Herbs and Spices Every Cook Must Have in Their Kitchen

Herbs and Spices Every Cook Must Have in Their Kitchen

Cook, Carole-Anne Stanway shows the spices necessary to have in your cupboard for healthy cooking. She also shows the uses of these spices, and just how popular they can be in the use.


Fresh basil is used best for salads and pesto. Dried basil is best used for slow-cooked dishes such as crockery pot dishes, stews, soups, and even casseroles.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are used to simmer in soups, tomato and sea food dishes. You know, my father never made a soup without a bay leave in it. Many Indian, Turkish and Italian dishes contain bay leaves as they are aromatic and woodsy. I buy them whole to simmer, and remember, they are not something to digest, so remember to look for them when the dish is finished cooking and remove them. I love that extra flavor a bay leaf gives.


Every good cook require, chili powder, chili pepper flakes or, when in season, chili peppers red hot! Chili adds a real kick to any dish, for many ethnic dishes: Thai, Korean, Mexican/Southwestern dishes of meats, soups, stews cocktail sauces, eggs and seafood dishes. As I am North American, my favorite is a Chili Stew. Cayenne Red Pepper flakes are probably the most popular to use.


Sweet Cinnamon is warm and spicy and used in desserts, pastries, puddings, fruits and spiced beverages. Cinnamon is also popular in Greek, Middle Eastern and Mexican mean dishes, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash/pumpkin. When cinnamon is used in beverages, the actual cinnamon stick is used for mulled wines, and the actual spice in powdered form is used to top coffee lattes, hot chocolate.


This potent warmer, tasty spice is a favorite in North America for pastries, curries, masalas. It is also used in Chinese five-spice blends, in chai teas, and for pickling. Years ago, cloves were thought to be a help in easing the pain in toothaches. I am so fond of the aroma of cloves.


Cumin is a warm, earthy flavor which comes in seed form and ground form. Cumin is a crucial savory spice for Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Indonesian and North African and Asian foods Cumin seeds can be used to infuse rice dishes, and breads, or ground for cheese dishes, deviled eggs, stews, soups and chili, beans and cabbage dishes.

Curry Powder

Curry powder is a combination of many sweet and savory spices. True Indian cooks prefer to make their own curry, but our prepared blends have become most popular in North American cooking as we try to create Indian dishes.

Curry powder blend often includes coriander, cumin, chili, turmeric, ginger, mustard as well as some sweeter spices such as fenugreek, cinnamon, and cloves and cardamom. There are many different varieties.

Curry is used with meats, sauces, stews, soups, fruits, eggs, fish, seafood, poultry, creamed and scalloped dishes. My favorite is curried rice with poultry, but I must admit, I will use curry on almost any dish!


Nutmeg provides a complex, sweet vanilla-like undertones to baked goods. Nutmeg compliments almost any dish that uses cinnamon. Nutmeg is sweet, but powerful and used in most baking of loaves, pies, cakes, as well as custards, creamed dishes and white sauce. A Christmas favorite is egg nog flavored with nutmeg. It is also used in fruits, vegetables, ice cream, hot milk drinks and frostings. I love the aroma of nutmeg.

Oregano / Marjoram

Oregano and Marjoram strong and aromatic spices used in both European and Mediterranean cultures. Oregano is a favorite in pasta sauces, pork, veal, fish, vegetables, seafood, tomato dishes, white sauces, ground beef and pork, Greek, Italian and Mexican dishes, chili, pizza, egg dishes and salad. With so much of a variety, one can see how a healthy kitchen cupboard must do with oregano/marjoram.


This flavorful, resinous, pungent herb is used in many European and American dishes. It marries well with many types of meat, such as lamb, poultry (my favorite), game meat, poultry stuffing, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and squash, zucchini and quick breads. I have a favorite recipe with panini bread, pasted with olive oil, cut grapes in half place on bread, then salt with coarse salt and spread fresh rosemary leaves on it – toast in oven for 10 minutes at 250F degrees. Cut pieces in triangles to serve. I love Rosemary leaves for flavoring.


Thyme has a balsam-like flavor. It does not have the range as many other herbs and spices, but it still plays an important part in traditional French, Italian and American dishes. I use it with meat, fish and poultry, tomato dishes, stews, clam and fish soups, gravies and vegetables.

There is an entire catalog of herbs and spices that we can load our cupboards with. I think that I have given you the basic ones to cook healthy hearty and nutritious meals. These are over and above sea salt and freshly ground pepper. As time goes on, and you learn more healthy recipes for healthy living while creating your scrumptious meals, you will add new spices and herbs. Remember, always, make certain your spices and herbs are fresh.

The Author:

Carole-Anne Stanway has been a creative healthy recipe cook for many years.

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