Cutting season usually brings the food without the flavor, that’s because every calorie literally counts. You avoid the marinades, sauces, and salt, but cutting season doesn’t have to be all that bland. If you don’t have a spice rack going, then you better start now. Herbs aren’t just garnishes, they can help pack on the flavor while bringing on health benefits. From parsley to thyme, your fifth dish will be mouthwatering.

Used for centuries for their medicinal properties, herbs are making a comeback. Just two teaspoons of oregano will hit you with vitamin A, C, E, K, and B6. Each vitamin does have a muscular angle like how vitamin A can restore tissues when you’re packing on slabs of muscle. But herbs bring much more of a nutrition influence that go beyond vitamins — it’s all about polyphenols.

Polyphenols are compounds in plants that are packed with powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that they can help fight cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Since polyphenols have a medicinal influence, why not let it have a muscular impact? An antioxidant is antioxidant, no matter what the angle is. So I’ve said it before: when you’re going through a rough workout, oxidative stress is inevitable — making your recovery time longer. Loading up your meals with herbs, may help counteract this.

Know Your Herbs

Oregano Branch

The fresher the herb, the stronger it will be. Dried herbs are fine too, especially when you’re on a budget, but they’re less powerful than fresh herbs. When you have a bit more wiggle room in your pocket, look for a bright green or dark green herbs. When you store them, make sure they’re in a damp towel and inside a plastic bag — helping maintain the freshness. Basil and cilantro herbs will only last three days compared to rosemary and thyme, which will last a few good weeks. When it’s Sunday prep-night, remember that one-tablespoon of a fresh herb means one teaspoon of a dried herb.