All About that Spice!

Written by Nicole Busboom, EFNEP Extension Assistant

What are the main factors in determining what we eat? Look and taste of course! Spices provide color and flavors to our food.  Do you like your food spicy, sweet, bitter, nutty, citrus, or savory? There are many different combinations to add flavor to your food.

Make your own spice mixes

Making your own spice mixes helps you limit sodium and other preservatives added to pre-made mixes. You can also use the spices right in your pantry instead of buying a new mix you may not use up!img_0149

Here are some common spices, taste and suggested dishes to flavor your meal:


Taste: Strong blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, hint peppery

Great for German & Caribbean cuisines, cakes, cookies, stew, lamb, fruit pies and pickles.


Taste: Warm, spicy and sweet

Great for Scandinavian and Indian Cuisine, Chai Tea


Taste: Hot, Smoky

Great for Mexican and Southwestern cuisines, chili, eggs, fish and vegetables.


Taste: sweet, hot

Great for Mexican and Greek cuisines, grilled fruit, curries, cakes and oatmeal


Taste: aromatic, sweet

Great for Caribbean and Indian cuisines, pineapple, meats, soups, pork, mulled wine and chutneys


Taste: earthy, warm, nutty

Great for: Mexican and Asian cuisines, beans, stews, soups, tacos, and sauces


Taste:  spicy, sweet, slight citrus flavor

Great for Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern cuisines, marinades, squash, desserts, oats, hot tea, gingerbread, pickled ginger


Taste: warm, sweet, nutty, spicy

Great for cakes, sauces, spinach, cookies, milk or cream-based dishes like custards or puddings, eggnog


Taste: earthy, slightly bitter

Great for Indian and Moroccan cuisines, poultry, lamb, curries, stews, rice dishes

Tasty Tips

If you are just starting to use spices, add a little at a time; you can always add spice, but it’s difficult to remove it. When adding spices to your meal, add them near the start of cooking so they have time to soften and release their delicious favors.  Flavor intensity is reduced in cold dishes, therefore more spices may need to be used when preparing them.img_0154

So the next time you are looking to add a little ‘flavor’ to your meal try a new spice in your food.img_0173

Spicy Apple-Filled Squash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print



  • 1 acorn squash (about 1 pound)
  • 1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
  • 2 tsp. melted butter or margarine
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Grease a 1-quart baking dish. Halve squash and remove seeds; cut into quarters.
  3. Place quarters, skin side up, in baking dish and cover; bake 30 minutes.
  4. In a medium bowl, combine butter or margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir until mixed. Add sliced apples and stir until coated.
  5. Turn cut sides of acorn squash up; top with apple mixture. Cover and bake 30 minutes longer or until apples are tender.

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This post was reviewed by Morgan Hartline MS, RD, LMNT, Extension Educator. Photos by Morgan Hartline. 


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