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Spice blends such as curry powder, chili powder and Cajun spice blend are a great shortcut for the busy cook who wants maximum taste with minimum effort. Most supermarkets carry a variety of spice blends, or you can make your own using the recipes on the next pages. Use them to add infinite variety to your combinations of whole grains, vegetables and beans.

Look for "mild" curry powder or chili powder and add the degree of heat you want with a little cayenne pepper or hot sauce such as Tabasco. If you don't like one spice blend, try another brand; each manufacturer has its own formula.

African Berbere Spice Blend

3 tbs sweet paprika

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp tumeric

1 tsp dry ginger

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp nutmeg, mace or allspice

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cayenne, or to taste

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 1/4 cup

Garam Masala Spice Blend

2 tbs freshly ground black or white pepper

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp cardamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cloves

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 1/4 cup.

Harissa Spice Blend

A little harissa goes a long way! Stir in a tiny bit while you cook, or let each person mix a little into their own portion of any vegetable or bean dish. Be sure to caution anyone who is not familiar with Harissa.

2 tbs cayenne

1 tbs ground cumin

1 tsp ground caraway

1 clove garlic

1/2 t. salt

1/4 cup fat-free Italian salad dressing

Mix the dry spices in a small refrigerator container. Peel the garlic clove and press it through a garlic press into the dry spices. Add the salad dressing and mix well. Store covered in refrigerator (keeps indefinitely.) Very hot!

Yield: About 1/4 cup

Dessert Spice Blend

Hot breakfast cereals and whole grain desserts can be made more delicious with a cinnamon-based spice blend. Find a good "Apple Pie Spice" or "Pumpkin Pie Spice" in your supermarket or make your own with this recipe.

3 tbs cinnamon

1 tbs nutmeg

1 tbs dry ginger

1 tsp cloves

1 tsp cardamon

1 tsp mace

Mix all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Yield: About 1/4 cup

July 31st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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