I want to start this off by saying these are my top 6 most used spices but is in no way a complete list! I have and use too many spices to list and LOVE collecting different blends. I also have been experimenting with my own spice blends and have been having so much fun with it!
These six spices along with sea salt make up a majority of my flavorings in the kitchen. I always use Redmond Real Salt and think it is SO superior to other salt companies! I love the crunch and nutrients that Redmond provides. But salt, in my book, is always a given 😉
I usually grab my spices from the bulk bin section at my local natural foods store. Sold by the pound, spices in the bulk bins are SO MUCH CHEAPER than buying them in individual glass jars. I bought around 30 or so glass jars with shaker lids, some cheap labels and just refill when I am getting low. For me, it’s super cost effective way to make flavorful food and keep experimenting in the kitchen!
I LOVE cinnamon. I put it on nearly everything – from my morning matcha latte to roasted veggies (you gotta try it with sweet potatoes and zucchini!). Cinnamon is such an amazing spice with plenty of health benefits.
Cinnamon has a naturally sweet taste without any actual sweetness. No extra calories and it won’t send your insulin sky rocketing! It actually does the opposite and can help to balance blood sugar through improving sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Insulin helps to transport glucose from the bloodstream to tissues to be used as fuel.
As well as being incredibly warming, cinnamon is also antimicrobial and antifungal and can help to fight infections and disease. It is soothing to inflammation for the skin and body and can help to calm swelling and redness. Cinnamon is also very high in antioxidants and can protect heart health by reducing cholesterol and high blood pressure. For more nerdy cinnamon facts head here!
I don’t go a day without using cinnamon and love the spicy flavor! My favorite variety, if I can find it, is the Korintje cinnamon. It has an incredibly deep and warming flavor and just tastes SO cinnamon-y. Other favorites include Saigon and Ceylon cinnamon.
2. Red Pepper Flakes
In the last few years I have come to love spicier food. Not the burn-your-face-off kind of spice but the nice, subtle kick that comes right at the end of a delicious bite. Red pepper flakes are a simple way to add a little heat to many meals and I love how customizable it is! Simply play around with the amount until you find a tolerable level.
Red pepper flakes are typically a mix of red bell peppers, ancho peppers and cayenne. These little metabolism-boosting flakes by heating up internal temperatures and creating a greater expenditure of energy. They also contain capsaicin, which can help to block pain and inflammation in the body. Along with containing antioxidants, red pepper flakes are perfect for the little kick in any dish.
Oregano is one of my all-time FAVORITE herbs! I love the earthy flavor it delivers and use it almost every day. The name oregano means “mountain joy” and is often very popular in Mediterranean cuisine.
This little herb has vitamins A, C, E and K along with fiber, folate and iron! It is awesome for immune health and function due to the high antioxidant content and, like cinnamon, is also antibacterial and antifungal. Also anti-inflammatory in nature, oil of oregano is typically used for cold and virus care.
I will often add this to my roasted veggies along with sea salt and love to use it on roasted chicken!
4. Smoked Paprika
Paprika is made from ground up peppers – typically spicier ones like chili and cayenne peppers. There is a lot of variety between brands of paprikas since some use spicier peppers and some use more mild peppers. I love the flavor of smoked paprika over regular paprika, and think the Smoked Spanish Paprika is just divine.
Capsaicin is also present in paprika, like red pepper flakes, and brings with it all the positive effects on metabolism. Yet another powerhouse for antioxidants, paprika contains over 70% of our daily recommendation of vitamin A. Paprika also has vitamin B6, vitamin E and Iron.
My favorite ways to use paprika are on roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots or in any type of chili! It is SO good when used with oregano and some sea salt for roasting veggies.
5. Curry Powder
What’s not to love about curry powder? Cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, chili powder and ginger are common ingredients in curry powder. Though the ingredients and quantities vary widely from region to region, typically curry powder is salt-free and not very spicy.
Since turmeric is one of the main ingredients in curry powder, there are massive anti-inflammatory benefits. Especially when paired with black pepper – the circumin in black pepper allows the turmeric to be more effective. The same anti-inflammatory component can also help prevent Alzheimer’s Disease. A study showed that the Indian population has a four time lower chance of developing the disease than the United States population (more here).
There are also digestive benefits from the ginger as well as arthritis relief! The chili powder, as stated previously, has painkilling and pain-blocking effects.
My absolute must-make dishes with curry powder are Curry Roasted Carrots (so easy just toss carrots with sea salt, olive oil and curry powder and roast until crispy) and my Green Curry recipe!
6. Magic Mushroom Powder
The Magic Mushroom Powder from Michelle at Nom Nom Paleo is so incredible! I make sure to never run out of it and can easily make a new batch. She provides the recipe here on her blog and it is also sold on Amazon Prime Now and at Whole Foods!
Magic Mushroom Powder is truly magical. It has a deep umami flavor and adds such depth to any dish. Umami is a Japanese word used to refer to the “meatiness” that you get from foods like soy sauce and tomatoes. The dried porcini mushrooms in the recipe add the umami flavor that I just can’t get enough of!
Along with red pepper flakes (see above), sea salt, thyme and a little black pepper, this blend is worth every penny. I love to use high quality sea salt, always Redmond Real Salt, and it is totally a 1:1 substitute anywhere you would just use salt!
To give you some ideas, I use it often on scrambled eggs, roasted broccoli, ground beef and chicken thighs!