Today we launch a week of fabulous holiday giveaways on Kitchen Explorers with this gorgeous spice box from our friends at Spice Islands.

If you are anything like me, you have a drawer or a shelf completely stuffed with dried spices, some of which you likely use on a daily basis and some of which you bought for one recipe and hardly know what to do with. Unfortunately, the seasoning that many of us reach for far too often is salt. But did you know that we can reduce our need for salt in recipes if we use plenty of the right spices?

What’s more, adding herbs and spices to our family meals is one of the healthiest (and tastiest) cooking decisions we can make. Not only do spices increase the flavor of meals, thereby reducing our need to use excess salt, but they also are concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients, according to neurosurgeon Dr. Larry McCleary, author of Feed Your Brain, Lose Your Belly.  They may also help you burn more calories, feel fuller, improve your brain health and boost your immunity.

For some helpful tips about using and storing spices, including when to add spices to your meals, visit the Spice Islands’ site.

The spices and spice blends I reach for most often are cinnamon, black pepper, curry powder, dried basil, dried dill, thyme and chili powder.

To be eligible to win the spice box, please leave a comment below telling us which dried spice YOU use most often. Please leave your comment by December 12th, 2011. One winner will be chosen on December 13th by Random.org. U.S. addresses only, please. Contest is now closed. Congratulations to our winner, Kandace. Thank you all for entering!

We’ll be doing giveaways every day this week, so please make sure and check back often. Thanks and good luck!

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  • Alessa

    Cinammon or chili powder.

    • April Hare

      The spices I use most are pepper, chili powder, 21 seasoning salute, and garlic powder.

  • Amy

    Celery seed, basil, lemon powder

  • Kate

    Oregano. I know, how original right?

  • Jennifer

    Coriander and Cumin

  • Deb Harris

    Dried thyme is my favorite, although I guess that’s actually a herb. I use it in beef dishes, chicken & pork chops. As for an actual spice- cinnamon or cumin.

  • Pamela

    Cinnamon is the most used, but cardamom is wonderful at this time of year!

  • Amy H

    Cinnamon … or chili powder… :)

  • http://www.4evermom.blogspot.com Mom24@4evermom

    I’ll say cinnamon. Great giveaway!

  • Kerry Pope

    Chilli Powder in an awful lot of dishes, but if not Cinnamon

  • http://www.reluctantrenovator.com kim/reluctant renovator

    I’d say the basic Italian blend with basil and oregano. When I have it in stock, a spiced cinnamon sugar blend is very popular in my house to top french toast and other breakfast goodies.

  • Rona

    Garlic powder, cinnamon, cumin

  • Marijka Bosma

    Cinnamon. We put it on everything.

  • MaryEllen

    My favorite go to spices are Dill (which I guess is techinically an herb but goes great on fish, chicken, pork, on potatoes, in dip….) and Nutmeg (try a little ground nutmeg in your mac & cheese (I know, sounds weird, but gives it just a punch of something).

  • christene

    i use granulated garlic an awful lot! also, my home blend of garam masala.

  • Annie

    cinnamon or thyme

  • Dana Cheatwood

    Cayenne

  • Rebecca Albrecht

    Parsley, garlic powder

  • holly

    mostly i use tumeric i have no idea why but i love it i also use mrs.dash and i love pepper too

  • Mia

    I use lots of cinnamon.

  • http://winebookgirl.blogspot.com/ amy

    Black pepper and nutmeg. Though not usually together.

  • Barbara

    Garlic powder, onion powder, lemon thyme, cinnamon, chili powder

  • Laura

    black pepper and cumin

  • Tiffany

    lemom pepper and garlic powder

  • J Grant

    Turmeric, Mrs. Dash original blend, ginger, black pepper (i prefer peppercorns), parsley, garlic. Quite a few of mine are Spice Islands brand! :)

  • Paloma

    Cumin

  • Michelle Goff

    Hands down. Cinnamon. I love it that so many spices have such wonderful nutritional values!!

  • Amy HH

    Oregano, for Middle Eastern dishes, Mediterranean dishes, in soups, and on salads; it’s just a fantastic and versatile spice. A close second would be cinnamon. I use it in sweet things such as crisps, cupcakes, puddings, and cookies, but also with beef and lamb. It adds a lovely surprise flavor for the modern palate in a meat dish. We do a lot of international cooking at our house. A lamb roast with oregano, cinnamon, garlic, onions and lemon juice goes over really well!

  • Katrina Kotowski

    cinnamon!

  • Susan Rorrison

    garlic, garlic, and more garlic

  • jeanie zamarripalee

    we use the black peppercorns regularly. also pumpkin pie and italian blend.

  • Katherine

    Definitely an Italian blend of basil & oregano for all family dishes but for mine it’s cayenne. I like it hot.

  • Maia

    cinnamon

  • Ingrid

    I regularly use dill as well as cilantro and black pepper.

  • Mara

    Cinnamon and nutmeg!

  • Cindy

    Cayenne!

  • Holli P.

    I use Cinnamon and pumpkin Pie spice the most.

  • Katherine

    cinnamon for sure!

  • Gina

    Fenugreek leaves (aka kasuri methi). Went to one of emirils restaurants for my birthday one year and they had this dish with fenugreek leaves. ZOMG good. And garlic, but fresh. Dried I use alot of oregano.

  • Sara

    Cinnamon!

  • JessicaKW

    Cinnamon!

  • Tish Masarik

    Cinnamon

  • Rise Isom

    Basil

  • Nancy

    Cumin is our current favorite spice!

  • Judy

    Onion powder. Garlic powder comes in a close 2nd.

  • Denise

    Thyme

  • Jenn

    I use Cinnamon every day!

  • Angela

    Black pepper…not very exciting, but true!

  • Cyndi

    Probably thyme or ginger. Who knew cinnamon was so popular?

  • Jeanette Albright

    Cumin!

  • Sandy Jacobs

    Cinnamon and Black Pepper

  • Cassi

    Either an Italian blend, or cinnamon.

  • Helen

    black pepper- on everything!

  • Debbie

    Lately it’s cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin pie spices.

  • Judy

    Onion powder and also use paprika.

  • Jennifer Hamner

    Cinnamon or chili powder

  • Carrie

    chili powder, cumin and corriander

  • Sadie

    I use black pepper and garlic

  • Andrea D

    Nutmeg is one of my favoraties it go into both sweet and savory. I love it’s flavor.

  • EileenQ

    Definitely cumin.

  • Renee

    Cinnamon and black pepper

  • Holly D

    Nutmeg

  • Carla

    Garlic or cinnamon.

  • Marnie

    Oregano and basil.

  • Amanda Spencer

    Some of my most used are ground coriander, ginger, ground cumin. We use the coriander as a substitute for cinnamon since my son is allergic to cinnamon.

  • chris jeffers

    Garlic powder and black pepper.

  • Roseann

    Cinnamon closely followed by oregano

  • Joanne

    I love cooking with garlic powder and oregano. Yummy! :)

  • Jill Salyers

    Cinnamon and garlic powder!

  • Sarah Greeninger

    Garlic salt or powder

  • CarolinaGirl

    Of course, salt and pepper, always. I have been using quite a bit of chipotle pepper lately.

  • Doug

    I use cumin _very_ often.

  • Jodi Kozloff

    lately I’m on a lemon pepper klck

  • http://dragonflywanderings@blogspot.com Jessica

    I use cinnamon the most, but my favorite is freshly ground nutmeg!

  • http://bizzandbooboo.wordpress.com Jesse M

    Hard to say which I use the most…. some of the most often used are: Garlic, Oregano, Cinnamon and Cumin!

  • Stacy

    Garlic powder

  • Laura

    I use Everglades, salt and pepper, and cinnamon a lot. Everglades is a blend of seasonings and spices from Florida. My mother in law lives there and sends us giant 8lb jars of it.

  • http://www.makingitbright.com Kandace

    Garlic powder or cumin

  • Zebulun

    Black pepper, no question.

  • Melissa

    Garlic powder! Garlic in everything! Garlic for the world!

  • Michelle

    I use lots of herbs everyday and it depends on what I am making what I use. Oregano, Basil, Thyme, Savory, Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Cinnamon, Nutmeg, and so many more.

  • Janeen

    Cinnamon, is probably the big one for sure as I use it in a lot of baking recipes. Otherwise, we do tend to use a lot of oregano and basil (for lasagna) and rosemary (for a really yummy chicken recipe I like to make). Which reminds me, time to get some new spices!

  • Katie

    cumin

  • meghna

    garlic powder, salt and cumin!

  • http://writing101.net Christine McGuire

    We most often use cumin. Lately we’ve been using a lot of all spice.

  • Susan

    I love dried basil…

  • jennifer roj

    garlic powder & italian seasonings

  • http://www.abigmouthful.com Adrienne

    I use black pepper and thyme the most. Thyme seems to work with just about everything!

  • Taliesyn

    I use red pepper flakes and garlic powder the most. :)

  • Beverly Klipstein

    Cinnamon and Oregano

  • Micaela Torregrosa-Mahoney

    black pepper, cinnamon, oregano, basil, cumin, sage & thyme

  • Ryan R.

    I’m a big garlic fan, but cinnamon is a close second.

    Thanks for the give-a-way!

  • Anne

    We use cinnamon the most. Love basil, cumin, and coriander as go-to spices also.

  • Elizabeth

    Garlic, parsley,curry, and cayenne

  • Meghan

    I love rosemary!

  • Ru

    cinnamon and oregano

  • http://www.visitilak.com Visi Tilak

    Cumin and Coriander

  • http://www.MommyMaestra.com Monica

    Cinnamon! My kids like a little in their eggs. :) Thanks so much for the opportunity!

  • Amy Kelly

    Basil. I know, yummy but boring. I love nutmeg and last holiday season I discovered thyme when I made potatoes au gratin. Oh my gosh…I added too much and was worried …but I LOVED it! :-)

  • Theresa

    garlic powder

  • joanne

    New favorite smoky paprika it’s amazing!

  • Amy Specht

    It’s hard to pick just one. Garlic… I use garlic alot. :)

  • Christine

    I love pepper blends, cumin, garlic, and rosemary.

  • rose

    I use oregano for all my italian cooking!

  • http://www.facebook.com/VegetarianVeganVillage Terri

    I do a lot of cooking and find that I am always reaching for the cinnamon, garlic powder, onion powder, curry powder, cumin, chili powder, and oregano. I cook with many others as well but these are the ones I use the most.

  • Jane Cunningham

    Definitely cinnamon…my granddaughter LOVES it!

  • Marsha Jo

    I use cinnamon, chili powder, and mustard powder in lots of dishes. We like the soup at our house to have a bit of zing and chili and mustard powder give our vegie beef soup a delicious flavor.

  • Sharon Smith

    Sage,garlic powder, saffron, chili powder

  • Mary Breeden

    I think it’s a toss-up between cinnamon and basil – we use a lot of cinnamon since we love it on toast, but we also use a lot of basil making marinades for summer veggies, salad dressings, etc.

  • Darcee Johnson

    Basil is number one for me! I put in anything I can (fresh and dried). Cumin is right up there too.

  • Cathy from Arizona

    Ancho Chili Powder is one of our favorite spices. Cinnamon is high on the list also.

  • Dee Pachmayr

    cinnamon

  • beth

    garlic powder, closely followed by chili powder.

  • Heather

    sage!

  • Ami

    cumin and garlic powder!

  • Kathleen

    oregano

  • http://gulfcoastlocalfood.org Ang J

    Cumin, I’m always buying more of it!

  • Kate Maxwell

    Dried, crushed rosemary – I’ll put it on almost anything I roast in the oven.

  • Katina

    Cinnamon

  • Heather

    Cinnamon

  • Erica

    Hmmm…it’s seasonal for me. But I’d have to say cinnamon is the most used by the household. And I put lots of fresh ground black pepper on just about everything we eat.

  • Gigi Cuccaro

    Cinnamon for baking and oregano for cooking!

  • http://acookandherbooks.blogspot.com Lucy

    It would have to be cinnamon!

  • Magi

    Definitely basil

  • carol

    white pepper

  • Sharon K.

    cinnamon

  • Shannon Warford

    oregano is probably the one

  • Kathi

    salt, pepper and chives.

  • Diana G

    we put garlic powder in pretty much everything. we go through tons of it.

  • Janelle

    Cinnamon & garlic powder are the two I use most often

  • http://www.cheeriosunderfoot.blogspot.com Lisa

    Cinnamon, in coffee and hot chocolate, on toast and cookies, pretty much everywhere.

  • Sarah Colwill

    Basil or Oregano get used the most in our kitchen.

  • Monica

    It would have to be cumin, I think!

  • Lyn H.

    Cinnamon and Cumin.

  • LeeAnn P.

    Cinnamon. Every day mixed in the coffee grounds.

  • Susan

    Black pepper. I cannot live without black pepper. I’d gladly give up salt to have black pepper.

  • Sarah

    Lawrys Season Salt, perfect for potatoes! Or nutmeg, especially this time of the year.

  • Ann Beckenhauer

    granulated garlic, chili powder, cinnamon,

  • Suzy

    hmm… that’s tough one. Cinnamon, chili powder, Rosemary, Dill…the list goes on!
    Thanks!

  • Jessica

    cinnamon!

  • Karen Lynch

    I use so many, Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Cilantro, Rosemary, Pepper. Thanks for the giveawy.

  • http://www.kristenmclane.com Kristen M.

    I use cinnamon or oregano most often. The one I don’t use as much but open frequently to smell is cardamon.

  • KelTN

    a toss up between basil or oregano

  • Miss Margy

    I love freshly ground pepper, cinnamon, paprika, and chile powder. When it comes to herbs, I prefer to use fresh ones, if available. If not, I really like using dried dill. I has such a great flavor.

  • http://thingsfromscratch.wordpress.com KarenP

    Probably basil and oregano. I go through cinnamon pretty quickly too.

  • Gidget

    My favorite spice is Basil…

  • cyndi shonnard

    the spice i reach for most often is dried basil…second comes dried thyme.

  • Amanda H

    I’d say I use pepper more than any other spice.

  • Kenna Wright

    Definitely GARLIC baby!!!!!!!!!

  • LisaL

    cumin

  • Kelly

    Cinnamon

  • Sharon B

    smoked paprika

  • Katie Hiebert

    Cinnamon

  • Molly

    Basil

  • Barbara Castor

    black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, italian seasoning

  • Phyllis A

    Cinnamon

  • Kathleen L

    black pepper

  • Cindy

    It would have to be cinnamon as I use it EVERY morning in my oatmeal.

  • Mary

    cinnamon, garlic powder and black pepper. Although not used all together :)

  • Alison

    Probably cinnamon… whenever a recipe calls for it I usually double the amount!

  • Angel Gurule

    celery, dill, chilli powder, curry

  • Beth Young

    Our most often used spice is garlic, seems like it goes into almost anything savory that I make! :)

  • Amy in Oregon

    basil!

  • cassandra

    I use a lot of garlic!
    cmarquez482(at)ymail(dot)com

  • Mary

    garlic powder, cayenne, cinnamon or italian seasoning

  • Ellen Wexler

    red chili flakes. yumm.

  • Caroline

    My favorite dried spice has to cinnamon! I love cinnamon on my coffee drinks, cookies, cake, and whatever else I can! :-D

    Oh, and I gotta say… I LOVE Spice Island’s vanilla!! Makes my cookies and cake so yummy <3

  • Colleen

    chili powder and cinnamon

  • Tomiko

    Cinnamon

  • Judith

    Lots of cinnamon…even in chili.

  • rose

    fresh ground black pepper

  • http://kristinpotpie.com/ Kristin

    Oregano, Italian seasoning, cumin, chili powder and paprika.

  • http://www.thewellreadchild.com Jill

    I use a lot of cumin and mustard seed. I also use nutmeg in a lot of dishes.

  • Kathleen L

    cinammon

  • Brittany

    The spice I use the most is oregano.

  • Denise L

    Definitely granulated garlic!

  • Elissa Weindling

    basil

  • JoAnn Melton

    Cinnamon and cloves, simmering on the stove for holiday scents! Rosemary when called for. Oregano and Basil and Garlic, of course!

  • Catherine

    cinnamon

  • Elisabeth

    The spices I use most often are garlic and basil.

  • Kathleen L

    cinnamon

  • janet

    So hard to pick just one……but my standby is always cinnamon………

  • Kathleen L

    basil

  • Laura

    oregano & basil

  • Katie

    Cinnamon

  • Jen LF

    I think I use rosemary most often, because it’s in the breakfast frittata that I make every week. I also love the Indian spice blend garam masala. It’s so fragrant!

  • Jennifer Collins

    I like garlic spices a lot. Also a lot of mixed blends for flavoring meals.

  • http://www.tlchomecooking.com Judy Buonocore

    I use so many on a daily basis but gravitate toward the savory Italian spices, oregano, basil and garlic powder.

  • Emily Chaudhury

    Gotta be cumin. My husband is Indian and I also love to add it to recipes that don’t call for it to give a little zing without turning off the picky eater kid :)

  • David

    red pepper

  • pam likesmusic

    cinnamon and parsley

  • Kimberly Lawson

    Cinnamon

  • Debby Berros

    i use so many of Spice Islands spices! my favs are cinnamon, chili, cumin & garlic powder! love, love, love your spices!