Some individuals may be surprised to learn that 1 tablespoon crumbled bay leaf has 6 calories, 10 grams potassium, and 1 gram carbohydrate. 1 whole bay leaf = 1/4 teaspoon crushed or 1/2 tsp broken bay leaves. The substitute for bay leaf is an equal amount of thyme, basil, or oregano.
Thyme is the most versatile and common substitute for bay leaves. It can easily replace bay leaves in almost all kinds of preparations due to its dry aroma and a little minty flavor. Thyme lends a slightly sweet taste instead of a tangy flavor. Use it in the preparation of fish, poultry, soups, sauces, chowders, eggs, custards, croquettes, and spaghetti to enhance the overall flavor of the dish. To add a little sharp zing to your food, try using lemon thyme.
Basil has a mint flavor and has a sweet, herbal scent. It is popularly used in the preparation of Asian and Italian cooking, especially with tomato gravies, vegetable dishes, chicken, lamb, and fish. Oregano has a strong aroma and works great with tomatoes and as an additive to chili powder. If you want to further enhance the entire flavor and savor a great dish, use Mexican oregano instead of the regular oregano.
The use of bay leaves or the substitutions list here can enhance the flavor of foods. Check out the lentil soup recipe in Flavorful Fortified Food - Recipes to Enrich Life to get started.