If you’re like me, you have a ton of spices in my spice cabinet that you hardly ever use. They were probably for recipes I wanted to try and either made them once or didn’t make them at all. For this month’s food post with Giovanna Garcia we decided to make a little ‘Spices 101’ guide. There are so many health benefits packed into each teeny grain, I figured it was time to give the little guys some credit.
We underestimate the power of spices. In my journey to health and in helping others reach their optimal health, I’ve learned to incorporate spices in every dish to enhance health benefits, but also for their amazing flavor. Spices have been used medicinally and therapeutically for many years. Each spice provides it’s unique flavor, color, and healing properties. Get creative with these beautiful offerings nature provides us with and enjoy the wonderful benefits.
Cinnamon is a delicious naturally sweet and warming spice that has been used for thousands of years for it’s medicinal properties. It helps balance blood sugar, it’s high in antioxidants, improves risk of heart disease, anti-microbial, anti-clotting and the scent boosts brain function. Cinnamon is most often used in sweet dishes, but also goes well in savory dishes. Use in smoothies, chia pudding, desserts, porridge, tea such as homemade chai, soups, sautées and on roasted vegetables.
Cayenne is used for it’s therapeutic properties in many populations. It packs a punch of benefits and has been commonly used in America for detox and helping the body become less acidic. Cayenne pepper is anti-inflammatory, eases pain, anti-cold and anti-flu, anti-fungal, aids digestion, reduces blood clots, and promotes heart health. It can be used in all types of cooking such as sauteing, roasting, salads, dressings, dips, sauces, teas, and even chocolate desserts. I love adding it to my superfood hot chocolate drink for a nice kick.
Cumin is a delicious spice with a nutty and peppery flavor. It is commonly used in Mexican, Indian, and Middle Eastern cuisines. It also contains some important nutrients such as iron, manganese, copper and calcium. Cumin supports the immune system, aids digestion and is cancer preventative. It can be used in soups, stews, as meat and vegetable seasoning and dips and sauces such as hummus and pesto.
Paprika is a spice a spice made by drying and grinding up fruits that come from the chili family. It is used in many cuisines to season and add color to rice, soups and stews. Paprika is high in antioxidants, vitamin E and iron and is anti-inflammatory. It is often used to garnish dishes, but it’s benefits actually increase when lightly heated. Use paprika in soups, stews, to season vegetables and meats, in rice and salads.
Turmeric has a bitter and peppery flavor. It has an orange color and resembles ginger root. It is one of the main ingredients in curry, which is what gives it the orange-yellow color. Turmeric packs a punch of nutrition as well as adds an earthy flavor to dishes. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, cancer preventative, aids circulation, high in antioxidants, supports the immune system, eases pain, anti-bacterial, supports detox, speeds up wound healing and protects against flu and cold symptoms. It is mostly used in savory dishes, but can also be incorporated into sweet foods. Use turmeric to season vegetables and meats (it combines great with cinnamon), smoothies, curries, stews, soups, drinks such as hot chocolate or smoothies and chocolate treats.
Nutmeg is a spice used to add flavor and aroma to dishes. It can be used in sweet and savory cooking. We commonly see it in dishes related to the holidays. Besides it’s delicious flavor, it has many health properties. It is anti-inflammatory properties, aids digestion, supports the immune system, relieve pain, boost skin health, aids detox, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, and improve blood circulation. Use nutmeg in porridge, smoothies such as this awesome pumpkin spice smoothie, desserts (especially chocolate), pesto, to season vegetables and meats and sauces.
By Giovanna Garcia // Intro & photography by Micaela Hoo
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