20 November 2012

Seven must have spices for flavor and health

1. Ginger: A well-known anti-inflammatory spice, ginger is good for easing digestion and stomach issues, including IBS and morning sickness. Ginger is also circulation and immunity boosting, and is a powerful healing agent against the cold and flu, especially respiratory symptoms. It may help relieve arthritis pain.  

Try it in: A stir fry marinade or carrot-ginger dressing.

 2. Garlic: Garlic contains anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral properties. Allicin, a sulphur compound found in garlic (as well as onions) also stimulates and enhances the immune system. Garlic another powerful healing agent against the cold and flu, particularly as a decongestant and mucus regulator. Garlic has also been found to reduce the formation or carcinogen compounds and inhibits the growth of some cancers; some studies suggest it could help prevent cardiovascular diseases.  

Try it in: Roasted garlic soup or black pepper and garlic tofu. 

3. Turmeric: Turmeric contains curcumin, the component that gives turmeric its yellow color, which can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, as well as help relieve pain. It is also responsible for turmeric’s potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant affects. Turmeric also contains antiviral and antibacterial properties.  

Try it in: Turmeric-flavored rice or spicy curry roasted cauliflower

4. Cayenne Pepper: Capsaicin, the part of the pepper that gives it its spice, can enhance metabolism, increasing satiety and fat burn. It is also known to relieve pain, fight inflammation, lower blood glucose levels and boosts immunity. 

Try it in: A spicy cayenne tahini dressing or enchiladas with cilantro avocado cream sauce. Just remember, a little goes a long way with this spice. 

5. Smoked Paprika: Paprika also contains capsaicin, and has the same metabolism boosting and fat burning properties as hot peppers, with a milder flavor. It is also has the same anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects as peppers, and may lower the risk of cancer. Though all types of paprika are beneficial, this particular type imparts a great smokey flavor to any dish (and pairs great with nutritional yeast on popcorn).  

Try it in: Smoked eggplant and red lentil dip or homemade vegan bacon

6. Cinnamon: Another warming spice, cinnamon is great for stabilizing blood sugar levels, due to high levels of polyphenols, and warding off a sugar craving. It is also a good source of manganese, iron and calcium, and may reduce cholesterol.  

Try it in: A no-cook apple crumble or maple cinnamon twice-baked sweet potato.

7. Cumin: This spice may aid in the functioning of the digestive system. Cumin is also high in iron, which is essential for oxygen transportation throughout the body.  

Try it in: Cumin-flavored veggies or a smokey avocado and cumin dressing.

Jessica Bader | Facebook | Twitter
Waldorf, Maryland Jessica is a graduate of Western Washington University with a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She adopted a plant-based diet seven years ago after making the connection between the food on her plate and the animals she loved; she went vegan four years later after an “aha!” moment while watching The Cove and hasn’t looked back. For her, veganism isn’t just about compassion, but has expanded to an obsessive interest in sustainable living, nutrition and holistic health. The only thing she enjoys more than talking about food is eating it, or talking about her bowtie-wearing cat.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/richardnorth