I absolutely adore spices, not only for their health benefits but for the many ways they can transform average healthy food into something worth eating and enjoying.
I admit I can get carried away with my spice addiction, but how else can you quickly and easily transform something basic like beans and rice into a Mexican dish (chili powder, cumin, oregano), or an Indian dish (turmeric, ginger, curry powder) worth raving about? It’s all part of a well-run pantry.
When my children were younger, they loved opening the spice drawer and looking at all the pretty colors of the spices. Slowly, we would open each one, making note of the delicious sweet, spicy and pungent aromas. Such a nice memory!
Here are five warming, healthy spices that will stir up your creativity in the kitchen in mere seconds.
I have always used a pinch of cardamon in Indian dishes, but lately, I have really learned to appreciate its earthy, slightly floral taste in nontraditional ways. The next time you make oatmeal try stirring 1/2 teaspoon cardamon in while cooking. Top with almond milk, chopped walnuts, a drizzle of local honey and some dried unsweetened cherries. So warm and delicious!
Culinary Pharmacy: Cardamon has long been known to aid with digestion and is very anti-inflammatory.
The mother of all warming winter spices, I use cinnamon in chicken braises to give it a sweet, smoky flavor. I also frequently use cinnamon to warm up smoothies, such as my Pumpkin Spice Smoothie and in Mexican dishes such as this unusual Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding.
Culinary Pharmacy: Cinnamon is well known to reduce insulin resistance, reduce hunger and sugar cravings and can be used as a natural pain reliever.
Cumin is one of those incredibly versatile spices that complements so many ethnic dishes – Mexican, Indian, Greek, the list goes on. In fact, I use cumin so frequently that I buy it in bulk. Cumin has an earthy, smoky flavor that compliments a good slow cooked Turkey and Red Bean Chili. Perfect for a cold day.
Culinary Pharmacy: Another top herb for digestive health, protecting against colds, anti-inflammatory and has anticancer properties.
Turmeric is very in right now, and for good reason. Turmeric is traditionally used in Indian dishes and gives curry its bright yellow hue. I personally don’t love the flavor on its own but combined with other spices, it gives an earthy flavor to chicken, in hot drinks and curries. I am in love with my Sheet Pan Chicken with Chickpeas, Cumin and Turmeric and I think you will love it too.
Culinary Pharmacy. Turmeric is the mother of all anti-inflammatory spices. Try it for joint pain and arthritis.
Typically thought of as an herb that you use fresh, it is also found dried and considered a spice. Ginger gives a pungent, spicy edge to dishes and is typically used in Indian, Thai or other Asian foods. If you like seafood give my Tempeh Broccoli Bowl with Spicy Peanut Sauce recipe a try.
Culinary Pharmacy: Ginger is typically known to help with nausea and upset stomachs, but it is also very anti-inflammatory and gives a great boost to brain health.
What are some of your favorite bold spices to use in the kitchen? Tell me about it in the comments below.