Tag Archives: cinnamon

Seven Super Spices Wrapup

7 Jan

Okay, we have had fun talking about spices.  The seven super spices we discovered (or rediscovered) are cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, turmeric, sage, and clove.  There has been time to process information about these super spices and start using them.  Adding them to food has so many benefits.  Making foods with spices, such as ginger tea, is also a way to take steps toward better health.  Lets just take a quick peek at the general benefits of using spices.

  • Spices are a concentrated form of antioxidants.  Antioxidants, at the very core, protect cells from damage.  Cells are the building blocks on which we rely for our body to perform at its best.  Antioxidants allow us to build a better wellness foundation from the inside out!
  • Many spices have anti inflammatory properties.  This can allow our bodies to naturally decrease pain from inflammation, such as arthritic pain.
  • Many spices have beneficial fiber-a great way to help cleanse the body.
  • Spices are naturally vitamin and mineral rich in a concentrated form.
  • Some spices can be used to relieve nausea.
  • Many spices are beneficial to the digestive system.  They promote positive gastrointestinal activity.
  • Spices add savory flavors to food, encouraging healthier eating habits.
  • Some spices help regulate blood sugar, a big plus for diabetics.

They are simple to add to your daily diet, and can immediately benefit from their medicinal properties.  It can be as simple as this: Make a dry meat rub by mixing 1 tablespoon each of basil, oregano, parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Toss these spices into a bowl, mix them up a bit, and rub them on pork or chicken.  Spritz the meat with a bit of olive oil and bake.  Easy Peasy!

There is our series, and our wrap-up.  Let me know how you are adding spices to your cooking!

Seven Super Spices-Mission Accomplished!

29 Dec

Busymomswellnesss has been on a mission to get more spices in use in our kitchens.  The benefits of spices are undeniable, and hey…who doesn’t need a kick in the wellness pants every now and again?  Spices, all plant based, provide a wonderful flavor punch to food, are loaded with beneficial antioxidants, and they have medicinal healing properties.  Adding spices to our food can have a big impact on overall good health.

Cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, turmeric and sage have been covered in this series of super spices.  Time to move along to the seventh and final spice.  Remember, though, while these spices are fantastic, do not be limited by these seven.  Use them as a springboard to inspire planning, cooking, and discovering new flavors.  Allow these seven fabulous spices to expand the palate and mind.  That said, the seventh super spice to discover, rediscover, and use is…clove!

For quite some time I thought clove was either an “artsy” cigarette that was super cool (what can I say?  I have never been a smoker!) or something poking out of a ham.  Yikes!  Did I really just admit to that level of ignorance?  Ugh!  Good news though.  I have now moved far beyond that in the quest to increase wellness through an in-depth second look at super spices.

Cloves, like all spices, have positive effects on wellbeing.  How so?  Cloves have been used for healing in Indonesian and Chinese medicine for centuries, a tradition that continues today.  Cloves have been attributed with the ability to relieve everything from an earache to toothaches.  They are great for gastrointestinal disorders and upset, such as nausea.  They reduce hypertension.  Cloves can he;p reduce inflammation related to arthritis.

From a nutritional standpoint, cloves are a good source of fiber.  They are also rich in vitamin C, important for tissue repair in the body, and vitamin K.  Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting.  Cloves are a great source of manganese, which is beneficial for bone health, regulating blood sugar, and helps thyroid function.  The list goes on.   There is no downside here folks.

Cloves are buds from an evergreen tree that is indigenous to Indonesia.  They are available to use in three forms:  whole, powder, and oil.   As you can imagine, they have the same benefits but are used differently.  Whole cloves are woody and used in many dishes, but often removed prior to consumption.   Cloves in powder form are often added to sweet dishes, such as muffins, and savory dishes like sweet potato casserole.  Clove oil is a natural remedy for infections and pain.  It is widely used, but since oil is concentrated, it must be used in moderation.

To get started, try this simple stewed fruit recipe. 

Stewed Fruit

  • 2 apples or pears, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 cloves
  • 3-4 cups water

Place the chopped apples or pears, sugar, cloves and water in a medium-sized pot and cook on medium heat till the apples are soft. Drain and remove cloves.   Toss them warm onto oatmeal for a hearty breakfast or allow them to cool and add them to your favorite low fat low sugar yogurt.  Isn’t it time to see what wonderful dishes you can discover with cloves?  Bon appetite!

Here comes the sixth super spice!

22 Dec

Spices have wonderful medicinal healing powers.  The benefits are undeniable.  There is no reason to leave them out of our home cooking.  Don’t like heavy flavors?  No problem. Use them lightly.   Spices, even in small amounts, have healing properties.

So far, we have looked at cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger, and turmeric.  Next comes sage.  This is a real brain booster so lets start adding it to our wellness improvement program!

In my past, I associated sage with pork breakfast sausage.  And I heard that some folks added it to their thanksgiving stuffing.  My mom was not a fan of sage, so I wasn’t familiar with it as a child.  And while she may not have liked sage, my mom gave me a creative spirit, a love of cooking, and a deeply ingrained value of family and togetherness, so I discovered sage on my own cooking for my kids.  I gotta say, I am digging it!

We have been discovering sage together as a family.  With the flavors and positive health  properties in mind, I purchased a bottle of dried sage.  We all opened the bottle and smelled it.  I talked about the recipes and flavor profile with my family.  I also reached out to others to get another point of view on sage.  Off we went.  Sage has been a wonderful addition to our culinary palate.  The medicinal properties are an added bonus.

Herbalists will likely recommend sage for an upset stomach or sore throat relief.  Stories abound of monks in the middle ages using sage leaves to make a healing syrup for easing symptoms of bronchitis and coughs.  Rumor has it that opera singers gargle with sage tea to reduce voice strain.  Sage is also credited with boosting memory and increasing attention span.  Hey, I will try anything to decrease my occasional brain fog and reduce my brain farts!

Ready to try sage?  It really is wonderful.  Liking bottled sage, I have graduated to using fresh sage leaves sometimes.  I have a wonderful recipe to kick off your experience with sage.  It is a simple pasta sauce.

Sage Pasta Sauce

  • 8 ounces Pasta, cooked al dente
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon
  • 1/2 t. lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 cup stock (I use chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, added when pasta is done
  • salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a a sauce pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil.  Whisk gently to incorporate.  Add sage leaves and lemon juice and zest.  Whisk gently.  Set aside while the pasta is cooking.  Put sauce back on a medium heat after the pasta is done and drained.  Bring to a gentle simmer.  Add the stock and pasta cooking water.  Gently simmer for 5 minutes.   Add the cheese, toss with pasta and serve.

There you have it.  Now start creating!  Be inspired! Get healthier!  Let spices do their thing and start enjoying better health in a simple manner.  Bon appetite!

Seven Super Spices-Going Yellow

8 Dec

Spices pack a surprising punch of positive health benefits.  Simply adding more spices into the daily diet can be an easy way to forge a new pathway to wellness.  So far we are creating new dishes with  cumin, cinnamon, oregano, ginger.

Continuing through the rainbow of spices is fun.  We are excitedly taking a leap to yellow on this culinary adventure.  Bursting onto the scene here is an unusual but not new spice for this country.  Here comes the “Queen of Spices” as it is known.  Time to discover, or rediscover, turmeric.

Turmeric is the main ingredient in curry.  But don’t chalk it off to being limited to Inidan dishes.  Yes, it is in many of our lentil dishes.  But surprise!  Turmeric is also what gives the mustard on our sandwiches its yellow color, so it certainly isn’t just for Indian cooking.

Turmeric has been used for centuries medicinally.  It is effective as an anti-inflammatory, and, like its relative ginger, can aid digestive problems as well.  Current research has indicated that turmeric destroys some types of cancer cells.  It can help improve glucose control in diabetics.  It is also credited with being an immune system booster.  Fantastic news, isn’t it?  Time to start cooking!

I have made chicken salad and tossed in some turmeric and curry.  I am pretty light handed with it because it packs a big flavor punch, and it is absolutely fabulous with chicken.  Unlike ginger, which I usually use fresh, I tend to use turmeric and curry dried.  Take your favorite chicken salad recipe and add 1-2 teaspoons of turmeric.  Or try my chicken salad recipe.  Try it as is or adjust the flavors for you and your crowd.  But at least this provides a jumping off point so give it a go!

Amy’s Curried Chicken Salad

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 1 to 2 cups light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons mango chutney
  • 2-3 teaspoons curry powder (the turmeric is there)
  • 1 cup grapes cut in half (green or red)
  • 3/4 cup medium-diced celery, including leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and chill.  Serve on lettuce, put on bread for a sandwich, or grab a few crackers and savor this delicious salad.

Don’t have any chicken breasts on hand?  Go easy then, and make a smoothie using turmeric.  Here is a recipe, but feel free to customize it to your taste!

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1/2 fresh mango, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cooked or canned pumpkin
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon dried turmeric
  • cinnamon to taste
  • Honey to taste for sweetening

Place ingredients in a blender.  Blend on high speed for 30 seconds.  Pour into a glass, pop a straw into it, and enjoy!

It is easy to start enjoying fresh spices.  There is no reason not to start using fresh new spices in a bold and flavorful step toward better wellness!

Seven super spices-Let’s keep going!

18 Nov

So far we have covered 2 super spices.  Let’s take a break from discussing the savory brown spices of cumin and cinnamon and move on to a spice that boasts other fabulous benefits.  We go to the  green…and the third super spice is oregano!  Yum!

Not only has oregano been used in culinary circles for ages, it has been used as an herb with medicinal properties for thousands of years.  Surprise!  It actually belongs to the mint family.   In addition to its flavorful pop to so many dishes, it is great for the body too!

First and foremost, oregano is very high in dietary antioxidants.  Antioxidants are beneficial for our bodies because they boost the immune system, help promote healthy cells, and defend against free radicals.  Free radicals attack the cells in our bodies every chance they get.  It is oxygen based damage to the cell structure, so we need to protection.   Antioxidants are a good defense from free radicals.   Each antioxidant has different beneficial qualities, so getting them from different dietary sources is beneficial not only to our cells but our immune system as well.

Oregano also has been found to have anti-bacterial properties.  Oregano oil is touted as a germ killer.  Some studies have shown that a few drops of oregano oil can actually cut down on infections in the house hold.  Compelling studies worth mentioning!

Oregano is a rich source of vitamin K.  This is valuable to bone growth and bone density.  And here is a surprise…oregano is also rich in fiber.  We tend to not consider spices when thinking of fiber, but it is time to change that thinking!

Oregano, like most spices, is best fresh.  When storing fresh oregano, it should be wrapped and stored in the fridge.  Dried oregano should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container.  Try to keep not only this, but all dried spices in a cool dark part of your kitchen, like a cabinet away from the heat of the oven.  Buy it in small amounts because spices should not be in your cabinet longer than 6 months.

Oregano is typically associated with greek and italian cooking, but its great with most anything.    Try making a dry rub with oregano, parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary.  Pat on dry chicken or pork prior to cooking for a nice flavorful dish.  Add it to tomato sauces too.  Lots of folks sprinkle oregano on their pizza.  Put a dusting of it on your fish.  Toss some into soup.  Add it to an omelet.  There are so many ways to enjoy oregano!

Spices are typically nutrient dense and calorie free. They are cholesterol free.  Why not dig in and start changing your recipes to include more spices!  It’s time to boost your immune system and add flavor to everyday dishes!  Start having fun with spices and you are on your way to better health!

Seven Super Spices…next!

13 Nov

Okay.  We covered the first super healthy spice.  Cumin.  Have you had fun with it?  I hope so because I am having a blast with it.  As promised, we are on to the next super healthy spice.  We will stay with the brown spices and go to…cinnamon!

Cinnamon has been a show stealer lately, and become very much in vogue with news outlets touting it’s benefits.  Lets break it down and take a look here.  Cinnamon has a very long history, actually dating back to early Egypt.  Cinnamon has been used to treat maladies of all kinds for centuries.  Great news…not only does it greatly please our olfactory senses (our nose), it really is a super spice!

The health benefits making cinnamon one of the seven super spices include:

  • According to studies, cinnamon is good for the digestive tract and aids digestion.  It is good for IBS as well as a simple tummy ache.  Infuse some tea with cinnamon and relax!
  • Cinnamon is high in manganese.  What does that mean?   Manganese is great for bone health, and may help prevent osteoporosis.
  •  Cinnamon is loaded with antioxidant properties.  Antioxidants are good for healthy cell reproduction and benefits the entire body!  Antioxidants not only prevent cell damage, it can repair cell damage as well.
  • Cinnamon has been shown to reduce arthritis pain.  Added bonus:  It has been proven to help menstrual pain too!  It can reduce pain by acting as an anti-inflammatory.

I do not recommend eating cinnamon by itself or adding it to cold drinks.  It may be harsh tasting and not palatable.  For health benefits, try adding it to baked dishes or hot beverages.  Add it to tea, coffee,  hot oatmeal, or to pancake batter.  Sometimes I sprinkle cinnamon on my coffee grounds prior to brewing.  It not only smells great, it tastes fantastic!  As with anything though, moderation is key for optimal benefits.  1 teaspoon of cinnamon a day is a great start!

Store your cinnamon tightly in a glass jar.  Keep the jar in a cool dark place.  Storing cinnamon in the kitchen is fine but make sure not to store it above the stove!  Put it in a cabinet far from any heat source.  Also, buy it in small amounts so it is sure to always be fresh!  It should not be in your kitchen for more than 6 months.  Boost your health benefits and start adding cinnamon as part of your daily nutrition today!

P.S.  Cinnamon has a potential naughty side…some folks consider it an aphrodisiac.  It can warm the body and lead to a boost in sex drive.  Consider yourself warned!