5 Potent Herbs and Spices to Add to Your Pantry

Walk down the spice aisle of the grocery store and you’ll find a dazzling array of options to choose from. Herbs and spices take cooking to a whole new level flavour-wise, and they contain powerful compounds that bring us many health benefits. From anti-inflammatory to immune-boosting to blood sugar balancing, adding spices to your food is a way to get your extra dose of nutritional medicine.

But how do you know which ones to choose? Everyone’s herb and spice preferences are different, so it takes time to learn which ones taste best to you and mix together well. To get you started, these are some of my favourite herbs and spices to add to your pantry that I love for both their flavour and their power!

1. Turmeric

Found in curry powder and on its own, this spice has great anti-inflammatory effects and is also a strong antioxidant. Studies from top universities in China also show it has anti-depressant qualities. I like to use it on curries and in stir-fries, and it also makes a wonderful tea and is the perfect spice to add to your elixirs. If you’re interested in learning more you can read up on the benefits of turmeric here.

Recipe to Try: Healing Dairy-Free Hot Chocolate

2. Cumin

Cumin is probably my favourite smell of all time. It’s found in a lot of Indian dishes. Cumin aids in digestion and helps improve immunity. One study found that cumin is protective against memory loss. I like to use this spice in many of the things I cook, from roasting veggies to curries to rice noodle bowls to sauces to grains. I even sprinkle a bit on my quinoa salad for extra flavour!

Recipe to Try: Stuffed Delicata Squash or Veggie Burrito Bowls

3. Rosemary

This is a flavour and smell of nostalgia for me since rosemary is found in a lot of Italian cooking. Rosemary has been linked to improving memory and brain function. It is also a strong anti- inflammatory. My favourite way to use rosemary is on baked sweet potatoes. It also makes your home smell amazing! I prefer fresh, but dry works great too if that’s all you have on hand.

Recipe to Try: Vegan Lentil Loaf

4. Cayenne

This made the list because I am a spice queen (seriously, I challenge you) and I love to put a lot of cayenne of many of the dishes I make. It’s so much better than a store bought hot sauce and you can control the amount of heat you like. Adding half a teaspoon to what you’re cooking is said to help suppress your appetite and burn calories. I love it on everything, so if you like it spicy, add some cayenne!

Recipe to Try: Roasted Sweet Potato + Brussels Sprouts Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing

5. Cinnamon

I love to use cinnamon in my baking and especially love to load it onto my oatmeal. I find it helps to satisfy my sweet tooth and also smells amazing. It’s anti-inflammatory and has become a key ingredient in my post-exercise smoothies. Studies also show that the spice can aid in weight loss and helps with the treatment of diabetes. It’s also super simple to use. Sprinkle on your desserts, in your tea or on your dairy-free yogurt.

Recipe to Try: Dairy-Free Gingerbread Latte or Apple Cinnamon Protein Overnight Oats

Get cooking with these herbs and spices! Your palate and your body will thank you for it.

Header Image: iStock/SemiSweetStock