The secret to great tasting meals is often in the spices. They are nature’s way of saying that foods are supposed to be full of flavor! If you think about it, humans are typically pretty dissatisfied with their meal if we feel it lacks flavor. Oftentimes when rich, prominent flavors are lacking, we default into sprinkling one too many dashes of salt, when all that was missing was some true flavor. Just imagine how much less salt we would consume if we were actually satisfied with abundant layers of delicious-ness in every bite. Not only do spices add dimension to recipes, but all of the different spices and herbs actually offer the body several benefits ranging from reducing inflammation to improving brain health. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received across the board from my chef friends, is to make sure that you always have an array of spices on hand to improve the taste and nutrition levels of each meal.
Spices + Their Benefits
Cinnamon – A common spice used in many fall-inspired desserts, cinnamon offers antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-diabetic properties. It is made from the bark of the cinnamon tree and it adds a warm, spice layer to sweet treats. A few simple ways to include more of it in your diet can be sprinkling some on top of your morning oatmeal, baked apples, or even in your morning coffee. On the rare days that I did indulge in a coffee, I find that adding some cinnamon really brings out the coffee’s taste and makes it a lot warmer.
Turmeric – This bright yellow spice is typically used in Indian cuisine and is a natural alternative to some over the counter medications. As it is anti-inflammatory, studies have shown links between curcumin (one of the main components in turmeric) helping to reduce inflammation in the brain, a common cause for depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Turmeric can be added into quinoa or rice, as well as soups, egg dishes, and of course roasted veggies. Just be careful because it can definitely stain! And for those of you who like natural skin remedies, turmeric is known to be incredibly powerful at reducing the appearance of dark acne scars.
Cayenne – Capsaicin, a substance in cayenne peppers that makes them spicy, can reduce the amount of pain signals sent to the brain. These hot peppers are just that, hot, however, studies have shown that cayenne can also help reduce ulcers, which cause a lot of internal pain in the body, as well as pain caused by arthritis and diabetes. Everyone’s spice tolerance is different, but by slowly adding a sprinkle here and there to different meals, you can develop quite the liking for this hot spice. Use sparingly of course, but don’t be afraid to add a tiny bit onto meats or in stews.
Garlic Powder – If there is one spice to always keep in the cabinet, it’s garlic powder! Working to add layers of flavor to almost any savory dish, this strong-smelling spice is certainly a cooking staple. Research has linked garlic powder to potential health benefits that may include the reduction of high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides, the prevention of cancer, improved liver health, immune system function, and glucose regulation. Use it alongside cooked garlic in a dish if you really want to make the taste stand out, or use it when you are out of fresh garlic. For those of you who love a garlicky taste, you know that you can add it into almost any savory dish for an upgraded taste factor.
How to add more spices to your produce
While these spices can be added to many dishes, where they are particularly useful is when wanting to spruce up, or spice up, your produce. Especially for people that want to include more fresh fruits and vegetables into their diet, but feel like they don’t have enough flavor on their own. That’s when spices come in! When trying to hit your five daily recommended servings of produce, lightly cooking veggies using your favorite spices will be a game changer. The idea of eating mushrooms or kale on their own may sound undesirable to some, while on the other hand, using some black pepper or a sprinkle of cayenne can completely change the entire experience. The variety of spices available are not meant to hide the flavor of foods, but rather enhance them in a completely natural way. So remember that a small sprinkle goes a long way. Try incorporating your favorite spice(s) by:
-adding them into marinades (with olive oil) and then using to grill veggies
-sprinkling cinnamon or cayenne on top of fruits
-topping vegetables with spices before roasting them
Using natural spices to enhance the flavor of your produce is an easy way to eat more fruits and vegetables. Another easy way to eat more produce is to utilize our produce delivery service FarmboxRx. We make ordering healthy food online as straightforward as a couple of clicks. Just choose between a small, medium, or large box, that is organic or conventional, and that’s it! You’ll have fresh groceries delivered to your home. That way you can always try out new, different, healthy recipes, and experiment with adding different spices onto different pieces of produce to find out which combinations you like best.
When to add spices
This can be a bit tricky for some to perfect. If you are creating a savory sauce or broth, it is completely fine to introduce the spices into your dish as early as the olive oil, garlic, onion stage. Do this if you are wanting the sauce to really revolve around the flavors of the spices. This is a common practice in many curry dishes for example, as the spices are so prominent that they must be introduced from the beginning for the ingredients to soak in its flavor. Another approach when beginning the cooking process, is to allow the ingredients to naturally infuse as much of their flavors into the dish as possible before adding in any spices. So for example, when I am preparing a quick side of sauteed veggies, I’ll allow my veggies to cook down for a minute or two on their own before adding in additional flavors.
I hope I encouraged you to spice up your produce. Let us know if you try out any of our recommended suggestions and feel free to tag us in any recipes at @FarmboxRx or by using the hashtag #FarmboxRx. Happy cooking!