeped in alcohol. According to law, pure vanilla extract must be 35 percent alcohol by volume. Vanilla … [Read more...]

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