7 spices that may not be in your spice cabinet, but should be.

If you are like me, you may have grown up in a family that was limited in the knowledge and benefits of using spices. My mom used things like garlic, rosemary, and thyme, the essential herbs everyone uses. These are all great, but there are so many more wonderful herbs and spices that I didn’t know anything about. I definitely never heard anyone talk about the healing properties of herbs, spices and essential oils around our family dinner table.

As I began to understand the medicinal properties of many spices I was faced with the challenge of learning how to incorporate new spices into my meal plan. I bought a book on herbs and spices and began taking small steps by adding a couple of different spices in to my menu each week. Fast forward to a few years later, I love my spices. I believe they have made my meals much more exciting. My challenge to you today is to start adding one or two new spices into your dinner this week.

Here are a few of my favorite multipurpose herbs that go with anything!

Sage can improve brain function and memory, along with a strong reputation for healing properties. During the middle ages, sage was used to help prevent the plague. Current research has shown sage is especially helpful for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Sage inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine, a chemical messenger in the brain. Sage goes excellent with eggs, chicken or lamb.  You can pan-fry chicken breasts, add sage, red onion, lemon & crème fraîche for a great dish, also making a tea with sage is helpful for a sore throat.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with potent anti-inflammatory effects. Curcumin is a remarkably powerful antioxidant that boosts the body’s own antioxidant enzymes, which are believed to be lined with aging and other diseases. Since inflammation plays a significant role in almost every chronic disease, the high level of curcumin in turmeric makes it an important staple in your spice cabinet. Studies also suggest that turmeric can improve brain function, fight Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis. I drink a cup of turmeric tea every morning.  It’s so easy, and great for you! Mix a ¼ teaspoon of turmeric in a cup of hot water, and add a tiny bit of pepper (pepper helps the curcumin work even better). You can add turmeric to almost soup or stew, chicken or almost any meat dish, vary the amount according to your taste. Here’s a great recipe you might want to try. Honey-Turmeric Pork with Beet and Carrot Salad

Holy Basil helps fight infections and boosts immunity, holy basil is considered a sacred herb in India. Holy basil can inhibit the growth of a range of bacteria, yeasts, and molds. Holy basil is also well loved for its ability to boost the function of the immune system, reduce blood sugar levels, reduce anxiety and anxiety-related depression.  I like holy basil best with chicken. It’s great in stir-fries, with chicken, beef, clams or other seafood. I challenge you to try them all and see which one you like best. You can also make a refreshing ice tea with holy basil and lemon. (Tip: add lemon slices as a garnish.)

Cardamom is the sweet, pungent flavor found in many pumpkin spice mixes. Cardamom soothes an upset stomach, helps fight inflammation, lowers blood pressure and prevents the growth of cancer cells. Cardamom is especially high in minerals like magnesium and zinc. Spice up rice with a little bit of Cardamom. Add Cardamom to creme fraiche and dip with strawberries, or if you love Indian food, try making some Chicken Tikka Masala.

Cinnamon is a favorite spice, found in many recipes and baked goods. The compound cinnamaldehyde gives cinnamon it’s medicinal properties. Cinnamon is a potent antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood.  Cinnamon is one of my go-to spices! You can use cinnamon on almost anything, apples and cinnamon go great together. Try adding some apples and cinnamon to your oatmeal, or cinnamon pumpkin pancakes the possibilities are endless.

Garlic is not just for keeping vampires away! This plant has a potent compound called allicin. Garlic may lower your chance of getting heart disease, combat sickness, including the common cold. It may even help stop the growth of cancer cells. Other research shows that eating garlic regularly may help with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I bet you didn’t know that to get the benefits, you have to chop or crush the clove: Allicin, the healthy compound, found in garlic is only activated after the cells in the garlic have been cut or crushed.  Who doesn’t love garlic? I add garlic to everything, stew, soups, meatloaf and chicken dishes, you name it. In Gilroy, Ca they even make garlic ice cream, I’ve never tried, but I hear it’s excellent!

Ginger is chopped full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidants benefits. Not to mention helps in preventing diseases such as cancer. Ginger is most well known for its calming effect on your digestive system. Often used to treat nausea; including morning sickness, chemotherapy, and seasickness.  Ginger goes great with chicken, pork, apples, carrot soup with Ginger is great! Try your favorite soup recipe and add in a little ginger.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something about a spice you have not used before. I have enjoyed learning about herbs, spices and healthy alternatives to eating. If you are feeling confused and looking for direction, I invite you to schedule a complimentary one-hour discovery call where we can discuss your healthy eating goals and help make a plan to help you reach your goals. Schedule your call here. 

Photo credit Nathan Dumlao on unsplash
1 Comment
  • Rev Donna Caldwell
    Posted at 17:53h, 06 December Reply

    Great post! I can make my food taste better while tending to my healthy body.