Spice Up Your Life: With Herbs...
12.03.2008Spice Up Your Life: With Herbs...
I have been researching antioxidants in every day herbs and spices, and came accross a very informative and fresh approach to some common spices on www.energiebodycentre.com
Spice up Your Life: Using Herbs and Spices to Boost Flavor, Health, Metabolism, and Mood
Fresh herbs and spices are a must for anyone looking to enjoy full flavor without adding sugar, unhealthy fats and sodium. They are something I personally use daily in every meal. They wake up the senses, support digestion, enhance flavor, supply a compact form of added vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and can even help to preserve your leftovers.
When experimenting with herbs and spices in your food, I recommend adding a little bit at a time. It is always easier to add more than to try to take some out! Some spices, like cayenne and cloves, require a very light touch or they can quickly make your dish unpalatable. Fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro can be used like any leafy green - in a more abundant fashion. I recommend using fresh green herbs over dried. If that just is not possible, using therapeutic grade essential oils can be a great delicious way to save on time, money and storage space (please see important note below). Because fresh herbs are quite delicate, dried herbs just do not retain the same flavor or nutrition. When choosing spices, the dried varieties tend to still have fairly good potency, but again, a therapeutic grade essential oil is can be a more potent option.
Below are my top thirteen choices for herbs and spices and some of the benefits of using them.
Basil – anti-depressant; treats headaches, fevers, insomnia, constipation, colds, the flu and menstrual pain; calms the nerves; anti-parasitic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory; supports cardiovascular health; rich in vitamin A, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C.
Cayenne – anti-inflammatory; digestive aid; metabolic booster; fat burner; high in Vitamins A, C, B complex, calcium and potassium; promotes heart and circulatory health; treats varicose veins, allergies, constipation; relieves heart attacks.
Cilantro – detoxifies heavy metals; acts as a diuretic; helps treat urinary tract infections; relieves intestinal gas; supports peristalsis; lowers blood sugar; lowers LDL/raises HDL; good source of iron, dietary fiber and magnesium.
Cinnamon – balances blood sugar (excellent for diabetics); aids digestion; enhances sweet flavor; lowers LDL; antifungal, anti-carcinogenic; natural food preservative; boosts memory and cognitive function; fights E. coli; raises vitality and stimulates all bodily functions; helps treat arthritis; steadies the nerves; great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.
Cloves – anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, analgesic, antifungal, anti-parasitic, anti-viral; great source of manganese, fiber, vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and magnesium.
Cumin – improves liver function; benefits digestion; boosts immune system; very good source of iron; anti-carcinogenic.
Fennel – digestive aid; reduces mucus; diuretic; mildly estrogenic; anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory; good source of fiber, folate, potassium and vitamin C.
Garlic – anti-viral; immune enhancer; helps lower blood sugar; supports cardiovascular health; stimulates metabolism; anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, anti-fungal; promotes healthy intestinal flora; eliminates toxins; aphrodisiac; powerful antibiotic.
Ginger – cleansing; anti-inflammatory; immune enhancer; digestive aid; boosts circulation and nervous system; remedy for motion sickness; anti-parasitic; normalizes blood pressure; supports the liver; relieves cold, flu, headaches and pain from arthritis.
Oregano – anti-bacterial; potent anti-oxidant; anti-viral; good source of fiber, iron manganese, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids.
Parsley – diuretic; breath freshener; digestive aid; blood purifier; anti-carcinogenic; helps stimulate the bowels; good source of iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, copper and manganese; anti-tumoral, rich in flavonoids
Peppermint – natural stimulant; breath freshener; digestive aid; helps treat IBS; anti-bacterial, anti-fungal.
Turmeric – potent anti-inflammatory that can provide relief for inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and cystic fibrosis; anti-carcinogenic; improves liver function; offers cardiovascular protection; helps lower cholesterol; offers protection against Alzheimer’s.
Here are some fun and inventive ways to begin to experiment with these new culinary friends:
· Add chopped basil, cilantro or parsley to your salad, steamed or grilled vegetables, fish or chicken, guacamole, or try making a unique pesto using one or all of these fresh herbs.
· Try adding cinnamon, cloves, peppermint or ginger to a smoothie.
· Add garlic to soups, sauces, burgers, dressings, marinades, etc. One of the best ways to retain the health benefits of garlic is to add it at the end of cooking when possible.
· Cayenne is a great addition to beans, potatoes, fish, dips, avocado and whole grain dishes.
· Cumin goes very well with black beans, cauliflower, yams or sweet potatoes, and tomato sauces.
· Ginger makes a wonderful digestive tea before a meal, or add fresh grated ginger and garlic to steamed greens. Fresh or dried ginger can give a basic dressing some sass.
· Oregano is a natural with tomato sauce, but it also works well with beans, grains, fish, chicken and avocado.
· Turmeric is traditionally used in curries, but try it with eggs, salads, steamed vegetables and dishes using coconut milk. Just be warned that it will turn your dish a brilliant orange-yellow.
· Fennel can be used whole or crushed in any number of dishes. Add it to tomato sauce, smoothies, fish or vegetable dishes.
· Make your chocolate exotic! Try adding some peppermint, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, or cayenne to a chocolate dish.
Note: the above information is not intended to treat or cure any disease, but is for informational purposes only.
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia
Prescription for Herbal Healing
©2008 Ana Poirier, CHC
About the author:
Ana Poirier is a holistic health and nutrition counselor and yoga teacher on staff at Energia Body Centre. She is available for individual health and nutritional coaching and presents educational workshops and cooking classes in the Monterey area.
Ana specializes in individualized cleansing, health and nutrition plans that are simple and fun and focus on long-term health and wellness. She has recently released a new e-book, Vitality Cleanse, available upon request.
Please visit her website for more information: