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Food: Spice Up Your Life & Recipes

01/03/2017 01:00PM ● Published by Jennifer Gonzalez

By Katie Crenshaw
Centuries ago you couldn’t reach into the medicine cabinet for antibiotics, over-the-counter pain relievers or antacids. Instead, you resorted to spices. In today’s world, spices—lauded for their health benefits—are an easy addition to add complex character to your favorite meals and recipes.

Impressive antioxidants, vitamins and minerals—all of which are a crucial part to our health and well-being—can be found in spices. So, if you are looking for an easy way to eat healthier without sacrificing taste, why not begin with a few of our favorites? Even in small doses, spices can have a big impact on the flavor of your food and your health.


Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of laurel trees. Since ancient times, cinnamon was used to improve appetite and relieve indigestion. For most of us, cinnamon may be a staple on top of a steaming bowl of oatmeal or some fresh-from-the-oven baked apples. Cinnamon is also commonly used in pill form to help diabetics control blood sugar spikes after a meal. Digesting cinnamon raises your good cholesterol levels while removing the bad.
Cinnamon contains antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, which can be an immune-booster and aid you in fighting even the worst of your seasonal colds. Brenda Harris, owner of Apple Crate Natural Market, says, “I use cinnamon quite a bit.” She laughs when she says her favorite way to eat cinnamon is still on top of oatmeal, but customers often come into her store seeking cinnamon in combination with turmeric for a powerful nighttime drink.

This “tea,” also referred to as “Golden Milk,” aids in relaxation, boosts the immune system and serves as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Harris suggests using fats (like coconut oil or ghee) when using spices, as fats will help the body absorb the spices and their benefits properly. With the Golden Milk, the addition of black pepper also aids in absorption.

• Blends well with nutmeg, sugar, allspice, ginger, cloves,chili pepper, cumin, and vanilla.
• Pairs well with honey, chocolate, lamb, apples, peaches, bananas, pears, cranberry, figs, squash, yams, nuts, bread,
coffee and tea.


Turmeric is a plant of the ginger family and is the essential ingredient in curry powder. A compound in turmeric called curcumin, which is a strong antioxidant and a powerful anti-inflammatory, is renowned for its extensive healing properties. It is linked to delaying and reversing depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Plus, curcumin reduces the risks and effects of heart disease and even works as a natural inhibitor to the growth of cancerous cells, most particularly in colon, prostate and breast cancer.

• Blends well with garlic, cumin, coriander, allspice, anise, cloves, chili, curry, fennel, nutmeg and onion
• Pairs well with eggs, chicken, veal, seafood, lentils, carrots, beans, zucchini, root vegetables and rice

Chili Pepper

The chili pepper can range from mild to hot, but it is prized for its hot heat! The compound found in chili peppers is capsaicin, which is known to stimulate the digestive system, boost metabolism and increase fat burning. Chili peppers have both Vitamin C and Vitamin A which are powerful antioxidants. Chili peppers are linked to destroying bad cholesterol and can act as a fighting agent against heart diseases.Chili peppers also bring fresh blood to infected areas acting as a natural antibiotic.

• Blends well with paprika, ginger, allspice, caraway, cardamom, oregano, saffron, cinnamon and turmeric
• Pairs well with chocolate, beef, shell fish, sausage, cheese, beans, all vegetables, sauces, soups, breads and pasta


 Oregano has a very pleasant aromatic scent. It is a rich source of Vitamin K and also contains manganese, iron, Vitamin E and calcium. It has been found to slow down the progression of cancer. Oregano is useful for fighting respiratory infections and the common cold or flu. Oregano also has been discovered to aid in alleviating fatigue, muscle pain, allergies and bloating.

• Blends well with fennel, cumin, garlic, marjoram, basil, cinnamon, cumin, thyme, onion and parsley
• Pairs well with pasta, tomatoes, soup, seafood, beef, beans, veal, poultry, mushrooms, eggplant, squash and artichokes


 Thyme is often dried and then chopped or ground for use. With a minty, warm and peppery taste, thyme is packed with Vitamin C,

Vitamin K, Vitamin E and Vitamin A. It is also full of copper, fiber, iron and manganese. It is a great source for alleviating fits of coughing, sore throats and symptoms of bronchitis. Its aromatic smell is known to be a mood booster and increase neuron activity. Fresh thyme also has the highest level of antioxidants among the herbs.
• Blends well with garlic, oregano, parsley, sage, mint, onion and dill
• Pairs well with fish, seafood, chowders, soups, potatoes, mushrooms and stuffing


 Sage is a member of the mint family and related to the rosemary family. When the leaves are made into a drink, it is often called

the “Thinker’s Tea” for its powerful ability to ease depression, increase mood and stimulate memory. Sage also helps alleviate sore throats
and upset stomachs. In capsule form, it has been reported useful in preventing and treating cognitive decline from patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
• Blends well with parsley, rosemary, marjoram and thyme
• Pairs well with turkey, lamb, sausage, pork, cheese, apple, mushrooms and caramelized onion


 Rosemary is related to the mint family and its leaves appear like delicate and flat pine tree needles. Its strong taste and smell is known

to enhance alertness and memory. Rosemary fosters the immune system, improves digestion, boosts circulation and reduces severity of asthma
attacks. When used in a marinade for meats it helps fight bacteria and aids in preventing spoilage.
• Blends well with salt, garlic, sage, bay leaf, ginger, paprika, parsley, thyme and ginger
• Pairs well with pork, chicken, lamb, apple, lemon, orange, chili pepper, tomato, potato, honey, cheese, butter, pasta and bread

Try incorporating these spice blends and recipes into your everyday cooking!

Tuscan Herb Blend
This Tuscan Herb Blend is a wonderful seasoning to add on homemade bread, pasta, a pot roast, roasted vegetables or to add into pasta sauce.
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
Mix ingredients together and store in a container.
Golden Milk Recipe
¾ cup milk (dairy or a non-dairy option)
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon honey or maple syrup to taste (optional)
½ teaspoon coconut oil
Pour milk into a pan. Add heat. Add turmeric, black pepper, cinnamon and coconut oil. Boil. Simmer for three to five minutes. Strain (if using cinnamon stick). Drink warm.

Homemade Chai Spice Mix
Chai isn’t just for the coffee shop! Spice up your sweet recipes like french toast, cupcakes, pumpkin pie and even sweet potatoes.
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 ½ tablespoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 ½ teaspoons ground nutmeg
1 ½ teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Mix ingredients together and store in a container.

Homemade Cajun Seasoning
Add this mix on anything—from pasta
and bread to vegetables and meat.
Enjoy the extra kick of flavor and heat!
2 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
Mix ingredients together and store in a

Taco Seasoning with Turmeric
Skip the prepackaged mix from the
store and make a healthier version
from home.
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cumin
Mix ingredients together and store in a

Homemade Poultry Mix
Try this spice mix the next time you roast a turkey or want to add extra homemade flavor to your favoritechicken recipe.
2 teaspoons sage
1 ½ teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon marjoram
¾ teaspoon rosemary
½ teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon black pepper
Mix ingredients together and store in a

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