Posted by: Monica Reyes, WIC Nutritionist
Have you tried to be adventurous when it comes to preparing meals for your family? Herbs and spices can help! Studies have shown that the benefits of herbs and spices go far beyond aroma and taste. Many of these ingredients have actually been found to improve health by helping digestion and protecting against heart disease and certain cancers.
Growing up in a Latin American country has exposed me to different flavors of fresh herbs and spices that are often added to meals and desserts. It is a family tradition for me to marinate foods with a natural blend of herbs and spices called “sofrito,” which enhances the flavor of my meals. Besides being delicious, sofrito contains ingredients and spices which have been shown to have health benefits! Garlic is one of the main components of my sofrito. Garlic is packed with a variety of nutrients and vitamins, such as manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, and helps the immune system…it can even help you fight the common cold!
Onions are the second ingredient of my sofrito. Onions are a good source of vitamin C, B6, biotin, chromium, calcium and dietary fiber. Most importantly, onions have a potent antioxidant called quercitin that has been shown to thin the blood, lower cholesterol, and help prevent diabetes and infections. Oregano is also used in my recipe. It has many antioxidants and can help sore throats and respiratory and stomach problems. Green and red peppers are also used in my sofrito. Green peppers are a great source of fiber, vitamin C and vitamin A have been linked to improved metabolism, and act as a natural cold remedy. With all of these wonderful qualities that can improve your health, why wouldn’t you want to add more fresh herbs and spices to your meals? Let us know what spices you use!
Here is my sofrito recipe:
I medium green pepper
1 medium red pepper
3 medium red onions
10 cloves of fresh garlic, peeled
1 cup of dried oregano
½ cup of apple cider vinegar
- Cut the peppers, onions and garlic gloves into small pieces and put them into a blender with the vinegar.
- Blend all the ingredients until they are liquid.
- Add the oregano and blend the mixture again.
- Place the cooled mixture into a closed airtight plastic or glass container. The mixture will keep for one to two weeks in the refrigerator or for up to six months in the freezer.
Sofrito is an excellent marinade and meat tenderizer, and can be a part of many of your favorite recipes. Use it to sauté meats, poultry, fish, beans and vegetables, or add it to soups, stews and grilled or roasted dishes. Enjoy, or as we say in Spanish, buen apetito!