Happy National Herbs and Spices Day! In celebration, kick things up a few notches and add some zest to your food. Herbs and spices give plant-based meals an incredible flavor and aroma, and they carry several health benefits as well. Adding a whole new flavor and zing to a meal can be as easy as chopping up a few herbs and sprinkling them overtop a dish. Another easy option is to buy dried herbs and always keep them on hand in your pantry.

1. Go Outside of Your Comfort Zone

In the spirit of National Herbs and Spices Day, go outside of your comfort zone and try cooking with a spice that you normally do not reach for. If you know your way around the Italian spice isle but are not so accustomed to Indian food, learn about the incredible, fragrant Indian spices and take them for a test cook. Try using saffron in an Asparagus and Saffron Biryani or use coriander seed in these Grapefruit Coriander Fennel Bites.

How to Zest Up Your Vegan Meals with Herbs and Spices

2. Chop Fresh Herbs For Salads

There are pros and cons to using fresh herbs over dry herbs and vice versa. I’ve found that fresh herbs are better than dried ones as a last step for throwing over salads. The right spice can completely transform the taste and experience of the dish. Throw fresh, chopped dill over this Vegan Potato Salad with Cilantro, Dill, Tomatoes and Raw Mayo.

How to Zest Up Your Vegan Meals with Herbs and Spices

3. Sprinkle Dry Herbs Over Pasta

When I’m feeling lazy, my go-to comfort meal is gluten-free pasta with natural marinara sauce, made complete by a sprinkle of basil, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper on top. Since dry herbs are less aromatic and more dull in flavor and color then fresh herbs, mixing several types into Italian pasta will be flavorful but not too intense for your tongue. Sprinkle away!

How to Zest Up Your Vegan Meals with Herbs and Spices

4. Choose Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice with healing abilities, carrying anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat arthritis and other ailments. Throw this spice in curries, soups, stews, and casseroles. Try using this spice to make Roasted Red Potatoes with Turmeric and Thyme and Ayurvedic Lentil Crusted Tofu. Also, don’t miss this post on How to Get More Turmeric in Your Diet Right Now.

How to Zest Up Your Vegan Meals with Herbs and Spices

5. Make Soup

Soup is a great throw-and-go meal, and you can use herbs and spices for amazing soups with so many different types of flavors and consistencies. Use garlic, ginger, and curry powder in this Curried Carrot Ginger and Orange Soup. For summer when you’re craving a lighter, cold soup, try making gazpacho and using herbs and spices like garlic, parsley, chives, and chili pepper.

How to Zest Up Your Vegan Meals with Herbs and Spices

 Lead image source: Peanut Butter Spicy Noodles