Spice it Up

With Thanksgiving weekend around the corner, many of you will likely be cooking up a storm (or in the least, eating up a storm). I myself have a few family meals planned, and they aren’t all the usual turkey dinners.

So, I thought it would be the perfect time to provide you a list of my most essential spices, the ones I just cannot live without – before you make those grocery lists and head to the stores. If you’ve known me for a while, you might think this is funny because I used to just eat bland food. But, as I’ve started cooking more, I’ve learned to like a little flavour in my life!


To keep things limited, I’ve chose 5 spices that I think are essential to every cook – beginner to advanced. They’re the common staples in recipes for baked goods, roasts, grilled meats, vegetables, and most sauces.


Herbes de Provence: a classic for roasted chicken, potatoes, or vegetable dishes. The blend adds a fresh herb flavour, with bits of lavender and salt and pepper.

A wicked steak spice: I use St. Laurent or Chicago Steak Spice depending on my mood. Marinate your steak in olive oil and whatever blend you choose for 45 minutes before grilling. It’s great to have a favourite blend on hand for those days that you just want to throw something on the grill and be done with it – none of that messing around searching for ingredients, making a marinade, and dirtying dishes.


Parsley flakes: One of the most common herbs used in sauces.

Spiced Vanilla Sugar/Vanilla Sugar: I put this spice on all my baked goods to add a finishing touch. Sprinkle a tiny bit on top of cupcakes, cookies, whipped cream, or loaves to give it a little added flavour.

Cinnamon: common in both baked goods and sauce recipes.


Once you’ve got these 5 spices stashed in your pantry (or spice drawer), you can start adding others like curry, saffron, or basil!


As always, my go to store for all things spices in Calgary is the Silk Road Spice Merchant. The spices are fresh and come from around the world – all at the price of your usual grocery-store brand.

Now get cooking!


Share your thoughts below.