Hello Through Heather’s Looking Glass readers! I’m a fellow Heather who blogs at HeatherRunsFast.com and am lucky enough to share a post with you guys while THE Heather is away at Disneyland… lucky lady!
A great way to give flavor to your food without the additional calories and WITH disease fighting compounds is to use spices! I think a lot of people overlook not only the flavor of spices but the benefits of them. Here are a few I use on a regular basis and the health perks that come along with them It’s pretty much a win win.
My most favorite herb/spice is Rosemary! Rosemary contains compounds that stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, and improves digestion. It has also been shown to increase the blood flow to the head and brain, improving concentration. I think we all know my favorite way to use Rosemary, but you can also use it in marinades for chicken/pork/steak/fish, on veggies, in pasta sauces… the options are endless!
Actually, cinnamon is probably tied for my most favorite. I use cinnamon the most (in my oatmeal, coffee, on sweet potatoes/butternut squash, even on rice reheated with a touch of almond milk for a sweet treat!) The antioxidant compounds in cinnamon help prevent blood sugar spikes and dips. And research has shown that eating half a teaspoons worth of cinnamon a day can reduce the risk factors for diabetes and heart disease!
To me, nutmeg is cinnamon’s partner in crime and I use it in the same ways as I listed above. I also like to add it when making dark greens like kale and on the rare occasion when I make a cream sauce. Nutmeg may prevent cavities. The antibacterial compound macelignan can reduce plaque formation by 50 % and block out cavity producing microbes. Nutmeg also has anti-inflammatory compounds, which is always a plus!
Next up… Cumin! Like most spices, cumin comes in both a seed and powder. I usually use the powder on chicken, in salad dressings, on roasted/grilled veggies or mixed in rice. ONE tablespoon has 22% of your daily recommended iron and it may also boost your memory!
The capsaicin (the compound that creates the burn) in Cayenne Pepper, heats your body up, which in turn revs up your metabolism. It also helps curb your fatty and salty food cravings. I like to add a dash to my popcorn, use it in marinades and on top of roasted veggies. Most peppers contain capsaicin, but the degree of spiciness varies drastically, so be careful! If your mouth feels on fire, grab a glass of milk and NOT a glass of water. The water will only disperse the capsaicin while the fat in milk will bind to the capsaicin and carry it away (down your throat.) Also be sure not to touch your eyes after handling the spice as it will make them burn. Ouch!
Oregano. I don’t use this spice enough, considering all the benefits it has. One teaspoon has has 6 micrograms of Vitamin K (helps build your bones) AND the same amount of antioxidants in 3 cups of spinach. What what?! I am all about adding spinach to every smoothie I make, but what an easy way to sneak in even MORE antioxidants It works great in salad dressing or even just sprinkled on top of a salad. I often add it to pasta sauce and of course on my beloved roasted veggies.
And last but not least, ginger! This is commonly known to help settle an upset stomach, but it does more! The chemical gingerol, found in ginger, can help reduce inflammation and block the pathways that process pain. This could help reduce exercise related muscle soreness. Nice. I use ginger the most in stir-fries… they are one of my favorite pre-long run dinners. It is also good on pork and chicken and in baked goods like ginger snaps!
QOTD: Do you prefer fresh or dried spices? What is your favorite spice?