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Our food philosophy series | Enhance flavour in your meals

Principle #4 supports mindful eating and increased nutritional intake

Table of spices and herbs

The previous three nutrition articles on have introduced our food philosophy, a set of tenets that guide recipe and menu creation at Medcan, as well as the nutrition and diet advice we offer our clients.

We believe strongly that our food philosophy provides an evidence-based foundation for healthy eating, one that nourishes the body, promotes health, reduces the risk of nutrition-related chronic disease while also considering the environment.

If you’ve missed part of our food philosophy series, take a moment to read about three of the principles that guide our food decisions:

  1. We leverage the elements of the well-researched, plant-based Mediterranean diet; 
  2. We emphasize whole and minimally-processed foods; and 
  3. We use seasonal and local ingredients whenever possible

The fourth principle focuses on the value of flavour, where the benefits go beyond pleasure.

We are passionate about flavour

At Medcan, we know that taste trumps almost everything else. Year after year, Canadians rank taste as the most important factor when deciding what to eat (followed by nutrition).

Taste has important implications for nutrition and health. A menu consisting of delicious-tasting healthy, nutrient-rich foods helps people enjoy – and stick to – a dietary pattern that’s associated with good health.

And while it seems counterintuitive, research suggests that increasing the enjoyment of eating can help prevent eating too many calories. It’s thought that increasing the taste factor of meals helps you feel satisfied sooner. Enhanced taste is thought to influence the brain’s regulation of satiety.

Savouring delicious-tasting food is also an important component of mindful eating.

Medcan’s executive chef, Jason Smidt, uses many healthy ingredients to add wonderful flavour to our menu items. Herbs and spices, sources of potent antioxidants called polyphenols, fresh citrus zest and nuts and seeds are regularly featured in Medcan’s recipes.

Other ingredients that brighten flavour in many menu items include high-quality extra virgin olive oil and fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables.

Six herbs and spices that boost flavour (and antioxidants!)

Use the following guide to add flavour and antioxidants to your meals without added calories, sodium or fat. (When using fresh herbs or spices, double the amount to get the same level of beneficial polyphenols found in their dried forms.)


This herb has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. It’s also a source of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron.

Add dried basil to pasta sauces, soups and homemade salad dressings; toss chopped fresh basil into green and tomato salads; combine basil with olive oil and garlic to make pesto for pizza, bruschetta and salmon filets.


It’s thought to have antibacterial and diuretic effects. Dill is also a rich source of beta-carotene, iron and potassium.

Top salmon with fresh dill before baking or grilling; add chopped dill to coleslaw and steamed carrots and green beans; mix dried dill into stews and vegetable soups.


Some, but not all, studies show it lowers fasting blood sugar and triglycerides in people with diabetes.  It’s also thought to have antioxidant and anti-microbial properties.

Sprinkle ground cinnamon over oatmeal, mix into Greek yogurt and add a dash to French toast batter; mix cinnamon with nut butter and add to protein shakes or spread on whole grain toast; sprinkle cinnamon over ground coffee before brewing.


It’s thought to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects. Ginger is also used as a natural remedy to reduce nausea.

Include chopped fresh ginger root in stir-fries, whole grain pilafs, sautéed carrots and fruit salad; add ginger, fresh or dried, to baked winter squash and smoothies.


This herb has antioxidant and anti-fungal properties and may help ease digestive distress.

Add chopped fresh spearmint to fruit salad, berries, yogurt, smoothies and grain and pasta salads.  It’s also delicious sprinkled over roasted vegetables or a tomato feta salad.


This actively-studied spice is reported to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties thanks to curcumin, its active ingredient.

Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric to water when cooking rice; mix into vinaigrette salad dressings; stir into olive oil and drizzle over cauliflower before roasting; add to omelets and egg salad.

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