What To Do With All Those Spices In Your Pantry

You've got a lot of them, so here's what you can do with them...

Photograph by Pixabay | pixabay.com

Photograph by Pixabay | pixabay.com

Anyone else feel a little lost when looking at aisles of spice? Wish you knew what to do with all of these glorious spices, and not just stick to salt and pepper? We've compiled a short, awesome list of 15 basic spices and herbs so you know how to mix it up and spice up your life!

What spices are your favorites?

Rich in aromatic compounds, allspice contains agents which collectively possess antioxidant,anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting, sedative, antiseptic, antiviral and anti-fungal properties. This spice is added to sweet dishes to add a slight spiciness (gingerbread, apple pie or dark chocolate desserts), has a slight peppery overtone which depth to stews, curries and soups, and is ground up for use to make jerk chicken (we're feeling hot, hot, hot!). 

Anti-inflammatory, antibacterial characteristics, & rich source of magnesium. Popular Italian seasoning great for use in pesto and sauces, on white meats, combined with fruit and/or gelato, and added into stir-fries (cooking it ruins the flavor, so add it in at the end). Love using flavored oils? Infuse your own oil with a few sprigs of basil (such as olive or avocado oil)!

This is an excellent antioxidant with antibacterial effects, and it said to treat infections, digestive problems, treat bad breath, prevent cavities, lower blood pressure, and may reduce your risk of getting cancer (cancer-fighting compounds). We love using it with black tea for an aromatic experience! It's widely used in Indian cooking and in Scandinavian baking. I buy my cardamom in pods and smash them for the best flavor. Cardamom bought as a powder quickly loses its potency. Some use cardamom sugar to sweeten drinks (coffee / tea) and in desserts (exotic whipped cream, nutty granola, mango lassi, apple crisp baked apples, etc.).

Cayenne Pepper
This pepper is said to possibly work as a natural pain reliever, may reduce bad cholesterol levels, and contains vitamin A. It's hot! Use as your taste buds will allow. Perfect for BBQ, vinegar-based sauces, and is great as a meat seasoning. Sprinkle on top of bland grilled veggies to up the ante, use for a hint of color and kick on top of creamy sauces, and combine with lemon-based marinades for excellent outcomes.

Good source of fiber, iron, and disease-fighting phytonutrients. Citrusy and fresh (even when dried), this herb is from the same plant as coriander seeds. We use fresh cilantro in guacamole, salsa, on top of soups for a fresh topping, and combined with lemon and lime for sauces/marinades. Some people use it as a garnish for main plates / entrees.

This spice is said to lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk factors, and has a plethora of other health benefits.  Make sure to get Ceylon cinnamon or stick to small doses if you're using the Cassia variety. We know to sprinkle this on hot chocolate and use with sugar (wait--- did you know that?), but did you think to spice up mulled wines with it? Or to use it in creams and syrups? In Mexico, it's used in coffee, tea and chocolate. Flavor up your lamb tagines and stuffed aubergines for Middle Eastern and North African dishes. Use to make butter chicken! Add to dessert recipes (donuts, cinnamon rolls, tres leches, etc.) and use with your Hawaiian pizza!

Coriander Seeds
These seeds are said to help control blood sugar (not medical advice, so please take this for informational purposes only), helps to lower bad cholesterol, and free radical production. This comes from the same plant as cilantro and are great added to fish, soups / stews, and smoked meats. It blends well with cumin and can be ground up for use in curries. To get the most taste out of these seeds, dry fry them first- then use.

Contains iron and calcium and its oils may help neutralize carcinogens. This herb smells fresh and is amazing with salmon, added in soups/stews, on carrots and cucumbers, and even mixed with yogurt. Take it off the stem and you're ready to use. Add to cooking water while boiling potatoes. Its seeds can be used whole or crushed, and are often used in breads, soups, veggie dishes, and pickles.

This herb has been used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. Applied topically, it may help treat a number of skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff (just for informational purposes). A must-use in Italian cooking. If you didn't read the aforementioned statement, read it again. :) Shower it on pizza, slip it into tomato sauces, add chopped oregano to vinaigrette, use it in poultry, game, or seafood dishes, and even sprinkle a little on your french fries to up your fry game!

Helps with indigestion, cardiovascular health, and circulation, has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, and contains vitamins A, E, K, & C! Colorful and versatile, this spice goes well with just about any savory food! Use it on eggs, fish, meats, poultry, rice, seafood, soups / stew, vegetables, and creamy sauces. Paprika is usually added near the end of the cooking process since heat diminishes both its color and flavor. It's made from ground bonnet pepper, so it lends a very subtle peppery flavor to whatever it's added to.

Contains vitamins K, C, and A, iron, fiber, antioxidant compounds, and hearty-healthy folate. This is a versatile spice, is mildly bitter, and is wonderful in pasta dishes, on fish and chicken, added to potatoes. used in tabbouleh, stuffed in grape leaves, chopped up and sprinkled into soups, infused in oils, and used in ground meats for great flavor.

This herb contains fiber, iron, and calcium. It might also increase circulation and improve digestion. Rosemary has a woodsy flavor and works well with a variety of roasted meats or mixed into sauces for a more subtle taste. It blends with tomatoes, spinach, and mushrooms, and can also be infused with oils for a delicious dipping sauce for breads and crackers. We love using a blend of dried rosemary and sea salt on plain crackers--- or even blending chopped rosemary leaves when we make our own salted butter to give our butters a boost!

Contains acids that function as an antioxidant. Some say that sage may be a memory enhancer! Burn dried bundles of white sage to cleanse the air and cook with it, too. Sage has a slight, dry peppery flavor and is great with sweet fruits and veggies (like apples and squash), but it also adds assistance to sausage and cheeses. Chop it up, blend with butter for amazing veggie dishes, and mix it in with Italian sauces and fatty meats. A little goes a long way!

Rich in vitamin K, and protects cell membranes?!?! There are so many beneficial health properties to this enriching herb! Add it to bean, egg, and veggie dishes. Try it with lamb. Blends well with bay seasoning and parsley. Add to Italian dishes or use as a garnish. Make this into a tea to serve as a natural cough suppressant and/or for dry throat symptoms. It's a delicate herb, but has power to it!

Good source of manganese, iron, and vitamin B6. It's also said to provide relief for arthritis! My mom used to cut turmeric in half and rub the open root onto dried-up cuts to help reduce scarring. It's not an old wive's tale! It's colorful, and it's wonderful in curries, adding flavor to cooked veggies, and adds to rice. We use a pinch in our scrambled eggs and frittatas (brunch is everything), can be made into a delicious tea, and lends to soups and smoothies.

What are your favorite spices, and how do you use them in recipes? Comment below!