Seasoning alternatives = healthy flavour boosts


It’s well known that too much salt in our diet can increase the risk of high blood pressure and is one of the health concerns caused by diets dominated by processed food. A great way to reduce the risks is to eat more real food and try new seasoning. Here are three favourites of mine; two are wonderfully fresh and should appeal to any palate, the third is a little more earthy and spicy. They all can enhance health and make food taste great – give them a try.


For use in tomato sauces, salads or pesto – fantastic with roast pumpkin.

There are many varieties of basil, but Italian basil is sweet and the basis of probably the most famous basil recipe of all; pesto. Often referred to as the ‘King of the Herbs’, it is the most beloved herb in Italy, but it originated in India, brought to the Mediterranean via the spice routes. A versatile culinary herb, it’s a good source of vitamins A, C, K and magnesium as well as rich in iron, potassium and calcium, which can be beneficial in cardiovascular health, helping muscles and blood vessels to relax.

It’s also renowned for general medicinal properties:

  • the essential oil of basil leaves has shown the ability to inhibit several pathogenic bacteria that have become resistant to commonly used antibiotics
  • according to the Journal of Microbiology Methods, basil’s essential oils have been found to inhibit the widespread strains of bacteria Staphylococcus, Enterococcus and Pseudomonas, which have developed a resistance to treatment with antibiotics
  • one of the essential oils in basil, eugenol, has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which could help with health issues such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions

Grow it as a pot-herb on a sunny windowsill, or in your garden during the summer months, and add it to your recipes during the last few minutes of cooking for maximum flavour and nutrition.


Fresh and delicate, for use with any fish dish or with potatoes, dill is known for its wispy green leaves and is of course most associated with pickling and the preparation of gravlax. Available fresh in markets during the summer and fall, you can use both the seeds and the leaves. Dried dill can be found throughout the year.

A good source of calcium – essential for bone health and particularly important for postmenopausal women – it is also rich in iron, fibre, manganese and magnesium. Yet it can be linked to a whole range of benefits including:

  • studies have also shown dill to be heart protective
  • it has been effective in helping to regulate insulin levels, though more research is needed
  • can help maintain and protect cells against free radicals. The combination of increased antioxidants in dill may be particularly helpful in detoxifying foreign compounds including carcinogens
  • dill contains monoterpene-effects, which help antioxidant molecules attach to oxidised molecules that would otherwise damage the body, according to the Journal of Food Science
  • bacteria-regulating effects, with the ability to prevent bacterial overgrowth
  • according to the University of Vienna, dill seed extracts can kill several fungal strains
  • it even aids with urination, helping remove toxins from the body

In a study published in BMC Pharmacology, dill has also been shown to inhibit acid secretion and the development of stomach lesions. This can be exceptionally beneficial in contributing to better intestinal health and helping protect our ‘friendly bacteria’ as part of our general protection against pathogens.


Fresh, lemony and warm, for use in baking, Indian cuisine or mix with yogurt and berries. Spicy and aromatic, ginger adds a pungent delight to stir-fries, baking, and many fruit and vegetable dishes.

For centuries ginger has been used as an effective cure when it comes to the common cold and coughs. Drinking ginger tea will alleviate a sore throat, coughing and blocked nasal passages. Meanwhile ginger has been used in Western Cultures to treat morning sickness, motion sickness, loss of appetite and the side effects of chemotherapy, as the compounds shogaols and gingerols found in ginger can resolve vomiting and nausea as they control the peristaltic movement of the muscles.

Gingerols, the main component of ginger and the source of its distinctive flavour, may also aid in inhibiting the growth of colorectal cancer cells. While according to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Centre the gingerols in ginger can aid in destroying ovarian cancer cells. Ginger extracts such as beta-carotene, capsaicin and curcumin, have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour effects on cells.

The high content of gingerol in ginger juice can treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, according to the UCLA Biomedical Library. According to a study in Osteoarthritis Cartilage, regularly consuming ginger could aid with age-related problems with aging knees.

Ginger tea has been shown to help relieve menstrual cramps in women, as well as general joint and muscle pain. Just grate some fresh ginger, to help produce the juice, and mix with boiling water. 1 tsp of ginger to 1 cup of boiling water, you can add lemon and honey.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre you should limit your daily intake of ginger to 4g per day to avoid side effects such as heartburn and diarrhoea.

Herbs and spices – the healthy flavour boosts of Just Routine, as their potential health benefits are extraordinary. Don’t hold back from spicing up your life to help with long term wellness.

Note: When it comes to embarking on any kind of herbal remedy for health issues ALWAYS consult your doctor first.


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Iris is the founder of No Targets Just Routine. She has researched food since 2009 and believes “Happiness is real food shared with loved ones.”

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