Spices 101

By Hannah Callaway and the TLS Team

Spices add extra flavor to any meal. They kick it up a notch, if you will. Don’t allow your healthy recipes to become bland. Add some spice to your dish!

Walk down the grocery aisle with the spice display or step into a specialty store like Savory Spice Shop and prepare to be completely overwhelmed. The colors are beautiful, some of the names hard to pronounce, and the aroma is amazing.

But which ones should you use? Which spices are appropriate for which types of meat? What about different types of cuisines? The world of spices is far too large to fit into one blog post, but here are some basics. Welcome to Spice 101:

Oregano is a flavorful spice that works well with Italian dishes. Did you know that one teaspoon of oregano has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli? If you’re a vegetarian, sprinkle some oregano on your eggplant. If you love meat, consider adding it to your lamb.

Ginger is a sweet spice that is common in Asian cuisine. Add it to a simple stir fry for a punch of flavor. You can purchase ground ginger; or, for a fresher taste, buy a ginger root and grind it yourself. If you’re craving dessert, sprinkle a tiny bit of ginger (maybe a bit of cinnamon, too) over freshly cut fruit.

Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper adds instant heat to your meal. Use it with caution! Cayenne pepper pairs well with bean dishes (think chili) or on your morning scrambled eggs. For flavor with less heat, consider using paprika.

Spices for your Chicken
Chicken is an easy, healthy meal to prepare any night of the week. My favorite way to prepare chicken is to grab every spice in sight, sprinkle them onto raw chicken breasts, stick them in a glass casserole dish, cover with foil, and bake for about 40 minutes. They’ll come out of the oven tender, juicy, and loaded with flavor. If you’re looking for something less dramatic, this site recommends basil, lemongrass, thyme, and many more.

Add to Anything
My go-to spice is actually a combination of spices: an Italian herb grinder. McCormick offers an entire line of grinders that can be used on everything from beef to salad. What’s your go-to spice?

There’s a wealth of information available when it comes to spices. I consulted the following sites while writing this article:
·         Between Close Friends
·         Divine Caroline
·         She Knows
·         Spice Balance

Now that you’ve gotten a few suggestions for your spice cabinet, what will you add? What can’t you do without? Happy seasoning!