Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
13 Aug

Top 10 Favorite Herbs and Spices

This article was originally published last year following the release of the Primal Blueprint Publishing book Rich Food, Poor Food. I’m reprinting it here today to coincide with a very special offer. As many of you may know, it’s my life mission to help 10 million (or more!) people take control of their health for good. As a small effort to that end, I’ve teamed up with Buck Books over the last few weeks to give select Primal Blueprint Publishing books away for under a buck. The response has been absolutely incredible. These one day sales have helped get life-changing information to tens of thousands of people that desperately need it. So today, I’m doing it again. Through midnight tonight you can get Rich Food, Poor Food on Kindle for just 99 cents. It’s the ultimate grocery purchasing guide, with detailed analysis and recommendations for all food groups. So have a look at Buck Books, and grab your Kindle copy before time runs out. Enjoy!

SpicesFollowing is an excerpt from the Caltons’ popular new book, Rich Food, Poor Food. I’ve chosen their section on herbs and spices because I learned more details about how to choose the best herbs and spices, and what benefits they offer, from reading their material. If you notice on my Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid, herbs, spices and extracts occupy a nice little triangle at the top. You’re not consuming mass quantities of them as a big calorie source, but they make an important contribution to a healthy diet nevertheless. Besides adding flavor and protecting against microbes, herbs, spices, and extracts provide outstanding levels of antioxidants – some of the highest values found in any food.

Yep, I’m a big fan of herbs, spices, and extracts…and after reading Rich Food, Poor Food and having follow up discussions with the Caltons, I’ve tossed most of the stuff in my cupboard! Why? Because most of the jars found in my own home were not organic, and/or have been in there longer than a year. According to the Caltons, most conventional spices you find in the grocery store have been irradiated during their processing. This compromises their nutritional value and introduces health risks, which are detailed in the following excerpt.

Sorry, herbs and spices do not get better with age (maybe you’re confusing them with the Primal Blueprint indulgence of red wine?); in fact, they lose their potency and become bottled up free radicals when they linger too long on your shelves. For kicks, I asked several folks in the office to go home, take a look at their spice rack or cupboard, and guesstimate how long the stuff has been in there. One realized that her spinning tabletop rack was a holiday gift from seven or eight years ago! Here’s more on the subject from Rich Food, Poor Food, including a nice promo for their gold medalist (and one of my favorites) in the spice category: turmeric.

Rich Food, Poor Food – Excerpt from Herbs and Spices Section

Most grocery store spices are irradiated. Irradiation is the process of exposing food to radiation in order to destroy microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, or insects that might be present in the food. While irradiation works to kill bacteria, it also disrupts the structure of everything it passes through. Specifically, irradiation breaks up a food’s DNA, vitamins, minerals, and proteins and creates “free radicals” (atoms, molecules, or ions that contain unpaired electrons and crash into each other, multiplying exponentially), which contribute to many degenerative diseases, including heart disease, dementia, cancer, and cataracts.

Additionally, irradiation destroys the essential micronutrients that can help you reach micronutrient sufficiency. Your spice rack has so much to offer, that is, when you buy the Rich Food option, which is always the non-irradiated organic spice – our top pick. Here’s a rundown on the benefits of some of our favorite spices:


Dill: Helps your Digestion. A teaspoon a day can reduce 80 percent of bloating in only three days. Its antibacterial oils not only kill any possible stomach bugs but also help in the breakdown of carbohydrates and proteins.

Uses:  Feathery texture is sharp-tasting. Great on fish, in chicken and potato salads. Used in pickling.


Tarragon: For Heart Health. One teaspoon daily lowered LDL cholesterol more than 40 percent while increasing good cholesterol nearly 30 percent. Tarragon contains a chemical called rutin, which boosts circulation and reduces plaque in the arteries.

Uses:  Flavor of anise, licorice, mint, hay, and pine. Try it in Bernaise sauce.


Oregano: Bacteria Be Gone. Due to the high levels of antibacterial compounds and antioxidants, oregano is just as effective at killing E.Coli and staph bacteria as penicillin.

Uses:  Tastes Robust. Best in tomato dishes, usually of Mediterranean or Mexican origin.


Bay Leaf

Bay Leaf: Natural Pain Reliever. Eliminates headaches and migraines. Bay leaf is rich in eugenol, a natural anesthetic that alleviates pain.

Uses:  Tastes woody. Perfect in soups, sauces, stews, and pot roasts.



Rosemary: The Brain Booster and Fatigue Fighter. With just one sniff, the phytochemicals found in rosemary can rev up your mind by increasing production of beta waves. Carnosol, a nutrient unique to this herb, fights fatigue by flushing out energy-sapping toxins from the body.

Uses:  Smell rosemary sprigs to increase alertness in only five minutes. Intense pine flavor. Great on grilled meats; adds an interesting boost to chocolate desserts.


Cayenne: Appetite Suppressant and Metabolism Booster. Capsaicin, found in cayenne, has thermogentic properties that increase your blood flow and metabolism. Individuals who only use cayenne infrequently also find it reduces hunger.

Uses:  Sweet heat. Works well with meats and cheeses.


Cinnamon: Controls Glucose Levels. Cinnamon contains antioxidants called polyphenols that boost levels of three key proteins responsible for insulin signaling, glucose transport, and inflammatory response. Sprinkle one half teaspoon on your food to slow carbohydrate absorption by 29 percent.

Uses: Sweet and Savory. This spice is found in almost all world cuisine. From stews to pies this spice doesn’t discriminate.


Cardamom: Treats Indigestion. Chew one teaspoon of these seeds to soothe a sour belly. The aroma and therapeutic properties of cardamom are due to the volatile oil in its seed, which contains cineol, terpinene, limonene, sabinene, and terpineol.

Uses:  Pungent and sweet. This fragrant spice is used in rich curries and milk-based preparations, as well as in spice cakes and desserts.


Sage: Memory Minder. Both the phytonutrients and volatile oils in sage maintain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that supports memory.

Uses:  Piney with eucalyptus notes. Lovely addition to stuffing and pork dishes.


And our favorite Rich Food spice is . . . Turmeric


This mildly woody spice is a key ingredient in many Indian, Persian, and Thai dishes. This “poor man’s” saffron is rich in benefits. The active ingredient, curcumin, is so powerful that it is commonly made into expensive nutraceutical capsules. According to Ajay Goel, Ph.D., Director of Epigenetics and Cancer Prevention at Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, “Curcumin is a complete well-being tonic – it benefits every organ in the body… It shows promise of fighting nearly every disease.” Dr. Goel suggests that curcumin aids in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and depression.

Why not just cook up a cure in your kitchen tonight?

Curcumin Controls Blood Sugar: It switches on the liver genes that keep glucose levels in check. It improves the pancreas’s ability to make insulin and helps slow down the metabolism of carbohydrates after meals.

Curcumin Fights Cancer: It inhibits the genetic switches that allow for cancerous cell growth to occur.

Curcumin Speeds Up Metabolism: USDA research shows that is enhances cellular energy to speed metabolism.

Curcumin Clears Plaque: It removes amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain that can cause Alzheimer’s.

Making Cents

Let’s face it, organic spice jars are small and pricey, and it can take along time to use up some of these specialty ingredients. Your best bet is to buy your organic spices in the bulk section of your local health food or specialty spice store, where you can buy smaller amounts of the spices you need right away. This guarantees that your spices are fresh, loaded with flavor, and saves you money when a recipe only calls for a pinch. Buy your own glass jars online or wash out old spice jars and transfer contents from store baggies into convenient glass jars. Store them in a cool, dark place to prevent oxidative damage from light and oxygen.

Read an extended excerpt below, and check out the Buck Books offer to get a Kindle copy of this book for just 99 cents here.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. First! Turmeric daily, here!

    Knifegill wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Turmeric in egg scrambles is a fav of mine. I also sprinkle a bit into my morning cup of beef bone broth along with a bit of sea salt. yum yum!

      Chika wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Mmmm… in bone broth sounds good. I’m drinking a lot now, and I could use that to jazz it up.

        Deanna wrote on February 20th, 2013

        Herbert Hoover wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Gave that a try with my scrambled eggs this morning. Delicious (^_^)

        David wrote on February 21st, 2013
        • Me too :-)

          Mixed turmeric, chili powder, salt, pepper, and a little pureed chipotle/adobo into a little light cream (to break up clumps), then beat the eggs into that & scrambled them.

          8-minute breakfast, including eating & cleanup – PLUS antioxidants? Yeah.

          BobG wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • I too add Turmeric and pink Himalayan salt; and her’s a tip: try a few drops of cold press Sesame oil. It will give a new definition (and twist) to bone broth soup.

        It will probably be a while before it local stores, but keep an eye for fresh Turmeric root (it resembles fresh ginger). I use it all the time and find it superior to the powder.

        Time Traveler wrote on August 13th, 2014
  2. Dried herbs become pencil shavings pretty quickly, another reason to buy bulk.

    For spices, buy them whole and grind them as needed. Ground spices last about 90 days before becoming sawdust, and who knows how old they were before bringing them home. Whole spices can last six months or more.

    When you buy bulk, shop somewhere with good turnover like the local co-op. People who shop in places like Safeway or Kroger are a lot less likely to buy bulk and the products are probably less fresh.

    LarryB wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I go to a spice store (Spice Station in Los Feliz, CA) where they grind spices for me fresh, and I can just buy a small amount. It’s a lot more expensive than the grocery store, when you compare the price per ounce (with most spices at $1.75 to $4 an ounce) but I only need a small amount at a time and my spices are always fresh and beautifully pungent!!

      tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • I buy all organic spices (unground) now that I’m better informed on the subject. There’s an online store located in northern California called that I get them from and they have great prices. If you’re trying them out for the first time, you can use this code – COC 920 – and get $5 off of your first order.

        I order from them for spices and many other items even though I live in S. Korea. They have the most remarkably low shipping rates to S. Korea I’ve ever seen and my orders get here in 5 days. Amazing.

        Roger wrote on February 21st, 2013
        • By the way, regarding buying unground spices, I use my coffee grinder to deal with those.

          Roger wrote on February 21st, 2013
        • lol @ coffee grinder comment
          Someone stole most of my underground spices recently. I’m considering it an accidental favour, since I was using excessively, and now that I’m not burning so much I can feel my lung function improving.
          It feels good to walk around with energy at a spritely pace instead of lumbering along sleepily.
          No judgments from me on that though, I just recommend responsibility.

          Animanarchy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • We buy all our spices at the Savory Spice Shop (metro Denver), where they grind everything to order. You can really smell and taste the difference. Much better than the supermarket spices that can already be very old when you buy them.

        Aside from a few exceptions, I actually don’t use much spice when I cook. We like to taste the food itself rather than everything that’s been sprinkled on it. Most of the time I stick with garlic, salt and pepper. If I eat in a restaurant where the food is loaded with spices, I always wonder what they’re trying to hide.

        Shary wrote on August 13th, 2014
      • “… beautifully pungent!!” Yum!

        Doug P> wrote on August 13th, 2014
  3. Black mustard seed, fenugreek, fennel seed, cumin, and coriander are amongst my favorite spices. I buy at a large asian/pacific grocery that has a spectacularly high turnover rate.

    eema.gray wrote on February 20th, 2013
  4. Now I have to pretty much clear my spice collection… dang it! Mark, Please start selling spices.

    Logan P. wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Why do you have to clear you spice collection? Why do you need Mark to sell you spices? You can buy spices anywhere and everywhere, and you have to learn to use what you read as a guide, not the bible.

      pat wrote on February 21st, 2013
      • Pretty sure there was nowhere in the aricle where he said… chek out my online spice satore or anything of the sort.. I find your comment odd and almost like you just came here to say something negative which I find LAME.

        Jenn wrote on February 25th, 2013
    • I think you may be overreacting to Logan’s comment – I took it as “dang it my spices are old and I have to throw them away,” and the comment about Mark selling spices was a half joke. Keep Calm and Carry On.

      KariVery wrote on August 13th, 2014
      • I have to agree here. Logan’s comment looked very tongue in cheek to me. Made me smile anyway. Hate to see someone misunderstood and then dumped on.

        Annette wrote on August 13th, 2014
  5. Tarragon is my “secret” ingredient for killer scrambled eggs (low and slow people!) and tuna salad.

    Rob wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I’ll have to try that! I don’t use tarragon much, but it sounds like it’d be a great addition to scrambled eggs.

      Alyssa wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Try tarragon in some homemade seafood chowder. I love the flavor.

        Leo wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • tarragon in gazpacho! ( I think my recipe came from moosewood cookbook, but it’s still good)

          HopelessDreamer wrote on August 21st, 2014
    • Haven’t tried tarragon in my scrambled egg – I use cayenne, marjoram, basil and thyme. Mind you, my scrambled eggs are more like scrambled omelets, because I also add spinach, mozzarella cheese, and bell pepper, then top with salsa. Will have to try some tarragon.

      b2curious wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Are Penzeys spices irradiated?

        AB wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • No. They do not.

          I called about a year and half ago to inquire and they said that they didn’t. Perhaps it’s time for an update call.

          Marc wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • So glad you asked. I was wondering the same. I love me some Penzey’s. The folks in Houston are great. They remember you and take care of you when you only need one nutmeg but the smallest jar has 3.

          Joshua wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • I agree. Very low flame and slow IS the way to go. Constant stirring and folding is the secret to a creamy gravy-like consistency avoiding solid clumps. Use a pat of butter at the beginning, and after turning off the flame stir in another pat of butter.

      Glen PDQ wrote on February 24th, 2013
    • How much Tarragon do you use? and with how many eggs?

      Jamie wrote on February 28th, 2013
  6. I know that a top-10 list can only contain 10. But I would add as well:

    – cumin (both brown and black)
    – mint
    – savory (a must when I do ratatouille)
    – coriander
    – galanga (ah, I got you all! I bet nobody here knows it :) )
    – And ginger… how come it is not in the list?

    primal_alex wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Is that another name for Galangal?

      I’m familiar with galangal (which I’ve used)and also the very hard-to-find galingale (which I haven’t). I once considered growing my own galingale til I realised I’d need to get a garden and dig a pond first :-)

      Primal V wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I use galangal in Thai soups. It’s similar to ginger and quite delicious!

      Sabrina wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I can buy fresh galangal for part of the year. Love it. Even my ginger hating husband doesn’t mind it because it is so much milder.

      Lyn wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Yes for galangal, and lemongrass and keffir lime leaves. The trinity in Thai food I use all three to make marine creature stock.

      Jack Lea Mason wrote on August 13th, 2014
  7. How many of these spices can you grow yourself? (It probably depends on where you are, but just wondering)

    Max Ungar wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Assuming a friendly climate, rosemary and cayenne are super-easy to grow; oregano’s pretty easy; I think sage is easy, too; I imagine dill, tarragon, and bay leaf are pretty easy. I have never heard of anyone growing cardamom, cinnamon, or turmeric.

      Cinnamon is a bark from a shrub I believe, so if you can grow that shrub, I guess you could harvest the bark?? Turmeric is a root; I have no idea how one harvests roots, other than carrots, but I’ll bet turmeric would be difficult (just a guess). Cardamom trees could probably be grown but I bet harvesting the pods would be too much work.

      tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Max, you got me curious about growing these so thanks to the internets I now know that 1)cinnamon is relatively easy to grow, more or less like an outdoor houseplant 2) turmeric is relatively easy, if you’re willing to provide warmth and humidity in a hothouse or bathroom; it dies in the winter, at which time you harvest the roots, saving some to replant the following season; 3) cardamom is fussy; it’s a tropical plant, not a tree as I thought, and needs a well-regulated hothouse or humid bathroom with constant spraying; and doesn’t produce any seeds for harvest for three years.

        Maybe some day I’ll grow a cinnamon bush.

        tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Phrasing!

          Sterling Archer wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • I read bit about turmeric needing “heat and humidity in a hothouse or bathroom” and thought “or summer in Arkansas,” where stepping outside feels like stepping into a sauna. Then I looked up how to grow it. Turmeric grows in the USDA hardiness zones 7b-10b. Central Arkansas is zone 7b… so I should be okay growing it outside. Cardamom on the other hand, would not do well here, too hot in the summer and my house is too cold for it in the winter…

          b2curious wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • @sterling archer

          marry me.

          caitlin wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • @ Sterling Archer – it would take a little peroxide, maybe for a special occasion…(you perv, shame on you…)

          tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Here in Costa Rica I have seen Cinnamon trees up to 20ft tall :-)) I have been growing one for about 4 years and it is still under 6ft. Ginger and Turmeric are both roots that look similar and you should be able to grow in a pot as tkm suggested in your bathroom. I grow them in the garden and if you live far enough South in the US you may be able to grow outside as well.

          Marco wrote on February 23rd, 2013
      • I am from Nebraska and we have always had basil and often dill and occasionally rosemary as well. Does anyone know how to store them throughout the winter months without them losing their flavor?

        Elisa wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Freeze them while freshly picked, would be my best guess.

          tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Dill does pretty well dried, although I prefer it fresh. Basil can be frozen in water in ice cube trays.

          Herbs that are easy to grow (I live in Colorado): sage, rosemary, tarragon, garlic (surprised garlic isn’t mentioned in this article – maybe they don’t consider it an herb or spice). When growing tarragon, don’t buy seeds or you’ll end up with Russian tarragon, which doesn’t taste very good and may not have the same health benefits. Buy a small potted tarragon and it will come up in the same spot every year, even after the cold dry winters of the Colorado front range.
          Most spices come from tropical or semi-tropical climates, so growing them without a greenhouse would only be possible in small areas of the U.S. Bay leaf can handle a California climate, but I think frost will kill it.

          Mark A wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Oh, dill and oregano are also very easy to grow. Rosemary and oregano can be dried (oregano is actually better dried than fresh). Or as others have said, rosemary can be picked as needed, even in the winter, although the plant stops growing in the winter, so you could easily over-pick it and kill it if the plant isn’t very big.

          Mark A wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • I use my ice trays. I put my herbs,in the tray and cover with olive oil and freeze. Works very well. I use olive oil to cook with so I have both on hand at all times.

          B Keen wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Puree the fresh herbs with olive oil or coconut oil and freeze. That’s one of the better methods according to Fine Gardening. The best time to pick the herbs is in the morning after the dew dries but before the temps rise too much since this is the time when concentrations of aromatic oils and moisture in the leaves are at their greatest. The best time in the plant’s life cycle to harvest is when flower buds are forming but haven’t opened yet. (That said, I harvest any time of day and season because I’m making pesto and I need basil NOW, and have enjoyed delicious pesto as a result without thinking I was missing much.)

          Tina wrote on February 21st, 2013
      • Be careful growing dill. Harvest it long before it goes to seed. If you don’t, it will take over your garden faster the buffel grass and kudzu combined.

        Marci wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • I have a bay laurel bush in a pot on the deck, just east of Portland, OR. It has done fine for 3 years. of course, winters here have been relatively mild the last 3 years, but it did survive a couple of days of snow.

          From Bon Appetite, tweaked by me:
          Tarragon: make a duxelle of tarragon, butter, mushrooms and a little white pepper. Line muffin cups with thinnly sliced ham (or partially cooked bacon). Put lump of duxelle in cup, top with one egg, bake at about 350 until egg is set. enjoy. I get a little carried away and sometimes need to use those pyrex custard cups when I use thicker ham, more duxelle, huge eggs….

          Mary Anne wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • If only I had a nickel for every time kudzu overtook my garden.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • I just read kudzu is used as a nutraceutical to treat alcoholism. Fascinating.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • I don’t about other countries, but herbs like rosemary and sage are frequently used in commercial planting, you see them in the borders of office and industrial estates, and bay trees are popular outside restaurants.

        I asked the guys gardening the borders where I worked if they’d mind me picking a bit and they said help yourself! – Urban foraging – awesome :-)

        Just use a bit of sensible caution- don’t eat it if you’re not sure what it is and use your judgement about environmental polution/pesticides.

        Primal V wrote on February 21st, 2013
        • My local Cracker Barrel uses multicolored kale as their planting. Maybe some evening foraging is in order.

          Joshua wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • We have a rosemary plant, and it’s been super easy! The nice thing is that it’s an evergreen, so you can use it year-round and don’t have to plant it again every year. I know it’s not on the list, but basil is also pretty easy to grow. We also have a ton of dill plants in our yard, and although they die every winter, they always drop their seeds and pop up again the next year. Very low maintenance! Plus, caterpillars adore dill, so you’ll probably attract some butterflies (:

      I’m really intrigued by the idea of growing cinnamon. I might have to search out a cinnamon bush!

      Alyssa wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Another great thing about having a rosemary plant in your yard is that bees LOVE the blooms. Our rosemary plant blooms for a good long time every year and we have lots of happy, happy bees come by.

        BonzoGal wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • It seems like growing one’s own cinnamon would be kind of impressive!

        tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • My great grandmother always said it takes a strong woman to grow rosemary. :-)

        Susan wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • @Alyssa & tkm: Alyssa, meet tkm. tkm, Alyssa.

        Sterling Archer wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • We are in NE GA and have rosemary plants taking over the hillside of our driveway (faces south, lots of sun) Anytime I need rosemary I can go snip off a little bit. Another plus is when there is a breeze, the rosemary scents the whole area and smells divine!

        I have trouble with my basil plants, I have two plants, one at work and one at home, and they both are struggling along. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong?

        Sounds like I will have to try some dill and cinnamon as well!

        Rae wrote on February 22nd, 2013
    • Ginger is a root like turmeric and is easy to grow. Pick up a chunk at the grocery story that looks very fresh and with a couple of bud nodules on it. Poke it in the ground or pot in my case (zone 6a). Keep moist, be patient as it takes a while until you will see leaves. Withhold water and let it die back in the fall if you are ready to dig. Or bring your pot in and set in a south-facing window until the temps are over 50 degrees in the spring before taking back out. The pot only needs to be eight-inches deep but fairly wide.

      Happy ginger growing!

      Judy wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Thanks!

        Oly wrote on February 20th, 2013
  8. I feel the inspiration to cook after reading that…. AND I will also go through my spices and see what needs to be bought. Cayenne for sure….

    Lisa wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Lisa: you have a great web site. Your primal baking dishes look delicious.

      Ezestreets wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Hey – thanks!!! Glad you enjoy it! I’ll have to work some of these spices into my next recipes I think…. :-)

        Lisa wrote on February 20th, 2013
  9. Anyone else feel the urge to use all 10 spices at once? I want to take advantage of all those benefits!

    It’d probably taste horrible though!

    Bjjcaveman wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Look into some Indian recipes they can use most of the spices and herbs listed.

      Judy wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I am of Pakistani origin, and our food is similar to North Indian food. There are a lot of dishes that call for a combination of these spices (and a few more) together. In fact, I have a killer pot roast recipe that uses many of the spices mentioned here.

      Sabrina wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Well, that sounds like you should post that in a “reply” here so we could all try it…. PLEASE?

        2Rae wrote on August 13th, 2014
  10. I buy fresh organic herbs that get marked down to 1/2 price close to their sell by date, then dry/grind them myself.

    I don’t see this mentioned much when talking about curcumin, but for those with scleroderma,

    Stephanie wrote on February 20th, 2013
  11. Save even more money by growing some of these yourself. Most of them are pretty tolerant of different zones. And when you do live in a bad zone or have nowhere to grow them, many of them will grow beautifully in a pot in a window, especially if it faces south.

    Brandon wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • (or North if you are in the Southern Hemisphere) 😉

      rueben wrote on February 21st, 2013
  12. I don’t know any of the health benefits off the top of my head, but my favorite spice is smoked paprika. It’s great on thick soups and sandwiches.

    Brian Seelos wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Paprika is dried and ground sweet bellpeppers.

      Wafaa wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • I am a huge fan of Penzey’s Hungarian half-sharp paprika.

        Sabrina wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Penzey’s smoked salt is great with pork.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on February 20th, 2013
  13. Have turmeric on my Big Ass Salad everyday, but is it fresh and organic? No. Time to throw it out.

    Nocona wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I have a Big Ass Salad for lunch most days myself, I will look at throwing some of these spices in the bowl from now on.

      Tisha wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I add any and all herbs to BAS’s. Dill, oregano, marjoram, basil, lemon thyme, sage. GREAT flavors! and reduces my urge to cover with dressing, although a splash of balsamic with unrefined olive oil and a touch of dijon-style mustard is quite the thing.

      Mary Anne wrote on February 20th, 2013
  14. Wild oregano supplements are known as “the poor man’s antibiotic.”

    Wenchypoo wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Oil of oregano cured my dog’s ear infection. $18 for essential oil of oregano in an olive oil base in 2 days flat vs 2 months of treatments and nearly $800. I gave externally and maybe one dose internally. Ugh! $800 could have bought a lot of meat.

      Oly wrote on February 20th, 2013
  15. I didn’t know paprika had a flavor until I bought a new jar.

    Brian Clasby wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • +1

      KRP wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Hungarian paprika is the best! My husband’s family is from Hungary and they ship us the kind without any English on the package :)

        Erin wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • What!!! smoked paparika is the bomb…sprinkle it on some eggs for breakfast…you’ll be glad you did!

      ED wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • love the bacon flavor of smoked paprika. Goes well in egg dishes and sauteed greens.

        Chika wrote on February 20th, 2013
  16. Great tips! And a great reminder to clean out the spice rack!

    Lisa wrote on February 20th, 2013
  17. I tried to grow dill and it grew wonderfully, but it was all covered in aphids. Very disappointing since dill is my favorite. If anyone has any hint for keeping the aphids away, let me know. I’m still a gardening novice, but I intend to try again this year in a new plot.

    Mazzy wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I don’t remember if it was aphids specifically, it probably was, but what my grandmother suggested I try when I had bugs attack a plant was mix dishsoap and water in a sprayer and spray the plant. Of course I used some sort of eco-friendly brand. It killed the bugs but didn’t bother the plant at all. I don’t remember how dilute it was, maybe 1/3 soap to 2/3 water.

      tkm wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • I use Fels-Naptha for bug spray. Always on hand as it’s required for homemade laundry soap. For the bug spray, grate 1/2 bar into 2 cups very hot water and stir until melted. When it cools it makes a gooey gel that I store in an old jar. About a tablespoon mixed into warm water will yield about a quart of highly effective insecticide. I use this in great quantities in my garden sprayer during the summer. =o)

        Deannacat wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Soapy water works pretty well. There are also organic insect sprays available that are a combination of cinnamon oil, soap, and I think some citrus oils. Soapy water will drown the critters and the cinammon oil keeps them from coming back.

      Mark A wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • the best way to keep bugs off the plants is to have healthy soil. One of my friends runs an organic greenhouse business. He reads ACRES magazine. he said 1 issue of ACRES taught him more than 4 years at U of IL in agriculture.

      As for soap, I would prefer something like Dr. Bronners soap because that company has a commitment to organic and sustainable ingredients in their products.

      ValerieH wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • I had a dill patch right next to my compost pile for a few years, never saw any bugs on the dill … rich soil keeps the plants happy and their defense systems in top notch shape.

        Angel wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Some nurseries sell ladybugs specifically to keep aphids down. Ladybugs eat aphids. We used to buy ladybugs to keep the aphids from eating our roses and it worked pretty well. You also get the benefit of having a bunch of ladybugs around! Also food grade diatomaceous earth is a great non toxic all around bug killer, though you don’t want to use it AND ladybugs or it will kill the ladybugs too.

      Willow wrote on February 20th, 2013
  18. Awesome information. We’ve been growing fresh herbs at home inside for a few years now and we love it! Herbs are a huge part of Chinese culture — my spouses mom has taught me loads about them and uses them in almost every single meal. This just enforces their benefits for me even more so (not that I needed any convincing ;)). Thanks!

    Lindsay wrote on February 20th, 2013
  19. I use many of these spices plus many others not on this list. One I use daily is curcumin. I get the roots from Bolivia (just a few hours from here) and grind them up in my mortar and pestle. I also use a lot of real cinnamon bark which is also native to Bolivia.
    My pets receive the benefits of these spices as well.
    YUM! and good for all of us.
    Great post, Mark.

    Mila Bulic wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Curcumin is turmeric.
      Loved reading this post Mark.

      Kit Martin wrote on February 20th, 2013
  20. Wow, this is really interesting stuff–I might just have to be buying this book sooner than later. I also think a n=1 experiment is in order with dill.

    Brent wrote on February 20th, 2013
  21. I have it on good authority that trader Joes spices are not irradiated. Neither are Penzey’s apparently.

    I have a few spices that are much older than a year in my cabinet :( time to throw them out :(
    This is a good reminder to use herbs and spices liberally though. I frequently buy them in bulk and ration them, not wanting to run out.

    Hayley wrote on February 20th, 2013
  22. Mark, I grow some of these, rosemary, sage, oregano, dill; I guess it’s ok to mix them up fresh in my protein shake every morning, correct?

    Deanna wrote on February 20th, 2013
  23. I was reading through the list and thinking ‘where is turmeric (and cumin)?’ and then Mark added it :)

    Hemming wrote on February 20th, 2013
  24. If you’ve never used turmeric before, be careful about carelessly flinging it around; the golden stains might fade a bit but are fairly permanent.

    dragonmamma wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I’ll second that! :)

      Hemming wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • That’s a good reminder. In South Asia, turmeric is used as a natural dye for fabric, rugs etc.

      Sabrina wrote on February 20th, 2013
  25. My two favorites (Ginger and Cilantro) weren’t mentioned, though I’m glad to see Ginger getting some love in the comments.

    I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that my love is Chinese, I have grown to love these two spices immensely. Chinese put fresh Cilantro on all kinds of dishes, and Ginger is in tons of the food.

    I always buy fresh ginger (it’s cheap and stores forever). Cilantro I always get fresh, but it doesn’t last as long so I try to buy only what I need and then use quickly. I also use red peppers and sichuan peppers. I grind these up with a mortar and pestle.

    If you love spices, you really should get a mortar and pestle, they are invaluable for grinding up spices! I may make a video soon of how they can be used in cooking.

    Edward Giles Brown wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • NOOOOOOO CILANTRO IS THE DEVILS WEED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      cTo wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Haha, why? I found a page recently extolling its benefits:

        Do you not like the way it tastes?

        Edward Giles Brown wrote on February 20th, 2013
      • Haha, why?

        (I posted a reply with a link to a page that mentions health benefits of cilantro but it’s awating morderation.)

        Do you not like the way it tastes?

        Edward Giles Brown wrote on February 20th, 2013
        • Cilantro is called Coriander down here – I love it but it makes my lips go all wierd… I reckon its the same reaction cats have with catnip – go a little crazy…

          rueben wrote on February 21st, 2013
      • In my opinion, that would be datura.. a very unpleasant intoxicant. I swallowed 45 seeds or so once and was in sluggish, inebriated delerium with an uncurable dry mouth. I had hallucinations I couldn’t tell apart from reality. The next day my vision was blurry and I was still very tired and out of it.

        Animanarchy wrote on February 22nd, 2013
      • +1 tastes like soap to me.

        JG wrote on August 17th, 2014
        • that was +1 for the Cilantro

          JG wrote on August 17th, 2014
  26. I make a “tea” (a misnomer, of course) – add cumin, ajwain (Trachyspermum ammi) seeds, grated fresh or powdered ginger, turmeric, and fennel seeds. Boil for 15 mins. Let cool. Strain into a bottle. If it is too strong for your taste, pour some in a cup and dilute by adding hot/cold water and sip. This works well to detox and to reduce inflammation in the body.

    Sugarjar wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • oops, I forgot mention add the spices to boiling water….

      Sugarjar wrote on February 20th, 2013
  27. I just found fresh tumeric at a fancy grocery this weekend and I bought a couple nodules to try making fresh tumeric tea (since I find using the powder to make tea is frustrating, as its hard to sift out the sediment.) I grated it and mixed it with fresh grated ginger, fresh ground black pepper, cinnamon, a clove bud, a cardamom pod, and some orange zest, then steeped it in a french press and served it with some honey.

    BAM!! Amazing. My sinuses have been a little fritzy as we transition from winter to spring here in CA, and ive been feeling them relax and drain a lot better. Additionally, Ive had little to no pain or stiffness from the walking, dancing, and hiking I did over the long weekend, which is notable since normally doing so many medium-to-med-high exertion activities back to back wears me down at least a little bit.

    cTo wrote on February 20th, 2013
  28. I will start making a daily tea with ALL the herbs and spices listed here. I suspect it will taste like crap, but we suffer for our well being, yes?

    Shawn wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • LOL…that will be one hell of an interesting taste sensation. You gotta share your thoughts once you try it out.

      Chika wrote on February 20th, 2013
  29. I live in the cold Northeast US and have a big beautiful sage plant that is about 5 years old planted in my perennial garden. It is very slow to come back in the spring so one could mistake it for being dead if they had no patience.

    Sharon wrote on February 20th, 2013
  30. apparently mccormick spices are not irradiated..just steamed. maybe thats why they are 2x expensive as the walmart brands on the shelf next to them. is steaming an issue?

    Shawn wrote on February 20th, 2013
  31. Be careful growing oregano! It belongs to the mint family and will take over. You might want to bury a pot of it leaving an inch or so of pot above ground.

    Donna wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • Yes, my mint plant from last spring is doing really well. It was planted in the same pot as the basil. It choked out the basil and now I have a whole pot of rapidly growing mint!

      Hilary wrote on February 20th, 2013
  32. Dill is awesome on eggs.

    Beccolina wrote on February 20th, 2013
  33. Is there anything wrong with storing your (organic) dried spices tightly sealed in the freezer? That is how my grandmother taught me to spices fresh, but does anyone know if it really works?

    Sheila C wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • *keep spices fresh…long day :)

      Sheila C wrote on February 20th, 2013
    • I think your grandmother gave you good advice. I keep a lot of things in the freezer, dried spices and nuts in particular.

      Shary wrote on August 13th, 2014
  34. Would it be better to buy fresh (organic)herbs and dry them yourself or buy already dried/ground?

    Julie wrote on February 20th, 2013
  35. Oregano, thyme, sage, and rosemary are very easy to grow as perennial potted plants. You get max nutrition because you can pick them right before cutting them up finely and adding to dishes, vinaigrettes, etc. Just bring them indoors in the colder months at higher lattitudes. You can freeze bulk quantities of basil, parsley, cilantro, etc, for the winter.

    David Marino wrote on February 20th, 2013

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