Author Archives: Your Spice of Life

It’s the season for seasoned butter

basil bunchYou can make your own seasoned butter in a jif! There are hundreds of combinations.

For the mixtures, I always used a simple rule of thumb:

  1. something green (usually an herb)
  2. something acidic (lemon, lime, orange)
  3. something salty (a plain or smoked salt, capers)
  4. something with heat (jalapeno, chili flake, cayenne)
  5. something to give color (like turmeric or paprika, if it didn’t have color already).

Read the rest of this entry


The Art of Food Photography


Crock pot of chili

You can make the most delectable, delicious dish and have it look like DOG FOOD in a photo. This is why there are professional food photographers, and then the rest of us.

Throughout this blog, you’ll see plenty of examples of my food photos. Since I am not a pro, I can’t afford the equipment, and I can’t afford to hire a pro, you’ve been stuck with the best that I can do. I admit it, one or 2 of them actually have looked a little like food for a canine…  but some have been pretty darned good, if I say so myself!

Smokey Spiced Spanish Almonds

Smokey Spiced Spanish Almonds

With the advent of Instagram and online photo sites, it’s a lot easier these days to share our photos. Despite my many shortcomings in this area, I started up a SmugMug account to document some of the favorite pix, including food shots.

I invite you to explore them and enjoy them: the food album is at but you should feel free to browse through the rest, which includes trips to Tuscany and experiments with camera creativity.

I hope that YOU are not held back by feelings of photographic inadequacy! Truth is, I think that some of these “pro” photos stink!  So get out there and show your passions. Trust me, it feels great 😉

~ laura

Off-topic: What is going on with these drug commercials?

I know that this is a COMPLETE departure from talk of spices, recipes and organic foods. Forgive me.  But sometimes, I see something that is just so outrageous or silly that it makes me want to shout from the rooftops! Well, this blog is kind of my rooftop, so here goes:

We have all seen commercials for medications whose side effects sound much worse than the illness, right? I may have seen one that tops them all.

It was some kind of weight-loss medication. In the description of the “problem”, it showed a series of pleasantly plump people standing at buffets, with thought bubbles over their heads saying things like “Am I still hungry?” and “hmmm, have I had enough yet?”, implying that not only do they have no self-control when it comes to eating, they literally do not have any sense of whether they need to add another piece of fried chicken to the plate. Standing at that buffet is all just too damn confusing to know the right answers. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Summer Salad – Tomato Pesto Mozzarella Panzanella

If you are looking for an authentic, traditional panzanella salad, you’d be better off with this one from Giada De Laurentis. But if you want something equally delicious,  that can be made in about 4 minutes, I’m your girl! There is no toasting of the bread, no seeding or peeling of tomatoes, or other fussy steps.


A bounty of tomatoes from Common Hands Farm

Read the rest of this entry

Guest post: Your Diet vs Your Health

You don’t HAVE to be an expert to write about a topic. I’ve written about cooking, finance, small business, marketing and health. I’m pretty confident in everything I’ve written on the subjects, but I’m not an expert in any of those fields.

So when when approached me, asking if I’d be interested in their writing up a few “guest posts” for me, it was a great opportunity to have an actual expert post on these pages.

”  Healthline’s mission is to make the people of the world healthier through the power of information. “

Big thanks to !  Be sure to comment at the end and let them know what you thought of the piece, would you?   ~ Laura

The Link between Diet and Health Conditions

It seems that everyday researchers are proving yet again that we really are what we eat and that those of us who opt to eat a healthy diet are healthy, and those who eat an unhealthy diet, well, you can guess the rest.

The link between diet and health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease is something that we’ve known about for a long time; still the number of people with these diseases continues to rise at an alarming rate with a good percentage of these cases being directly related to poor diet and lifestyle choices. As a matter of fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 30 percent of cancer deaths –which equates to approximately 2.4 million deaths—are the result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Imagine being able to save a good portion of those lives simply by making smarter food choices!

How Diet is linked to Disease

Poor diet has been linked to a myriad of health conditions. Here is a look at some of those conditions and how they are linked.
Heart disease
Heart disease is made up of many different health conditions and those that are closely related, just some of which include hypertension (high blood pressure), coronary artery disease, and heart attack. When the heart is unable to do its job, which is to act as a pump that continuously pumps in oxygen-rich blood and pumps out oxygen-poor blood throughout the arteries, these conditions can be the result. Diet is often the culprit and in particular one that’s high in fat, cholesterol, and salt. A poor diet and excess weight places pressure on the heart and restricts blood flow by hardening and clogging the arteries. It can also cause high blood pressure which can lead to stroke and kidney failure.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), obesity is strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes because excess weight causes insulin resistance. As we know, eating a healthy diet can help keep our weight in check which has been found to greatly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. This is especially important for those who carry their weight in the middle. Excess belly fat causes your body to produce more of the hormones that damage blood vessels and put you at risk for all kinds of disease.
There is ongoing research about the link between diet and cancer. What we know so far is that there are indications that diet can reduce a person’s risk of getting cancer. One of the best examples of this is brightly colored fruits and vegetables and whole grains. These foods contain phytochemicals that have been linked to the prevention of the formation of cancer-causing agents known as carcinogens.

Diet plays a major role in the prevention and management of osteoporosis. Our bones naturally lose calcium as we age, yet few people bother to add more sources of calcium to their diets. If anything, most people drink less milk as they age and a lot of times avoid dairy products. Calcium from the foods you eat is better absorbed by your body than calcium supplements, so adding low-fat dairy products to your diet can actually help to prevent osteoporosis.

Though you can’t replace the calcium that’s already been lost, increasing the amount of calcium in your diet can slow the progression of bone deterioration. And, vitamin C and D helps your body to better absorb calcium. Deficiency of both vitamins has also been linked to the development of certain cancers, scurvy, and a poor immune system.

The Benefits of a Healthy Diet

Now that you have a clearer picture of how a poor diet can lead to disease, let’s end on a positive note and look at the benefits of a good diet on your health.

A healthy diet, which is considered one that’s rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, offers the following benefits:
• A stronger immune system
• Reduced risk of infection
• Less inflammation
• Lower risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease
• Longevity
• Better moods
• Improved endurance
• Stronger muscles and bones which lowers your risk of injury
• Healthy pregnancy
• Lower body weight
• Healthier skin, nails, and hair
• Younger looking skin

If you’d like to learn more about diet and the diseases and benefits linked to healthy eating, click here.
• Cancer Fact sheet N°297. (February 2014). World Health Organization (WHO). Retrieved on March 11, 2014, from
• Heart Disease. (August 2009). The Heart and Stroke Foundation. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from
• Mayo Clinic Staff. (January 2013). Heart Disease: Risk Factors. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on March 12, from
• National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC). (September 2013). Causes of Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from
• Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk. The Stanford Cancer Institute (SCI). Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from
• Diet-Related Diseases. Purdue University. Retrieved on March 12, 2014, from

Adrienne is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and fitness for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.



Guest post: What is the “Dirty Dozen” and why should I care?

I hope you know that I ADORE writing for my blog, talking to all of you, and sharing my products, recipes and thoughts with you.

But when approached me, asking if I’d be interested in their writing up a few “guest posts” for me, I couldn’t say YES fast enough! Come on, it’s like someone asking “May I cook dinner for you and I’ll even clean the kitchen afterwards”!

”  Healthline’s mission is to make the people of the world healthier through the power of information. “

Big thanks to !  Be sure to comment at the end and let them know what you thought of the piece, would you?   ~ Laura

The Dirty Dozen – Why Some Foods Are Better Bought Organic

The dirty dozen, when referring to fruits and vegetables and not the 1967 classic starring Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson, is a list of the dozen conventionally grown fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide residue as put out by the Environmental Working Group. Read the rest of this entry

How it’s made: Spiced Chocolate Bark (part 1)

Have you ever looked at something and wondered how it is made?

I do,  all the time.  Ridged rigatoni, a ball of twine, a violin– they’ve all captured my curiosity.

Chocolate bark is nowhere as complex as a violin, but it is still interesting to think about all of the steps required to get from this:

to this:

IMG_1662 Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Spicy, Sweet ‘n Smokey Cowboy Chili

It’s that time of year that this owner of a spice company looks forward to the most:  the annual Chili Contest at Catamount Ski Resort!


This great event brings together chili competitors from all over — home cooks, caterers, chefs, restaurants. It’s great fun but also a great cause, as both the competitor registration fee and the tasters’ entrance fees are donated to the Roe Jan Food Pantry.Chili cookoff image

According to Heather White, Communications Manager for Catamount,

“A total of $676 for the Roe Jan Food Pantry during the event, so please give yourselves a hand!  We had 95 people as taste testers, who voted for the winners.”




19 bubbling pots of chili were available for tasting this year. Read the rest of this entry

Tips for Small Business Success: what I’ve learned so far

Depending on who you ask, Your Spice of Life will be celebrating with either iron or sugar, when we reach our 6 year anniversary in a few months.

I am very proud of what I have accomplished. Could it have been more — bigger, better, smoother, more profitable, more products, more stores? Of course. But the fact that it is still standing, in fact growing and appreciated by many, makes me happy.

Your Spice Banner 3

So rather than receiving gifts of iron or sugar, I have a small gift for you:  I’d like to share some observations from these last few years, when I went from a corporate-all-the-way, software training, pearls and pumps-wearing gal to a sole proprietor of quirky seasoning company in the Berkshires. Read the rest of this entry

Recipe: Wintery Spiced Fruit Compote

My younger sister likes to tell people that I went through a period,  early in my cooking life, where almost everything I made was stewed. I claim no recollection of this and yet, here I am with a stewed fruit compote recipe.


Why? Because it’s delicious and warming and fragrant and elegant. Not to mention, it was THE perfect dish to bring to a brunch potluck during the holidays. Did I mention, it has no added sugar? Read the rest of this entry

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