9 Ways to "Spice" Up Your Meals and Add Warmth!
With the weather getting colder almost everywhere (including California!), it’s only natural to crave warming foods when we eat. And yes, cooking and hot soups are ways to create warmth. But there’s another way, and it has to do with how you season and spice your foods to create that warming sensation on your palate and in your body.
The good news is that, combined with the fall season’s many Beauty Detox foods that are naturally brimming with flavors, you’ll be able to make dishes and delicacies that literally explode with flavor, and help keep you warm on even the chilliest of nights.
I’ve listed for you here some of the best herbs, spices, and more that will impress even the pickiest eaters. You’ll enjoy your foods more and feel warmer if you strategically use these elements in your kitchen. So check ’em out:
#1: Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, organic apple cider vinegar is amazing for promoting optimal digestion, and may even be helpful in alleviating acne, constipation, fighting candida and yeast, quelling sugar cravings, and is even used as a weight loss aid because it may speed up your metabolism. Research has shown it can help with diabetes, blood pressure and possibly cancer. 
You can drink a tablespoon or two in water, but you can also add some pep to the flavor palette of your meals by adding in a splash of it. I like using it in salad dressings, too. Hint: if a recipe calls for wine, you can try using the raw apple cider vinegar instead. It will be a variation for sure, but a much healthier one. When you consume it, you may feel a tingle in your tummy — and that’s because it’s working to warm up and strengthen your digestion.
If you love Italian food, chances are, you’re a fan of rosemary. Good! It’s been shown to possess antioxidants, improve memory, stimulate hair growth (add a few drops of the essential oil to your favorite shampoo or conditioner!), improve circulation, and ease muscle and joint pain. 
To use rosemary, add a few of the “leaves” to soups, roasted vegetables, or even pasta dishes made from gluten-free noodles or spiralized vegetables. Just be careful not to overdo the rosemary, as its flavor is so strong you might find that it dominates the dish and makes it unpalatable. A little goes a long way! So be delicate.
You know I love fresh ginger for detoxing and boosting immunity! In addition to that, you can add a little bit of it, peeled and chopped, to your Glowing Green Smoothie for an extra kick. It’s refreshing, delicious, and the thermogenic heat it introduces to your body will help kill off bacteria. Ginger simply has too many health benefits to list! It is an incredible beauty food for fighting nausea (especially from pregnancy, but talk to your doctor first) — and some early studies have shown it to be more effective for arthritis than popular drugs, which is astonishing. 
To use ginger, I recommend making tea — this hot tea can be sipped before, during or after meals to aid digestion and help keep you warm. You can also add it to soups (try my Parsnip Soup if you have not already!) and other cooked vegetable dishes. So delicious and an herb that should be an absolute staple for you during this time of the year.
Turmeric is a beauty food that’s used inside and outside the body. Turmeric is a part of the skin-brightening masks Indian brides like to wear before their weddings, but it’s also amazing when ingested. Turmeric is sometimes referred to as “the golden spice” (it’s a pretty awesome color for sure!) and it’s been used medicinally for at least 4000 years.
Studies on turmeric tend to focus on curcumin, which comes from turmeric, but they have shown the spice to be beneficial when dealing with arthritis, gynecological issues, blood disorders, infectious diseases, cancer, depression, diabetes…the list goes on. 
You can stir-fry (in a ‘lil coconut oil) a mix of vegetables and sprinkle turmeric, a little curry powder, some onion powder, and maybe even a little ginger and garlic and then toss it all with quinoa for a nutritious, disease-fighting dinner laden with beauty foods. Check out my Turmeric-Curry Quinoa.
Oregano is another fantastic spice! It may have antibacterial, antiparasitic, antifungal, and antioxidant properties. Traditional uses throughout history have included treating asthma, acne, high blood sugar, coughs, dandruff, muscle pain, rosacea, varicose veins, colds, and more.
One study even showed a mix of oregano oil and much smaller amounts of carvacrol and thymol to have an inhibitory effect on the growth of two types of Staphylococcus strains.  You can use garlic in Italian-inspired dishes, much like rosemary. Try mixing it in with olive oil, garlic, onions, parsley, rosemary, and/or thyme. This one is a personal fave and I LOVE fresh oregano plants, that I always have on my kitchen counter and herb garden.
It’s not just for keeping vampires away! Garlic can help clear up your skin, detox your blood, optimize digestion, prevent yeast infections, fight candidiasis, and possibly even prevent cancer. If you’re experiencing trouble with inflammation in your stomach or intestines, adding garlic to your meals may help. Also, numerous studies show that it may help with heart disease, one of the top killers in the U.S. and the world. 
Add garlic to just about anything—soups, vegetable stir-fries (saute garlic and onions together until they start to turn brown and then throw in your chopped vegetables), pasta sauces, grains, etc. Some people even like adding it to juices, but if you try that, well, use sparingly and work your way up because raw garlic is strong!
Here again, a little goes a long way, so you don’t have to stuff yourself with garlic (and feel and smell gross) to get the benefits. Less is more here, I do believe. :)
Basil is the opposite to garlic as far as overdoing. You can’t! I would bathe in basil leaves if I could. I would stuff sachets with fresh basil every day and line them in my clothes drawers. I would sprinkle basil throughout my bed. Okay, maybe not all that….but c’mon, admit it! Basil is incredibly fresh and awesome.
Basil is a fresh, delicious addition to smoothies, salads, pestos, and tomato sauces. It’s can be especially delicious in the Glowing Green Smoothie (in case you were looking for a new twist on the GGS!). Its flavonoid composition (namely orientin and vicenin) may protect cells from radiation damage and its oils have been shown to have antibacterial properties.  In addition, basil could help reduce stress and anxiety and lower blood pressure.
Another amazing application of basil is to use it in Thai-inspired dishes — including coconut soups, stir fries and assorted mixed veggies. It’s flavor is the perfect compliment to other vegetables available this time of the year, including squash, broccoli, eggplant and much more. There is holy, spicy and other types of basil. See what you can find locally, and you can even nose around the Asian markets or get your own organic basil plants to keep on hand (as I do!).
#8: Cayenne Pepper
If you like spicy foods, you’re in luck! Cayenne doesn’t just warm your meal and digestion — it also relieves congestion if you have a cold, boosts your metabolism, and—the reason I put it in my Immunity Tea—has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The heat from it may even make your skin glow! Consuming cayenne, whether you use it to spice up your meals or you drink it in tea, has also been shown to help burn fat, fight obesity, and reduce insulin spikes after meals. 
One thing to keep in mind with cayenne…is that overdoing it actually has the opposite effect. In other words, a little can be warming but if you’re consuming so much that you’re sweating, that means your body is actually getting cooler. So try to play around with quantities to find the amount that works best for you.
#9: High-Quality Sea Salt
Some people, despite the door to all these wonderful herbs and spices being opened to them, really miss their salt when they try to make a change in their diet. That’s okay! I won’t judge you. I do suggest high-quality sea salt that’s been dried by the sun and the wind, though, because it’s not processed like the iodized table salt a lot of us grew up eating. Still, use in moderation, and do add other whole food based items when you can, such as dulse and Probiotic & Enzyme Salad (or raw kraut).
While sea salt is not directly warming, I’ve found that dryness seems to be more pervasive during colder months — especially in the fall. And so natural salt (in moderation) is a great way to hold the right amount of moisture in your body. If you get too dry, you might find that you feel colder, and salt helps combat that. I find that many people crave it more in the fall — so as long as you don’t overdo it, I would honor that craving.
Experiment To Find What Works For You!
Once you understand these herbs and how they affect your foods, I encourage you to experiment with combinations. Maybe you’ll find that you really like ginger with cacao powder in your desserts, or you think apple cider vinegar gives your Italian-inspired vegetable soup a special zing.
I’d love to hear some of the ways you’ve used some of the items on this list to make your meals taste amazing…and help keep you warm!
In fact, I think I’m going to go make some warming soup right now!
Talk to you tomorrow :)
Research: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/06/02/apple-cider-vinegar-hype.aspx  http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/rosemary  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23365744  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22887802  http://jmm.sgmjournals.org/content/56/4/519.full  http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/3/736S.full  http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2012/may2012_Superfoods-Basil_01.htm  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/84/1/63.long