Kristi Whitley

Healthy Living

Spice It Up!

In Biblical times spices where as valuable as gold and silver. The ancients must have known about their health benefits as well as the taste. If you looked into my mother’s cupboard, you would find a very limited supply of spices. Like most people I know, she only has about five and they are usually old, out of date, and some weird brand she got at a discount store.
Spices may seem expensive and scary to use but they pack a big nutritional punch. Cinnamon has been in the news recently with its ability to reduce blood sugar making headlines. Dried parsley is packed with antioxidants, especially vitamin A, which protects the immune system and promotes the wellbeing of the entire body. Ditto all dried greens like cilantro, oregano, basil, marjoram, sage, thyme, rosemary and tarragon. Turmeric, an ingredient in curry powder and used in Indian food, is a powerful anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and is loaded with vitamins. Also anti-inflammatory are cumin, red pepper flakes, cayenne, ginger, garlic powder and onion powder. In fact, I can’t think of a spice that doesn’t have health benefits, so pour them on!
What? You’re scared? Start with the basics. I love the tiny little pouches of spices at Fresh Market. They are not expensive and there is no big commitment. McCormick makes little jars of the popular ones too. Just start with the greens. If you are cooking something and you don’t know what to add, sniff the spice and you will be able to tell whether or not you should add it. Start with a teaspoonful or so then add more if you want. Soon you will be spicing up everything you eat, which is the idea! Here are a few suggestions to get you started.

  • Add garlic powder, rosemary, and dried parsley to mashed or roasted potatoes

  • Use oregano, chili powder, and cumin to give a Mexican flavor to roasted vegetables, veggie chili, or tortilla soup

  • Make canned white beans special by adding oregano, thyme and sage

  • An Italian seasoning blend containing oregano, basil, marjoram, etc. will spice up any spaghetti sauce, roasted vegetables, soups or stews

Other sprinkles I like to use to boost the nutritional content of my food are ground flax seed, kelp, zaatar, which is a middle eastern spice mix made mostly of oregano and sesame seeds, and acacia fiber. I keep these on the counter by the salt and pepper and load up my salads and hot food after I put them on my plate.
And last, but not least, if you have had a spice since the day you moved in, throw it out. It will not add any flavor to your food. Buy good spices in small quantities and throw them out after two years. Besides the aforementioned sources, I also like to buy from the mail order company Penzey’s. They sell very high quality spices in small or large quantities. Call them for a catalog at (800)741-7787 or go online at to order.
Just thought I’d pass along a couple of tasty ways to eat your vitamins. Try these two recipes packed with anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting spices. The Mexican bowls recipe is a staple in our house. I made the Falafel Burgers with fresh parsley and basil from my garden, omitting the cilantro, and served them on mixed greens with red onion, avocado, and homegrown tomato slices. Yum! Hope you enjoy these and they help you get over your fear of spices!
All the best,
1 Kings 10:10
And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

My spice cabinet