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August 23, 2023

Spice Up Your Life with Registered Dietitian, Mindy McCullough, MS, RD, LDN

by Mindy McCullough, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES

Confused by the variety of spices at the grocery store?  Have a kitchen full of spice jars, but find yourself constantly defaulting to only garlic and onion?  If this is you, then continue reading to learn the basics about spices.

Spice versus Herb

Spices are made from different parts of plants and trees, such as the bark, buds, fruit, roots, seeds, or stems.  This is different from an herb as these are made from the leafy part of the plant.

Advantages of Spice

  • Adds flavor and interest to a meal
  • Enhances the natural flavors of food
  • Adds color
  • Certain spices have the potential to help decrease inflammation, improve blood sugar, and improve blood pressure

Tips for Purchasing

When purchasing spices at the store, make sure to look for spices and spice blends without added salt.  Many spice blends contain sodium.  Often it is better to make your own blends or look for one that says sodium-free on the label.

Most recipes call for ground spices, but always check first.  Some spices stay fresher longer in their whole form, like nutmeg.  Simply use a zester or the small side of a grater to add to recipes when needed.

To stretch your budget, purchasing individual spices to make your own mix can be cheaper per ounce.  Shopping sales on spices or purchasing store brands can also help decrease the cost of spices.  If you live near an ethnic market, it can be a great budget friendly place to get many spices.

Creating a Spice Collection

When building your spice collection, consider focusing on the basics that you will use most often.  See the table below for more information including suggested food pairings and usage for each spice.


Now that you are armed with knowledge about spices, try something new in your next dish!

Interested in learning more about healthy eating that will fit your lifestyle? An Avance Care dietitian is available to help. Book online at


The Ultimate Infographic Guide to Spices

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