Spice Up Your Life and Improve Your Health

There is a reason that most cultures in the world spice their food! Not only does putting spices on food make it taste better, but spicing our food also has medicinal properties and can help us prevent and even treat disease. In October with the Halloween season upon us and Thanksgiving around the corner, there is no better time to add wonderful, aromatic spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg to our meals!

Following are some common and traditionally used spices, along with how they can help you when you add them to your diet:

Ginger
This spice is the one probably everyone knows! Ginger has been used for centuries to help treat nausea! In my first pregnancy, I lived off ginger ale and ginger candies! Ginger has been cited in Chinese medical texts from the 4th Centur y BC and modern day researchers have show that ginger actually shuts down nerve receptors that trigger nausea.
Use: Have ginger in fresh green juices, mix in soups, or even enjoy a slice of fresh ginger in hot water as an alternative to tea.

Cinnamon
This spice is my personal favorite! Cinnamon is known for regulating blood sugar and insulin levels thereby preventing diabetes. People with diabetes have a problem regulating their blood sugar levels and the hormone insulin helps our body reduce sugar in our blood. I have diabetes in my family and have been inadvertently putting cinnamon on everything from pastas to toast to fish!
Use: My son loves having a healthy cinnamon toast in the morning (see below) and in my house we put cinnamon on everything from pastas to acorn squash. If you eat fish, the next time you are grilling a white fish such as a dover sole, try slathering it with a mixture of olive oil and cinnamon- delicious!

Nutmeg
Nutmeg is said to lower blood pressure by warming the body and bringing the blood from the center of the body to the skin. When this happens, our blood pressure is lowered.
Use: Nutmeg pairs very nicely with cinnamon and, like cinnamon, can be used on toast, in pasta, on root vegetables such as butternut and acorn squash and on fish. (see below)

Rosemary
This may be an old wive’s tale but it has been said that rosemary helps improve m emory. The ursolic acid in rosemary inhibits the breakdown of a neurotransmitter essential for memory.
Use: The next time you are cooking fish or even a vegetable like brussel sprouts for dinner, drizzle them with olive oil and spice it with a little sea salt and fresh rosemary- delicious!

Basil
Basil helps flight colds. Not only is it an antimicrobial that kills germs that cause colds, but it is also rich in antioxidants and boosts our immunity.
Use: Make a pesto sauce for your pasta with fresh basil or throw some basil on top of a bowlful of strawberries with yogurt and a drizzle of honey for an afternoon snack or dessert.

Thyme
Thyme is said to help fight coughs. Thyme is an antiseptic and helps ease inflammation of the throat, which causes coughs to worsen.

Garlic
Garlic has been said to reduce cholesterol. Garlic is an antioxidant and helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the arteries.
Use: Add garlic to anything from fish to pastas to salad dressings to dips. Make a garlic, tahini dressing to top on steamed vegetables or to serve as a dip with crudite (see below).

Tumeric
Tumeric is a spice commonly used in India in curries that helps reduce inflammation in the body. Curcumin in tumeric inhibits cell enzymes that contribute to inflammation.
Use: The next time you are at an Indian restaurant make sure you order a c urry dish. Wonderful, healthy curry sauces can also be purchased at Whole Foods or other groceries and put on top of steamed vegetables or fish.

Cumin
Cumin is said to prevent cancer. I know that this may seem far-fetched but cancer rates are extremely low in India where cumin is widely used. Curcumin in cumin inhibits the enzymes that help cancer cells invade healthy tissues.
Use: Much like turmeric, cumin is widely used in Indian curries. Cumin is also delicious on top of fish!

Here are some favorite recipes:

Easy Acorn Squash
2 acorn squash
Olive oil
Cinnamon
Nutmeg

Slice acorn squash in half and take out seeds and inards. In a small bowl, mix olive oil, cinnamon and nutmeg. Place the acorn squash face up on a baking sheet and liberally brush olive oil and spice mixture on top. Cook until soft using a fork to test. This dish is so delicious it is almost like dessert!

Butternut Squash & Coconut Soup
1 butternut squash (you can also use 2 sweet potatoes)
1 can of unsweetened, organic coconut milk (you can buy this is most health shops)
4 dried dates
6 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pumpkin spice

Take the skin off the outside of the butternut squash, cut into pieces and take out the seeds then cube. In a small bowl, soak the dried dates unt il soft. If you have a Vitamix blender then place the cubes of butternut squash inside of a blender and blend on high until fairly smooth. Add the dates, coconut milk, maple syrup and spices and blend until smooth and hot.

If you do not have a Vitamix (which is a high speed blender that also heats things up,) then place the butternut squash on the stove top and cook until soft. Drain the butternut squash and dates and place them in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the coconut, maple syrup and spices and blend until smooth. Truly this soup is delicious, healthy and so easy to make!

Oliver’s Cinnamon-Raison Toast
2-4 slices of cinnamon-raison toast (whole grain bread may be used as well)
Cinnamon
Nutmeg
Natural unrefined sugar (can also use honey or agave nectar)
Butter (organic &high-quality, vegans can use olive oil or flax seed oil)

Place slices of bread on a baking sheet and place a small pad of butter on top. Sprinkle unrefined sugar or drizzle the honey on top then liberally sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Place in the oven and cook until butter or sugar melted. My kids LOVE this recipe and it is fast and easy to make in the morning!

Pesto Sauce
1 ¼ cups olive oil
2 cups chopped basil
½ cup chopped pine nuts (or walnuts)
½ cup parmesan (vegans can use a goats cheese parmesan or leave out altogether)
1 clove chopped garlic
&n bsp;
Mix all of the above ingredients in a food processor and blend until it is primarily smooth but do leave it a bit more chunky, especially if you are making it with walnuts. If you want a more lemony taste you can add the juice of one lemon. Makes approximately 2 ½-3 cups of sauce.

Garlic Tahini
1 cup sesame tahini (I love the brand Joyva)
1 lemon
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp soy sauce (I recommend Nama Soyu or Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acid)

Blend garlic in food processor or blender until finally chopped. Add in tahini, soy sauce and lemon and blend until smooth. This sauce is delicious with steamed vegetables & brown rice or even as a dip with crudite.

Rosemary Brussels Sprouts
Fresh rosemary
12 brussel sprouts
Sea salt
Olive oil

Place brussels sprouts in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil. Take the rosemary leaves off the stem and sprinkle on top of the brussels sprouts then season with sea salt and cook at 350 degrees until brown. Try these before you claim you “don’t like brussels sprouts!”

Please note: This same recipe can be used on fish. An addition of fresh lavender on fish makes the dish a little more complex.

1 Comment

  • derrick
    July 30th, 2014 at 4:18 am

    .

    hello….



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