Cooking with spices is a savvy way to enhance your dishes without adding calories, fat or sodium. From “A” for allspice to “T” for turmeric, here are seven spices to sprinkle, stir, blend and whisk into your dishes and drinks.
Allspice: With warm, sweet and peppery flavours, aromatic whole allspice berries look a bit like large peppercorns and are best used in pickles, barbecue sauces, poached fish dishes and mulled drinks like cider. Ground allspice is ideal in cookies and cakes – especially during the holiday season. It’s a staple in Jamaican jerk chicken and can be added to mashed sweet potatoes or honey-mustard glaze for baked ham.
Cayenne Pepper: Made from the dried and crushed pods of hot chili peppers, fiery cayenne can be used to enhance any savoury dishes and is especially popular in Mexican, Central American and Italian cooking. Sprinkle on poached eggs and avocado toast, add to spaghetti sauce and braised meat dishes, and stir into your favourite dips such as hummus and guacamole.
Cinnamon: With its spicy-sweet flavour, cinnamon in both curled stick and finely ground form has been a popular spice for millennia. One of the most versatile spices, cinnamon is a welcome addition to everything from morning oatmeal, granola, smoothies and toast to dinnertime rice pilafs, curries, chili and roasted meats. Cinnamon is also exceptional in sweet treats such as cookies, coffee cakes and ice cream, and is delicious partnered with dark chocolate.
Cloves: Pleasingly pungent, spicy-sweet clove in both whole and ground form has been a favourite in Asian and African cooking for hundreds of years and is also widely used in Dutch, European and American dishes. Add a dash to everything from spice cookies to quick breads, sweet potatoes to roasted squash and roasted pork to ham and split pea soup.
Cumin: Both cumin seed and ground cumin add distinctive warm and piquant flavour to roasted meats and stews. It’s also exceptional in both Indian curries and Mexican dishes including chili, pork tamales and steak tacos, while the seed can oftentimes be found in cumin-spiced Gouda.
Ginger: Robust and zesty ginger has been prized for centuries for its spicy-sweet flavour. It’s a snap to add in everything from gingersnaps, gingerbread, muffins and cakes to stir-fries, ramen soup and other Asian dishes. Try it in soy-ginger dressing for salads or honey-ginger sauce for chicken wings. As well, add a dash to herbal tea or smoothies.
Turmeric: Brilliant yellow-orange ground turmeric is a mildly earthy flavoured spice that’s traditionally added to Indian curries and yellow mustard. Stir into egg salad or tuna salad, whisk into dressings, spreads and dips, and add to soups, stews and chowders. Add a dash to your smoothie or matcha green tea latte, too.