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Often, Chinese food can be loaded with unnecessary calories and preservatives, but you can still enjoy the flavor of Chinese cuisine without the additives that do not work with a healthy diet program.  Bring the flavors of authentic Chinese cuisine to your kitchen with these Chinese herbs and spices.

Star Anise: Even if you have never heard of star anise, you most likely have tasted it before.  It is the key ingredient to five spice powder (see below).  Star anise is a star-shaped spice that is the dried fruit of a small Asian evergreen tree.  It is primarily used in Chinese cooking, but it is also found as a staple in Vietnamese cooking, too.  Star anise is most popularly used to infuse soups, stews, and meat dishes.

Cumin: Cumin is not just used in Indian or Mexican cuisine but also as a common ingredient in Chinese cooking.  It is primarily used in the cooking of the Mongolia and Xinjiang regions.  You will often find cumin paired with chilis in Chinese cuisine.  Cumin is a main flavor in traditional meat dishes that use skewered and grilled meat.  It is often paired in lamb dishes.

Ginger: Ginger is a cooking staple in many cultures and a healthy diet program favorite.  In Chinese cuisine, ginger is preferred in its fresh form.  It is used often to infuse soups and to add a kick to dressings and stews.  In Chinese culture, ginger is also celebrated for its medicinal uses.  It is used not only to cook with but also to relieve colds, prevent motion sickness, and calm abdominal aches.

Sichuan Pepper: Sichuan pepper is found in numerous dishes, such as Szechuan beef.  This pepper is also found in five spice powder (see below).  It is often used in meat dishes, infused oils, and condiments.  Sichuan pepper is not the easiest spice to find in the local food markets, but it is readily available at Asian grocery stores.  If you have not been to an Asian market, 2018 is the perfect time to discover all the wonderful spices they offer.

Five Spice Powder: Five spice powder is a very distinctive mix of star anise, fennel, clove, cinnamon, and Sichuan pepper.  If you want to give Chinese cuisine a try without going out and purchasing a bunch of new spices, five spice powder is a good place to start, since it features many of the key Chinese spices.

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