Spice Adds Flavor and Healthy Benefits

By Chef Jonathan R. Poyourow '03, RD, LD
November 2015

What's in your medicine cabinet? Cinnamon? Ginger? Tumeric? Wait….did I mean to say, what's in your spice rack?

Your spice rack is your medicine cabinet. Start thinking about adding spices to your meals more frequently, and more creatively and you'll be giving your system a boost with the healthy benefits that comes naturally from some of the oldest flavors known to mankind.

The warm tones of ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric add a ton of flavor and color to vegetables, soups and stews. Hidden within are their antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in your body. By reducing inflammation, you’re actually reducing potential for disease states such as diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol. When you add these ingredients to your diet regularly, your body will process these antioxidants that help reduce the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis and headaches.

Your spices will retain their inherent value for six to nine months. If they are on your shelf longer than that, I'd recommend replenishing your stock, and getting a lot more use of these items. And they have multiple uses. Add cinnamon to your morning oatmeal or yogurt, sprinkle some into your butternut squash soup at lunch, and toss over your apple pie for a dessert treat.

Reaching for the salt? Maybe you'll think twice if you prepare your soups from scratch. Not all soups have to be cream-based. I use lots of chicken and vegetable stock for my soups. And by making my own stocks, I control the amount of salt added. By incorporating roasted vegetables to the stock, just run through the blender and you have a powerful bowl of flavor minus the ingredients you don't want to put into your body.

See how I've spiced up some traditional recipes with touch of good-for-you ingredients that you'll want to include in your menus all year long.