The Spice is Right

Happy New Year, Everyone!  It’s the second week of January, and I could sit here and remind you to keep up with your healthy resolutions. But no doubt you’ve already heard enough about what cleanses you need to be doing, how to lose 5 lbs. in 3 weeks, why you should get your butt back to the gym 6 days a week, etc. So instead, I’m going to use this space to challenge you to SPICE THINGS UP…in the kitchen.

Every time you prepare a home cooked meal, you have an opportunity to add a boost of flavor and health to your meals with spices. I’m not talking about obscure flavors that you need to special order, I’m referring to spices that are widely available at your local market next to the flour. Below are some of my favorite spices with their corresponding health benefits and recommended uses. I’ve also included my recipe for Tofu Steaks with a Turmeric Sauce that I know you are going to love.

Cinnamon: Contains iron, calcium, manganese and anti-oxidants. Enjoy in smoothies, on top of oatmeal, on a piece of whole wheat toast, and sprinkled on yogurt.

Cayenne: Has pain relieving properties and may aid in weight loss. Toss cayenne into scrambled eggs, ground turkey meat for turkey tacos, guacamole and even tea.

Ginger: Helps relieve colds and stomach troubles, anti-inflammatory, may help relieve post-workout muscle pain.  Enjoy in tea, stir-fry, green smoothies.

Turmeric:  Anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Drink turmeric tea, toss it into salad dressings and healthy yogurt-based dips.


Tofu Steaks with Turmeric Sauce

  • 1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 large bunch of arugula

Turmeric sauce:

  • 1/4 cup non-fat or 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2 t. turmeric
  • 1/4 t. salt plus more to taste
  • 2 t. lemon juice
  • Optional garnish: avocado slices
  • S+P to taste

After pressing tofu, slice in half with a sharp knife, then cut the halves into approximately 3″ x 3″ pieces.  Set aside on paper towels so that pieces continue to drain.  In the meantime, whisk together turmeric sauce ingredients in a small bowl.  Heat 2 T. olive oil over medium heat.  Brown both sides of tofu (approximately 3 minutes per side) until tofu appears relatively firm. Set tofu aside on plate lined with a paper towel to cool. Toss arugula with 1 T. olive oil, season with salt. Plate tofu over the greens, drizzle with turmeric sauce and top with avocado slices. Feeling extra hungry? Layer all of this on top of a slice of Dave’s Killer Bread toast. Season with S+P to taste.

So what are you waiting for? Make a resolution to add a little spice to your life in 2016.

Cheers to your health! XO

RecipesCharlee Van Wagenen