Pum’s tips…Spices

No matter whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, spices will usually feature in my meals.  Not only do they add flavour and can completely change up meals (while using all the same ingredients), they provide other really amazing health benefits.

I thought I would share some of my favourite spices with you and how I use them every day.  As always, I’m using the title term of the post very loosely as I’ll not just cover spices but herbs, oils and dressings too!


Now I’m going to start with one that’s not featured in the picture above (and that’s because I’ve only gone and just run out yesterday *sobs*)…

Ground Ginger.  The best way I use this is in porridge (porridge oats, oat bran, buckwheat ‘porridge’ or quinoa ‘porridge’).  It adds such a lovely gingerbread flavour making it seem more like a dessert than a breakfast…and who doesn’t want that?!  Add along with the oats and let the flavours infuse while cooking.  It’s also full of antioxidants and is great for digestion.

And now working from left to right of the picture…

Crushed Chillies.  These feature in a lot of my dinners.  Add to stews, chillies or curries during cooking or sprinkle over salads, prepared veg, prawns, tuna or salmon for that extra kick.  Chillies have been known to fight inflammation and there are studies to show that consuming them provides cardiovascular benefits (by reducing bad cholesterol)…win!

Cumin.  This is a key addition in all my curries and chilli dishes.  This is a good source of magnesium which is important, as a mineral which cannot be produced by the body, this needs to be consumed through diet.

Oregano.  For me this adds an ‘Italian’ feel to any meal.  Add this to Bolognese, tomato sauce or sprinkled over pitta ‘pizzas’.  This is a herb that is known for providing antioxidants for immune system support.

Smoked Paprika.  Ok so this is a difficult choice to make but this might just be MY FAVOURITE.  Great with chicken, fish and veg this is such a wonderful, meal transforming flavour that I can’t recommend enough.  Paprika has been shown to have fantastic benefits on the skin and hair…need I say more?  See my Sunday Lunch post which really showcases this ingredient: https://pumdiets.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/pums-favourite-recipes-sunday-lunch/

Nutmeg.  I use this in a similar way to ground ginger by adding this to my morning porridge.  Nutmeg is one of those Christmassy spices that I just love.  One of the key benefits from nutmeg is it’s natural pain relieving characteristics, so next time you’re sore after exercising treat yourself to a guilt free hot chocolate using raw cacao, coconut milk and plenty of ground nutmeg!

Tahini.  So this is where I deviate from the word ‘spice’.  Tahini is sesame seed paste and from my previous posts you’ll see you can use this both as an addition to a sweet or savoury dish.  It’s great as a dressing as a final flavour boost to salad bowls.  Tahini also provides a good source of protein and calcium. So try one of my Cacao Coconut Tahini Bites as a post-workout refuelling treat: https://pumdiets.wordpress.com/2015/08/28/pums-favourite-recipes-cacao-coconut-tahini-bites/

Coconut Oil.  I use several different oils in cooking and dressing dishes however I’ve only included coconut oil here because for me this adds the best flavour to dishes.  Try roasting your veg in coconut oil (especially sweet potato wedges yum) or lightly pan-fry fish in some coconut oil.  Coconut oil health benefits have been widely documented recently and it has been hailed as one of the best ‘superfoods’, just make sure to go for organic virgin coconut oil as not all is created the same.

Tobasco.  Again this is a flavour booster that can be added right at the end of a dish.  My favourite way to use this is splashed over scrambled eggs.  Great for giving your metabolism a rev-up in the morning!

Ground Cinnamon.  Whenever I’m baking anything I’m tempted to add cinnamon.  The aroma is so inviting and overall I’m just a huge fan.  If you’re not sure where to start with cinnamon try mixed into porridge while cooking, adding to pancake batter, in curries (trust me) or sprinkled over sweet potatoes before baking.  Cinnamon is great for controlling your blood sugar levels so it really is a wonder spice to be adding to your breakfasts.

Mint.  This is a herb commonly associated with lamb and it really does bring the flavour out.  I make a delicious lamb ragu (Nigella recipe…stolen from stepdad!) that uses dried mint and it’s just not the same when it’s excluded.  Mint is very soothing on digestion so is brilliant for sufferers of IBS.

I’ll sometimes buy other spices for use in specific recipes I’m excited to try, but those above are the ones I go back to time and time again.  If you’re currently not a spice user don’t be scared!  You don’t have to be a chef to incorporate these into your daily meals, just remember to taste as you go so you don’t over-use.

Pum x


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