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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Layer in the Nutrition

by Chiot's Run

There are many simple steps you can take to layer extra nutrition and nourishment into your food. Spices and herbs are one of the best ways. Many people assume that they just add flavor and don't realize the nutritional value that they add to the foods that you eat. Most herbs and spices are very valuable in terms of the vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals they contain. Consider cinnamon for example, it has a regulatory effect on blood sugar. It's not a coincidence that it's often paired with starchy foods like pancakes, french toast, oatmeal and bread. It's also a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. It can fight e-coli and inhibit bacterial growth in the food it's in.

Layering in Nutrition

Consider also cayenne pepper, which we add to most of the meals we eat. It adds vitamins A, C, B6, K, and manganese to your diet. It helps with digestion, helps relieves ulcer pain, and can rebuild stomach tissue. It boosts circulation and is said to help stop heart attacks. Whenever I'm sick I drink plenty of cayenne tea and it works wonders to break up congestion. Cayenne seems like a wonder spice when you read about it.

Homegrown Garlic, Rosemary & Lemon Thyme

Cinnamon and cayenne are not unique either, all spices and herbs are nutrition powerhouses. If you're not in the habit of adding lots of herbs and spices to your food, get a few books from the library or spend some time on-line reading up on the health benefits of various herbs and spices. You'll be amazed at the amount of vitamins and minerals you can add in and some wonderful flavor with it!

Do you add lots of herbs and spices to your foods for the health benefit?

12 comments:

Jessica said...

That's funny that you mention cayenne's effect on the heart. I just got some in pill form because someone said it would help with my constant stuffiness. It definitely helped but the heartburn it gave me was so bad I thought I was going to have a heart attack! Haha! ;)

David said...

Susy, I've always held the opinion that the art of cooking was all about the use of herbs, spices, and other flavorings. My wife was the master of creating wonderful cuisine from plain dishes and herbs, spices, and flavorings, but never used a recipe. I, however, am not an artist in any fashion of the word. My herbs, spices, and flavorings come in the form of Mrs. Dash and garlic powder. I suppose if I were following a recipe and it told me to throw in some herbs, I would but left to my own creativeness, food consumption is pretty bland. One thing I never use is salt. The natural salt in food is quite enough for me. I suppose I really should spice it up a bit huh.

Have a great creative cooking day.

Joyful said...

I do like to add spices and herbs to my cooking and would like to add much more. I do tend to forget that they don't only add flavour and am not that informed about the nutritional value of these additions to my meals. thanks for the reminder.

Treasures Evermore said...

This was a great post...I have been trying for three years to grow my own herbs but they all die...I have no idea what I am doing wrong. the only thing that survives is the weeds. LOL

Thanks for sharing.

Paula said...

No, but I did have my first cup of nettle tea yesterday...

chicu said...

I do add spices depending on their health effects. And interestingly, a lot of indian recipes ARE like that- a mix of medicine and culinary bliss. some favourites?
cumin, asafoetida, and turmeric to lentils: to lessen flatulence
ginger to oily curries: lessens nausea
mint to garnish / accompany meat: cooling

Oya's Daughter said...

One thing I drink a LOT of is chai, which I make at home from a recipe of a Romanian woman I was friends with in seattle. The recipe combines a LOT of different spices and all result in regulating my body chemistry and making me a bit more "sharp" - as a "spoonie" this is all rather vital and I know when I haven't been drinking the stuff! As it is such an exacting formulae however I do have to take care to treat it as medicine - I only drink two cups a day and also tend to skip a day or two in between so my body doesn't get used to the herbs and require more of it for the same effect.

Indian recipes have a lot of the reference to herbs as ayurveda is a primary component of their eating - ayurvedic practitioners feel that food can be healing, and therefore their medicines are primarily food-based (kedgeree, spiced ghee, etc). It's actually rather inexpensive here in the UK to follow such a regimen and is considered "proper" medicine here and not just as a "fad". I have to say that when I follow ayurvedic advice I tend to feel a lot better, but I do tend to lapse from time to time!

It is worth remembering that if one is treating herbs and spices as nutrition, to do so in moderation - herbs keep getting banned because people don't use common sense as if it was the herb's fault, but the truth of the matter is if you're going to eat garlic sandwiches and you're a haemophiliac, then that's just not very sensible! Use wisely, use cautiously.

I would recommend for anyone wanting to delve a little deeper to read Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra; very balanced, down to earth and thorough research on herbs and spices.

TeresaNoelleRoberts said...

I knew many herbs and spices are nutrious and have medicinal properties, but I always assumed it required more than culinary quantities to reap those benefits. (Turmeric pills, strong herb teas, etc.) How nice to know that making my food tastier is also making it healthier.

Chiot's Run said...

Oya's Daughter: very true, I think herbs get a bad rap because people take them in pill form instead of eating them whole and with other foods. Often when herbs get bad publicity for having negatives affects the scientists have tested the specific compounds from the herbs, not the whole herbs themselves.

I find that many people take a reactive role and then overdo the herbs, rather than being proactive role by adding herbs and spices throughout the days/weeks/months. Herbs like vegetables can be seasonal and often correspond with what is needed at that specific time: like dandelion for detoxing from all the rich winter food you've been eating.

Mrs. J said...

I feel like I'm obsessed with herbs and spices! It's nice to be reminded of the health benefits they contain. :) Garlic is supposed to be a powerhouse too.

Now I have to look into cayenne tea! That looks fun!

Joseph said...

Love this post! Our gardening fever actually began with an herb garden simply because we use so many herbs and spices on a daily basis. I use cayenne just about every day, but thyme, oregano, garlic, rosemary and sage are also daily supplements we enjoy. Have you ever made tinctures from your herbs, like oregano, thyme, or mints?

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