Spice it up for spring!

This week has been unseasonably warm - I actually wore shorts and a t-shirt! Okay, so I was a little chilly, but I couldn’t resist the chance to get some much needed vitamin D.

Warm weather also has me thinking about how to plan my herb garden for the summer. Last year we had so many herbs we couldn’t eat them all! We love to incorporate herbs whenever possible to add flavor without adding salt, but fresh herbs can be so expensive in the grocery store. If you have the space in a backyard or a windowsill to grow your own herbs it can help save money at the checkout line, and add a decorative element to your home

I love to travel with my taste buds. Some of my favorite spices take me to exotic places. Cumin is a popular spice around the world, from Africa to the Mediterranean, and Asia to South America. It comes from the seed of a plant in the parsley family. You might see cumin commonly as a seasoning in chili powder, adobo and curry spice mixes. It has an earthy flavor and is not spicy but pairs well with spicy dishes. It is one of the most used spices in our cupboard, and we use it to season a lot of our Mexican- and Indian-inspired recipes.

There are tons of recipes online for spice mixes. Here is a recipe for Moroccan Spice Blend from Epicurious that uses some common ingredients you might already have in your cupboard and can add interesting flavors for your next weeknight chicken meal.

Basil is one of my favorite dried herbs to have around the kitchen. In a pinch, when fresh basil is not available, a little dried basil can go a long way. I add it as part of a dry spice rub, in sauces, stews, stir fries and salad dressings, or just simply sprinkle some on fresh tomatoes with a little olive oil for an elegant yet simple appetizer.

Dried herbs and spices are just as healthy as fresh, and can be used as a replacement in most recipes. Just remember that the flavor of dried herbs and spices may be more concentrated, so you might need to use a little less if you are substituting with dried.

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite spices in the comments!