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Eat Well ·

Spice It Up!

By Jenny Craig

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Adding flavor with herbs and spices is an ancient culinary art form. The great news is you can do it too without adding salt, calories, fat or sugar.  Many of the common and not so common seasonings bring a nutritional benefit while enhancing the flavor of your favorite fruits and vegetables. Enjoy trying some new taste experiences while experimenting with some of the delicious choices below with your side vegetables and salads. Start out with adding a small amount, you can always add more. Taste between each addition until you have just the right color, flavor, and aroma.  Dry spices and herbs have much more flavor than fresh, ¼ teaspoon of powder = ¾ teaspoon of dried or 2 teaspoons fresh. Have fun and bon appétit!


A member of the mint family, basil is an extremely popular herb used in all kinds of recipes.  You might enjoy it as a topping on pizza - like our Margherita Pizza, layered with tomatoes or in hot tea. There are more than 60 varieties of basil some with chocolate, Thai, and lemon flavors.  Basil is considered an excellent source for vitamins K, A and C along with many minerals that are essential to your health. This is one herb you can buy fresh and freeze in ice cubes to add later to your sauces and soups.


The coriander plant (in the parsley family) is a spice and an herb because you can use both the seeds and the flat green leafs of this plant. Fresh cilantro lends a light peppery taste when added to salads, dips and veggies. Coriander is used in Europe and the Americas to add flavor to soups, marinades and even in salads. This spice has been researched extensively and is known for its high level of phytonutrients. For best results with cilantro, wash right before use to minimize bruising. 


This is a super spice!  Fragrant and sweet, cinnamon can be sprinkled in your morning coffee to give you a pleasant, sweet (without the sugar) lift to your morning routine.  Traditionally associated with desserts in the West, cinnamon is added to many main course dishes in the Middle East.  The spice is an essential oil that is extracted from the bark of the cinnamon tree and it is rich in antioxidants. Cinnamon is great on top of fruits, yogurt and steamed carrots.


An ancient spice used in many countries worldwide, cumin is a component of most curry and chili powder formulas.  It has a warm aromatic and peppery taste. To bring out the fullest aroma and flavor, lightly roast seeds before using them. Cumin is considered an excellent source of iron and has a reputation for promoting digestive health. A great addition to almost any vegetable or side dish, try experimenting and create your signature recipe.


This herb/spice is a beautiful feathery green plant with concentrated flavor in the seeds.  Used extensively in Northern and Eastern Europe, Africa and the Mediterranean, dill weed has a unique and delicious flavor. Try fresh or dried dill in your yogurt with cucumbers or over your green beans. Fresh dill does not last long so keep it wrapped in a damp paper towel in the refrigerator and use within two days. Dill is high in calcium, iron and magnesium—enjoy often!


Ginger is a rhizome, or stem, grown underground and can be used fresh or powdered. Pungent and spicy, ginger adds wonderful aroma and flavor to many Asian inspired recipes. Known for its anti-nausea properties, ginger has been used as digestive aid for centuries.  Delicious and full of nutrients, try adding ginger to sautéed vegetables, shaved over tropical fruits or to your night time cup of tea.


This gorgeous red spice can taste smoky, sweet or savory.  Made from red mild and hot peppers in the capsicum family, it is a very versatile addition to your spice rack. Hungarian and Spanish recipes often feature this distinct spice. Paprika is rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, nutrients that can help in keeping your eyes and skin healthy. Paprika is delicious when sautéed with eggplant, spinach or zucchini and will add color and flavor to your scrambled eggs. Enjoy!


One of the super spices! This beautiful deep yellow root has been used for centuries as spice, medicine and even for dyeing textiles. Turmeric has a very deep, fragrant, pepper flavor with a little bitterness.  It is delicious on roasted cauliflower or eggplant. Scientists are studying turmeric for a variety of potential health benefits based on its anti-inflammatory properties. Start sprinkling!

Edited by Kari - Jenny Craig

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