I like to add flavors and change up my meals. What things can I add to my cooking that would enhance the taste of my dishes when added in cooking without adding extra calories

I love this question! I think that herbs and spice combinations can completely transform the taste and overall experience of a dish. Adding the right flavorings depending on what you are serving can increase meal satisfaction without having to add a lot of salt or fat. I would first recommend that you become familiar with which spices pair best with various foods. For example, beef dishes are typically enhanced by: bay leaf, cayenne, chili, dill, ginger, mustard, paprika, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. The flavor of chicken dishes may improve with the addition of: anise, bay leaf, cayenne, curry, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, paprika, parsley, pepper, sage, tarragon. For more food pairing examples check out this great website: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/herbs-spices-what-goes-with-what-food/

Next, I recommend sprucing up your spice rack! Toss any old spices and replace with newer versions (keeping in mind to purchase the smallest containers of the spices you use the least.) Now make sure you can actually get to your spice rack easily. I have friends that have their spices in a hodgepodge mess in the back of their pantry. I would recommend keeping spices organized and in a place where you can easily see them/get to them.

In addition to helping enhance the flavor, spices have long been studied for their potential health benefits. Many lab studies have been conducted showing that various spices can help reduce inflammation and lower (cancer) cell growth. While further research is needed, a few spices have been highlighted for their possible cancer fighting potential. One of these spices is black pepper. This spice commonly sits in a shaker right by the salt but it is not utilized as often as it should be. It has been reported that one component in black pepper may actually help our body better absorb cancer fighting compounds. Not only does black pepper taste great, but it also may be a helpful way to reduce our risk!

Another widely studied spice is garlic! This aromatic spice not only adds wonderful flavor to dishes, it may help lower risk of cancer! Garlic is abundant in phytochemicals and the American Institute for Cancer Research reports that it may help protect against both stomach and colorectal cancer.

Finally, one of the most widely studied spices is curcumin. It is one of the main substances found in turmeric, which is the orange spice that is commonly found in Indian curry dishes. For centuries curcumin has been used to treat numerous inflammation-related problems like joint pain and arthritis. More recently, studies have looked at the potential of curcumin to reduce radiation related inflammation and pain. I regularly encourage my patients to use turmeric more often in their cooking. But, it is always recommended that one speak with her doctor first before taking curcumin in a supplement form. Some supplements may interfere with various medications, so always run your supplement list by your doctor!

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