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Savor the flavor of eating right

What is the main reason people choose the foods they do? Are you thinking about nutrition, food safety or cost? All of these play a role, but taste or flavor is the top reason.

Flavorful food can be healthy, budget friendly and, of course, safe to consume. During March, which is National Nutrition Month, add extra flavor with herbs and spices when you cook. When you use spices and herbs, you can leave out the salt to cut the sodium.

Herb or spice: What’s the difference?

Herbs are leaves from low-growing shrubs. Herbs include parsley, thyme, basil, dill, rosemary and sage. Spices are from plant material other than leaves. Spices may be from bark (cinnamon), buds (cloves), roots (ginger, onion, garlic) and seeds (mustard).

Send your taste buds on an adventure

Most cookbooks have lots of ways to use spices. If you are not sure where to use the herbs or spices in your cupboard, try a sprinkle of these spices to add flavor to vegetables:

› Basil: tomatoes › Curry powder: cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower › Dill: green beans or peas For more ideas, visit and search for recipes by spice.

How to substitute

Use this general rule when substituting dried herbs for fresh: 1/2 teaspoon dried herbs equals 1/4 teaspoon ground herbs equals 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly minced herbs.

Enhance natural sweetness

You can enhance naturally sweet-flavor foods such as fruit by adding cinnamon, cloves, ginger or nutmeg. Try a sprinkle of one or more of these spices on baked apples or a mixed fruit salad.

Keep the flavor

Store spices in a tightly covered container in a cool, dry place. Keep them away from heat sources such as a dishwasher or stove.

“Savor the Flavor of Eating Right” was the 2016 theme of National Nutrition Month, which was sponsored by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Try indoor herb gardening

At this time of year, many of us enjoy seeing something green growing in our homes. How about trying indoor herb gardening?

Parsley, chives, thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil grow well indoors and do not become very tall. Try using herbs to add flavor without sodium. Consuming less sodium is key to heart health.

You can purchase small herb plants at some greenhouses or use seed. Plant in 4-inch pots filled with well-draining potting soil. Place the pots in trays to catch excess water. Place the pots in a windowsill where the herbs get several hours of sunlight. Treat them like houseplants and water them at least twice a week or as needed. Some herb plants grow better with the use of a commercial fertilizer mixed according to package directions. For more information about herbs, see “From Garden to Table: Harvesting Herbs for Healthy Eating.” It’s available at Look for “H1267” in the search box.

Excerpted from For more information on this topic, contact Luella Morehouse, Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program and Family Nutrition Program education assistant, North Dakota State University Extension Service Stutsman County, 502 10th Ave. SE, Jamestown, ND. You can reach me at 252-9030 or