During the holiday season and into January, many of us are hosting get-togethers for family and friends. The grocery stores have been extremely busy with customers buying ingredients for a multitude of different dishes.

With so many people focused on cooking, I’ve been getting many questions on what to use to season dishes. Below I have listed a few simple ingredients that can be used for various dishes to pack in a lot of flavor and also potentially provide additional health benefits.

Turmeric is a flavorful addition to sauces, stir-fries and casseroles. It also goes well on chicken. Turmeric contains curcumin, which contributes to its bright orange color. Curcumin may help reduce levels of inflammation and lower risk of heart disease.

Garlic is a versatile way to flavor meals because it can be chopped, minced, blended or eaten as a powder. It is good in really almost any savory dish. It is healthful in that it may help fight off colon cancer and stomach cancer, and may also help ward off colds and the flu.

Ginger is great in salad dressings, desserts, stir-fries and soups. It has a very potent flavor, so a little goes a long way. It has been said that ginger may be used to treat stomach problems, such as nausea, morning sickness, irritable bowel syndrome and upset stomach. It may also be effective in treating migraines.

Cinnamon is one of the most popular spices in the world. It has a mild-mannered spicy flavor and can be used in drinks, oatmeal and baked goods. Cinnamon may be helpful as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and lipid-lowering agent.

Peppers bring a spicy flavor and can be used in a variety of dishes. Hot peppers contain a compound known as capsaicin, which is intensely spicy; some people can tolerate it only in small amounts. Peppers that contain this compound may aid digestion, lower levels of chronic inflammation, and help fight obesity.

I have included a recipe that uses both turmeric and garlic. This would be perfect to take as an entrée to any of your festive get-togethers!

Kaitlin Bruun is a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee in Rochester. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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