Browsing Tag

Volatile Oil

Why Good Spices Matter + Easy Peasy Grilled Chicken Recipe

August 4, 2015



I'm a big fan of seasoning and spices. I mean, they are essentially dried plants and plant parts that you can add to a dish to completely transform it – no refrigeration necessary. They can also have essential nutrients, healing properties and make a mean salad dressing with the help of oil and vinegar.

That said, not all spices are the same. 

The spices you find at your typical grocery store are made with a mass grinding process. Often cycling through different spices (e.g. pepper in January, cinnamon in February, etc.) only once a year. They then package the ground spices and put them in a warehouse where they could sit for quite some time; then a store shelf, where they sit some more. By the time you sprinkle the oregano onto your chicken, it's about three years away from its origins, a year or so from being in its whole form, and has lost a large percentage of its volatile oil.

This is important because when a seasoning is particularly aromatic, it indicates a high concentration of volatile oil. With these volatile oils come numerous health benefits. First of all, when inhaled, the aroma almost instantly reaches the brain. This can have psychological affects on a person’s mood (Ever been to Yankee Candle Company after a hard day? No? Just me then.). But they can also clear the stomach, aid in protein digestion and nutrient absorption, and – my personal favorite – curb inflammation (1).


Now I'm going to stop myself here and say this: I never want to discourage anybody from eating real food. If that means using generic spices to cook up a homemade pasta sauce, by all means, do it. Some things have to give and we can't buy the best of everything ALL THE TIME.

That said, I found this information good to know, and it made me think twice about the spices that I use the most.

It all started a good 5 years back when I stumbled upon a store called The Spice House. I was with my friend at the time and it was one of those "We're just looking around" shopping trips. But as soon as I went in, my senses went into overdrive. Sweet yet spicy cinnamon that smelled like Christmas, Herbs de Provence reminiscent of a French garden (or what I’d imagine one to smell like), and smoked Paprika so palatable that I felt like I had tasted baby back ribs without ever putting anything into my mouth. I HAD to buy at least one. After smelling nearly every baking spice, chili powder, dried herb and ground pepper in the store, I landed on a seasoning recommended me by the shop manager as a good versatile blend.

It’s called Back of the Yards “Butcher’s Rub,” intended for meat and poultry, but I put it on EVERYTHING because it tastes good on EVERYTHING. Eggs, salads, salad dressings, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, parsnips, kale chips. When I decided I wanted to write a post about this stuff, I contacted the Spice House to get some more info on it. In return, they not only provided me with a lot of background information on how spices are made, but they also provided me with a special offer to give to you guys! Here it is. No joke.

With any Spice House purchase, they will give you a FREE Back of the Yards seasoning when you use my very own special code: HEALTHYSTACEY

Don't lollygag though. You have to use it by August 18th, 2015.


The beauty of the Spice House, as you may have guessed, is that it is on the opposite spectrum of the grocery store spices. They import the majority of their spices whole. And because they only have small mills, they can set up for cinnamon, grind enough to last a week, then reset the mill for cumin all in the same day. With the ones that they don't grind themselves (because they're facilities are not set up to handle certain spices), they are careful to source from processors who share their "obsession for freshness" – direct quote from Paige at the Spice House.

When you buy a spice from their store, you know it was whole no more than a month ago, and part of its plant within the last year. They also only use spices in their blends. No fillers or stabilizers.

Small size + low inventory = full control over suppliers.

If quality drops with a certain buyer, they switch to one that meets their standards. They can also buy crops from small growers who don't produce enough to supply to a larger company – like the little farm that grows and processes their umami-tasting black garlic.

Just so you all know, I am getting absolutely nothing for mentioning the Spice House in this post. Besides a discount for you fine people, of course. I'd be just as happy if reading this encouraged you to grow your own spices or find other stores like The Spice House. As always, the closer the food is to its real form, the better. And it doesn't get much better than fresh-made garlicy-peppery-shalloty grilled chicken. With that, I'd love to leave you with this recipe using this super-easy, barely-have-to-do-anything-with-it, fresh-as-a-daisy, spice rub.

Easy Peasy Paleo Grilled Chicken



  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 teaspoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice/1 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons Back of the Yards Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 Free-Range Chicken Thighs


  1. Rinse and dry your chicken breasts
  2. Melt the coconut oil in the microwave in a bowl
  3. Stir in the honey, lemon juice and seasonings
  4. Toss chicken thighs in a big Ziploc baggie with the marinade
  5. Make sure the chicken is submerged
  6. The more you let it marinate, the better (2 hours would be great, overnight – even better). But if you're super hungry (usually the case for me and my fiance by the time I get home from work), 30 minutes will suffice.
  7. Pop on grill at medium-high grill for a few minutes per side (everybody’s grill is different, but I say a “few” because it’s so easy to go overboard and overcook – eck!
  8. Serve with a side of asparagus, sprinkled with more Back of the Yards


See? Easy peasy!

Much Love,


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