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The Seven Spice Blends the Cordains Can't Live Without (Plus: How to Dry Your Own Herbs)

By Lorrie Cordain, Co-founder of The Paleo Diet
December 22, 2020
The Seven Spice Blends the Cordains Can't Live Without (Plus: How to Dry Your Own Herbs) image

Variety is the spice of life, and we’ve got a fully loaded pantry to prove it! One of my favorite kitchen tricks is to come up with fun herb and spice combinations to make prepping healthy, flavorful recipes a snap.

Many store-bought spice combinations contain added salt, sugar, and preservatives. I like to keep it simple and buy pure dried herbs and spices to mix together at home. That way, seasoning meat, veggies, and eggs takes half as much time as usual. Try some of these tried-and-true spice combinations to get started.

You will need:

  • Glass spice jars with lids
  • Labels for your jars
  • Spice grinder
  • Common dried herbs and spices

The great thing about making your own spice and herb combinations is that there are no rules (except no added salt or sugar). Start by thinking about your favorite recipes and the spices you frequently use together to flavor your dishes. We’ve found that oregano and rosemary, for example, are often used in combination and in equal amounts. These two spices are easy to blend and make a convenient time saver.

How to Dry Your Own Herbs

You don’t have to spend a fortune on dried herbs. Drying homegrown or store-bought fresh herbs is simple and is a great way to ensure freshness.

You’ll need a dehydrator and fresh, preferably home-grown herbs. Note that most fruit and vegetable dehydrators offer an option for drying herbs. Alternatively, some dehydrators are specifically designed for small, leafy greens. Whichever way you choose to dry your fresh herbs, the sweet and savory aromas that fill your kitchen during the drying process will reward your efforts.

A dehydrator is especially useful for drying moist herbs like basil, mint, tarragon, and oregano that aren't as dry as herbs like thyme or rosemary.

Start by thoroughly rinsing your herbs to remove dirt, then blot completely dry with paper towels and set in a single layer on the dehydrating tray. Remove any trays that you aren't using for optimal air flow. Dehydrate herbs at a low temperature, usually between 95° and 115° Fahrenheit. You’ll know your herbs are thoroughly dried when the leaves crumble easily, about 1-4 hours. Store in an airtight jar in a cool dry cupboard, then grind in a spice grinder for ultimate freshness.

Tip: If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use your oven instead. Set the temperature to about 100-115ºF. Place the herbs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 30-60 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Dr. Cordain’s cookbooks, Real Paleo Fast and Easy and The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook, offer multiple spice combination recipes to use while preparing delicious dishes. The ease for mixing the spices and storing for use while cooking is key to efficiency in the Paleo kitchen.

Now that you’ve got your herbs on hand, it’s time to get mixing! You can get creative with your combinations, but these are the top seven that I always have on hand.

The Seven Spice Blends the Cordains Can't Live Without (Plus: How to Dry Your Own Herbs) image

Mexican Seasoning

This recipe is ideal for use in chili, eggs, or as a dry rub for steak and chicken. Use it to season ground meat for tacos or to add savory Mexican flavor to roasted sweet potatoes.

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 4 teaspoons preservative-free garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle or cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground saffron
  1. Toast cumin seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant, shaking skillet occasionally. Remove from heat; cool about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a spice grinder, blend, then transfer to a small bowl. Stir in garlic, oregano, chipotle pepper, cinnamon, and saffron.
  3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Smoky Rub

Use this blend as a dry rub on ribs, pork chops, ham, beef brisket, and even a whole turkey.

  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons dried orange peel
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Italian Seasoning

This aromatic blend of Italian spices is perfect for seasoning meatballs, braised beef, homemade sausage, or pasta sauce to add instant Italian flavor.

  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Toast fennel seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until fragrant, shaking skillet occasionally. Remove from heat; cool about 2 minutes.
  2. Transfer to a spice grinder, blend, then transfer to a small bowl. Stir in the remaining spices.
  3. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Everyday Seasoning

This all-purpose seasoning is great for adding to whole chicken, chicken breasts, fish, or egg dishes like omelets and vegetables.

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Moroccan Blend

This exotic blend will add warm, spicy goodness to chicken, fish, or vegetables. Add a few teaspoons to curry or Tikka masala for a one-stop seasoning.

  • 2 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Greek Goddess

Add aromatic Mediterranean flavor to chicken, fish, or vegetables with this Grecian blend full of tangy lemon peel, dried oregano, and garlic.

  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp lemon peel
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.

Herbs de Provence

This French-inspired earthy blend with lavender and thyme can be used on poultry, lamb, and roasted vegetables.

  • 2 tbsp marjoram
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp crushed dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp dried crushed lavender
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to six months. Stir or shake before using.
The Seven Spice Blends the Cordains Can't Live Without (Plus: How to Dry Your Own Herbs) image

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