The Spice Rack: Herbs & Spices

No recipe on this post, just a bit of thoughts of spices. This post is archived here.

Spices** make the difference between bland and fabulous when preparing any dish. It’s easy to add a little salt or a little fat to add flavor, but when you’re trying to eat healthier these are the most frequently omitted parts of any recipe; resulting in boring, bland foods that no one really likes.

If you’re not familiar with the huge variety of spices available, or are uncomfortable using them, look for recipes that push your envelope a little. Look for the recipe that uses a spice you’ve only read about, or even one you’ve never heard of.

Follow the recipes directions exactly when you’re just discovering the amazing world of flavor spices provide. Eventually, you’ll find that you like dill better than thyme or sage a little less than marjoram.

Once you’re familiar with the flavors, and sometimes textures, that different spices give to your food; you’ll feel more comfortable experimenting and use oregano instead of cilantro or chili instead of black pepper.

Happy Cooking!


These are currently the spices I have in my house which may be used in any of my recipes.

On the rack (or in the cupboard)

baharat, arabic
*bay leaf, whole
bay leaf, ground
*black pepper
chili powder
*cinnamon, ground
*clove, ground
*cream of tartar
*dried onion
*garam masala
*garlic powder
garlic salt
*ginger, ground
greek seasoning (McCormick)
lemon peel, dried
Madras Curry Powder
mustard, ground
nutmeg, ground
*sage, rubbed
svaneti salt
*vanilla extract
vanilla powder

Perishable or refrigerated

chili sauce
fish sauce
*garlic (minced or whole)
soy sauce
*worcesteshire sauce

*Essentials of a well-stocked spice rack
Essentials for my spice rack (in addition to *)

**Spices is used as a general term for herbs and spices, fresh and dried.

Bisquick Pancakes with a healthy-ish twist

I started with Bisquick’s traditional pancake recipe and took off from there.

Pancakes with fresh strawberries and whipped cream

2 cups Bisquick – Original Pancake & Baking Mix
1/4 c. Whole Wheat Graham Flour
1-1/2 c. Nonfat (skim) Milk
1 Tbsp Vanilla Powder
2 Tbsp Flax Seed, ground
6 Tbsp water

Start by mixing the flax and water in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl stir together Bisquick, graham flour, and vanilla powder. Add milk and stir briskly (or use a whisk or mixer) until mixture is mostly smooth (approximately 2 minutes). Add flax/water, mixing completely.

Spray preheated skillet lightly with spray oil. Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle. Cook until edges are dry. Turn; cook until golden.

Serves 5

Per 3 pancake serving
Calories -264
Carbohydrates – 42g
Sugars – 1g
Fiber – 3g
Fat – 7g
Saturated Fat – 1g
Cholesterol – 1mg
Protein – 8g
Sodium – 531mg

Traditional Bisquick Pancakes HDMB Bisquick Pancakes
One 1/4 c. pancake (recipe makes 12) One 1/4 c. pancake (recipe makes 15)
Calories 90
Carbohydrate 12 g
Sugars – 1g
Fiber 0g
Fat 3 g
Saturated Fat 1 g
Cholesterol 30 mg
Protein 3 g
Sodium 280 mg
Calories – 88
Carbohydrates – 14g
Sugars – 0g
Fiber – 1g
Fat – 2g
Saturated Fat – 0g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Protein – 3g
Sodium – 177mg

Chicken Fajitas

Chicken Fajitas with Spanish Rice, Refried beans, corn tortillas, sour cream, and cheddar cheese.

10.5 oz. (300g) chicken breast, long slices (or tenders cut in half lengthwise)
1 tsp olive oil
1 med. (180g) onion, halved and sliced (Image)
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (Image)
1 med. (115g) tomato, diced
1 cup (25g) cilantro, shredded
1 Tbsp cumin, ground
1 med. (200g) red bell pepper, sliced
1 med. (170g) orange bell pepper, sliced

Heat olive oil over med-high heat. Add chicken breast slices, garlic, and onion slices. Saute until chicken is cooked (white and opaque all the way through). Reduce heat to medium-low. Add tomato, cumin and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add bell pepper slices and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until peppers are at the desired doneness (I like them with a little crisp left).

Serve with Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, and tortillas (Mission Extra Thin Corn Tortillas are a great healthy option).

Serves 4

Per serving
Calories – 142
Carbohydrates – 10g
Sugars – 5g
Fiber – 3g
Fat – 2g
Saturated Fat – 0g
Cholesterol – 44mg
Protein – 19g
Sodium – 70mg

Refried Beans

1 c. pinto beans, dry
1 c. mayocoba beans, dry
2 Tbsp garlic, minced (Image)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt

Add beans and sufficient water to cover them well (at least 3″ over top of beans) to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain.

Replace water, return bean pan to stove. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer for at least 1 hour. Drain.

Mash beans using a mixer or food processor (my preference). Return beans to saucepan. Add garlic, olive oil, salt, and 1 cup water. Mix well. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Optional: Return refried beans to mixer or food processor, mashing to desired consistency.

Serves 8

Per 1/2 c. serving (approx. 122.5g)
Calories – 159
Carbohydrates – 25g
Sugars – 1g
Fiber – 6g
Fat – 4g
Saturated Fat – 1g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Protein – 9g
Sodium – 129mg

"Spanish" Rice

2 c. brown rice, cooked
1 med. tomato, diced
1/2 Tbsp Brummel & Brown
1 tsp garlic powder

Melt Brummel & Brown in a high sided skillet. Add garlic powder, stir. Add cooked rice and tomato. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Serve. Excellent with any Spanish or Mexican main dish, added to burritos or enchiladas, etc.

Serves 4
Per 2/3 c. serving (approx. 140g)
Calories – 121
Carbohydrates – 25g
Sugars – 1g
Fiber – 2g
Fat – 2g
Saturated Fat – 1g
Cholesterol – 0mg
Protein – 3g
Sodium – 14mg