Ever since I discovered my local Savory Spice Shop a few years ago, I’ve become a spice addict. Walking into the store and experiencing an array of aromas and flavors puts me in my happy place, as well as the fact that the employees are always extremely nice and helpful. After shopping here, I quickly vowed to never buy generic supermarket spices again, as once you experience fresh, fragrant spices, you can never go back. Often times, grocery store spices have been sitting there for a long time, so their freshness has already begun to fade. Because of my obsession with the spice shop, I now have an entire drawer dedicated to storing my lovely spices.
I enjoy cooking and find it to be therapeutic, so having a full spice drawer allows me to use my creativity in the kitchen and make flavorful, interesting meals. And in addition to adding flavor to your food without the calories, most spices will also benefit your health in some way. Here are 5 of my favorite spices and how I like to use them, along with their health benefits and some fun recipes to try out that highlight their flavors. I’m using the number “5” loosely, as a few spices have been coupled together due to close similarities (you really get more like 8). All of these spices can be found at the Savory Spice Shop, or any other independent spice shop near you.
*I did not include herbs in this post, as I’ll be writing another post soon about fresh herbs and gardening…stay tuned!
Specifically, Chinese Cassia Cinnamon. Hands down, this has to be my favorite spice EVER, mostly because it’s used in sweets, which is my favorite food group. I like the Chinese Cassia because it’s a little bit spicier than traditional cinnamon, so you get more of a kick from it. Cinnamon is antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, so it’s great to add to your diet if you’re not feeling well. The chemical properties of cinnamon can also help with the prevention of more serious diseases. My favorite ways to use cinnamon are in oatmeal, coffee, baked goods and root veggies.
Ground Cinnamon Recipes:
- Cranberry Almond Overnight Oats
- Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash
- Skinny Snickerdoodles
- Homemade Cinnamon Dolce Latte
Red Pepper (Paprika, Chili Powder, Crushed Red Pepper)
Here’s where I’m combining some spices under one roof. I don’t have a high tolerance for spicy food, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like a little bit of spice here and there. My mom is Hungarian and my dad is Italian, so I’ve had quite a bit of exposure to both Paprika and Crushed Red Pepper since I was a kid. All peppers have some amount of capsaicin in them, which is great for lowering blood pressure and pain relief. Chili peppers are also high in Vitamin C. These spices are great in savory dishes ranging from European to South American to Asian.
Red Pepper Recipes:
Roasted Garlic/Onion Powder
These two spices I never even discovered until visiting the spice shop. I had been buying generic garlic and onion powder for years before, but once I tried the roasted varieties, I was blown away and never went back to the former. The smell and taste are incredible and add so much more flavor and depth to food. Garlic and onion powders are great when you don’t have actual garlic and onions on hand (or when you’re feeling lazy), and contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. My favorite uses for these pungent powders are sprinkled on pizza, fish and in Mexican dishes.
Roasted Garlic/Onion Powder Recipes:
- Easy Garlic Bread
- Cajun Blackened Tilapia
- “Fried” Pickles with Skinny Ranch Dip
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce
This is definitely the most powerful spice on my list in terms of both flavor and health benefits. I consider ginger to be a “go-to” spice for all things medicinal. It is excellent for digestion and nausea, relieves pain from period cramps or other muscle aches, and its anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful addition to your diet when you’re sick. I like that I can use it in both savory and sweet dishes, as well. Ginger makes for a great tea when paired with honey and lemon. It also works well on fish and veggies, in baked goods, and in Asian and Indian dishes.
Ground Ginger Recipes:
Cumin is a very old and wonderfully flavorful spice that I use frequently in Mexican, European and Asian cuisine. A little goes a long way, yet I still seem to go through it quickly since I use it so often. Cumin is an excellent source of iron and antioxidants, and its chemical properties are beneficial for those with diabetes, asthma, digestive problems and even cancer. Best of all, you can use cumin on practically anything, including meat, fish, tofu, veggies, potatoes, grains and more.
Ground Cumin Recipes:
- Cilantro Lime Shrimp
- Southwestern Roasted Cauliflower
- Easy Homemade Hummus
- Cumin-Spiced Lentils with Quinoa
What are your favorite spices and how do you like to use them? Leave a comment!