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December 6, 2012. Exotic aromas. Exotic flavors. Excited tongues. Delighted taste buds.

These spice blends are godsends for anyone who’s trying to eat more fruits and vegetables. They’ll breathe new life and fire into anything you cook.

Start with ras el hanout. You know, that distinctly Moroccan blend of herbs and spices that includes lavender, turmeric, ajawan seeds, kalajeera, ginger, galangal, oris root, rose buds, monk’s pepper, cinnamon and more. It’s not “hot” spicy; it’s rich, flavorful spicy – even a little sweet in an herbaceous kind of way. Try it once; you’ll be thinking of adding it to everything else you have in your kitchen. For starters, makes this Moroccan Orange & Olive Salad with juicy seasonal oranges and always available olives and onions.

Get a jar of pickling spice, a mix including cinnamon, mustard seed, bay leaves, allspice, dill seed, cloves, ginger, peppercorns, coriander, juniper berries, mace, and cardamom. Make a batch of homemade ketchup that’s Way beyond ketchup. It transforms a head of cauliflower into Manchurian cauliflower. So delicious you’ll love it even if you think you don’t like cauliflower.

Pimentón is the Spanish version of smoked paprika. Ground, dried red chile peppers. It’s what they use to flavor and color (red) chorizo sausage. There are two types: Pimentón Dulce (sweet) and Pimentón Picante (spicy). You’ll get hooked fast. Then you’ll find yourself putting it in and on everything. Start with these addictive, smoky, crisp chickpea snacks, garbanzos fritos. High protein. Higher flavor.

2 small jars. 1 small tin. $24 for a wide world of flavor that’ll excite your fruits, vegetables and taste buds.

Ras el hanout, $10
Pickling spice, $7
Pimentón Dulce or Picante, $7

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The American Institute for Cancer Research’s Diet and Cancer Report recommends “5 servings or more of fruit and vegetables daily because, like physical activity, they pack a double whammy against cancer. Probable evidence indicates they help reduce cancer risk on their own, and as low-energy-dense foods, they help maintain a healthy weight, which evidence shows has a big influence on cancer risk”.

A study published in The Journal of The American Dietetic Association finds that vegetarian diets help weight management without compromising nutrition. “Vegetarians have lower body mass index than nonvegetarians, suggesting that vegetarian diet plans may be an approach for weight management. However, a perception exists that vegetarian diets are deficient in certain nutrients … [But] Mean intakes of fiber, vitamins A, C, and E, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, calcium, magnesium, and iron were higher for all vegetarians than for all nonvegetarians … vegetarian diets are nutrient dense, consistent with dietary guidelines, and could be recommended for weight management without compromising diet quality.

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