The exotic is becoming more familiar as food channels and YouTube cooking videos fill our screens. Once unheard-of ingredients and spices are now showing up in new recipes and amping up the favors in old favorites. Not only do these new flavors promise to delight your palate, they are also touted as healing superfoods. So how do you incorporate these fantastic new spices into your everyday fare? We’ve got three must-have spices for your pantry with three ways to use each one.

Try Turmeric

The beautiful golden yellow color of this spice is what gives curry its rich, warm color. Turmeric’s healthy reputation is earned due to its high levels of the active ingredient curcumin. Curcumin gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Additionally, this tasty spice improves brain health and lowers your risk of brain diseases by boosting brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. Curcumin is also proved to be beneficial for improved cardiovascular health, relief from arthritis pain and cancer prevention.

It is important to note that curcumin is not easily absorbed by the body so to get the full effect, you might consider adding turmeric to your daily supplements. To increase the absorption of curcumin in dishes with turmeric add black pepper. This common spice contains piperine, a substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2,000%. 

Try this zesty chicken salad:

Curried Chicken Salad:

Ingredients

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped

½ cup quality mayonnaise

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

3/4 tsp curry powder

1/4 tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp turmeric, ground

1/4 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp dried oregano

1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries, optional

Instructions

In a small bowl combine your spices. Set aside.

In a medium bowl mix mayonnaise, lemon juice and olive oil with a fork until smooth. Add cooled and shredded chicken breast, olive oil and spice mix and stir until combined.

Serve immediately. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 2 days.

Serving suggestions: Serve with sprouted grain bread or wrap, in a seaweed or lettuce wrap or over arugula or other greens.

Get Some Ginger

This spice is most likely familiar to you as the key ingredient in holiday treats and ginger ale. Gingerol is the compound in ginger that gives the spice its medicinal properties. Like turmeric ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. You’ve probably used ginger in its soda or tea form to reduce nausea but this versatile root has many other health benefits. It can reduce muscle pain after exercise as well as joint pain and stiffness. Early studies also show a link between ginger consumption and the lowering of fasting blood sugar for type 2 diabetics. It can also be helpful for those who suffer from sluggish digestion. Ginger has been shown to speed up the emptying of the stomach. Consumption of the spice has even been linked to lowering LDL cholesterol levels.

Ginger is incredibly versatile and can be used fresh, in powder form or as an oil or juice.

Try this easy, anti-inflammatory salmon dish:

Roasted Salmon with Sweet Ginger Glaze

Ingredients

2 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or Tamari

2 tbsp 100% pure maple syrup

2 tsp fresh ginger minced

2 cloves garlic minced

4 4 oz wild salmon fillets

Instructions

For the marinade, mix the first 4 ingredients in a Ziplock bag and place salmon in bag. Shake gently to cover the fish and marinate anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.

Preheat the oven to 450-degrees F.

Roast skin side down for about 15 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through and flakey.

Let’s Talk Cardamom

Of the spices listed, cardamom might be the one you are less familiar with. It is used in both sweet and savory dishes and has an intense, mint-like flavor.  Like turmeric and ginger, cardamom is also an antioxidant. Its antioxidant properties, along with its diuretic effect may be beneficial to those with high blood pressure. Studies link cardamom to the reduction of stomach ulcers. If you chew cardamom after a meal, the pods may help prevent cavities by reducing harmful bacteria in the mouth. A little goes a long way as this spice packs a big punch but one that leaves the taste buds zinging. 

Spice Baked Apples:

Ingredients

12 dried dates, pitted

1/2 cup walnuts

2 Tbsp 100% pure maple syrup

2 Tbsp organic butter or coconut oil

1 tsp ground cardamom

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice

Pinch of sea salt

4 large or 5 small apples, use a variety of sweet and sour and see what you like

½ cup water or apple cider

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a food processor, combine the dates, walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, lemon juice, and salt and process the mixture into a thick paste. Melt butter or coconut oil and add to paste.

Core the apples, leaving the very bottom intact to form a cup to hold the filling. Using a small spoon or butter knife, stuff the center of each apple with the date filling. Sprinkle the top of the apple with a light dust of cinnamon and cardamom. Set the apples into an 8-inch square baking pan or 9-inch pie plate. Pour the liquid into the bottom of the pan with the apples. Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil, being careful not to let the foil touch the tops of the apples.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until an apple can be pierced through easily with the tip of a paring knife, the skin is wrinkled, and the top of the date filling is dark brown. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes.