Creating recipes in the kitchen can be a daunting task, especially when trying to eat healthy during a busy week. Society’s hectic work environment has made processed foods and prepackaged meals the “go to” when searching for a quick bite to eat. Healthy eating and meal planning takes effort, but similar to waking up an hour earlier for your morning workout, planning and dedication when it comes to healthy eating pays off in the end. Making a delicious meal doesn’t mean it has to be loaded with heavy sauces, rich toppings, or a lot of salt. A recipe can taste incredible with simple ingredients and, most importantly, flavorful spices. Spices are the best way to make your food delicious without the guilt.
What many people don’t realize are the interesting elements spices can bring to a dish. There is a reason people have been using them for medicinal purposes for a number of years. Westernized culture has made it “normal” to rely on cooking methods that negatively affect our health, even when there are hundreds of spices that can drastically transform a dish from boring to delicious.
The issue is that many people do not know how to use spices, what to use them on, and how to buy them and store them. The different spices from around the world can bring a different element of flavor to a dish, which makes the cooking process both interesting and enjoyable. Here is a review of the healthiest spices in the world, how to use them, and what to enjoy them with.
Turmeric has gained recognition over the past few years. Known for its glowing yellow, orange color and unique flavor, turmeric is typically paired with Indian curry dishes and citrus flavors. Recent studies have shown that the colorful spice has anti-inflammatory properties and the potential to help manage heart disease and diabetes (1). Start slow with turmeric and create easy dishes. It can be as simple as adding it to a rice dish, using it as a marinade for grilled or roasted vegetables, or adding a dash of it to your favorite tea.
People tend to shy away from fiery spices like chile pepper, however, introducing it slowly into your cooking can bring out the flavors and increase the health benefits of your recipe. Cooking with chile pepper has been said to help rev up the metabolism and keep the“bad” cholesterol (LDL) in control so clogged arteries do not become lethal (1). Add chile peppers to soups, use them in meat marinades, mix them in hummus, or sprinkle it on top of a veggie stir fry to make the dish more interesting. Use this spice to give your recipes, and your body’s natural fat-burning abilities, a kick.
Typically known as a palate cleanser served with sushi, ginger packs a lot of flavor and is known for its powerful healing properties. Gingerols are a compound found in ginger which have been said to reduce inflammation and even fight off some cancers (1). Famously known for treating the common cold or an upset tummy, ginger reduces inflammation in more area than one, including reducing joint and muscle pain, which puts this miracle spice at the top of our “healthy spices” list. Using ginger on Asian dishes is a great way to incorporate it into your diet. Not a fan of Asian food? Use ginger as an ingredient in a fresh batch of muffins, homemade granola, or even gingerbread cookies. The spice can be used in a variety of different ways.
Sage is a spice famously known for its rich and warm undertones. Often used in Thanksgiving recipes, sage goes further than its comforting flavor; it has also been said to soothe an upset stomach or a sore throat. Research has also shown that sage may improve memory, help with cognitive function, and assist in stabilizing mood swings (1). Sage blends beautifully with fall flavors. Use it in a pumpkin soup recipe, dress it up with a healthy yet creamy pasta dish, mix it in with butternut squash, or roast it along with a lemony chicken dish. Sage can dress up any recipe and is a must to have in your spice drawer.
Replace your extra salt shaker with some of these spices and make a conscious effort to use them in your recipes. Introducing new flavors to your favorite dishes can truly change the way you view food as well as cook it.
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