Spice of Life

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Cost: per serving


A sprinkle here or there of just the right spice can really bring a dish to life. If you’re trying to eat healthful foods, spices are a perfect way to enhance flavor without adding fat and calories, says registered dietitian Jill Fleming. Add interesting spices to vegetables and fruits, and you’ll be enjoying them more than ever.

Branch out from salt and pepper to experiment a bit with different spices. Whether fresh or dried, spices add zest to your food.


Sprinkle on oatmeal, applesauce, soup or coffee. Mash it into winter squash soup or sweet potatoes. For a lower-calorie pumpkin pie, reduce the amount of sugar and add more cinnamon. It’s a key ingredient in Indian and Greek dishes.


Think beyond spaghetti sauce and garlic bread. Garlic can add delicious flavor and aroma to steamed vegetables and mashed potatoes — add it minced or crushed just before serving. Garlic also makes brown rice, couscous and quinoa more flavorful. Just crush a clove or two into the water you use to boil them.

Cayenne Pepper

Put a dash on your eggs in the morning or on vegetables at dinner. “A couple of drops of hot pepper sauce just explodes the flavor in soup, and then you don’t need to add as much sodium,” says Fleming. Cayenne pepper also helps the flavor of canned beans. Mix with lemon juice to enhance greens, like kale, collard greens and mustard greens.


Chop finely and use with stir-fried vegetables or noodle dishes. Crystallized ginger, found in the grocery store spice section, can be used over ice cream and fresh fruit. Grate it over meat or add to spicy sauces.


Excellent with fish, especially salmon. Mix with sliced cucumbers and rice vinegar for a refreshing salad. Sprinkle over baked new potatoes.

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