If variety is the “spice of life”, adding a variety of spices to your daily life can bring life to your cooking, eating experiences and overall health.  If you think spices are only in Indian, Thai and Mexican foods – think again.  Although, it’s true that these cuisines naturally incorporate herbs and spices, you can adapt them into any recipe to  tantalize your taste buds anytime. Mill or grind spices, such as cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds and whole cloves into your favorite dishes; not only will this tickle your senses, but they contain virtually no calories or fat.  The best part is watching your calories does not have to mean tasteless, bland foods!  I encourage you to experiment with the natural world of spices.  What greater gift can you give your health today than using spices?  Try pure, unadulterated, organic spices as you’ll get the true health benefit without any chemicals or wear and tear on the planet. 

I have recently discovered that grinding my own with a spice mill leaves you with more fresh and aromatic spices.  You know why?  I asked organic spice expert and purveyor, Dinesh Perrara, founder of The Spicy Gourmet.  Here’s why: the pre-ground spices on the store shelf have already lost some of their flavor, aroma and essential oils – and once you open the bottle you lose more!  So using whole spices is the way to go to get the biggest flavor and health bang for your buck.  There’s nothing like smelling a handful of whole nutmeg seeds (they look like acorns) –  be careful not to grind them in your spice mill like I did.  I soon found out that whole nutmeg seeds is too big to mill (and can beat up your spice mill blade)!  So purchase a nutmeg grater or fine-mesh grater for your nutmeg.  Try transforming  spices to a fragrant powder in your mill or roasting freshly milled spices in a dry skillet over low heat and blending them for a more sophisticated juxtaposition of flavors.  It’s truly amazing how much the flavors ignite in your mouth.

To make the famous Indian ‘hot spice mix’, Garam Masala, The Spicy Gourmet recommends combining the following Ceylon (from Sri Lanka) spices:

3 cinnamon sticks  (3-inches each and broken into 1/2 inch pieces)

2 teaspoons whole cardamom seeds 

1 teaspoon whole cloves

1 teaspoon whole mace blades

And then…roasting each spice separately in a dry skillet for a few minutes until fragrant with a deep rich color.  Transfer to a bowl to cool.  Once all have been roasted, place them into a spice mill  and grind to a fine powder.  Mix the roasted ground spices together and store in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark space.  If stored properly, this spice blend can last forever – until you use it up ofcourse.   Try Garam Masala in roasted vegetables, baked chicken, fish and lentil dishes.   To start, use only a small amount at first to test the taste and heat if it in on your tongue; slowly add more if you can handle the heat. 

I encourage you to check ou my new spice finds at www.thespicygourmet.com for more spicy facts and recipes using some of the world’s best spices.  

What spices to you use regularly and how?  I’d love to know.  The health possibilities are endless…