A friend of mine was ‘kind’ enough to leave a fresh clump of mint at my place, so I decided I would dry it and save it for future use! This leads me to my top 5 favorite spices and herbs, based on their amazing tastes and natural health benefits!
I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t add cinnamon to at least one food item. Probably more. On top of being extremely versatile, and called for in many recipes, cinnamon has been known to decrease spikes in blood sugar and has natural antimicrobial properties, among other perks of the ancient spice. If you plan to use a lot of cinnamon, make sure you have ‘true cinnamon’ which originated in Sri Lanka, as opposed to Cassia, which is the type most commonly found in most parts, and contains greater amounts of coumarin, a naturally occurring substance that thins the blood and is not good for the organs in big quantities. Amazing in oatmeal, cookies, rice and beans, and many other dishes, I also add cinnamon to foods as a preventative measure against colds and flu!
The color of turmeric is only one thing that is super great about this spice. The rich yellow adds a vibrant color to anything it’s added to, and is what gives most curries their warm hue. Part of the ginger family, turmeric has been used for many years as an antiseptic and antibacterial remedy, is a powerful anti-inflammatory and may also fight cancers. It adds a really great flavour to curries and eggs, and I love adding it to rice dishes. I’ve personally reaped the benefits, drinking a glass of water with 1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric before bed as a natural remedy for sinus and inner ear inflammation.
Ginger is definitely indispensable in the spice box. Full of nutrients and phytonutrients (like vitamin A and gingerol), ginger aids in circulation, is a great remedy for nausea, and contains antibacterial properties. Added to tea, sweet or savory foods, as an accompaniment to sushi, or crystallized, ginger packs a punch of disease fighting qualities and refreshing flavour.
I’m not sure if this one technically goes in the same category, but for the sake of all around awesome items to keep around, here it is. With it’s pungent aroma and taste, there is a reason garlic keeps the vampires away. Along with them, bacteria is not known to build up a resistance to this natural antibiotic, full of powerful sulfur compounds that ward off many unwanted ailments. It is also known to aid respiratory problems, strengthen the immune system, and reduce free radicals in the bloodstream, which in turn promotes overall cardiovascular health. Part of the same family as onions, garlic can season almost any savory food for an intense burst of flavour and miraculous health advantages. I personally like to roast a whole clump in the oven and eat it straight, and it’s pretty much necessary in good hummus! I also use it as a remedy for bronchitis, and eat a raw clove before going to bed.
An oldworld herb that has been used as a remedy predating medieval times, rosemary provides many health enhancing affects. From anticarcinogenic properties to the treatment of stomach upset, it can be used to flavour soups, eggs and baked goods, or sprinkled on roasted vegetables with olive oil. Mmm. Among other uses, dried rosemary added to a bath can have rejuvenating healing affects on the nervous system. Similar to camphor, an oil found in the plant (called rosemary camphor), is one of the main sources of it’s magic.
What kinds of recipes do you like to use these special spices in? What do you love to use to amp up your meals?
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