You may have started the year pledging to eat like a saint, but it’s around now that many people’s healthy-eating enthusiasm starts to wane. Don’t give up. Instead, how about injecting some spice into your life? Forget that unopened jar of paprika gathering dust in your spice rack and that piece of ginger that has been lurking in the bottom of your fridge for the last six months. Broaden your horizons and add a foodie spice injection to your menus. Here’s a look at five of the hottest spices right now. And that doesn’t mean they’re going to blow your head off – just that they could be the perfect solution to giving your cooking, and your willpower, a boost.
Asafetida | Asafetida’s nickname, ‘devil dung’, may not make it your first choice for adding flavour to your food, but that’s no reason to steer clear. The Middle Eastern and Indian asafetida does have, let’s say, a rather pungent odour when it’s dry, but this reduces considerably during cooking, and it’s a really tasty addition to the likes of garlic and onions.
File Powder | File powder is an essential for making a really healthy and satisfying Creole gumbo. It thickens the broth and gives a really earthy, bold flavour. There are many varieties of gumbo to make, including New Orleans Classic Gumbos (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/products/kit+wohl/new+orleans+classic+gumbo/6604869/), and a dash of file powder will act as the perfect icing on the cake (that is much healthier than actual icing on cake).
Grains of Paradise | You just know that an ingredient called grains of paradise has just got to be a taste sensation. These West African grains are so versatile you will never get bored of their complex flavours. There’s a black peppery taste about them, but the taste sensation goes much further, ranging from herby notes to a lovely citrus burst.
Pimenton | If you’re a fan of the healthy Mediterranean diet, you might already have encountered smoky pimenton. It is found in all sorts of Spanish dishes, including paella and that tapas favourite patatas bravas. It’s great sprinkled on grilled king prawns or octopus or as a warming addition to a multitude of egg – or egg-white – dishes.
Sichuan Pepper | Give your Chinese stir fries an instant kick in the wok with a good dash of ground Sichuan pepper. It has a really bold flavour and, in some people, will even make the lips tingle like a fizzy drink can. Now, who says healthy meals can’t be a taste sensation?