Spice Up Your Life

My less than definitive guide to my Spice World, with some tips and ideas to help you create super healthy AND tasty meals that won’t bore your tastebuds or have you packing on the pounds.
To make things a little more interesting, I’ve categorised some of my favourite spices with one of my favourite bands. So we’ll have Sporty, Ginger, Scary, Baby and Posh Spices, along with some pointers on how and where each should be added to your meals to give them a little more zig a zig ah ……… ya dig?

(I should probably start by saying that I’m no Gordon Ramsey, but I do love cooking and feel that it is absolutely key to successfully managing your weight and loving food in the long term. I’m also in no way affiliated with the Spice Girls sadly.)

baby spice nutmeg cinnamon

Baby Spice

I’ll start with Baby Spice, and if you’re new to this so should you. If Emma Bunton really were a spice, I feel like she would be quite mild and shall we say easy to agree with. 
With that in mind, I see Baby Spices as those that novices in the kitchen should experiment with safe in the knowledge that an extra teaspoonful isn’t going to have them running to the toilet. 

Try these for starters.

What is it - A fairly friendly spice that can perfectly compliment both sweet and savoury dishes. 
What does it taste like – Quite sweet, and maybe a little hot.
Where can I use it – In a wide range of food - sprinkled on porridge, to hidden in a curry or chilli, or even sprinkled on grilled fruit.
Why should I use it – Benefits range from aiding patients with arthritis to helping keep your mouth clean.

What is it - A mild but extremely flavoursome spice that kind of reminds me of Christmas.
What does it taste like – Sweet, warm and maybe nutty.
Where can I use it – Again wide range from on top of porridge to Indian dishes, but perhaps works best with milky creamy based dishes, so add to blueberries milk, banana and a little chocolate for a tasty smoothie
Why should I use it – Its so flavoursome it will allow you to cut back on other fatty or sugary ingredients.

sporty spice paprika tumeric

Sporty Spice

If you’re like me and you fancy yourself as a bit of a Sporty Spice, then you probably understand that your eating habits should reflect the amount of exercise that you do. 
The following spices help me create tasty food that gives me all the energy I need in the gym, and helps curtail any nasty cravings that we’re all prone to.

What is it - Bright red spice made from dried and ground mild chilli peppers. For those who can’t handle the heat however there’s no need to get out of the kitchen — paprika provides a toned down, more smoky chilli flavour
What does it taste like – Mild and smoky.
Where can I use it – Sprinkle a little in the pan when frying kale and tomatoes, maybe pour some egg over the lot to make an omelette, or add to baked sweet potato wedges for a long lasting energy kick.
Why should I use it – It’s packed full of vitamins and minerals and can help promote healthy hair and skin.

What is it – The root of a plant related to ginger.
What does it taste like – Almost nutty and earthy.
Where can I use it – Add to madras curry powder, coconut milk and mixed veg for a tasty simple curry.
Why should I use it – Receiving a lot of media attention right now for its ability to ease pain and inflammatory related conditions.

scary spice chili powder cayenne pepper

Scary Spice

I was never that scared of Mel B. For a start she supported Leeds, she was the one with the most attitude and the one most likely liven up a house party. 
Speaking of which, over indulge with any of these spices and it may be the last house party you ever have - I once made the mistake of adding too much chilli to a curry I was making for friends and had to literally stand in a cold shower with my mouth open to cool down (pro tip: don’t accidentally pick extra hot chilli flakes at your local Asian supermarket…)

Chilli powder
What is it – Technically a spice blend consisting of paprika, ground chilli peppers, black pepper and cumin.
What does it taste like – Hotness depends on strength but beware.
Where can I use it – Anywhere you really want an extra kick, but a tiny amount in stir-fry’s is great or a little extra in chilli bowls obviously.
Why should I use it – It will send your pulse racing and can separate the men from the boys. 

Cayenne Pepper
What is it - Basically ground red peppers.
What does it taste like – Hot and smoky.
Where can I use it – Add to sweet potatoes and leeks for a kick in your soup, or add to kidney beans chopped tomatoes and butternut squash for a sweet but fiery vegan chilli bowl.
Why should I use it – Studies suggest it helps the body better utilise fat as fuel.

posh spice saffron

Posh Spice

Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice really was the aristocracy of the group, exuding class and wealth all the while dancing slightly awkwardly in the background while not saying a great deal. You just knew she was money though, and if she were a spice then really there is only one spice she could be and that’s saffron, the most expensive of all the spices. I don’t really use this much but perhaps we all should given its reputed health benefits.

What is it – Yellowy/orange long string like spice used in middle eastern cooking
What does it taste like – Bitter/sweet
Where can I use it – Add a little to some finely chopped peppers and peas in a rich tasting risotto.
Why should I use it – Supposedly improves sexual function…

ginger spice

Last but not least we come to Ginger Spice!

My favourite spice of all. Geri Halliwell was the versatile ring leader of the group and the one I’d most like to spend time with (gingers united). For me, whether it’s ground or fresh, Ginger is the spice closest to me in the kitchen and the one I’ll turn to time and time again to brighten up my day, and of course the dish.

What is it – Fresh it kind of looks like an old chickens foot, but can also come as a ground powder, but for me its best fresh.
What does it taste like – citrusy/sweet/spicy and lingers long in the back of your throat.
Where can I use it – Surprisingly tasty on its own fresh as a hot drink in boiling water, but I’m most likely to use it in a hearty and warming winter stew like the sweet potato and kale recipe outlined here.
Why should I use it – In a stew or hot drink It definitely helps you relax sore muscles after a tough gym session.

And there you have it folks, obviously not a comprehensive list of spices, merely an overview of the ones I use most regularly coupled with a link to the biggest girl band of all time to help you understand them better. 

I constantly tell my clients to be inventive in the kitchen and don’t be afraid to fail - even I get it massively wrong sometimes but you have to be willing to try. So often my social media feed is dogged with peoples pictures of super bland food that wouldn’t be out of place on prisoner cell block H and it really creates the mind-set that healthy food is bland and boring, BUT IT’S NOT! 

Use the spices above and give your food a little zig-a-zig-ah, and I guarantee all the tasty meals you cook will be the biggest determining factor in whether or not you’re successful regardless of your fitness goals.