Spices help me to maintain a healthy weight because foods that I normally don’t particularly like, taste very appealing.
During the winter months this can be particularly important to me as it seems like I feel more hunger, even when I’m not really hungry. Perhaps it is the cold… or boredom… or longer nights. I’m not sure why.
Adding spices to my recipes and food prep has really helped me to stay on track.
I thought I’d share some of these in case it might help someone else as well.
Spices that help to Maintain a Healthy Weight
Garlic and Cayenne Pepper – Two spices that add a lot of flavor without adding any calories… Garlic is great for starting many recipes (like when you’re sauteing minced onion, celery and green peppers.) Cayenne Pepper gives a kick to bland foods. My problem is that I don’t really like the flavor of each of these, so I go very sparingly if at all. I only start with these two because they are GO-TO spices for many people and I think most people like them.
Dill – I often use dill in my salads and it reminds me of spring and summer. It tastes great with vinegar based dressings. I often use it in my veggie potluck salads. And I love to add dill to jazz up boiled cauliflower. The small green herb adds color to the otherwise white dish.
Pumpkin Spice – In the fall, it seems like half the world turns to pumpkin spice. Roasted acorn squash or roasted butternut squash is amazing with this spice added to it. For a dessert treat, I blend frozen bananas with a little bit of this and sometimes I even add a bit of a can of pumpkin for added fiber. I like to make my own with just some ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, and ground cloves. Here’s a link to a recipe for pumpkin pie spice and you’ll end up saving some money when you make your own. Jill makes her own pumpkin pie spice.
Salt/Pepper – This seems so basic, it barely requires mentioning, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t. I try to limit my salt, even though my blood pressure is almost always more low than high. I think too much salt masks the flavor of food, so I don’t add it while I’m cooking, but generally a small shake just before I eat the food helps to bring out the flavor.
Oregano and/or Basil – I love to add these to most things with tomato in the recipe. Sometimes I’ll pair them together, sometimes just oregano. I usually smell each of these spices to see if that’s the flavor I want. It’s funny, when I’m cooking I can’t remember these two flavors unless I smell them first. Most of the other spices, I can see the name and almost taste it in my mouth, just by reading the name. For some reason I struggle with mixing up oregano and basil. We often grow basil plants in the summer and bring them inside in the winter. You’d figure I would know and remember this spice better!
Turmeric – I like to add these to my scrambled eggs. The favor isn’t very strong, but supposedly turmeric helps with inflammation in joints. Be careful with this one, yellow stains will appear on fingers or clothes if you get too wild with the turmeric.
So how do these spices help with weight maintenance?
When I use spices, I’m cooking from scratch. I’m not opening a box of something that is pre made. Just that alone, by using real whole foods more and using processed foods less (or not at all) really really helps me to maintain a healthy weight. So many premade foods have fructose corn syrup or other things that I really need to avoid.
By focusing on the favor of the spice, I happily anticipate more homemade recipes and foods that have dense nutritional value.
Are you interested in making more of your own spices? Check out this handy downloadable PDF to make your own spice mixes from the NDSU Extension – Nutrition site. (Thanks Brenna!)
How about you? Do you use spices to enhance your foods? Which spices did I miss and how do you use them? Leave a message below or send me an email at Chris@becomingelli.com.