The Gift of Spice

SpicesJill Henderson ~ Show Me Oz

Food has the power to hurt or heal, depending on how it is grown and prepared.  In this week’s article, I have a bit of “spicy” history and 10 fantastic naturally healthy spice blends that you can make at home and share with friends using common home-grown organic herbs and spices, which are not only super yummy but super healthy, too!

 Since the dawn of time humans have gathered and used wild plants for food and medicine. As their collective knowledge grew, they began to prepare and use them in new and creative ways. From simple seasonings to food preservatives, and from ritual offerings to healing medicines, herbs and spices have touched the lives of mankind for hundreds of thousands of years.

We often associate spices with hard, dry bits of ground up plant material. But a spice can be made from almost any portion of a plant in any form including leaves, twigs, seedpods, bulbs, and rhizomes. The famous Balm of Gilead is a sap resin gathered from the emerging leaf buds of the common balsam poplar. Some spices, such as garlic and ginger are used both fresh and dry. Even flowers and parts of flowers are used as spices. The delicate and luxuriantly expensive spice saffron is the dried thread-like stigmas of the saffron crocus, which are picked by hand.

Whether humans first used spices as food, preservative or medicine is unsure. The only thing that is certain is that they loved it. In fact, the desire for new and unusual spices drove exploration for the better part of 5,000 years. It spawned wars and rivalries, built empires and kingdoms and made men rich beyond their dreams. Had Christopher Columbus not been searching for a new, faster trade route to the Spice Islands, America may not have been colonized for another 500 years.

Spices have also played a role in the quest for spiritual knowledge, the development of medicine, the refinement of scientific formulation and the timeless pursuit of everlasting life. As far back as modern archeology can take us, humans have used spices to express love, appease or thank the gods, anoint the dead, and to garner favor among the living. Rarity and expense made a gift of spice one of the highest forms of respect.

Indeed, spices were among the world’s most valuable commodities. For thousands of years, the cost and rarity of spice was comparable to that of gold or diamonds. Yet only fifty years ago it would have been highly unusual to find a local source of the spices needed to create the kinds of international cuisine we crave today. But these days our modern society takes for granted the availability, reasonable cost and wide variety of spices on grocery store shelves.

The general availability and reasonable price of spice today doesn’t make it any less precious. Because though widely available and generally affordable, spices and spice blends still aren’t cheap. It might surprise you to learn how many people have never indulged in the heady flavors of high-quality, freshly prepared spice blends. This is what makes a gift of spice just as valuable and highly regarded today as it was a thousand years ago.

In addition to their fabulous scents and savory flavors, spices are truly some of the earliest known herbal medicines and food preservatives. Just adding judicious amounts of herbs and spices to your daily meals will not only enliven them, but purge your body of toxins, combat food-borne bacteria, and viruses, and as weird as it may sound, hefty doses of spice can eliminate all manner of parasitic organisms from your gut and digestive tract.

Below are ten of the most widely used spice blends, which I have customized to suit a variety of culinary tastes. Each recipe is formulated using the most common forms of spices available and can be prepared using either the small or large batch recipe (denoted to the right in parenthesis).

If using whole, fresh or otherwise unprocessed ingredients you may need to grind them to the desired consistency. A coffee grinder used just for spices works exceptionally well. To make any of these spice blends, simply add all the ingredients to a large covered vessel, shake, and seal.  If you like to play with your food, adding a bit more of one ingredient or substituting another will only add your personal touch to a wonderful gift of spice.

Store bulk spice blends in glass jars with tight-fitting lids until you are ready to package them into decorative gifts. To do this you will need a funnel, lidded spice jars, labels and some decorative packaging. Spice jars come in many sizes and the following chart may help you decide which jar best suites your needs.

8 ounces = 16 tablespoons
6 ounces = 14 tablespoons
5 ounces = 11 tablespoons
4 ounces = 9 ½ tablespoons
2 ounces = 4 tablespoons

Repurposing the glass spice jars in which you purchased your individual spices saves time and money. Simply wash and remove the labels. Decorate the lids and hide any unwanted printing, spray paint the outer surfaces only. The inner portion of the lid should never be painted. To add a finishing touch to your gift of spice, decorate the jars with customized labels that include the name of the spice blend and the types of dishes it can be used for.

A small decorative cardboard recipe box makes a nice presentation, as does a small spice rack. A fun and creative packaging option is a stainless steel table top salt and pepper holder. These usually come with empty shakers that you can fill with your homemade spice blends. Some also have a napkin holder in the middle into which you can place a few of your own favorite recipes on hand-printed cardstock. The recipient will truly appreciate the tasteful touch.

Spices have been with mankind since the dawn of time. They have been bought, sold, and traded. They have been mystified and honored. By creating and sharing your own seasoning blends, you will be giving a wonderful, timeless, and extremely healthy gift of spice!  Enjoy!

The Recipes….

Fabulous All Seasons Salt
1 ½ cups salt (¾ cup)
½ cup paprika (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons garlic powder (1 ½ tablespoons)
1 tablespoon black pepper (1 ½ teaspoons)
1 tablespoon white pepper (1 ½ teaspoons)
1 tablespoon thyme (1 ½ teaspoons)
1 tablespoon marjoram (1 ½ teaspoons)
2 teaspoons onion powder (1 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons ground celery seed (1 teaspoon)

Salty spicy goodness in a jar! This spice blend is excellent on
just about anything you can imagine. Try it on creamy chicken,
fish or tuna salad, roasted vegetables, poultry, fish, beef,
pork … the sky’s the limit!
Yield: About 2 1⁄3 and 4 cups.

Spicy GarlicBella Italian Seasoning

2⁄3 cup oregano (1 1⁄3 cups)
2⁄3 cup basil (1 1⁄3 cups)
¼ cup thyme (½ cup)
¼ cup marjoram (½ cup)
2 tablespoons rosemary (¼ cup)
1 tablespoon garlic powder (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons onion powder (4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon red pepper (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon black pepper (2 teaspoons)

Bella means “beautiful” in Italian, and this spice blend makes
any Italian dish stand out from the crowd. Don’t forget to try
it on roasted potatoes or tomatoes for a taste-tempting treat!
Yield: About 2 and 4 cups.

Tex-Mex Power Blend

¼ cup ground red chilies (½ cup)
2 tablespoons ground coriander (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons salt (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons oregano (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons cumin (¼ cup)
1 tablespoon garlic powder (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon onion powder (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon paprika (2 tablespoons)
2 ¼ teaspoons black pepper (1 ½ tablespoons)
2 ¼ teaspoons sugar (1 ½ tablespoons)
1 teaspoon cayenne (2 teaspoons)

The level of heat in this spice blend depends on the kind of
chilies you use. Perfect for Tex-Mex tacos, chili, burritos,
beans, chicken, and beef. Makes an excellent fajita grill rub.
Yield: About 2 and 4 cups.

Fish & Seafood Rub

½ cup sea salt (1 cup)
½ cup garlic powder (1 cup)
¼ cup dried marjoram (½ cup)
¼ cup dried thyme (½ cup)
¼ cup savory (½ cup)
¼ cup garlic powder (½ cup)
3 tablespoons onion powder (6 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons black pepper (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons white pepper (¼ cup)
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon fennel seed (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons sweet paprika (4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons dry lemon zest (4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon ground bay leaf (2 teaspoons)

Use as a rub when grilling, baking, or pan-searing fish and
shrimp. Add a tablespoon of rub to 1 cup of flour for deep
frying. Blend into oil, mayonnaise, or melted butter to make a
delectable seafood dip or sauce.
Yield: About 2 ½ and 5 cups.

Grill-All Barbeque Seasoning

1 cup chili powder (2 cups)
½ cup salt (1 cup)
6 tablespoons onion powder (1⁄3 cup)
4 teaspoons cumin (2 ½ tablespoons)
4 teaspoons garlic powder (2 ½ tablespoons)
2 teaspoons paprika (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons brown sugar (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons cayenne (1 tablespoon)
2 teaspoons hickory flavoring (1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon black pepper (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dry mustard (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon dry ground lemon zest (2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon nutmeg (2 teaspoons)

When you want to grill, this is your go-to seasoning blend. It
has the perfect blend of sweet and hot to really bring out the
flavor of meat, chicken, and vegetables.
Yield: About 2 ¼ and 4 cups.

Sweet GingerHoliday Pie & Bread Spice

¾ cup ground cinnamon (1 ½ cups)
½ cup dry ground orange peel (1 cup)
¼ cup ground anise seed (½ cup)
¼ cup ground fennel seed (½ cup)
¼ cup ground ginger (½ cup)
2 tablespoons ground cardamom (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons ground nutmeg (¼ cup)
4 teaspoons ground cloves (2 ½ tablespoons)

Don’t wait for the holidays to create wonderfully rich breads,
pies, cakes, muffins, cookies, cider, fruit compote, and eggnog.
Yield: About 2 ½ cups to 5 cups.

New Orleans Cajun-Style
¼ cup red bell pepper flakes (½ cup)
¼ cup parsley flakes (½ cup)
3 tablespoons onion powder (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons garlic powder (1⁄3 cup)
2 tablespoons black pepper (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons white pepper (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons paprika (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons cumin (¼ cup)
1 tablespoon ground bay leaf (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon celery seed (2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon ground mustard seed (2 tablespoons)
1 ½ teaspoons thyme (3 teaspoons)
1 ½ teaspoons oregano (3 teaspoons)
1 ½ teaspoons cayenne (3 teaspoons)
1 ½ teaspoons basil (3 teaspoons)

This superb spice blend makes fantastic gumbo and a tasty rub
and marinade for roasting or grilling beef, pork, or chicken.
Yield: About 2 ¼ and 5 ½ cups.

Salt-Free Sensation

¼ cup garlic powder (½ cup)
¼ cup onion powder (½ cup)
3 tablespoons savory (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons powdered lemon zest (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons dried basil (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons marjoram (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons thyme (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons parsley flakes (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons sage (1⁄3 cup)
3 tablespoons celery seed (1⁄3 cup)
1 tablespoon ground mace (2 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons white pepper (4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons black pepper (4 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons paprika (4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (2 teaspoons)

Liven up any dish without salt! This spice blend is perfect
for salads, meats, soups, and casseroles. Grind it very fine and
keep in a salt shaker on the table. You’ll want more!
Yield: About 2 and 4 cups.

Ultimate Poultry Seasoning

1⁄3 cup basil (2⁄3 cup)
1⁄3 cup marjoram (2⁄3 cup)
1⁄3 cup thyme (2⁄3 cup)
¼ cup garlic powder (½ cup)
¼ cup onion powder (½ cup)
¼ cup smoked paprika (½ cup)
¼ cup salt (½ cup)
3 tablespoons savory (¼ cup)
3 tablespoons rosemary (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons black pepper (¼ cup)

No self-respecting bird would want to be cooked without this
savory blend of herbs and spices! For a nice change of flavor,
sprinkle some of this blend on veggies, fish, or even beef.
Yield: About 2 ½ and 5 ¼ cups.

Crispy Refrigerator Dills

½ cup kosher salt (1 cup)
½ cup dried minced garlic (1 cup)
½ cup whole dill seed (1 cup)
¼ cup whole coriander (½ cup)
¼ cup whole celery seed (½ cup)
¼ cup whole mustard seed (½ cup)
¼ cup ground cumin (½ cup)
3 tablespoons red pepper flakes (1⁄3 cup)
2 tablespoons ground turmeric (¼ cup)
2 tablespoons ground bay leaf (¼ cup)

This spicy, tangy recipe makes the best refrigerator pickles
ever! To make, bring 5 cups water and 3 cups white vinegar
to a boil and remove from heat. Stir in ¼ cup white sugar and

4–6 tablespoons seasoning mix. Cool completely. Pack freshly
cut cucumbers into a jar and cover with brine. Refrigerate for
one week before eating. One recipe yields 1 gallon of pickles.
Yield: About 2 ¾ and 5 ½ cups.

Show Me Oz | Living and loving life in the Ozarks!
Gardening, foraging, herbs, homesteading, slow food, nature, and more!
© Jill Henderson – Originally published in Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac 2013

THPOKH-214x321_thumb7The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs

Learn how to grow and use the world’s oldest, safest, and most medicinal herbs with this easy step-by-step guide!  From starting seeds to preparing home remedies, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs is a treasured resource that you will turn to time and time again.

Available in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.
Look inside!

Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz  Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons and Illuminati Agenda 21 can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore.  Jill is a featured columnist for Acres USA and a contributing author to Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac and her work has appeared in The Permaculture Activist and The Essential Herbal.

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11 responses to “The Gift of Spice

  1. Jill thank you for sharing these blends of spices . I will definitely use them for dishes. As always, your amazing. I see here a few spices I use for healing. One is turmeric as a natural anti- inflammatory, antioxidant spice powder, that helped me to boost my immune system, and keep the body free of bacteria, viruses, and microbes. I also use ginger tea and fennel soup to improve my digestion problems.

  2. Thanks, Laura. Herbs and spices are the oldest medicinals known to mankind. They were first used to treat illnesses, then as preservatives for food-borne pathogens that just happened to taste good, too! I have experienced amazing cures using nothing but a handful of ground spices! Powerful – and tasty – stuff! Ginger and turmeric are two very powerful spices that everyone should have in their medicinal spice cabinet. If we add these herbals to our food in generous quantities on a regular basis they can go a long way to maintaining health!

  3. I have seen all your articles and I saw you are passionate about herbs, mushrooms, flowers, birds and nature in general. There is a lot to read for me to catch up with everything since 2012. Wonderful articles I will save them, you are definitely a great writer. I am glad I found your through this site.

    • I am passionate about nature, food, gardening, cooking, and so on… all are a part of natural living and natural health. I want to write articles that help people make the best of their lives.

  4. Jill I read Dr. Hulda Clark and I saw she has several protocols short, long schedules, for parasites, liver and gallbladder. Can you tell me please how do you proceed for yourself, do you follow each protocol by itself or together? What is the schedule you follow? I understood that black walnut hulls , wormwood and cloves have to be taken together. Thanks.

    • Thanks, Laura. In general, I would only do one cleanse at a time starting with the parasite cleanse, followed by the kidneys, liver, etc. I’ve only done the parasite and liver cleanse though. However, her method for liver cleanse is much too intense for me. I did it a couple of times and I can drink the Epsom salts anymore, they make me retch. Just the thought of it makes me nauseous.

  5. i found something useful for people who shop at the grocery and don’t have access to the farms

    how to shop , look at the labels with Dr. Berg.

  6. Here is a good site I found about keys to balance hormones, I thought of sharing it here

  7. Thanks for sharing that, Lauri. It’s shocking to hear that on average girls today begin their periods 9-11 years old! They talk about xenoestrogens, which is very true – and pervasive, but we can’t overlook estrogen excreted in urine from women taking the pill. These get into and are very difficult to remove from drinking water.

  8. They also talked about cruciferous veggies, fermented veggies and dairy, and bone broth for collagen, all of which are part of the protocol to help the body deal with glyphosate toxicity by treating sulfur deficiency and destroying gut flora.

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