The weight loss blog

Hero herbs: healthy cooking just got even tastier!

June 7 2019
Sarah Davison
By Sarah Davison

If you saw our previous post, you’ll already know that adding herbs is a quick and easy way to make your weight loss friendly meals even more flavorsome! To get you started, here are three veggie-packed recipes that combine fresh and dried herbs to maximum effect:

Hero herbs: healthy cooking just got even tastier!

Black-eyed pea and vegetable chili bowl
A mild and smoky vegetarian chili is sure to please the whole family. Serve with freshly cooked rice or quinoa, plus lime wedges for a fresh touch.

4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Cooking spray
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 celery sticks, cut into ½” slices
2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into 1” chunks
1 orange or red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½” pieces
1 tsp. ground cumin
¾ tsp. smoked paprika
½ tsp. dried oregano
⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 (16-oz.) drained can black beans or chilli beans in tomato sauce
1 (15.5-oz.) drained can black-eyed peas, rinsed
1 (14.5-oz.) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges, to serve


  1. Spray a nonstick Dutch oven with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, celery, carrots and bell pepper. Cover and cook, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes, until crisp-tender.
  2. Add the cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne and ½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  3. Stir in the black beans and their sauce, the black-eyed peas, the tomatoes and their juices, and ¼ cup water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have blended.
  4. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve hot with lime wedges and freshly cooked rice or quinoa.

Hero herbs: healthy cooking just got even tastier! 1

Vegetable quinoa salad with feta
This stunning salad is perfect for warmer weather, with freshness in every mouthful and tangy feta in a starring role.

4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

2½ cups vegetable broth
1¼ cups quinoa
2 cups green beans, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 large hothouse cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise
Bunch of scallions, sliced diagonally
1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Few sprigs fresh mint and cilantro, chopped
4 oz. reduced-fat feta, crumbled

For the dressing:
⅓ cup fat-free vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. ground cumin
⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon


  1. Put the broth in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover and cook about 15 minutes, until all liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender and translucent. Fluff with a fork, season with salt and pepper to taste and transfer to a large serving dish.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium skillet of water to a boil over high heat. Add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain, rinse under cold running water and drain again.
  3. Add the beans, cucumber, scallions, tomatoes and herbs to the quinoa.
  4. Mix together the dressing ingredients, drizzle over the salad and toss to mix well.
  5. Sprinkle with the feta cheese, divide between 4 plates and serve.

Hero herbs: healthy cooking just got even tastier! 2

Vegetable antipasti
Grilling gives Mediterranean veg such as eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers a sensational smokiness. This beautiful platter is fantastic served hot or at room temperature.

4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

¼ cup, plus 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried basil
2 tsp. dried oregano
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 small eggplants, trimmed and sliced thinly lengthwise
8 oz. baby zucchini, trimmed and sliced thinly lengthwise
2 red bell peppers, halved, seeded and cut into thin strips
Cooking spray
1 (6-8-oz.) bag baby arugula


  1. Mix the balsamic vinegar, garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes in a large bowl, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the eggplants, zucchini and bell peppers, then toss to coat well.
  2. Spray a ridged nonstick grill pan or cast-iron skillet with cooking spray and heat over a medium-high heat, or heat a barbecue grill.
  3. Remove the vegetables from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and grill, in batches, for 2-3 minutes each side or until tender and nicely colored. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a plate.
  4. Arrange the arugula leaves on a large serving platter, top with the grilled vegetables and drizzle over the reserved marinade.

Inspired? You’ll find lots more information and recipe ideas  on our website. Or try our exclusive 7-day Food Optimizing menu plan  and start your own weight loss success story today.