Spice up your life

Spices and herbs have been used to enhance the flavor of foods for thousands of years.

While there are health benefits to using spices and herbs in your cooking, if you have a wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity you might need to stay away from some spice blends and seasoning mixes.

Spice blends or seasoning mixes sometimes use wheat as an anti-caking agent, as an ingredient to stabilize the mix or as a thickening agent. Check the ingredient panel when purchasing spice blends or seasoning mixes to see if wheat, barley, oats or rye is used in the blend. Better yet, try making your own blends at home. Not only will you be able to have your favorite spice blend gluten or wheat free, but these blends are healthier since they omit salt and often cost less to make than buying the full size version at the store.

More information about spices and herbs can be found through the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Here’s a sample of some spice blends or seasonings from Michigan State University Extension that my family often uses during the holidays. Try on your own to make at home:

To substitute one teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice combine:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon all-spice

To substitute one teaspoon of apple pie spice combine:

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

For one teaspoon of poultry seasoning combine:

  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme

Check your favorite cookbook or cooking website for more spice blend and seasoning recipes. You can find a recipe for just about any blend or seasoning from taco mix to Chinese 5 spice powder. For more information on reading food labels or for nutrition classes check your local MSU Extension office.

The next time you reach for a spice blend or seasoning mix, read the ingredient label first. If it contains wheat or a gluten product or if you’re just not sure, try making your own blends at home! Making your own spice blends and seasonings might not only spice up your life, it just might save your life!

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