Spices to Warm and Heal
The fresh herbs that greeted you in the Spring and Summer may be familiar to you as dried, ground spices to pep up the flavor of your dishes in the colder seasons. The earliest native Americans and ancient Aztecs among others regarded spices as a critical food-medicine that were traded—and pirated—because they improved the quality, and very often the longevity of life.
The nutritional properties of spices remain much the same as the fresh-picked version with these considerations:
• Some nutrient values or flavor elements may be reduced in the drying process and extended storage.
• Many dried spices retain high ORAC levels (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) which measure the antioxidant potential of the plant.
I hope you will consider this short and simple list of spice cabinet remedies for your Fall/Autumn and Winter recipes.
A man may esteem himself happy when that which is his food is also his medicine. ~Henry David Thoreau, 1817-1862, American naturalist and author
• This warming spice stimulates circulation thereby improving heart, artery and capillary function; mixed with water a pinch of cayenne makes an effective gargle for a sore throat.
• The flavor packs a punch of “zesty-hot” to any dish especially Southwestern or Mexican cooking.
• This aromatic and fragrant spice comes from the bark of Cinnamomum trees native to South America, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean; the drying process produces the tubular rolls or “cinnamon sticks”.
• Recorded use dates to ancient Egypt, 2000 BC, for treatment of sore throats, coughing, and arthritic conditions.
• Health promoting properties include exceptionally high antioxidants; increased digestive enzyme secretions; improved blood sugar and lipid levels; reduced bacterial and fungal infections.
• Known throughout the world as a flavoring for dishes ranging from main courses to condiments and sauces to desserts; extreme amounts may cause respiratory distress or inflammation.
• The seeds provide an excellent source of iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium phosphorus, selenium, zinc, B-complex vitamins, Vitamins A, C, E and dietary fiber; seeds may be steeped as a tea or ground as a spice.
• Historically used medicinally to improve energy and immune function; for digestive support (enzyme production); powerful free radical scavenging properties.
• Adds a nutty peppery flavor to chili, Mexican dishes and Indian and Middle Eastern curries.
• The root (rhizome) of this aromatic plant is used in medicinals and culinary creations; it may be used fresh, dried, powdered or ground, or as an oil (essential oil).
• Commonly used (fresh) as a digestive aid to stimulate production of saliva and bile, relieve gastrointestinal distress, and calm nausea from morning sickness to motion sickness; relieves joint discomforts and headaches.
• Long history in Chinese cooking as well as in condiments and curries of Southeast Asia.
• Well-known ingredient in gingerbread and ginger ale.
• This vibrant red powder comes from capsicum peppers (dried and finely ground).
• Loaded with nutrients, including: Vitamins A, C, E, iron (blood builder) and carotenoids (pigments giving the deep red coloring) for added health benefits.
• Historically used medicinally as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, external pain reliever, digestion stimulant (enzyme production) and circulatory system support.
• Frequently blended with garlic and other spices and used as a rub for chicken, fish, pork or lean beef.
• May be added to hummus, soups or egg dishes for additional color, flavor and health benefits.
• An excellent resource for purchasing paprika and recipes: For the Love of Paprika by John Czingula.
• A sister herb to rosemary, and member of the mint family, is high in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and volatile oils which help prevent cellular oxidation (free radical damage).
• Long regarded as an excellent memory enhancer.
• Early greeks and Romans used sage as a meat preservative; it pairs well with poultry and pork.
• Sage lends a strong, often over-powering flavoring, so use sparingly as an addition to baked breads, mild cheeses, stuffing, and pasta dishes.
• A cousin to ginger, and a member of the Zingiberaceae family, this spice is made from the root of the Curcuma longa plant.
• Used in culinary, medicinal and esthetic purposes, this spice offers antioxidant, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
• An excellent source of manganese, iron, Vitamin B6, copper, potassium and fiber.
• One of the most researched plant foods showing promise for cardiovascular protection, improved liver-gall bladder function, inflammatory bowel disorders, lowering cholesterol and brain function protection.
• Best known for its use in curries, egg dishes, rice and lentils.
Connie’s Comments: This short list of my favorite Fall/Autumn and Winter spices not only complement the flavor of food, but promote health during these colder months. Please consult with a professional nutritionist if you are seeking therapeutic support.
Old gardeners never die, they just run out of thyme. ~Garden saying
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