NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Do It Yourself Spice Blends

Do It Yourself Spice Blends


                Herbs come from the leaves of shrubs. Spices come from other parts of plants. If you are ever on a game show that is asking you the difference between herbs and spices, you will hopefully recall this bit of knowledge.  Adding spices and herbs to food is much more than a game show question though.  Mankind has used spices and herbs for centuries to improve the taste of the best of dishes and to occasionally conceal the taste of the worst of dishes. 

                Currently spice blends are very popular but unfortunately, many store-bought spice blends are high in sodium. For example, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt adds about 970 milligrams (mg) of sodium to a recipe, while 1 teaspoon of garlic powder adds only 2 mg of sodium.

                Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist for the NDSU Extension Service and Tracey Dillon, Dietetic Intern have formulated several seasoning blends that can add that extra pop to your favorite dish without the high sodium counts.


Mexican Seasoning Blend 

1½ tsp. parsley, dried
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. oregano, dried
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. paprika
1½ tsp. cumin

Use in soups, ground beef for tacos or in enchiladas.


Ranch Blend

2 Tbsp. onion powder
2 Tbsp. onion flakes
2 Tbsp. parsley, dried
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dill weed, dried
¼ tsp. thyme, dried
2 tsp. pepper

Use in stuffed bell peppers or pasta, or on toasted garlic bread.


Italian Spice Blend

2 Tbsp. basil, dried
2 Tbsp. oregano, dried
1 Tbsp. thyme, dried
1 Tbsp. rosemary, dried
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. onion powder

Use in yogurt as a dip with celery and carrots, or on baked chicken or popcorn.


Ranch Dip

• 1¼ c. low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt or sour cream
• 2 Tbsp. Ranch Blend

Combine yogurt or sour cream with the ranch blend. Serve cold.


Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

• 1 (16-oz.) jar salsa
• 3 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
• 2 Tbsp. Mexican Seasoning Blend (or substitute low-sodium taco seasoning)
• 1 (15-oz.) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 (15-oz.) can black beans drained and rinsed
• 1 (16-oz.) package frozen corn
• 1 lb. chicken breast raw, boneless and skinless
• 1 tsp. shredded cheese (as garnish per bowl), optional
• 1 (6-oz.) container low-fat, plain Greek yogurt, optional

1. Cut chicken breasts in half and place in 3-quart slow cooker.
2. Place all remaining ingredients in the slow cooker.
3. Cook on low for six to seven hours or high for four hours.
4. Shred chicken into bite-sized pieces inside the slow cooker.
5. If desired, top individual servings with a pinch of shredded cheese and a dollop of yogurt.

Makes 10 servings. Each serving (1 cup) has 210 calories, 2.5 g fat, 19 g protein, 30 g carbohydrate, 8 g fiber and 530 mg sodium.

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