10 Best Weight Gaining Food for Kids

Children tend to gain weight very fast as they keep on growing, generally, children are healthy but in some cases, they tend to be lean and thin. There might be some genetic issues in them because of which they don’t gain weight and are healthy. It is often believed and also researched that the weight and appearance is not always the appropriate measure of overall body health of a child instead, it is just to keep a check on the average BMI of a body which should be appropriate according to the body of a child. It is also said that if the BMI of the child is not up to the mark and if it keeps them in the underweight category than the parents should start planning to give the child healthy and weight gaining food so that they can grow properly, stay healthy and gain proper weight while they keep on growing.

How to check the BMI

The BMI calculator is being used by the doctors or the parents can also themselves use it to calculate the BMI of their child. You can find it online nowadays and all you need to do is to feed in the details that the calculator needs to give you the BMI of the child. It generally needs the height and the weight of a person so that it can give you back the proper BMI.

Children are generally given healthy food that contains all the necessary nutrients a child needs for proper growth. However, weight gaining food is given only to those who are underweight and has a low BMI so that they can achieve the stage of required BMI.

To help some of the parents track what should be given to the child that will not harm their growing body and will also help in increasing the BMI of their body. Below we have compiled a quick list of some of the health gaining food which is ideal for the children. The list is as follows:

  1. Eggs– One of the best source of proteins, eggs can be one of the best and wholesome food that can help in increasing the weight of your child. Muscle tissue and body growth increase the bodyweight of the kids. Boiled eggs are a very good option for them and should be served in small quantity every time so that the dose is not overdone.
  2. Tofu– One of the best sources of amino acids it is also loaded with proteins. Made with the help of soya milk it is the best that can be served to the children in a number of ways and a number of dishes can be prepared with the help of it that will be loved by the children. A source of the number of nutrients, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, etc. It can be very good for the kids. Loaded with a number of nutrients it does not contain calories.
  3. Honey– Often used as a substitute for sugar in almost every diet, the composition of honey is 18% water and the remaining 72% is carbohydrates present in it. Since carbohydrates are believed to increase the weight of a human body, honey can be a great source that can help in weight gain of a human body.
  4. Milk– Since it is a food item which is generally served to kids, but you should continue giving your child milk every day since is the best source of protein and calcium. One full glass of milk can help the child have a healthy overall weight in the body. Milk also helps in building strong bones in the body and since your child is growing he will automatically develop stronger bones. Milk is also a food for 8-month baby.
  5. Dry fruits– Available in a wide variety of dry fruits and nuts are a rich source of protein, iron, vitamin, and magnesium. You can serve them in a number of different ways so that the child doesn’t get bored of having them on a regular basis. Top them in ice-creams, mix them in smoothies. They can munch them as a snack option such as almonds, cashews, raisins, walnuts, etc.
  6. Oatmeal– A rich source of carbohydrates oatmeal is usually the best breakfast option which is probably the best option with which can child will start his day. It is gluten-free and also rich in fiber. The carbohydrates present in them helps in keeping the stomach of your child full for long since it burns slowly.
  7. Beans and Pulses– Another rich source of proteins, they also contain calories and is the best option of food that can be included in lunch and dinner as well. They also contain fibers that are soluble in nature so that it regulates the sugar level and helps in treating mood swings.
  8. Olive Oil– Either top it on the salad or make wholesome meals for your child as it is the safest option for the overall health of your child.
  9. Banana– It is the best fruit that helps in easy digestion and is packed with nutrients. It is rich in fiber and also helps in improving the eyesight and brainpower in children.
  10. Corn– One of the food items packed with the goodness of many nutrients and can also be enjoyed by your child. It also contains carbohydrates that help in healthy weight gain in children.

There are a number of food items available in the market for your children that are a rich source of so many nutrients and can help in healthy weight gain of your child. Some of the fruits and other food items can also be used as food for 6-month baby so that they can get required nutrients from an early age.

The Joys of Getting Sushi Meals Ready at Home

One of my favorite dishes, sushi, has fascinated me for many years. Why do you ask, because of it’s amazing health benefits and ease of preparation? Now, thanks to sushi roll machines, it’s never been easier to make your own at home. There are many benefits to preparing your own sushi. In this article we will explore three of the top benefits preparing your own sushi at home provides while examining the absolute joys eating heart-healthy sushi gives.

Cost Savings

Anyone who’s been to the supermarket lately will testify to the fact that, although sushi is extremely healthy, it is also very expensive if you haven’t prepared it yourself. What if I told you instead of paying 10 to 15 dollars a person, you could save money preparing sushi yourself at home for a fraction of the cost, a $1.40 per person to be exact.

When deciding to prepare this amazing dish at home, the most important ingredient is sushi grade fish. Typically, there are 5 main types of sushi, Nigiri, Sashimi, Maki, Uramaki, and Temaki. Most often, you’ll see sushi prepared either one of three ways, as Maki (rolled) where seaweed is on the outside, Uramaki, where seaweed is on the inside and rice on the outside, or Temaki, a cone-shaped piece of sushi that’s rolled by hand. Depending on your preference, you may prepare it any one of these ways.

Ease Of Preparation

With machines, like the Sushi Machine Australia available, preparing sushi is a breeze. For those of us who have to prepare it by hand, don’t sweat, here’s a delicious recipe anyone can use to prepare Teriyaki Chicken Sushi Rolls in the comfort of their own homes with or without a machine.

First, start by preparing your rice. Rinse rice with cold water and place in a heavy-duty saucepan. Add water. Next, turn the heat on your stove to medium-high a bring water to boil. Reduce to simmer and cover. Let it cook for 15 to 20 minutes until rice is nice and soft. Turn off heat and allowed to cool. After the rice has fully cooled, add rice vinegar, 1 to 2 tablespoons are plenty. Now, set this aside until ready to prepare your sushi rolls.

Once your rice is cooked, make teriyaki chicken. Slice your chicken breast into thin strips and place in a plastic bag. Add some teriyaki sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, and sesame oil. Mix everything together in the bag and place in your fridge to marinade for about an hour. Now, fry your chicken with a spot of olive oil for 3 or 4 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked and slightly crisp on the outside. Once finished, set a frying pan to the side and allow to cool.

Almost done. Next, assemble your sushi rolls. Using a sushi mat, lay seaweed shiny side down. Add sushi rice so that seaweed is covered leaving the top inch bear. Add additional ingredients like chicken, avocado slices, and asparagus, then start rolling the sushi from top to bottom.

Make sure you roll it tight as you don’t want it to fall apart once you slice it. Finally, rap the roles in saran wrap and store in the fridge until ready to cut. With a serrated knife or sushi machine, cut each roll into 28 thin slices and serve with your choice of wasabi or vinegar on the side.

Health Benefits

Sushi has been shown to have an enormous amount of health benefits. Studies have shown it not only fights heart disease and lowers LDL cholesterol levels, but one of its condiments, wasabi, has been shown to exhibit anti-cancer activity. Sushi can help boost your metabolism while lowering your bad cholesterol levels and reducing your overall risk for cancer. Put down the fast food, give sushi a try, you’ll be glad you did.

Micronutrients in Superfoods: Essentials for your Family’s Health

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When it comes to healthy meals, there should always be a balance. The whole family needs plenty of nutritional goodies that will help their bodies stay strong and able, and certain micronutrients and macronutrients are essential in this process. Are you interested in cooking good, healthy food for the whole house? Then you need to learn which food will bring the best kind of benefits, and we’re here to show you. For more info on useful micronutrients and which superfoods contain them, read on.

The difference between micronutrients and macronutrients

Macronutrients encompass three major groups: fats, protein, and carbohydrates. Our bodies need them in larger quantities, and this what the majority of your diet will involve. Micronutrients, on the other hand, are found in smaller quantities in food but they’re equally important when it comes to health maintenance. There are two types of micronutrients: essential and non-essential. Essential ones are elements and compounds that our body can’t synthesize from other ingredients, and you need to ingest them through food in order to gain benefits from them. Below we’ll focus on a few of the most important micronutrients that are important for the whole family.

Iron to fight fatigue

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Let’s start with something that a lot of moms could use—iron. The substance used to create hemoglobin in our red blood cells, iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies and it’s found mostly in women. If you feel very fatigued even after a good night’s sleep and keep experiencing shortness of breath and dizziness, it might not be a bad idea to check your iron levels and see whether there are any issues. Meat, particularly red meat, is a very good source of easily-absorbable iron, but since a lot of eco-conscious families are trying to cut down their intake, it’s also possible to find iron in certain veggies. Luckily, leafy greens are just the superfoods you need, so you can stock up on kale and spinach and eat those to your heart’s content. Tofu, lentils, chickpeas, beans, and chia seeds are also great.

Stock up on magnesium

Magnesium is fantastic for our children because it helps their muscles grow strong and plays a large role in nervous system development, but generally, the whole family can benefit from it. It can lower blood pressure, increase exercise performance, fight depression, reduce insulin resistance, and help us in many other ways, but it’s a little difficult to get it from food alone. If there’s a deficiency you should definitely consider daily magnesium supplements, especially if you’re experiencing muscle cramps. If you do want to take it from food, then stock up on Swiss chard, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and high-quality dark chocolate.

Vitamin D for strong bones

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For strong bones and healthy development, kids need their vitamin D, while the elderly should also consider upping their intake because the levels tend to decrease with age. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and mackerel are excellent sources of this vitamin, and so are cheese, egg yolks, and beef liver. Women who have a hereditary risk of osteoporosis could also benefit from vitamin D, so don’t forget to combine both healthy food and spending some time outside to soak up the sun. Of course, do this while wearing high SPF sunscreen.

Berries and vitamins

Not only is berry fruit rich in antioxidants, but it’s also full of vitamin C, fiber, folate, and potassium. Folate is particularly useful for men because it can reduce the chances of developing a heart disease, and for pregnant women because it helps keep the fetus healthy and reduces the risk of neural tube defects. You can find folates in popular superfoods like goji berries and acai berries, but you can also find them in blueberries, strawberries, and black currants. The best thing about this is that pretty much all berries are entirely delicious, and it’s very easy to find a ton of healthy dessert recipes to keep the whole family happy.

Omega-3 fatty acids

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This micronutrient is pretty important for anyone who has a history of cardiovascular diseases in their family because it goes a long way in protecting your heart health. It also reduces the levels of inflammation in our body and some studies even suggest that it can reduce the symptoms of ADHD in children. We all know that fish and avocados are great sources of omega-3s, but there are also other foods that you can incorporate into your diet: walnuts, soybeans, flaxseeds, and chia. Try to get your family to eat fish at least once a week, and you’ll be enjoying great benefits.

“When you don’t want children near the stove, a kitchen island is a safer place to have the kids assist with meal preparation tasks. The island is ideal for little ones that can’t reach the kitchen counter.”, adds Linda Fennessy of www.kitchenmagic.com.

Cooking for the whole family is no small task, but as long as you know which foods are nutrient-rich, you can easily start making delicious meals. Try our suggestions, get creative in the kitchen, and enjoy the added health benefits!

Happy Food for Happy People

Stress is floating all around! Whether it is due to work pressure or something at home and sometimes it’s there because you want to get out of it (stress). What if, keeping away from stress is as simple as eating?

There are certain (easily available) foods which are capable of lowering down the stress hormones.   Here are some of the many.

Banana – All of us know, that banana is full of potassium, but do you know that, this tasty fruit also contains “tryptophan”, a brain chemical, which helps in regulating your mood. Researches also indicate that a good amount of Vitamin B also reduces the level of despair and makes you feel better.


Dark Chocolate – Ahaa, this is interesting, isn’t it? A delightful way to lower down the stress level. Being rich in antioxidants, it is found in several researches that, dark chocolates can considerably reduce the stress hormone cortisol (source of Information: Journal of Proteome Research.). Some people find dark chocolates bitter, but you don’t necessarily need a pure dark chocolate, you can find the one with lesser percentage of purity. Try it out, I must say, it works for me.


Green Tea – there are lot of people shifting their choice of beverages from black or milked tea and coffee to Green tea. Although, this is mainly because of its weight loss benefits. Many people, who follow hectic lifestyle, they find it easy to sip a few cups of green tea then hitting the gym or a yoga class. But this wonder tea is also capable of lowering down the stress level. So, if you have not yet included the green tea in your lifestyle, go for it now. It’s never too late to start with a good habit.


Berries – Blue or Black, raspberry or strawberry, all of them contain chemical similarity to valproic acid, which is a prescription mood-stabilizing drug. Berries also help in reducing the inflammation, which has been associated with a higher rate of depression.


Turmeric – This yellow spice, which is an essential part of the East Asian cuisine, contains curcumin that has the capability to enhance the mood and lower down the stress-causing hormone. Turmeric is known for anti-inflammatory and healing qualities. But it also uplifts your mood and makes you feel calm and relaxed.


Apples – An apple a day does keeps the doctor away. Fruits like apples produce a calming effect, creates more energy, and enhances overall happiness and well-being (as per the British Journal of Health Psychology).


Coffee – Many types of research suggests, that in addition to stimulating your brain cells; Coffee consumption also helps in lowering the levels of depression. So, next time, when you are feeling low grab a cup of coffee and let your mind relax instantly.

Besides, these few superfoods, Walnuts, mushrooms, oranges and Eggs are a great help in calming down your nerves and make you feel relaxed. This food is also a natural remedy for your stomach if you have any issue and do not use medicines.

Taking medication to reduce the symptoms of depression does have its own set of side-effects. The only idea is to keep away from the stressed mind. If making small additions in everyday life can be helpful, what is better than that?

If you have experienced calmness and reduction in stress level with some other food, please do share them in the comment box.

Happy Mind- Happy Life

This is a guest Post by Jais. She is a multi-passionate entrepreneur, creative-writer, Fitness enthusiastic confident, Nature Lover, Animal Lover, an observer, a traveler on the path to self-discovery. Focused on Raising Happiness level and simplifying life. Love to Live. Live to Love. She blogs at www.getsethappy.com


How to Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels Under Control

Those suffering from type 2 diabetes know very well how important it is to keep their blood sugar levels under control. Most of them have also experienced unpleasant moments when those levels start racing up and down. Such swings are horrific and cause justified panic. Therefore, it’s vital to control blood sugar levels if you wish to lead a normal life.

How difficult is this challenge? Well, it depends on how disciplined you are. In theory, it’s not that hard, but we all know that some people have great problems adjusting their lifestyle and changing their habits. Let’s take a look at some tips that should help you gain control of not only your blood sugar levels but your life as well.


What happens when blood sugar is not under control?

Type 2 diabetes lowers the production of insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. If the insulin level is low, sugar builds up in the blood and eventually harms nerves and blood vessels, which in turn puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke. If the problem is not solved, hyperglycemia may lead to further problems, such as kidney failure and blindness.

The symptoms of high blood sugar include fatigue, increased thirst, blurry vision, and frequent urination. However, the biggest problem is that you may feel fine without realizing your blood sugar is high. That’s why you need to monitor your blood sugar levels regularly.

On the other hand, when your sugar level is too low, hypoglycemia is manifested by dizziness, irritability, sweating, and lack of coordination. This is equally dangerous and can lead to a number of serious problems.


Adjustments to your diet

Your diet is one of the crucial elements that should be considered when it comes to controlling blood sugar. It’s vital that you follow your doctor’s advice to the letter if you wish to keep your situation under control. The recommendation you receive will likely include nuts, whole grains and non-starchy vegetables such as broccoli, cucumber, and carrots, which help prevent surges in blood sugar levels while providing you with all the essential nutrients.

It’s also very important not to skip meals if you wish to reverse insulin resistance. You need to spread out your food intake evenly and never skip breakfast. Next, you shouldn’t drink on an empty stomach, since alcohol will make your blood sugar drop up to 24 hours later. So, you have to eat before or while you drink.



To be able to manage your blood sugar level over time, you need to introduce regular exercising. The type of exercise you choose will depend on many factors, such as your overall health, age and time you have available. What is absolutely crucial is that you don’t design your own exercise program, but rely on your doctor’s recommendations. Losing weight is also important for those who are overweight or obese. It’s much easier to control your blood sugar if your weight is optimal.


It may seem like the most obvious thing to do, but it’s still worth reminding everyone that you need regular therapy, and strictly following your doctor’s advice is a must. Therapy alone can’t successfully regulate your blood sugar levels, but medications are necessary. It may take some time before the best therapy is found, but in order for your doctor to be able to be spot on with it, you need to be a good patient and do what is required from you.

Basically, the process of keeping your blood sugar levels optimal is complex, since it consists of several factors. If you neglect just one of them, you’ll find it impossible to achieve your goals. Also, it’s important that you understand the problem well and realize why all the steps are necessary. Still, if you’re disciplined enough, you’ll realize that you can lead a long and healthy life even with diabetes.

Top 10 Artisan Crafts And Food Sites Across America

Artisan crafts and food across America is a booming business. From local sales to national shipping, artisans from every state are leveraging the Internet to build and grow passions into businesses.

If you think that the artisan retail niche is small, think again. And consumers want more artisan stores at their fingertips. Why? They serve up a personalized experience, which 56 percent of consumers crave.

Do you love artisan crafts and food as a consumer? Are you thinking of starting your own craft and food retail store and need some great ideas? The following 10 sites across America can serve as your artisan playbook.

1. Texas Treats: Georgetown, Texas

Texas Treats serves up delicious Texas food gifts and artisan crafts to locals in the Georgetown, Texas, as well as 48 states via shipping. Texas Treats is everything Texas, bringing together artisans who make food and crafts from every corner of the Lone Star State. From wedding favors to gourmet food, you can bring the taste of Texas home.

2. Urban Timberworks: Portland, Oregon

Urban Timberworks is an artisan furniture company located in the Pacific Northwest city of Portland, Oregon. Naturally, this artisan furniture company crafts handmade chair sets, tables, coffee tables, and more from salvaged urban trees.

3. Sage Inspiration Artisan Jewelry: Tucson, Arizona

Sage Inspiration Artisan Jewelry is a brick and mortar store in Tucson, Arizona with an online presence. They have lots of handmade jewelry necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings and other artisan jewelry available to locals and those just passing through.

4. Beth Miller Jewelry: Marquette, Michigan

Beth Miller Jewelry is an artisan jewelry company that incorporates rich colors, metalworking, and nature in each handcrafted design. Located in Marquette, Michigan, Beth Miller crafts unique wedding rings, earrings, pendants, and everything else you need to compliment your style.

5. Vermont Soap: Middlebury, VT

Vermont Soap is headquartered in Middlebury, VT and boasts being, “Soap for the People.” This artisan soap company is USDA certified and meets organic standards by Vermont Organic Farmers (VOF). They ship in the U.S. and they even say their soap is available in Japan. From lemongrass to lavender, you can shop for your artisan soap by scent with Vermont Soap.

6. Farm To People: New York, New York

You wouldn’t normally associate farm fresh food with New York, but Farm To People aims to change that thinking. They are bringing farms and small food producers in the U.S. together with the people. They serve up products that are GMO-free, small-batch, non-artificial, and humanely raised animals. Ready to spice up your culinary skills?

7. Bird Trouble: Chicago, Illinois

Bird Trouble is an artisanal leather handbags company located in Chicago, Illinois. They typically craft 5 to 10 handbags at one time with the production of one bag taking up to a month. The designer and artist behind Bird Trouble are Alexz Sandoval, an artisan that has been handcrafting products behind her sewing machine since High School.

8. Market Hall Foods: Oakland, California

Looking for artisanal food from Europe? Market Hall Foods in Oakland, California delivers. Their mission is to source the best food from around the world to the Bay Area community and the rest of the U.S., and they have been doing it for 30 years. From product collections to Market Hall Foods recipes, they connect artisanal food to those enthusiastic about exploring culture in the kitchen.

9. Michael Perez Pop Artist: Miami, Florida

Michael Perez is a modern pop artist that has a gallery in Miami, Florida. Perez, however, began his pop art in New York and continues to create art that is modernly aesthetic, as well as rich in meaning. He has appeared on NBC’s “Weekend Today Show” and been featured in The New York Times. Perez also uses his art to help various charities and support causes he feels passionate about.

10. Becky Grismer Art: Spearfish, South Dakota

Becky Grismer Art encompasses nature in many of her pieces using tree bark to craft her sculptures and other art pieces. Grismer currently works as a sculptor in Spearfish, South Dakota, and she also creates ceramic sculptures that are unique and conversational. Truly an artisan with a new perspective that is a welcomed change to the art manufactured to sell at retail stores.

Wrapping Up . . .

There are a lot of artisanal crafts and food available across America. From the Pacific to the Atlantic, you can find just about any artwork or a delicious treat for your home and kitchen. Add a little Americana, and even a bit of other cultures to your home today.

6 Ways to Relieve the Stress of Being a New Mother

Becoming a parent for the first time is overwhelmingly wonderful but also a little frightening and very stressful. Parenting will probably be one of the largest but also the most rewarding challenges you will ever encounter. There are so many important decisions you will have to make once you bring your baby home from the hospital. There are even decisions to be made before your baby is born. One of the main pre-birth decisions is to make sure you have everything you will need for the baby nursery. You want to make sure you purchase some essential items like:

  • Baby crib
  • Alarm or monitor
  • Dresser
  • Night Light

What are some of the things you can do to reduce the stress so that you can enjoy the joys of being a new parent?

Give Yourself a Break

It is very important to make sure you can take a break periodically to get away and tend to your needs, even if only for a few minutes. Of course, you will need a strong support system like friends and family, who understand this need and can take-over while you are taking that break. You can go shopping, take a walk, enjoy a cup of coffee, or take a bath. After your break, you will feel renewed to go back to your parenting duties with a clearer head and a better perspective. When you start feeling overly stressed again, it means it is time for another break.

Eat Chocolate

When all else fails, eat some chocolate. It is true that stress or emotional eating is not always a good thing, especially when done too often. But there is also no denying that chocolate can make you feel good. In addition, studies have shown that it can actually reduce stress. How about a nice piece of Matcha chocolate, a white chocolate with an herbal aroma and the bittersweet finish of real green tea leaves?

Ask for and Accept Help

Don’t be afraid to ask others for suggestions, advice, and help. You don’t have to do everything yourself nor are you expected to know how to do everything. Seek advice from other moms who have had the experience of being a mother. Seek advice from financial professionals to help you manage your funds more effectively. Every mother has been through the same feelings you are having such as financial stress, time-related stress, or a combination of both. Arrange to meet other moms, share your feelings and situations with them and let them share theirs with you. Having a strong support system around you will help relieve some of your stress as well as give you the opportunity to take a break when you need one.

Understand Your Body

It is important for you to recognize the signs of stress and how they affect your body and behavior. If you aren’t in touch with your feelings, they are likely to overwhelm you and lead to impatience, irritability, screaming, and lapses in judgment. If you feel your heart beating faster or your blood pressure rising, take a deep breath and a break if you can. Pay attention to the warning signs that your stress levels are getting to the boiling point.

Take Care of Yourself

If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of your newborn. When possible, take those much-needed breaks. Do everything you can to get enough sleep. This might be rather difficult if your baby likes to sleep during the day and is awake at night. If you are able, sleep when your baby sleeps. Other suggestions on how to take care of yourself are:

  • Get a massage
  • Take long walks
  • Enjoy a bath
  • Sign up for a class
  • Do some gardening
  • Listen to music
  • Try incorporating essential oils like CBD oil into your routine

If you treat yourself with care and compassion, you will be able to give compassion and care. And that helps make you a better mother.

Try Exercise

You are probably thinking “how on earth you will be able to find time to exercise”? Did you know that there is a lot of research that shows how physical exercise is crucial in helping you manage stress? When you exercise, it literally makes you feel better, reduces anxiety, and calms nervous tensions. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or start a rigorous exercise regime. Start slow and do what you can in the time you have. Don’t pressure yourself to do more than you feel you are able to handle. Just knowing that exercise can help you reduce stress should be the incentive you need to get started.

You can’t take care of your new baby unless you take care of yourself. The concept is akin to when flight attendants remind us to put on our oxygen masks first, then on our children. Make sure to take time for yourself, keep your stress levels in check, and enjoy being a mother.


7 Unique Spices to Spice Up Your Culinary Skills

Although common spices like cinnamon, oregano, cumin, parsley, and thyme are versatile and flavorful, there are only so many ways to combine them, and eventually, you may feel stuck in a rut.

With hundreds of culinary spices all over the world, you have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to adding zest to your cooking.

If you’re tired of using the same herbs and spices in every dish, or if you are simply feeling creative, pick up a new spice or two the next time you go to the grocery store and experiment with some new flavors in your favorite cookware.

Here are a few ideas to get you started in spicing up your culinary skills.

1. Sumac

With its tart, fruity flavor, the powder from dried sumac berries can be used in any dish that you might add a fresh squeeze of lemon too. Try sprinkling this flavorful, reddish-purple spice on hummus or adding it to your favorite type of fish or red meat. Sumac is commonly used in North African, Middle Eastern, and Southern Mediterranean cuisine and was used as the tart, acidic element in cooking before the Romans introduced lemons. However, one variety of edible sumac—North American Sumac, or Rhus aromatica—grows in the U.S.

2. Juniper Berries

Source: https://www.pexels.com/photo/food-healthy-red-blue-70862/

Like sumac, juniper also grows in North America. Perhaps the only spice that comes from a conifer, juniper berries grow on small shrubs that are common in the Northern Hemisphere. Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest historically cooked crushed juniper berries with bison meat. Juniper berries are also popular in European cuisine. Try them in sauerkraut or in marinades, stuffing, sauces, or stews for wild game or pork. Their tart flavor especially helps balance the gaminess of venison.

3. Kaffir Lime Leaves

Kaffir lime leaves grow on the makrut shrub, or Citrus hystrix, which is native to Southeast Asia and is also grown in California, Florida, and Australia. Although best used fresh, they are more commonly found dried or frozen for purchase in Asian grocery stores in the U.S. They have a citrusy pine scent that is similar to lemon verbena. Popular in Cambodian, Malaysian, Balinese, and Thai cuisine, kaffir lime leaves are often used in curries, stir-fries, soups, and salads. If you enjoy the Southeast Asian cuisine, this is an excellent spice to add to your pantry!

4. Pasilla de Oaxaca Chile

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A unique spice for true chili fans, this lesser-known smoked chili is grown only in the hilly Oaxacan region of southern Mexico. With a pungent fruit flavor, the dark red pasilla de Oaxaca chile is similar to a chipotle but with less heat and a richer smoky flavor that brings out notes of ham and bacon even in meatless dishes. They are excellent in posole, mole negro, bean dishes, soups, sauces, and Rellenos.

 5. Grains of Paradise

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These seeds from the Amomum melegueta tree in West Africa were once used as a pepper substitute when pepper itself became too expensive. It is commonly used in both African and Caribbean cuisine. The unique name comes from spice traders in the middle ages who claimed the glossy brown seeds grew only in Eden and were collected from the rivers that flowed out of the garden. With zesty notes of butter, cardamom, coriander, flowers, and pepper, grains of paradise can be used to enhance the flavor of okra, steak, or anything you would use black pepper on.

6. Fenugreek

Used primarily in Egyptian, Turkish, and Middle Eastern cuisine, fenugreek seeds are common in curry and chutney. Purchase ground seeds for general cooking—they are dense and difficult to grind at home—and whole seeds for use in pickling blends and teas. Fenugreek was traditionally grown for its healing properties and for use in Egyptian embalming rituals. It has a sweet, nutty flavor with a maple aroma. Roasted fenugreek seeds are sweeter than those that are ground when raw.

7. Calabrian Chili

Here is another great spice for chili lovers. The Calabrian chili often referred to as pepperoncini, originates from the Calabrian region of Italy and is a common ingredient in Italian cuisine. With notes of salt, smoke, and fruit, this small, spicy chili goes well with pizza, sandwiches, and salami. Calabrian chili paste is excellent with meat and pasta dishes, and Calabrian chili oil is delicious on just about anything, from fish to salads.

From an exotic black pepper substitute to traditional curry ingredients, there are many unique spices available for you to add to your pantry and spice up your culinary skills. Instead of turning to the same herbs over and over again, try experimenting with American-grown juniper berries next time you make pork, or liven up a Mexican-inspired dish with the unusual pasilla de Oaxaca chile. Whether your preference is for exotic flavors or traditional comfort food, there are plenty of unique spices to choose from when you feel stuck in a cooking rut.

Author’s Bio:

Melissa is a freelance writer and food blogger at recipe-barn.com. She is very passionate about cooking, creating and sharing unique recipes or just simply cooking good food. Melissa has also developed an interest in a variety of other things including healthy diet and traveling in new places around the globe to experience different cuisines and learning different cultures.