Spices not only perk up the flavor of a certain dish but also have health benefits to the body. They come in the form of dried roots, seeds, barks or any vegetative substance. They are used as food additives to enhance the flavor and the color and can be used as preservatives too. An insignificant amount of spices to a dish can make a difference in taste and in health. Spices is a source of natural antioxidants. Everyday use of spices can help promote good health. The following spices are common yet super.
Ginger- This a staple in Asian cuisine. It has aromatic, pungent smell and spicy in flavor. Ginger is used in sea foods, fish, pork , poultry and wild game. It livens up marinade and sauces. According to researches, ginger has lots of health benefits. It helps in the prevention and treatment of several diseases like cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer, diabetes, stomach ulcers and inflammatory diseases. This can be bought as fresh, dried and in powder form.
Cinnamon- This is a very tasty spice aside from being aromatic. Cinnamon are of two types, the true cinnamon and the Cassia cinnamon. The true cinnamon is the expensive type and has the most delicate flavor and mostly produced in Sri Lanka. Cassia cinnamon is usually used with meat or other savory dishes especially in the Middle East as they are spicier than the true cinnamon. Sprinkling a pinch or two to coffee, hot chocolate cereals and others are still some of the common uses of cinnamon. This is also used in sweets as in pies,buns and donuts. Cinnamon is one among the spices that contains the highest level of antioxidants. A teaspoonful of cinnamon contains as much antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries. Mixing cinnamon with honey makes a great treatment for pimples. Cinnamon is readily available in sticks and powder form.
Curry Powder- This is a mixture of spices of varied compositions which is flavorful and pungent. Curry powder is an ethnic Indian ingredient, and gained popularity during the nineteenth and twentieth century when exported as a condiment all over Western countries like North and South America and Europe. This is used with poultry, fish, sea foods, meat and vegetables. You can use curry powder on rice to add color and flavor mixed with some shredded vegetables like carrots, peas and raisins to make a delectable and nutritious meal. Research and studies showed that turmeric in curry powder contained curcumin, an active compound that helps in protecting the brain against Alzheimer’s disease. This also helps reduce inflammation and helps in the prevention of cancer.
Cayenne or ground red pepper- This is a hot powder that produces or imparts an instant fiery heat and front-end heat to many dishes. Readily available as a dried ground seasoning or fresh pepper. Cayenne can be eaten raw and can be added to salads. This is commonly used in dips, sauce, stews, roasts and eggs and many dishes that are fiery hot. This is the hottest variety of peppers so different amounts are used depending on the recipe being prepared. Add small amounts one at a time and taste every time it is added till the desired degree of hotness is reached. The famed hotness of cayenne is attributed to capsaicin, a substance found in cayenne that is also a very rich source of antioxidants. This has been proven to prevent ulcers, prevent inflammation, clear congestion and an immunity booster. Capsaicin has also an amazing power that makes one eat less because it increases satiety and makes one feel full.
Cloves- These are unopened, four -pointed flower buds of a tropical tree resembling a small nail with a tapered stem. They are sweetly pungent and aromatic. Generally used for meat dishes to enhance the flavor especially on wild games like venison, hare and wild boar. They are also used to stud hams and pork like a nail. Cloves are also used in number of spice mixtures like curry powder, pickling spices and others and present in Worcestershire sauce. Onions studded with cloves are used in soup,stocks and bouillon to enhance the flavor more and impart a unique character taste. Cloves can make an aromatic rice too. Even during the ancient times, cloves are already used for medicinal purposes. They are traditionally used by Chinese to cure diarrhea, hernia, indigestion, and fungal infections like ringworm and others. They are also used to treat respiratory and digestive ailments.
Cumin- This is an aromatic spice with and quite peppery in flavor. This is also known as camino. The distinctive flavor of cumin and its slightly bitter but warm taste makes it a popular seasoning in Mexican cuisine and other Southern Asian countries like Thailand, Vietnam and India and the southwestern United States. Cumin is used with beef, pork, poultry, sea food and fish. They can be added to to marinades for beef and wild games, in water when cooking pot roast and beans, in tomato sauce, beef stew and chicken soup. To bring out the earthy flavor of cumin, roast in a dry pan fry for at least 3 minutes then add to recipe. This can also be used with vegetables by simply heating it with garlic and a small amount of olive oil and then drizzle to the cooked vegetables. Like other spices , there are also health benefits that can be derived from cumin. You can either use it as a tonic for the body even when not curing any specific ailment or can be applied topically for curing boils. Cumin relieves many digestive disorders and common colds because it has antiseptic properties.
Nutmeg- This can be found in the southeast Asian countries and comes from a tree, Myristica fragrans that produces nutmeg. The fruit of the tree has nuts that is separated from the outer coverings and its webby covering called arillus. The nut is the nutmeg and is dried in the sun to be grated into powder or pressed to extract the essential oils. Nutmeg is used as a complement to soup recipes, sauces, and even meats. This can also give distinctive flavors to desserts and adds twist to vegetable dishes. Nutmeg has several health benefits too aside from being tested as brain booster. This is also used in many cough syrups to help clear congestion in colds and coughs.
Vanilla- This is the most popular among the spices and most expensive too. Mexico is the country that produces vanilla up to the middle of nineteenth century. For now, Madagascar and Indonesia are among the largest producing countries of vanilla. The sweet aroma of vanilla and its taste can be easily distinguished. Vanilla is a staple in baking and other uses in the kitchen and is popularly used in ice cream, candles scent and perfumes. Vanilla has no particular health effects.
Most spices have natural antioxidants and health benefits aside from just being in our kitchen pantry for culinary purposes. Why not add spices to your everyday meals for a more healthy you.