They add flavor without adding fat and calories, change a recipe into an entirely different dish, and provide an array of nutrients for improved health. Having them on-hand will allow you to quickly prepare your favorite whole recipes.
Read the ingredients of your spices, look for items without added preservatives (e.g. the spice(s) should be the only ingredient).
I suggest buying spices from a local spice shop as they will be freshly ground and available at surprisingly great prices. Save your glass spice jars and take them in to be refilled at a discount. I shop at The Savory Spice Shop in Denver and online.
Pay attention to expiration dates on spices, once expired, they lose flavor and nutrients.
Below is a list of what I always have on hand in my spice cabinet.
- Sea Salt (contains more minerals and fewer preservatives than regular table salt)
- Garlic Salt
- Dried Basil
- Dried Oregano
- Cumin (Ground and Seeds)
- Cayenne Pepper
- Sweet Paprika
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- Course Black Pepper
- Granulated White Onion
(Shop around to find your favorite brand/combination)
- Chili Powder (contrary to popular belief, all chili powders are different)
- Thai Curry
- Indian Curry
- Poultry/Fish Rub (I love Pearl St. Plank Rub from Savory Spice)
There are so many blends out there, experiment with creating your own, asking friends for their suggestions, and talking to your local spice shop expert.
- Crushed Aleppo Peppers (my absolute favorite on pizza and pasta)
- Smoked Sweet Paprika
- Dried Dill
- Mustard Seed
- Coriander Seed
- Fennel Seed
- White Pepper
- Maple Sugar Flakes
P.S. A few people have asked what the difference is between spices and herbs. They are both very similar, the differences are that herbs are fresh, not dried, and spices can come from herbs, seeds, fruits, vegetables, roots, barks, etc.