Superfoods the way to go: Add Spice!
Shakespeare said, ‘’If music be the food of love, play on’’ – so, if taste be the joy of eating, add spice!
Few people can imagine getting excited about bland-looking or bland-tasting food. Eating is, apart from a physical need, one of life’s great pleasures, and adding taste to our meat, fish and veggie dishes completes our eating experience.
More and more these days we encounter the term “superfoods.” These include veggies and fruit like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, bananas and blueberries. Certain spices and herbs that could be of benefit to our health and could be added to the superfood category include turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon. Others we simply add because they enhance the taste of our favorite meals. It’s almost impossible to come up with a list, but how do we cook without curry, dill, fennel, marjoram or rosemary?
Although few studies are complete, there seems to be growing evidence that spices and herbs may indeed have certain medicinal values and qualities that may be of benefit to our bodies. Firm supporters and followers of the belief maintaining that spices and herbs may have more qualities than simply making our food taste better and look more attractive, may have a point after all.
Used to spice up many dishes (often Indian and Chinese), this golden colored and very tasty ingredient is believed to treat with success anti-inflammatory conditions, to act as antioxidant and to be useful in fighting certain illnesses and ailments. Some studies indicate that turmeric may further contain a number of antiviral and antifungal properties. Also loaded with vitamin C, E and K, calcium and good fiber elements, people often use it to treat a variety of health problems in all ages, such as relieving the effects of arthritis and reducing cholesterol. It can also aid in stimulating the body’s immune system, if it is maintained.
Most of us enjoy the taste of this spice in a variety of foods, right from vegetables such as those from the pumpkin family, in various desserts such as fruit with ice cream, pancakes and bread puddings. Because of its versatility in both savory and sweet dishes, almost every chef and would-be cook finds they keep cinnamon in their spice rack. Full of antioxidants to help fight free radicals which can damage cells in the body and accelerate the onset or progression of certain harmful processes, like a number of medical conditions, cinnamon is regarded as a must have in most people’s homes.
Made from various seeds from ginger type spices, cardamom is used in a variety of dishes. Think Danish pastries, Asian and often Moroccan cooking. With rice dishes, lamb, chicken and various beef curry dishes, cardamom certainly can improve taste on many a plate. Also widely praised for its medicinal qualities, cardamom seems to alleviate problems related to mouth ulcers, halitosis, blood pressure and hiccups – even depression. Once more, like cinnamon and turmeric, this spice seems to be full of goodness and acts as antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent.
We can’t possibly be happy, complete individuals if our brain doesn’t function properly. We go to all the trouble of feeling and looking good physically when we start watching our eating habits, and rightfully so, but somehow we feel ‘’unfulfilled’’ at times? Could it be a lack of certain cognitive skills and abilities without which we seem to function at a lower level? It has been suggested that there may be a strong link between eating and brain function. Furthermore, it seems that certain spices, herbs and seasoning may actually be good for our brain! More great news is that turmeric, cinnamon and cardamom all carry zero points on the Weight Watchers scale – and any other diet scale that is! AND they’re not the only ones. To this group you can add basil, chives and garlic.
ADVOCATES OF HEALTHY EATING
Well-known personalities who believe in the advantages of adding spices and herbs to their food, include:
SIR MICHAEL CAINE
A firm believer in the good qualities of turmeric, double Oscar winner Michael Caine maintains it diminishes the effects of premature ageing; he says in efforts to keep his brain sharp he even takes turmeric tablets in addition to loving the spice in his food. Caine attributes his belief in this spice to the influence of his Indian-born wife Shakira (no, not the singer!).
Famous poker player and one of the greatest stars the game has ever produced, Daniel Negreanu has been an advocate of healthy living for a good number of years and maintains a vegan lifestyle, both on and off the tour. When in Las Vegas, where he resides on a permanent basis, his assistant Patty Landis makes sure he eats his favorite vegan meals. He believes in the benefits of flax seeds and pumpkin seeds in his diet along with organic produce, specifically fresh green juices. Daniel has a passion for eating properly to keep his mind fresh and his brain in top condition when he’s at the poker table.
Top American nutritionist and confidante to the celebs, Haylie Pomroy believes in herbs and combinations of food spices to help keep the weight in check. Apart from telling her clients to eat wisely, she adds garlic, fresh ginger, oregano and paprika to meals, to name but a few of the spices she believes in. And how could she not?
Another well-known nutritionist, Joy Bauer believes in the power of healthy eating by adding herbs, spices and seasoning (and, of course, the taste aspect is a big plus). While cheating and going for a tasty dessert once in a while is fine (especially if it’s made of quality ingredients), she of course advocates the power of healthy eating on our body and mood.
ADDING TASTE – UNDERSTANDING HEALTH BENEFITS
When we start looking at our weight, we should know by now that we do not have to forego the pleasure of eating by cutting out all that is nice and tasty. Even the most ‘’boring’’ meals (by our previous standards) can be livened up by adding spices and seasoning cleverly.
We don’t only use spices and food seasoning to enjoy better tasting meals; we are also much more aware today of the health benefits some of these can hold. In the age of information technology, it has become so much easier to share ideas and tips with our friends and family since many more people have access to the internet all the time.
A GOOD CLEANSE
The effect of a good body cleanse can’t be denied. Some spices, apart from being added to food for greater flavor, can be taken to help get rid of toxins. Turmeric has been mentioned before and it seems this spice indeed is a popular choice when it comes to adding flavor, but also to help cleanse the body according to some sources. Turmeric supplements with curcumin seem to aid in cleansing. Cayenne pepper and saffron are also mentioned when it comes to detox.
For centuries people have understood that seasoning is important enhance the taste of food dishes by adding seasoning: spices and herbs. Happiness is shared around a dinner table; it becomes a talking point where cooks gather, or housewives have friends over for tea (maybe for cinnamon cake?) or celebrity chefs teach us how to make boring meals yummy – simply by adding spice! There are so many herbs and spices to add to our favorite meals: some, which it is maintained, hold medicinal value and can improve the individual’s brain and general performance.
The great thing about spices, herbs and seasoning is the availability almost everywhere. Some you can grow in your kitchen or back yard – others you may have to buy at the supermarket or a specialist store, but they are there! Have a great, tasty meal and allow your body to get the best from the possible beneficial effects of some of the most popular spices, herbs and seasoning. Add spice!
Photo 1 – city-sentinel.com
Photo 2 – inflammation2011.com
Photo 3 – agricorner.com
Photo 4 – cdnds.net
Photo 5 – booksforbetterliving.com
Photo 6 – Wikimedia