By Dr. Deanna Minich
My kitchen spice rack is like my own little pharmacy, and I try to incorporate its contents into each and every meal, from stir-fries to smoothies.
The dried parts of plants can add flavor and color to any dish, and keep food free of harmful invaders. Not to mention, they come with some pretty impressive health benefits.
Spices have been shown to prevent and treat more than 100 different conditions. Research has found that the low dementia rate in India is due, in part, to the culture’s high intake of turmeric, while cancer rates have also been shown to be lower in countries that use more spices.
Spices are powerful antioxidants packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, and their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties help keep the immune systems robust.
Spices can also make a little food go a long way and allow us to find more pleasure and gustatory satisfaction in the eating experience. Spices invite us to have fun with food preparation, and help our senses to engage so that our digestive juices start flowing. When a meal connects to our senses, it takes on more of a memorable significance. Associating healthier foods with aromatic spices is one way to create a favorable experience, while at the same time, enforce healthy eating behaviors.
If you are looking to add more spices into your everyday eating, here are some fun ideas to explore:
Add spices to smoothies or to steamed milk (e.g., cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom); Substitute tea by steeping dried lemongrass or mint in hot water. A study found that cinnamon helped regulate blood pressure both in patients with type 2 diabetes and healthy subjects.
Salads and Sandwiches:
Add chives, basil, fennel or mustard seeds, cumin, and/or mint to leafy green salads, tuna or chicken salads, or sandwiches; Garlic, basil, and ginger, added to oil (like olive oil) and balsamic vinaigrette make for a spice-infused salad dressing. Besides adding a tasty kick to meals, basil offers a host of health benefits, including being a powerful antioxidant. Similarly, garlic is a detox heavy-hitter with many medicinal uses, from lowering cholesterol to balancing blood sugar to regulating blood pressure.
Eat more mustard (contains turmeric); Add freshly grated garlic and ground pepper to mayonnaise. Turmeric is not only a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compound – it also has been proven to have over 50 healing actions, including an antacid to sooth digestive problems; a powder to speed wound healing and prevent infection; an analgesic to relieve headache; a stimulant to improve blood flow; and a topical paste to clear skin problems.
Marinate lean meats in curry powder to tenderize – the main ingredient in curry is turmeric, the spice superstar! Make a dill-lemon sauce for fish dishes.
Stir fry vegetables in a curry powder for an Indian flair or with ginger and garlic for an Asian twist. Ginger is great for calming an upset stomach – studies have lauded its ability to combat acid reflux.
Add extra flavor to scrambled eggs with a handful of fresh parsley or chives; Color soft tofu with turmeric as an egg-scramble substitute! Parsley is a rich source of Vitamins A and C, and boasts powerful antioxidant effects.
Add saffron to savory rice or make a rice pudding with cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add oregano, ground rosemary, and cracked peppercorns to pasta. Oregano is another potent antioxidant, while rosemary offers anti-inflammatory benefits.
Invite spices to warm your body, tickle your taste buds, wake up your mind, and penetrate your soul with an abundance of gifts including sweet, astringent, sour, earthy and savory flavors along with healing and health!
This article first appeared at Deannaminch.com
Dr. Deanna Minich is an internationally-recognized teacher, author, scientist, speaker, and artist. She has more than 20 years of diverse, well-rounded experience in the fields of nutrition and functional medicine, including clinical practice, research, product formulation, writing, and education. Her Doctoral (Ph.D.) research focused on essential fatty acid absorption and metabolism, and her Master’s degree (M.S.) allowed her to explore the health benefits of the colorful, plant-based carotenoids. She has authored five books on health and wellness and over fifteen scientific publications.
I had the pleasure of attending a presentation she did in Los Angeles that included information from her book Whole Detox a 21 Day Personalized Program to Break Through Barriers in Every Area of Your Life.
I was very impressed with her knowledge and her passion for health. Her tag line says it all. “Nourish Your Whole Self”. I am happy to announce that Dr. Minich is now a contributor to The Ageless Beauty Report. You can check out her site and books at deannaminich.com