Spices and herbs are a great way to add super nutrients to your diet. Having a cupboard with a selection of spices and herbs will enhance the flavour of your cooking while boosting your nutrient status at the same time.
So what’s in my cupboard:
Turmeric – king of spice. The subtle but very individual flavour of turmeric can be added to nearly every dish. It even works on porridge, couple it with cinnamon and a taste explosion is created. Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial – that means it may help fight of any bugs. A study in 2006 showed it had a preventative effect on joint inflammation and other studies show it was more successful at reducing pain than a Non Steroid Anti-Inflammatory. These studies are based on supplemental doses so you might not get these effects with culinary use however for its antioxidant properties alone it is worth using it on a regular basis. Add it to your scrambled eggs with some mustard seeds for a different twist on a traditional breakfast dish.
Cinnamon – sweet, smooth and a bit peppery. Add this to your breakfast every morning and you could help with your energy levels. Studies have shown it may be able to slow down the release of carbohydrate into your bloodstream helping to balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day. It can also help warm up food to aid digestion.
Cumin, fennel, coriander and ginger all have been shown to help digestion. They have been found to contain digestive enzymes which help break down your food. They may help with digestive discomfort such as wind, heartburn, burping and bloating. Chewing on fennel, coriander or cumin seeds may help with wind and using them in lentils or beans when cooking may reduce the effects of wind after eating. Coriander may help with detoxification of heavy metals as well. We are exposed daily to toxins that we sometimes have no control over ingesting, eating coriander on a regular basis may help support the liver and the body in helping to eliminate them. Ground corriander can be more palatable to some as it is not as strong as the fresh stuff.
Add turmeric, ginger, fennel seeds, ground and dried coriander, cumin and a curry powder to your curries.
Sumac – this is a new spice I have introduced into the cupboard and it can sit proudly against the others. High in antioxidants and blood sugar supporting it is another great addition to your diet. It is ground dried berries and has a lemony flavour so can be added to fish, chicken, soups and vegetables. It can also be added to sweet dishes, again great on oats at breakfast.
Rosemary – may support immunity by reducing inflammation. It is also an excellent aid in digestion and can help with detoxification, supporting the liver.
Oregano – a great anti-fungal and antimicrobial, studies have shown it can kill of the big MRSA and is used in hand soaps. Great to add to pasta sauces, soups, casseroles and lentil dishes.
Thyme – antiseptic properties, may help with coughs and respiratory problems. It is also great for digestion.
Many of these spices contain vital nutrients such as calcium, essential fatty acids, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, vitamin C, amino acids and vital B vitamins.
So to optimise your diet, health and home cooking stock up your spices and herbs.