Herbs and Spices Have an Expiration Date

Herbs and spices do not spoil; however, they do lose their flavor and potency over time. Next time you go through your spice cabinet, look at the expiration dates!

Rows of spices

Typically spices last 2–3 years, but make sure to check the “best by” date. Try the fresh test:

  • Smell: aroma should be strong
  • Taste: flavor should be potent
  • Color: should look vibrant and not dull

Average Shelf Life of Common Fresh, Ground, and Dried Household Spices

SpiceFreshGroundDriedWhole
Allspice2-3 Years2-3 Years
Basil5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years3-4 Years
Bay Leaves5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years3-4 Years
Black Pepper2-3 Years2-3 Years5-6 Years
Cayennne
Pepper
5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Celery Seed5-7 Days2-3 Years1-2 Years2-3 Years
Chili Powder2-3 Years2-3 Years
Chives7-10 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Cilantro5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Cinnamon2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Cloves5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years4-5 Years
Coriander5-7 Days2-3 Years2-3 Years
Cumin2-3 Years

Sources:

Eat by Date (www.eatbydate.com/other/how-long-do-spices-last)

McCormick (www.mccormick.com/toss)

Croutons

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices whole wheat bread
  • 1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, or vegetable)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cut bread into one inch cubes.
  3. Stir bread and oil together in a medium bowl.
  4. Sprinkle garlic powder and dried basil on top of bread cubes. Stir until the bread is evenly coated with garlic and basil.
  5. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Spread croutons evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir. Bake for up to 5 minutes more or until croutons are golden brown.
  6. Let croutons cool and store in an airtight container for up to one week.

These croutons are wonderful on top of your favorite soup or salad. To add extra tang to your salad, add some fresh herbs to the mix like basil or mint. They add extra flavor and are a great way to use up those herbs!

Nutrition information per serving:

70 calories, 3g total fat, 0g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 85mg sodium, 8g total carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein

This recipe is courtesy of ISU Extension and Outreach’s Spend Smart. Eat Smart. website. For more information, recipes, and videos, visit spendsmart.extension.iastate.edu.

You Herb It Here First!

Herbs and spices can turn a bland, flavorless dish into a mouthwatering meal full of flavor the whole family will love! Not only do they add flavor, but they add health benefits too. Herbs and spices are full of nutrients and antioxidants that can make your meals more nutritious. For example, the antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties in garlic help reduce inflammation and provide immune system support.

In addition to adding flavor and health benefits, using herbs and spices to season your food can help reduce excessive salt intake. Those following a Heart Healthy diet, DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet, or simply monitoring their sodium intake will benefit from the addition of herbs and spices when cooking. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming no more than 2,300 mg of sodium each day. On average, Americans eat more than 3,400 mg of sodium a day! Incorporating herbs and spices to season foods can decrease sodium intake and help you stay within the recommended sodium guidelines.

Have fun experimenting with different herb and spice blends and discover your family’s favorites! Try using different blends for different food items, and even make your own blends by drying fresh herbs from the garden.

Pots of herbs

Herb and Spice Recommendations by Food

  • Poultry: parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage
  • Beef: cloves, hot pepper, marjoram, rosemary, cumin, garlic
  • Fish: fennell, dill, tarragon, thyme, parsley, garlic
  • Vegetables: chives, basil, tarragon, mint, parsley, rosemary, dill
  • Eggs: curry, dry mustard, paprika, parsley, basil

For more information on herbs, check out ISU Extension and Outreach’s Seasoning Savvy publication.

Make Waves for Your Health’s Sake

Swimming sign

As adults, we need two and a half hours (150 minutes) of aerobic physical activity per week. Swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. While you’re trying to cool off this summer, try to incorporate some water exercises.

When you hop in the water—whether a lake, river, or pool—try one of these “cool” exercises:

  • Walk forward, backward, and sideways in the water. Start slowly for 1–2 minutes in each direction and work up to 3–5 minutes. A water belt may be helpful to maintain buoyancy.
  • Water squats are a great strength exercise. Be sure your feet are on the bottom of the pool, lake, or river and you can wiggle your toes. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.
  • Grab a water noodle and use it as an oar. Begin to row as if you were in a boat, using the noodle as your oar in the water. Do two sets of 10 repetitions.

Sources:
Centers for Disease Control
Unity Point

Fair Food Safety

There is nothing more fun than attending a summer fair or celebration with your family. There are so many things to see, do, and enjoy—especially the food. To make safe food choices and reduce the chances of you or a family member getting food poisoning, here are some food safety tips:

  • Before choosing a food vendor, look at their workstations and note if they are clean and tidy. Does the vendor wear/use disposable gloves when preparing food?
  • Are there handwashing sinks/stations for the vendor/employees?
  • Are gloves or tongs used to serve food to customers?
  • If the vendor provides single service utensils, are they individually wrapped? (Unwrapped eating utensils have the potential for contamination from dirt, air, flies, and even customers.)
  • Be sure your hot food is hot and cold food is cold. If not, tell the vendor.
  • Choose a clean place to sit and eat your meal.
  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Bring hand sanitizers or hand wipes in case it is difficult to wash your hands.

Following these tips will keep you on your way to a safe and happy summertime event!

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Mexican Corn Salad

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 8

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray or oil for grill grates
  • 4 medium ears of corn (husks and silks removed) (or 16 oz. frozen whole kernels, thawed)
  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (seeds removed)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:

NOTE: If using frozen corn, skip to third instruction below.

  1. Spray grill grates with nonstick cooking spray or brush them with oil. Heat grill to 400°–450°F.
  2. Place corn on the grill and cook 15–20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until evenly grilled and kernels are tender. Remove corn from the grill and set aside to rest until cool enough to handle. Using a serrated knife, cut corn kernels off cob and place in a large bowl.
  3. While corn is cooking, whisk together yogurt, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder.
  4. Add scallions, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, and cheese to corn. Toss with yogurt sauce and season with more chili powder if desired.

Nutrient information per serving:
78 calories, 3g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 9mg cholesterol, 119mg sodium, 11g total carbohydrate, 1g dietary fiber, 3g sugar, 4g protein


Adapted from Today’s Dietitian

Putting Mindfulness on Your Plate

Have you ever looked at your plate and been surprised to find your meal gone? If so, you may benefit from eating more mindfully.

What is mindful eating? It is a purposeful awareness of the food we eat and being present during the meal experience. When we employ mindful eating, our busy lives slow down when we eat and we are aware of the flavors, tastes, and textures of the food. Our meal becomes more relaxed and enjoyable.

"Think before you eat" post-it on a plate

Here is an exercise you can do to practice mindful eating:

  1. Take a grape, piece of chocolate, or piece of cheese. Observe the appearance, shape, and texture. Notice the color and indentations.
  2. Smell the food. Notice the aroma.
  3. Take a bite or place a small amount of the food in your mouth, but do not chew it. Describe the texture and flavor before you chew the food.
  4. After 30 seconds, chew the food and describe the texture and flavor.
  5. Do you notice any difference?

Your newfound awareness can put more mindfulness on your plate.

Sources:
Today’s Dietitian; January 2019; The Merits of Mindfulness—How Mindfulness Practice Can Enhance Health and Well-Being
Today’s Dietitian; March 2013; Mindful Eating—Studies Show This Concept Can Help Clients Lose Weight and Better Manage Chronic Disease

Get Your Family Moving!

You probably know that regular physical activity helps both parents and children stay well. It strengthens the heart, muscles, and bones. But did you know that physical activity could strengthen families, too? Families that take walks, play sports, or do physically active chores together often notice these benefits: better communication and bonding, less stress and conflict, and more family fun!

Getting family members of all ages involved in the same physical activity at one time can be a challenge. Here are tips that may help:Sports equipment

  • Set regular, specific activity times. Determine times when the whole family is available.
  • Plan and track progress. Write plans on a family calendar.
  • Build new skills. Enroll yourself and the kids in exercise classes you will both enjoy.
  • Treat physical activity as a gift. Give presents that encourage physical activity, such as bikes, balls, jump ropes, and badminton sets.

Both parents and children can treasure the times when the family is physically active together. Visit Choose MyPlate’s Ten Tips to Be an Active Family for additional information.

Sources: ChooseMyPlate.gov, WebMD

Smartphones in the Kitchen

washing handsA 2016 FDA survey showed 49% of consumers use their smartphones while preparing food. However, only one-third washed their hands with soap after touching the devices! Why is this a big deal? Whenever you touch a phone, the bacteria on that phone travel to your hands. If your unwashed hands then touch food, you transfer those bacteria to the food. This can cause foodborne illness.

Here are three tips to keep your phone from contaminating your food:

  • Clean and sanitize your phone regularly with a lint-free cloth.
  • Avoid taking your phone into the bathroom.
  • Scrub your hands at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water after touching a phone and before handling food.

Sources: FDA, National Institutes of Health, Phys.org

Asparagus with Gremolata Sauce

Serving Size: 1/2 cup | Serves: 6

Asparagus with gremolata sauce is a great side dish to serve with fish. Gremolata is a dressing or a type of garnish that is made with chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups fresh asparagus (washed and trimmed)
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 1 garlic clove (peeled and minced)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Parsley to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook asparagus in a large pot of boiling water until tender—about 4 minutes.
  2. Drain. Rinse with cold water to cool quickly and drain again.
  3. Pat dry.
  4. Melt margarine or butter in a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.
  5. Add lemon peel and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add asparagus and toss to coat.
  7. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sauté asparagus until heated through—about 3 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Nutrition information per serving:

49 calories, 4g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 3g total carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 1g sugar, 2g protein

 

Recipe courtesy of the USDA Mixing Bowl.

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