The Healing Powers of 5 Special Spices
Turmeric, nutmeg,cinnamon,ginger and cloves do more than flavor some of your favorite foods. These spices have medicinal properties and are most effective as healers when used on a regular basis. Here are some of the benefits of these 5 very special spices and how to get more of them into your diet.
Cinnamon has been found to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol levels as well as treating the stomach and intestinal problems such as bloating, gas, and spasms. Cinnamon is also thought to detoxify the system and stimulate brain function. Its antiseptic properties give it the ability to fight bladder infection, and if taken in the first 48 hours of the onset of symptoms, a cup of strong cinnamon tea might just nip a bladder infection in the bud.
When you think of cinnamon as a seasoning, you probably think about foods like cookies, pies, pastries, baked apples, and cinnamon-sugar on toast, but this sweet spice also adds fabulous flavor to savory foods such as chili, baked winter squash, barbeque sauce for ribs, and ethnic stews made with chicken, pork, and lamb. Look up Asian, Mexican, and Moroccan recipes that use cinnamon in delicious ways that may be new to you.
Turmeric is perhaps the most well-known and one of the most researched. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral activity and according to some research studies may also have anti-cancer potential. Turmeric is a base to most Indian-spiced dishes and can be used to add color and subtle flavor to rice, couscous, quinoa, bulgur, breads, savory pie crust, and other grain-based dishes.
The Chinese five-spice powder is a fragrant blend of several healing spices, including ginger and cloves. Use it to flavor chicken soup, stir-fries, tofu dishes, and meat stews. Curry powder is a blend of turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and other potent spices such as chilies and mustard seed, that are known to have medicinal properties. Likewise, classic pumpkin pie spice blends several healing spices into one powerful mixture that can also be used to flavor cakes, cookies, stewed and baked fruits, puddings, and roasted winter squash.
Chai tea is another example of a seasoning blend that has several healing herbs.Cinnamon, ginger and cloves, the blend often contains fennel and cardamom, which can help calm your digestive tract.
Here is a recipe for your own Instant Blend of Chai Tea
1 tablespoon each of ground ginger and cinnamon,
1 1/2 teaspoons each of ground cloves and cardamom,
mixed with 2 cups of nonfat dry milk powder or soy milk powder
1 1/2 cups of black or green tea.
Store the mixture in a covered container. Fill a tea ball with this mixture to brew one cup of tea, and sweeten to taste. After tasting the first brew, you can adjust the seasonings to suit your own taste. Some chai tea mixtures contain peppercorns, allspice berries, bits of vanilla bean, and other cracked whole spices instead of ground. You can also omit the powdered milk and add fresh milk or liquid soy milk after brewing the tea and spices, along with your choice of sweetener.
Oil of clove has antioxidant, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties and may help fight some strains of staph bacteria that lead to infection. Cloves are most often associated with baked goods and fruit desserts. But whole and ground cloves can also be used to season beef stews, pork roasts, a simple steak, and just about any other red meat dish.
Ginger helps relieve menstrual cramps, muscle soreness,nausea and vomiting in some people who suffer from morning sickness or motion sickness, and after chemotherapy and other medical procedures. Several studies have found that ginger may also help relieve symptoms of arthritis.
Add ginger juice to soups and beverages.
Ginger Juice is a flavorful addition to lemonade, apple, or orange juice, puréed carrot soup and fruit smoothies.
Grate a knob of fresh ginger over a double layer of paper towel
Gather the shreds into a bundle and firmly but gently squeeze out as much juice as possible.
The fresher the root, the more juice you will get.
Nutmeg can help with diarrhea. Use only in amounts normally called for in cooking and baking, however, because nutmeg contains substances that are toxic when used in excess.
Sprinkle a little nutmeg into a fruit smoothie, creamed or sautéed spinach, and other greens, corn pudding, oatmeal and other hot cereals, and puréed soups made with pumpkin or winter squash.
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SALT FREE SPICE BLENDS
While we are trying to reduce our salt intake I make up some slat free blends. There are many spice combinations you can use here are some of my favorite blends.