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These Functional Seasonings and Condiments Are Extra Healthy (& Flavorful)

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
May 24, 2022
Image credit: Lindsey Engelken for Clean Plates

How we season our food generally determines how much we enjoy it, but our spice blends and sauces also plays a role in how healthful our meals are. Just think of the nutritional difference between a bottled salad dressing made with corn syrup, vegetable oil, and EDTA and a vinaigrette made with a handful of simple ingredients. What we put on our food doesn’t only impact its taste, it also can have a positive or negative affect on its health value.

Read next: You’ll Never Guess What *The* Most Functional Fruit Juice Is

Even before you add anything else to them, spices are well-proven functional foods, as are herbs. For instance, cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar, and rosemary can suppress allergy symptoms — so it’s clear that the ingredients we use to enhance the flavor of our meals, dishes, and snacks can offer many health benefits. And when you combine already-healthful seasoning ingredients with even more healthful ones, such as probiotics, vegetables, and vitamins, what do you get? Functional flavor enhancers that pack a two-for-one punch, with no extra cooking or prep work needed.

We’ve rounded up a selection of seasonings and condiments that we love for their hidden functional ingredients. Don’t worry: You can’t taste the extra-healthy ingredients in them. Rather, these products will make getting the nutrition you need that much more delicious. 

1. Enspice

This brand, which purports to be the first nutrient-enhanced line of spices, was our initial inspo for this roundup. They add 21 vitamins and minerals to their spices, which include everything from cinnamon to seasoned salt to barbecue mix — even their black pepper contains vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin B7, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, iodine, chromium, copper, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. That’s a big boost from a little jar of spice. They’ve also donated nearly 100,000 meals to children in need, and every bottle of Enspice provides a meal for an undernourished child. 

2. Spice Culture

Not a fan of probiotic foods like kombucha and kimchi? No problem, says Spice Culture — they solve that problem for you by adding probiotics right into their spices. This means that with no effort at all, you’ll be adding digestive- and immune-boosting good bacteria right into your meal. Their selection of spices includes ground turmeric, pepper, ginger, and onion powder. You can add multiple servings of probiotics into your meal by using more than one of their products at a time, too.

3. Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce

Stinging Kombucha Hot Sauce is the specialty of a tiny company based out of Portland, Oregon. They swap out the vinegar typically used in hot sauce for probiotic-rich kombucha, which ferments for several weeks before bottling. Unlike most jarred hot sauces, it’s completely raw and uncooked. A hint of red sauerkraut adds even more good bacteria, along with a hint of sweetness. Expect a hot sauce like you’ve never tasted before. 

4. Otamot

A functional tomato sauce company couldn’t possibly be more kid-friendly than this one. Otamot (which is tomato spelled backwards) sneaks a plethora of vegetables into their tomato sauces. Think butternut squash, spinach, beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes, all hidden in beautiful red-and-orange products like pizza sauce, vodka sauce, and marinara. High in fiber and containing up to ten vegetables per product, no one you feed ever needs to know that they’re eating their veggies, too. 

5. Wildbrine

This brand is best known for their fermented foods like sauerkraut, but they also make probiotic salsas and sauces. Think salsa roja and salsa verde, in addition to cultured sriracha sauce. This means you get a boost of probiotics in every dollop you top your food with. Should you prefer more mild fare, they also make vegan dairy items, like sour cream, oat butter, and French onion dip, all of which are cultured.

6. Do Anything Foods

This vibrantly colorful line of sauces is jam-packed with vegetables. Pesto enhanced with kale is something you may already be familiar with, but we bet you’ll be surprised by the innovation of a cheesy plant-based butternut sauce, or bright magenta pesto featuring beets. For lovers of cauliflower alfredo, they’ve taken all the work of making it right off your plate, so you get to enjoy a delicious and nutritious sauce with no work needed. 

7. Wild at Heart Ojai

Spice up your meals with probiotic hot sauce by Wild At Heart Ojai, maker of fermented foods like sauerkraut and beet kvass. Unlike most bottled hot sauces, this one needs to be kept in the fridge in order to keep the beneficial bacteria alive. It’s first fermented in glass for up to four weeks, and made with fully organic ingredients, and its fermented nature means that in addition to heat and the usual tang from vinegar, it has an additional, slightly sour flavor on the tongue. 

8. Eat Pluck

We saved the most interesting pick for last here: Eat Pluck creates flavorful seasonings with the added nutrition of organ meat. We’re always hearing about the health benefits of eating organs, such as their high iron and protein contents, but many people can’t stomach (pun intended) the taste or texture of them. Eat Pluck uses flavorful spices like hickory-smoked paprika and lemon peel to modulate the flavor impact of organs including beef heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, and heart. 

Read next: 11 Healthy (and Delicious) Chicken Thigh Recipes

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