Spices and Herbs have been used in foods since the beginning of time. Different cultures have traditional foods that are recognized by distinct and different flavors because of herbs and spices.
Herbs do more than just add flavor; because they are plants they are densely packed with valuable nutrients, and many have medicinal qualities as well.
Black pepper is a spice that probably everyone has on their cupboard at home. Did you know that just plain old black pepper has been shown to increase the bioavailability of just about all other foods? What does, that mean? Bioavailability is the ease in which nutrients make their way out of the food you eat and into your body. Food must be broken down and digested so that nutrients can be freed from the food and absorbed and used by the body. When a nutrient is highly bioavailable that means it can be digested and absorbed in the body in a timely and efficient manner.
is another example of a potent spice with scientifically proven medicinal benefits. Turmeric contains a substance called curcumin which is one of nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory substances. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant and scientifically proven to fight cancer. Curcumin also kills the bad bacteria, microbes and fungi that would like to take refuge in our body. Try the Healing Hot Chocolate recipe for a dose of turmeric.
Cilantro is one of my favorite fresh herbs. Cilantro is another powerful plant. We can use its leaves, the cilantro we know and love or its seeds, coriander the delicious spice found in many Indian dishes. Cilantro and Coriander alike have been used for centuries because of their powerful medicinal properties. Traditionally it has been called the anti-diabetic plant, has been used for its anti-inflammatory qualities and recent studies are showing promise that is has cholesterol-lowering effects. The oils found in the leaves (cilantro) have antimicrobial properties.
Try this yummy Cucumber Cilantro Salad for a refreshing boost of anti-inflammatory goodness from the cucumbers and the cilantro!
Or try this yummy Detox Booster Tea with both turmeric and coriander.
As a general rule, you really can’t go wrong when using herbs and spices and I recommend allowing your taste buds to dictate your choices when cooking.
Here is a list of my favorite essential herbs and spices that are in my cupboard right now. This list includes specific properties of each herb and spice as well as how to use them in your cooking.