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Seven Ways to Use Spices

June 15, 2020

By: The Duke Health & Well-Being Nutrition Team

Spices, derived from intensely flavored flowers, fruits, seeds, root or bark, can transform the most basic of dishes. Add some kick to steamed green beans with ginger, liven up a grilled chicken with cinnamon, or blend turmeric into your next smoothie! The Duke Health and Well-Being Nutrition team created the Seven Ways series to share many ways to utilize fresh or dried spices to enhance your next dish at home.

Don’t know much about spices? Check out our Get Comfortable Cooking with Herbs and Spices Guide.

Seven Ways to Use Ginger

  • Breakfast: Stir ginger and cinnamon into baked or sauced apples or a grain/oatmeal bowl. Sprinkle generously into plain or vanilla Greek yogurt. Sip a cup of ginger-tea for a mid-morning pick-me-up.
  • Blended: Add a 1/2 to a 1-inch slice of fresh ginger to your smoothie for a spicy kick (try with frozen banana, berries, yogurt, and greens)
  • Combination: Sauté ginger and garlic with stir-fried onions, pea pods, mushrooms and broccoli
  • Cooked: Curries include ginger. Make your curry blend or buy a pre-made powder.
  • Sandwich or Wrap: Enjoy pickled ginger with sushi, or try it on your favorite sandwich for a zesty twist.
  • Salad: Enhance a carrot and beet or cabbage slaw with fresh grated ginger and orange dressing.
  • Soup or Stew: Ginger stars in dal made with lentils, split peas or mung beans as well as curried pumpkin, carrot or squash soup.

Download Ginger Guide

Seven Ways to Use Garlic

  • Breakfast: Scramble eggs with spinach, peppers, garlic, and mushrooms. Add to cooked hash browns.
  • Blended: Garlic is essential in blended bean dips or hummus, pesto, tomato sauce, and gremolata.
  • Combination: Chop garlic and let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes before cooking to help activate beneficial properties. Add to grains, potatoes, meats, beans, and stir fry vegetables.
  • Cooked: Roast the entire head and squeeze out the soft puree. Buy peeled whole garlic cloves and roast for 5-10 minutes at 350 degrees. Roasted garlic can be frozen for quick inclusion in other recipes.
  • Sandwich or Wrap: Add a dollop of garlicky hummus or guacamole to your favorite filling.
  • Salad: Top a fajita salad with garlic salsa; or whip up a creamy garlic dressing in your blender with cottage cheese, a little mayo, fresh herbs, and water for consistency.
  • Soup or Stew: Aromatics including carrots, celery, onion, and garlic contribute base flavors for most soups.

Download Garlic Guide

Seven Ways to Use Cinnamon

  • Breakfast: Sprinkle over oatmeal with apples, raisins, or chopped dates and almonds or walnuts.
  • Blended: Add ½ tsp to a smoothie with 1 TBS cocoa powder, ½ cup banana or frozen mango chunks and plain or vanilla yogurt or soy milk.
  • Combination: Mix into a cooked grain such as rice, quinoa, or buckwheat along with a dash of ginger, nutmeg, and dried apricots or raisins. Add to your savory or lightly sweetened pumpkin crustless pie.
  • Cooked: Grill or bake halved peaches, pineapple or pears with a dash of cinnamon.
  • Sandwich or Wrap: Dress up a peanut butter and banana sandwich or toast.
  • Salad: Ramp up the sweet flavors of apple, walnuts, and celery Waldorf style salad or include in the dressing of a slaw made with carrots, oranges, and beets.
  • Soup or Stew: Add a dash to your pumpkin or butternut squash soup or curry sauce.

Download Cinnamon Guide

Seven ways to Use Turmeric

  • Breakfast: Add a dash of turmeric to a morning egg, tofu, or potato scramble.
  • Blended: Blend up a turmeric smoothie bowl for breakfast or snack. Tropical flavors like mango or pineapple with soy milk or yogurt and cashews are a natural fit.
  • Combination: Create a turmeric, ginger, and garlic sauce for rice, noodles, or sautéed vegetables. Use freshly grated root or dried powder.
  • Cooked: Sprinkle on tofu, tempeh, or cod before baking.
  • Sandwich or Wrap: Stuff your wrap with turmeric containing curried veggies or bean burger. Stir turmeric into mayonnaise for a spread.
  • Salad: Drizzle a turmeric-containing salad dressing over greens; mix into egg salad or curried chicken salad.
  • Soup or Stew: Lentil, split pea, and mung bean dals and curries contain turmeric. Select a recipe for chicken turmeric stew or stir a teaspoon into chicken noodle soup.

Download Turmeric Guide

You May Also Be Interested In:

Seven Ways to Use Common Foods

About Duke Health & Well-Being Nutrition & Lifestyle Services

Our individualized nutrition services are utilized to treat specific health conditions, manage weight healthfully, and to attain optimal vitality through a wholesome diet. Our nutritionists understand that getting on the right path toward your health goals is a process that requires support, adjustment, and taking small steps to make lasting and positive changes. Work with a nutritionist to discover the connection between food, movement, stress, and rest and make strategic changes to your diet that will help you achieve your goals.

Services Available

Integrative Nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine
Diet & Nutrition Counseling at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center
Nutrition Consultations at the Duke Health and Fitness Center

Duke Health & Well-Being Nutrition & Lifestyle Team:

Duke Diet & Fitness Center
Elisabetta Politi, RD, MPH, LDN, CDE – Nutrition Director
Christine B. Tenekjian, MPH, RD, LDN – Clinical Dietitian

Duke Health & Fitness Center
Kara Mitchell – Wellness Manager, Exercise Physiologist & Dietitian/Nutritionist
Samantha Mendelowitz – Dietitian/Nutritionist – Clinical Dietitian
Jenni Biggs – Dietitian/Nutritionist – Clinical Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator

Duke Integrative Medicine
Joanne Gardner, MS, RDN, LDN – Integrative Dietitian / Nutritionist
Jill Brown, MS, RDN, IFNCP, CLT – Integrative Dietitian / Nutritionist
Gretchen L. Hofing, MPH, RD



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