Tag Archives: medicinal herbs

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!

Seven Super Spices-Yay for Healing Power!

24 Nov

Spices are fantastic.  They have been used for medicinal healing for centuries.  Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.  Wise words and great advice, even today.  Sometimes a flavor boost with spices is just what the doctor ordered.

Since we are having a ball with spices, let’s keep adding them.  They have too many benefits to ignore.  It’s time to put them front and center in our culinary adventures.  We have covered cumin, cinnamon, and oregano.  The fourth super spice to inspire better health is… ginger!

Ginger, for some reason, illicits a strong response.  Either people love ginger or they hate it.  It is not a wishy washy flavor; it is pretty distinct and bold.   If you love it, keep eating it!  If you hate it, it is time to try it again, maybe in a way that is more mild.  Here are some reasons to love ginger:

According to The National Institiute of Health (NIH) ginger is used throughout the world to treat a host of maladies, including:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flatulence (a delicate and genteel name for bloating and farts)
  • A sore throat
  • Bronchitis
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Arthritis

Not only that, but ginger is great for:

  • Treating chronic inflammation
  • Making healing tea
  • Destroying certain viruses
  • Combating morning sickness in pregnancy and nausea from chemotherapy
  • Settling an uneasy tummy
  • Healing the gut
  • Easing cold symptoms, and by some accounts even shortening one.

Ginger is great to cook with, and compliments a variety of dishes.  While ginger is typically used in sweet dishes here in the United States, in other countries such as India and Pakistan it is used in preparation of vegetables, and many lentil dishes.  In Japan, it is used usually raw, on noodles.

Ginger can be used in powdered form, pickled, and fresh.  Fresh ginger is in the produce section of the grocery store, and can be used sliced or grated.  It is a root, so if fresh, peel it before use.  Fresh ginger needs to be stored in the fridge, and can even be frozen. Powdered ginger should be stored in a dark cool cupboard.   Get it in small quantities so it is always fresh.

Ginger can be grated to use in sauces or sliced to use in tea.  It is a wonderful addition to many soup recipes.   It is delicious added to fish, chicken, pork, or tofu.  Ginger can be combined with other flavors such as scallions, apples, honey, mango, cumin, and coconut.  The internet has a zillion recipes using ginger, or start with the ones I have below.  The possibilities are endless and exciting!

Ginger Tea:

Add four slices of fresh ginger to 2 cups of boiling water and continue boiling for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain.  Discard ginger.   Add 1-2 teaspoons honey to the tea and enjoy!  Simple, warming, and soothing!

Ginger Fruit Salsa:

  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon mild vinegar, such as apple cider or rice vinegar
  • 2-3 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 tangy apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 medium mango, peeled and diced

Heat olive oil in sauce pan.  Saute ginger and scallions for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.   Add vinegar and wine.  Stir.  Simmer for 4-5 minutes.  Add sugar, apple and mango.  Let cook down for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Serve over chicken, fish, or tofu.

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!