Spice Cupboard Staples

Anyone who thinks that healthy eating equals boring food hasn’t had the chance to experience what a real Paleo diet is all about.

Granted, it’s certainly not unhealthy to eat a meal comprised of steamed broccoli, plain grilled chicken with some olive oil drizzled on top, but if that’s your go-to, day in and day out, you may find yourself, and your palate feeling a little bit nonplussed after a while.

Despite the fact that many Americans rely on condiments, such as the number one seller, mayonnaise, (the total sales for which were $401204,800 last year[1]), steak sauce to douse upon an overcooked, tough piece of beef or commercially prepared sriracha to drown a dish of steamed veggies, there are other ways to go in terms of jazzing up that swordfish steak and mixed lettuce salad.

Yes, condiments can be made at home and yes, they would be far healthier than some of the options you’d find on the shelves of your supermarket but in some cases, condiments do the opposite of creating a meal that highlights the natural flavor profiles of each food in the dish.

Sometimes, it just masks the food, covers it up and makes for an overall not very enjoyable dining experience.

Think back to when you were a kid. I can recall being at a friend’s house and being served some tough pork chops for dinner that tasted like nothing other than what I imagined it would be like if I were to chew on my shoe.

So, I did the only thing I could think of; I drowned it in ketchup in order to force it down.

But I was seven, and I was at someone else’s house.

There’s no reason for an adult to rely on the smothering approach!

What’s the answer then?

Well, for one, learning to be better versed in the kitchen is a great way to be able to create beautiful, balanced meals for yourself as well as for the family.

But if you’re among the majority of Americans who are pressed for time and don’t cook[2], or envision a time when you’ll have loads of time on your hands to allow a stew to develop, a sauce to marry or a whole chicken to marinate, you can go an easier route and get a little spicy!

Not only does spicing things up in the kitchen help to liven up a meal, doing so also packs a health punch at the same time.

“Studies show that many different herbs and spices offer health benefits,” says David Heber, MD, PhD, professor of medicine, and director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition[3].

Common herbs and spices may help protect against certain chronic conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Wondering what the distinction is between herbs and spices?

Herbs, including basil and parsley, are from plants and plant parts. Spices often come from the seeds, berries, bark, or roots of plants.

In addition to adding incredible flavors, when we begin including fresh herbs and spices and dried seasonings to our regime, we’re also getting:

  • Antioxidants
  • Polyphenols, which provide one of the main health benefits associated with herbs and spices.
  • Anti-inflammatory benefits; certain herbs and spices curb inflammation in the body, which may give rise to heart disease and cancer. For example, antioxidants in cinnamon have been linked to lower inflammation, as well as reductions in blood glucose concentrations in people with diabetes.
  • Weight loss support
  • Assistance in lowering blood pressure

Which are the must- haves?

My personal favorite dried pantry staples, which I use the most often, include ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and garlic.

On the fresh front, I always have on hand, basil, rosemary, oregano…and garlic!

It’ll vary based on where you live, what’s available in season and what flavors you fancy!

You won’t go wrong; rather, you can view it as a completely fun way to enjoy spending just enough time in the kitchen without feeling like you’re having to slave over the stove for hours.

Barefoot provisions is a great place to source your spices online, to balance out those you can find fresh at your farmer’s market.

Click here to check out my Paleoista All Purpose Spice Blend!

[1] “The Best-Selling Condiments in the U.S.: The Best-Selling Condiments in the U.S.” Bloomberg.com. Bloomberg, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 201

[2] “Americans Cook the Least, Eat the Fastest.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015

[3] “Spices & Herbs Health Benefits and Adding Spices to Foods.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 16 Sept. 2015