The ingredients that add backbone, flavour and yes, spice, to our dishes are also holding a healthy secret: anti-inflammatory powers. Spice trend of the times, turmeric, isn’t the only pantry staple that comes with a variety of total-body benefits; common cloves, cinnamon and black pepper also hold the good stuff. From breakfast to dinner, these recipes will show you how easy it is to add anti-inflammatory ingredients to your everyday meals.
Salt’s best buddy has anti-inflammatory properties that rounds out any dish’s flavour. Additionally, pairing black pepper with turmeric increases curcumin (the anti-inflammatory compound in turmeric) absorption.
Whether dried or fresh, thyme is one of the most crowd-pleasing, comfort food spices that delivers anti-inflammatory benefits. Thyme works well to boost flavour in any meal; dishes served for breakfast, lunch or dinner can all benefit from this hearty herb.
One of the more potent spices, cloves, commonly used around the holidays in everything from mulled cider to roast pork, is also a prime anti-inflammatory spice. It’s also the “secret” ingredient in ketchup. Make a healthier homemade version of the classically-cloved condiment and taste the difference.
Apple pie would not be complete without sweet cinnamon, a spice that not only provides anti-inflammatory benefits, but has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. Work the comforting spice into your morning meal with this warming bowl of oatmeal, containing a few anti-inflammatory spices, on top of cozy cinnamon.
Giving pizza sauce its unmistakable “pizza” flavour, oregano, both dried and fresh, most commonly infuses Italian and Greek dishes with fabulous flavour and anti-inflammatory benefits. Steeped in olive oil, another potent anti-inflammatory ingredient and used to dress this fresh, pasta salad creates a more delicate tang of oregano, as to not overpower the dish (something oregano can do quite easily).
Allspice may be thought of as a combination of spices, but it’s actually a single spice berry. Commonly used in Jamaican cuisine, it adds a touch of sweetness, along with many anti-inflammatory benefits, to hot jerk marinades. Allspice is also a key component in mulling spice mix, adding a rich, delicious flavour to your hot holiday beverages.
You read that right: pumpkin spice is an anti-inflammatory flavour. Pumpkin spice is a mixture of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg (and sometimes black pepper), all of which hold anti-inflammatory benefits. The spices team up for wholesome results, making everything from oatmeal to cookies to coffee, better for you.
Ginger contains anti-inflammatory, digestive and antioxidant benefits to anything you add it to. The spicy, mildly sweet root can be used both dried or fresh, as both contain the nutritive benefits. Ginger is commonly used to add zip to Asian-inspired dishes, like this anti-inflammatory meal of salmon baked in parchment.
Prepared curry powder most often contains anti-inflammatory spices turmeric, fenugreek, cumin, coriander seed and chili, coming together in a sunshiny powder that adds depth to anything you add it to. Devilled eggs, chicken salad, soups and, of course, curries all get a lift from curry powder. Make your own or turn to a good quality prepared version, buying as fresh as possible for maximum taste and health benefits.
This anti-inflammatory spice is hot, hot, hot, adding extreme heat in just a pinch. However, even in small portions, cayenne (as well as other spicy dried peppers) offer anti-inflammatory benefits, increasing circulation in the body to warm you up and keep your heart in top shape.
Apple Pie Spice
Much like pumpkin spice, apple pie spice, often containing cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, all come to the table bringing anti-inflammatory benefits. This apple pie oatmeal is packed with all those delicious spices to warm you from the inside out.
Rosemary has long been used as a “medicinal” herb. With anti-inflammatory compounds present in each of the piney stems, along with a recognizable, evergreen aroma, the healthy herb pairs well with earthy flavours, like classic roast potatoes.
Sweet, hot or smoked, paprika shows that it’s more than just a pretty spice, adding anti-inflammatory benefits to your meals. Instead of bacon, try spiking your meals with smoked paprika for a healthier reprisal.
Get the recipe for Vegan Potato, Pepper and Olive Phyllo Cups
Allison Day is a cookbook author, nutritionist (RHN) and the creator of the award-winning food blog Yummy Beet.