Spice up Your Cooking

Spices are a wonderful addition to recipes. They add flavor, make meals more interesting, and also provide various nutritional benefits. Many spices have antioxidant properties that help us fight different diseases.

I love using different spices in my cooking. But I also understand that using herbs and spices can be intimidating. I ran across an article called, ‘Sprinkle new spices into your cooking,’ in which a chef talks about various uses for spices. When asked how to make using spices less intimidating, the chef said, ‘It’s like learning to drive a car. You didn’t have much knowledge at first, but you got better as you practiced. Don’t be afraid!’
I liked that analogy. That is certainly how I’ve learned to use knew spices–I just practice a lot. Sometimes the recipes don’t turn out so well, but sometimes they really work. And the more I’ve practiced, the better I’ve gotten.
If you don’t cook much, or are intimidated by using different spices, start simple. Use cinnamon on top of oatmeal or sweet potatoes, sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg in hot chocolate, use fresh or dried ginger and garlic in stir fries, use fresh basil in tomato or marinara sauces (even bottled ones) and season chicken, pork or beef with herbs and spices like oregano, thyme, rosemary or marjoram.
For more complicated use of spices, the article gave a great recipe for an Indian dish called Biryani. I love the spices used in Indian cooking–they are aromatic, flavorful and nutritious. The spices used in this dish include: cumin, fennel, ginger, garlic, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, and fresh cilantro. The nutritional information per serving is provided. This particular Biryani is vegetarian, but you could include meat, poultry or fish to increase the protein if desired.
So don’t be afraid of incorporating spices and herbs into your meal plan, even if you have never used them before. Remember, it’s like learning to drive. You get better as you practice!
Rachel Andrew MPH, RD, CD