5 Spices That Do More Than Just Flavor Your Foods

by Her Happy Balance on April 2, 2013

I almost never eat any food plain. I have a pretty well-stocked spice cabinet at home, and I’m always reaching for a bottle of my latest craving. I have to admit that I am also an awful recipe follower. I got in trouble in Home Economics class in middle school for not exactly measuring out my ingredients. If a cookie recipe called for a cup of oats, I’d be very liberal with that cup. If snicker doodles needed 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, whelp my cookies got about a tablespoon. What can I say, I just like certain ingredients more than others! Sometimes foods just need more spices than they call for! I am not one for bland foods. Luckily, there are some spices that have some pretty tremendous health benefits:

1.) Cinnamon

  • “Cinnamon contains substances that work as antioxidants to protect cells against damage caused by harmful free radicals — substances found in the environment and inside the body that destroy cells,”  Elisa Zied, R.D.
  • Rich in polyphenols. Helps regulate blood sugar, great for type 2 diabetics
  • Can help satisfy your sweet tooth without having you reaching for artificial sweeteners in processed foods

Ways to use it: sprinkle it over oatmeal, add a dash to tea or tea, use as a healthy topping on vanilla ice cream or yogurt.  Sometimes I even take cinnamon in pill form.



2.) Red Pepper Flakes

  • Contains capsaicin, which while it gives your mouth that kick of spicy, has been shown to reduce pain neurotransmitters
  • Can help suppress appetite as well as body fat accumulation
  • Can I put ridiculously delicious as a health benefit? Oh, I’m writing this post and can do whatever I want? Okay, it’s delicious then!

Ways to use it: Sprinkle it on top of pizza, stir-fry, soups, into mashed potatoes, or essentially everything you want to have a little kick!



3.) Oregano

  • “One teaspoon has as much antioxidant power as three cups of chopped broccoli” Dr. Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoodsRx Diet: Lose Weight with the Power of SuperNutrients
  • Most effective natural antimicrobial against Salmonella and E. coli.
  • Because of its antimicrobial properties, oregano extract is used in some mouthwashes and can help your breath stay fresh!

Ways to use it: Sprinkle it on top of pizza or pasta dishes, my dad also swears by it as a salad topping.



4.) Rosemary (one of my faves!)

  • May help reduce your risk of cancer! Helps reduce carcinogenic compounds
  • High in antioxidants, can help reduce inflammation
  •  “Rosemary has shown significant antifungal and antibacterial activity […] It has been studied specifically for its ability to interfere with candidiasis [yeast infection] growth.” Cheryl Forberg, R.D., chef, nutritionist for NBC’S “The Biggest Loser”
  • Being studied for it’s role in helping heart health

Ways to use it: Bake it into breads, add it to salad dressings and marinades. I love it on brussel sprouts with a little brown sugar.



5.) Ginger

  • Anti-inflammatory, helpful for people with arthritis and even those congested with cold and flu symptoms
  • Digestive aid; can help reduce stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea

Ways to use it: I use it in juices, but you can grate it into stir-fry, add it to veggie and fish dishes, and sometimes I will use it in a marinade with soy sauce for red meats. It helps to tenderize them.




Huffington Post, She Knows Health & Wellness, and GNET


Which of these spices is your favorites?

Do you have a favorite way to use one of them?

Did you get into trouble in Home-Ec class like I did?


Comments on this entry are closed.

Amanda April 2, 2013 at 10:00 am

I sprinkle cinnamon into my vanilla yogurt every morning. I also love ginger. I need to eat spices more often; I’m a very bland eater.

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Well you love ginger and that is definitely not bland! Some of my favorite ways to get in more spices are by buying themed spice packs like a Caribbean Jerk mix and then experimenting.

Simply Nicole April 2, 2013 at 9:14 am

Good thing I love all of these spices! Some of the others I love are basil and red pepper flakes! I put them on everything!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

I think I would say that basil and cilantro are my favorite herbs. So many great health benefits from whole, natural foods!

Becky @ Olives n Wine April 2, 2013 at 9:55 am

Great facts! I never knew the antioxidant powers of oregano, amazing! My favorites would probably have to be cinnamon and ginger. I could put ginger on anything, I actually made a ginger butter sauce for my salmon last night 🙂

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Yum, a ginger butter sauce sounds divine! And I love salmon, so the combo sounds pretty stellar, kudos!

bridgetmcgahen April 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

I LOVE roasting veggies with rosemary!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Isn’t it the best when we actually really love healthy foods?! Your veggies sound pretty great 🙂

bridgetmcgahen April 3, 2013 at 6:52 am

It really is great! I love that I now crave broccoli more often than I crave sugar.

thedancingrunner April 2, 2013 at 10:31 am

I am obsessed with red pepper flakes…put that on everything!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Me too girl, I love spicy food!

cookingfortheotherhalf April 2, 2013 at 11:03 am

Love this post and love all of those spices. Cinnamon is probably my favorite.

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Thank you 🙂 So excited that all of these yummy flavors are beneficial to our bodies too!

SideShowShannon April 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

Love all of those!!!!!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Me too, lady 🙂 Especially those red pepper flakes!

Alex @ Cookie Dough Katzen April 2, 2013 at 11:19 am

I didn’t know cinamon has been to known to help cure a sweet tooth. Very useful info! My favorite spices are cinnamon and red pepper flakes although not necessarily together. And do sprinkles count as a spice? 😉 If so def my number one favorite!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Haha! Sprinkles can be a spice in our books 😉 Rainbow kind are the best!

Brittany April 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

If only your home-ec teacher could see you now!! Who needs to measure exactly!? The more spice the better!! I LOVE cinnamon, ginger, and anything spicy (cayenne is my go to.) I’ve been using rosemary more with my roasted veggies, but had no idea the health benefits..YEAH!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Right!? I was so annoyed when I got in trouble for that, I wanted to be like listen lady…I already know how to make eggs and cookies! Cayenne is great, totally has capsaicin!

The Cookie ChRUNicles April 2, 2013 at 11:35 am

I am big on the spices these days- cinnamon in oatmeal, on my apples, sweet potatoes, cookies, muffins, pancakes…oregano, crushed red pepper, thyme, rosemary, cumin…I use them all! Add so much flavor and the health benefits can’t be beat.

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I’ve recently discovered cumin. Pretty delicious and definitely a very unique taste. I’m sure your son loves all your cinnamon creations 🙂

The Cookie ChRUNicles April 2, 2013 at 6:28 pm

lol he does, although I don’t even think he realizes half the time that I add cinnamon. A lot of times he asks for “brown sugar” in his oatmeal to make it sweeter. I say ok but really add cinnamon.

cleaneatingveggiegirl April 2, 2013 at 11:39 am

I LOVE cinnamon! I love adding it to soups, sprinkling it on PB or AB toast, and sprinkling it on popcorn! Yum :). It is good to hear that it is benefiting me in more than just taste!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Yum! Cinnamon in a butternut squash soup sounds pretty good right about now! I never remember that cinnamon can be used in soups.

jessiebearwhat April 2, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Mmmmm, I love all of these. Good to know there’s huge benefits from eating them!

Her Happy Balance April 2, 2013 at 1:41 pm

You’re back!! haha And yup tons of benefits in all these goodies!

Maureen April 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

I love red pepper flakes. I eat them on practically everything. A while back my dad said he had a present for me, and it was a container of red pepper flake from BJs. Needless to say, I’m pretty well stocked for a while.

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:14 am

haha what a fun present! I get my container from SAMs club so I may also have the ginormous bottle. Can never have enough 🙂

Brittany April 2, 2013 at 3:50 pm

I am definitely an over-seasoner! Ive started waiting until I make my plate to go over the top, but I just really like very flavorful stuff. I sprinkle cinnamon in my coffee, on cottage cheese, ice cream, anything I can think of. And ive just started adding fresh ginger into things too.

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:24 am

Me too, lady! I just need that extra spice! And you’ll love fresh ginger. It’s great for Asian stir-frys!

kathy @ vodka and soda April 2, 2013 at 7:38 pm

i LOVE cinnamon! i dump a whole whack of it in my oatmeal every morning. i also love mint and coriander and i chop up a whole bunch and add it to my quinoa and regular salads yum!

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

I love coriander or cilantro too! Cilantro and basil are my favorite herbs and they make their way into everything I make.

Nicole @ Fruit N Fitness April 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm

I love cinnamon, I add it to most everything! I love adding ground ginger to stir frys but I have never tried using fresh grated ginger. Rosemary is really good but I often don’t think to add it when I’m cooking. Thanks for all these great tips!

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:26 am

You’re welcome 🙂 Cinnamon is the best in my morning oats, definitely makes them taste 10x better. And fresh ginger is awesome, give it a go!

Sweets & Confessions April 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm

I so did not know that about oregano! I love oregano… now I shall use it 10X’s more lol 🙂

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:25 am

Haha! Great 🙂 i love it on pizza!

Sweets & Confessions April 3, 2013 at 9:32 am

Me too! I also put it on black beans. My ex-bf was Brazilian and he used it in everything lol!

Meredith April 2, 2013 at 9:45 pm

awesome post! Cinnamon is my favorite…I don’t remember the last time I made my oats in the morning without it! I also love oregano on pizza, although I didn’t know the amazing health benefits, so thanks for that 🙂

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:27 am

Growing up my mom used to sprinkle oregano onto frozen pizzas to make them taste fresher, I have to add it to all of my pizza now!

blonde hair blue eyed runner April 2, 2013 at 10:19 pm

I love ginger! I had no idea about these, I’m going to def try to incorporate them more. we eat pizza about once a week and that be easy to sprinkle them on.

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:27 am

You could totally use the red pepper flakes and oregano in one meal as both go GREAT on pizza 🙂

jessielovestorun April 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm

Your dad is a smart man… oregano is delicious on top of salads… and eggs =)

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:28 am

Oregano on eggs! I have never heard of that before, but that’s a great idea! I’ll have to try 🙂

Kristina at damntenpounds April 3, 2013 at 12:19 am

Ok, we could definitely be food buddies in real life! I load up on cinnamon and red pepper flakes in all of my dishes. I tried to grow oregano and rosemary in an herb garden awhile back but it didn’t work out. Maybe now I’ll give it another try … and remember to water them 😉

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:29 am

Haha don’t feel bad, I actually killed 2 cacti. Oops! Give the herbs another go though, there’s nothing like fresh! 🙂

ArunaAdvaney April 3, 2013 at 12:53 am

How enlightening! Thanks. 🙂

Cinnamon is a favorite, and I don’t measure it, either. I learned that from Bobby Flay as he doesn’t measure cinnamon either, because he loves it so much. As much as I like cinnamon, I find the strict measurements to be the most annoying thing about baking, so it’s refreshing to ignore that one measurement at least.

Red pepper is another favorite. I love it on italian and chicken flavored dishes.

Her Happy Balance April 3, 2013 at 9:30 am

I feel like “real” cooks don’t measure things exactly very much. You can just tell by eye or by taste the correct amount of something.

And red pepper flakes are great in Italian dishes!

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