When it comes to flavor you might tend to gravitate towards reaching for your regular old salt and pepper shaker, but there’s a whole world of spices that offer new aromas and flavors out there! On top of that, many boast their own health benefits as well! From cinnamon to garlic powder, spices are where it’s at! Stop settling for ordinary when you can have extraordinary food! Let’s get spicy!
You may be wondering what exactly qualifies as a spice, no problem! According to The Spruce Eats, “In the culinary arts, the word spice refers to any dried part of a plant, other than the leaves, used for seasoning and flavoring a recipe, but not used as the main ingredient. Why not the leaves? Because the green leafy parts of plants used in this way are considered herbs. Every other part of the plant, including dried bark, roots, berries, seeds, twigs, or anything else that isn’t the green leafy part, is considered a spice.” Easy enough!
There are probably countless spices and the spice aisle in the grocery store can be intimidating, so we are going to start with some basics.
Cinnamon! You know that brown powdery substance that is great on yogurt, oatmeal and toast. It’s also great to add to coffee and baked goods. Well not only does it taste good but research shows that cinnamon is also good for you! Healthline.com tells us that it is filled with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, and even reduce your risk of cancer. Cinnamon can be added to just about anything for a warm sweet flavor.
Garlic is another staple in most kitchens. While you may love fresh garlic you can always add garlic powder to your spice rack for an easier stress-free flavor sensation. Garlic powder gives nice flavor to your meats, veggies and more. Add some garlic powder into your dressings and marinades or even sprinkle some on top of your steamed veggies for a larger burst of flavor. Consumer Reports® shared that, “Ancient civilizations used garlic to treat asthma, digestive disorders, heart disease, infections, respiratory disorders, tumors, and even intestinal worms. Today, claims for the health benefits of garlic include lower blood pressure and cholesterol, an anti-inflammatory effect, a reduced risk of cancer and a stronger immune system.” Whether you sprinkle it on your pizza or add to your favorite recipes it will give you tons of flavors without any added salt or sugar.
Turmeric, you know that bright yellow powdery spice that is all over the media lately? People can’t seem to get enough of it. It’s not just vibrant for its color but also its flavor that is somewhat pungent and bitter. While turmeric is often found in many Indian recipes and curries, it is also found in yellow mustard. Some people even like to make their own “Golden Milk” with turmeric which is a warm drink that can be made in a variety of ways. Well Plated® shares that turmeric, “aids digestion and has calming properties, which leads to sounder sleep. If you have aches and pains, golden milk for joints is a popular remedy, as it is an anti-inflammatory too.”
Other great spices are ginger that can add some heat, parsley that brings a bright and fresh flavor, oregano that goes great with tomato sauces and cayenne pepper that makes things extra spicy. Even your old-school salt, which can come in a variety of ways – sea salt, Himalayan salt, white pepper, pink pepper and more.
Spices are perfect for adding flavor to your favorite dishes or to inspire you to try new recipes. They can sometimes be a pleasant new surprise or totally destroy a dish if you don’t like them so start with modest amounts. Sometimes spices also have other types of qualities that can boast health benefits but they might not always be the ones for you. Don’t shy away from asking your healthcare professional if there are any spices you should avoid. But if you get the “all clear” play around and enjoy! You might just like adding some lavender to your lemonade or some rosemary on your chicken, but you won’t know until you try. Life’s short, let’s spice things up a bit!
Director of The Wellness Center