For Fabulous Flavor and More, Spice It Up!

For Fabulous Flavor and More, Spice It Up!


One of the best ways to elevate your culinary skills is to explore the exotic world of herbs and spices! I love to use them in nearly everything I make…from smoothies and elixirs to soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. From North American stalwarts like cinnamon, clove, oregano, thyme, and nutmeg to those with a more exotic twist like cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and ginger, they give everything an extra boost of flavor. If that isn’t reason enough to add them to your kitchen repertoire, they also provide an amazing array of health benefits! For centuries, herbs and spices have been the foundation of culinary and medicinal tradition throughout the world. More and more, scientific research is confirming the validity of many ancient remedies and discovering new ways these flavor enhancers play a role in attaining optimal health. They’ve been found to provide powerful anti-inflammatory benefits (turmeric, ginger, cinnamon), boost immunity (cardamon, garlic, cayenne pepper), aid digestion and reduce nausea (ginger, cardamom), and even help regulate glucose levels (cinnamon). So much goodness, plus a surefire way to eradicate bland, boring, over-salted meals forever!

For best results, treat your herbs and spices with care. Store them in airtight containers out of direct sunlight. Also, keep in mind they will lose their flavor and potency over time, so it’s best to buy in small quantities. Whole spices will also last longer than ground (three years versus one year), so try to buy whole seeds or pods and grind as needed. I use a small coffee grinder kept just for this purpose.

One of my favorite ways to use spices is to create my own blends to keep on hand for specific uses…think tacos, cajun, southwest, curry, bbq seasonings. It’s a great way to save money and to steer clear of additives often found in those little pre-mixed packages. Here’s one to get you started:

Ras el Hanout

Ras el Hanout roughly translates to “head of shop,” and refers to the fact that this Moroccan blend is generally personalized by whichever spice dealer is at the shuk, or market, that day. It can be made with as many as 50 spices, but my interpretation does not require nearly as many. Ras el Hanout makes a nice, slightly exotic addition to rice, soups, stews, or roasted vegetables.

Note: this will give you about one cup of spices. However, the recipe can easily be halved if less is desired. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp ground ginger

  • 2 tsp ground cardamon

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 2 tsp ground mace

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1 tsp ground allspice

  • 1 tsp ground coriander

  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 tsp ground anise 

  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Mix all of the above together in a small jar. Then just use amount needed for your recipe.