Oh, spices. Heaven-sent flavorful goodness. Birthed on the third day, when God created the plants and trees and herbs and all the living vegetation. And God said it was GOOD. Mmmm… And then the story gets better. For then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food,” (Genesis 1:29). More than just existing, they were a gift. A gift for health and healing and flavor. Oh, yes, flavor. The endless possibilities that can be created with a simple blend of spices—or the numerous natural remedies for a common ailment or disease. Spices are such a blessing in my life. Allow me to share with you why Frank and I just can’t seem to get enough “spice” in our life!
On a daily or weekly basis, Frank and I will consume cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic, and ginger in our food. These are the spices we use the most, and this is because these are the base spices for most curries, and we eat a lot of curry!
CUMIN (buy here) does a great many things for the body. It boosts the immune system, increases metabolism, improves absorption of nutrients, aids in digestion, and helps with insomnia. It is a great source of antioxidants—protecting against free radicals— and contains aromatic essential oils which act as disinfectants and help treat repository problems. It is a good source of iron, which is great for women, especially those who are pregnant or lactating. It is abundant in vitamin C, vitamin A, and it increases the body’s ability to fight infections. Cumin also contains dietary fiber and has stimulating, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. What’s not to love?
Where we use cumin: Kheema, Bhindi Bhaji, Punjabi Cabbage, Parippu Lentils, Chana Masala, Punjabi Chhole, Lamb Kofta, Aloo Gobi, Saag Paneer, Palak Paneer, soups, stews, with mushrooms in butter, mashed potatoes, and probably more things.
CORIANDER, in all it’s forms—the seeds (buy here), powder (buy here) and the leaves, which are called cilantro—are amazing to me. Coriander aids in the treatment of swellings, high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, anemia, digestion, menstrual disorders, conjunctivitis, skin disorders, urinary tract infections, nausea, and blood sugar disorders. Coriander has so many benefits that a book can be written on them. It has eleven components of essential oils, six types of acids (including ascorbic acid, better known as vitamin C), minerals and vitamins, each having a number of beneficial properties. It also helps cure ulcers, inflammation, and spasms. It acts as an expectorant, and protects and soothes the liver. It is anti-carcinogenic, anti-convulsant, anti-histaminic and hypnotic. Coriander is also believed to be a natural aphrodisiac. I remember when I first ate cilantro saying to myself, “I could eat this everyday!” Now we really do!
Where we use coriander: in everything, basically. Seeds, powder, leaves. Coriander is so yummy! We use coriander in all the same things in which we put cumin, plus some!
TURMERIC (buy here)—There are so many benefits to consuming turmeric that I couldn’t possibly list them all here. Basically, it cures everything! Just kidding, but is considered one of the best things you could possibly eat because of all the health benefits. A combination of turmeric and cauliflower (both of which are superfoods) has been shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer. It can help stop breast cancer from spreading into lungs, reduces the risk of childhood leukemia, helps prevent melanoma and kills present melanoma cells, may prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease by removing amyloyd plaque buildup in the brain, and according to extensive research, it fights cancer of all kinds. Turmeric is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, is useful in disinfecting cuts and burns, detoxifies the liver, helps with flatulence, jaundice, menstrual difficulties, bloody urine, hemorrhage, inflammation, toothache, bruises, chest pain, colic, rheumatoid arthritis, and the lowering of cholesterol. It also helps with fat management, treats depression, and aids in the treatment of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and uneven pigmentation.
Even though turmeric stains all my spoons yellow and I’ve stained many a shirt and towel, I would never dream of not eating it! Add it to anything, and you’ll get a beautiful looking dish that fights cancer to boot! Want a perfect looking chicken? Rub it with turmeric. Want a beautiful rich looking curry? Add 1 tsp of turmeric. Want to dye some tea towels a lovely golden color? I kid, I kid.
Where we use turmeric: all sorts of curries and lentil dishes, samosas, soups, in a spice rub on baked chicken, and much more. It is also good as a tonic if you’re sick. Feeling sniffily? Drink some turmeric in warmed raw milk with cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Yum. : )
CARDAMOM (buy here) is a unique spice with a distinct aroma and flavor. Once you try cardamom, you’ll never forget its unique taste! Cardamom aids in digestion, relieves stomach cramps, detoxifies the body, improves blood circulation in the lungs, prevents spasms and convulsions of the lungs, helps asthma or bronchitis, enhances appetite, relieves acidity in the stomach, helps alleviate respiratory allergies, helps with sore throat, helps alleviate nausea, can aid in treating mouth ulcers, and used to treat infection of the urinary tract. More than that, it’s great in desserts and is the sole spice used in my favorite dessert, Carrot Halva. Sometimes, when the mood strikes me, I’ll take my jar of cardamom off the shelf and just inhale it’s lovely scent. It’s a calming scent to me. And so yummy! Mmmmm…
Where we use cardamom: curries, halva, other desserts. I also like cardamom sprinkled on raw milk vanilla ice-cream with cinnamon!
GARLIC is a natural anti-biotic and is great when you have cold or are just feeling under the weather. It is also a natural antioxidant, helps relax blood vessels and increases blood flow. It protects against various cancers, including breast, prostate and colon cancer. Additionally, it can help alleviate symptoms of allergies and get rid of yeast infections naturally. If you’re worried about garlic breath, simply chew on some fennel seeds after dinner. They help to neutralize the odor, and fennel is refreshing. Sucking on a lemon also helps, but fennel sounds way better to me!
GINGER is an amazing and spicy root that doesn’t get eaten nearly enough in my opinion! Part of the reason could be that it’s kinda expensive, but I think that mostly people don’t think to use it or don’t know how. You should use it though because it’s great for a multitude of reasons. Did you know that ginger can kill ovarian cancer cells and also slow the growth of cancerous cells in the colon? It can be used to relieve nausea, including, morning sickness or motion sickness. It is an anti-inflammatory and a pain reliever. My mom still uses ginger tea to stop a cold in its tracks. While ginger tea is somewhat spicy to those not used to eating it, it doesn’t take long to adjust to the taste. To make ginger tea, simply peel the raw ginger root with a spoon and chop it into pieces. Boil some water and pour the boiling water over the ginger root (or boil the ginger root in the water—doesn’t matter). Add raw honey or drink it plain.
Where we use ginger: all curries and Indian side dishes, homemade ginger ale.