By Tanya McCausland of Home Cooked Healing

At Home Cooked Healing my motto always is health begins in the kitchen. Well, the same goes for healthy weight loss. We know that what we eat has a huge impact on our weight and overall health, but what we put ON our food can help give our weight loss an extra boost. I’m speaking, of course, about spices.

Spices not only make food extra delicious, but certain varieties can also boost your metabolism by as much as 50%! These spices are considered “thermogenic” which means that they heat up your body (and therefore your metabolism), giving you a little extra fat-burning power.

Here are three of these super spices, and my favorite ways to use them:

1. Ginger – Sauté fresh sugar snap peas, top with sea salt, a little lemon juice and freshly grated ginger. I also like to start my day with hot water, fresh lemon juice and some grated ginger.

2. Cinnamon – Cinnamon adds some spice and a bit of sweetness to fruit smoothies and fruit salads. Remember to add it to your baked goods like pancakes and muffins.

3. Cumin – Who doesn’t love a little Mexican food in the summer? Heat cumin in coconut oil before adding fresh corn, black beans and chopped cilantro. Great warm side dish or cold salad!

4. Cayenne Pepper – Salsa is THE taste of summer! (Can you tell I love Mexican food?) Make your own with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne pepper. If you’re up for the challenge use a little jalapeno pepper to give your body a boost. Cut up corn tortillas and toast them in a 300-degree oven until crispy. Way better than fried and there’s no danger in emptying the chip bag.

Spice Cooking Tip: If you’re making a warm dish be sure to heat up dry spices in your cooking oil before adding the rest of your ingredients. This brings out more of the flavor of those spices making for an extra mouthwatering meal.

About this Contributor: Tanya McCausland is a Health and Culinary Coach in Alameda, CA She inspires, encourages and motivates her clients to create a life of health and balance through delicious food and simple lifestyle changes. She believes that our kitchens have the ability to heal – we just have to stock our pantries with real food and not be afraid to wield a wooden spoon every so often!