Updated: 7 days ago
Put More Spices in Your Life...to Prolong Your Life
In this blog, I want to share with you how I became a spice lover.
Yes, I truly am a lover of spices.
Spices have been a prized possession throughout human history. Within the spice trade, spices such as saffron, cardamom, vanilla, pepper, cinnamon, clove and many others have been considered as precious as gold and fueled the world's economy from ancient times, with nations battling for control of spices and the spice routes that brought them to market.
These days, in the United States, we may find flavorings such as vanilla bean or saffron expensive, but there was a time when black pepper was once so valuable it was called "black gold" and was used to pay for taxes, rent, etc. And while salt isn't technically a spice (it's a mineral), it also once carried value. In fact, the word "salary" comes from the word "salt", check here it's pretty interesting fact.
Cooking spices are nature’s delicious herbal pharmacy. Many studies show that including even small pinches of fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a daily meal, like salad, for example, enhances your metabolism (and even help with weight loss), improves immunity, and boosts your body's natural detoxification processes and reduces inflammation. They may be one of the “secret” ingredients in Blue Zone diets – diets that lead to the greatest health and longevity in the world.
My goal is to help open up a new and far more peaceful "spice route"- the one from the market to your kitchen to your mealtime table. Also, I desire to convince you that spices should not be used only for adults, but also for children and even babies. Many cultures around the globe have been doing this for as long as humans can remember. Children's palettes develop as they grow and if a child has never experienced any flavored food, then take a guess what are the consequences? More than likely the child will be a picky eater even after reaching adulthood.
What spices are must every day?
I cook with spices every day. Coriander, turmeric, black pepper, bay leaves, cinnamon, clove, paprika, anise, onion, garlic, ginger - every one of these are in my daily diet. They can be part of your diet too!
Cooking with spices is a skill you can develop quite easily, by accessing the information and directions provided on my website. Almost all my recipes include spices. Once you acquire spice skills, you will be introducing new and delicious flavors into your diet.
Tips on buying spices
If you are fortunate to find authentic homeland grown herbs where people have harvested them in the mountains, or other pollution free areas, then please make those purchases. Sometimes authentic restaurants in the US will use imported dry herbs and spices, so ask if they are willing to sell you some.
Most herbs and spices have been sitting on a grocery store shelf for so long that their nutritional value has been almost depleted. I recommend buying quality spices in bulk and grinding them yourself whenever possible. This way you are paying less for packaging and gaining in quality. But if this isn't an option for you, please choose organic brands from the supermarket for the most nutrient dense spices.
Buying a large quantity of different spices all at the same time can get expensive, but so is buying chai tea at a coffee shop! Homemade definitely saves money and is better for you because they contain more nutrients.
Spices are the Spice of Life (Categories)
In a spice world there are about 4 categories:
1. Sweet (like cinnamon, vanilla).
2. Sour (like sumac which also has a salty after taste, barberry).
3. Bitter (like ginger, turmeric).
4. Hot (like hot paprika, cayenne pepper, chipotle).
My favorite spices and herbs for every day
Spices have been in my life by way of my diet, in my medicine cabinet, and on my mind, since I was very young. Where I was raised, most people preferred their food on the bland side but not me! I may have acquired my taste for spices from my father, who adored spicy food. I remember my mom would say to him, "You're adding so much chili pepper to your borscht that you can hardly see anything but pepper in your bowl."
Not only do I appreciate the flavors of spices, but also, I believe food can be medicine and that having spices provides health benefits within your diet.
In fact, worldwide scientific research has linked spices to the prevention and treatment of more than 150 health problems, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer's. Spices are so powerful because they're a super-rich source of plant compounds that fight oxidation and inflammation, the two processes underlying most chronic diseases.
When I talk about spices, I don't mean "old bay" or other spice mixes like that. I mean spices that have not been processed and have no additives such as preservatives, sugar, MSG, anti-caking agents, etc.
In fact, I make all my spice mixes myself, and sometimes my husband calls my kitchen "Inna's lab."
For a natural and organic recipe for homemade old bay seasoning, check out this recipe, which is easy and well worth it to spend an extra a minute or so to whip up.
How to increase the fragrance and flavor?
By roasting whole spices like coriander seeds, fenugreek, and fennel, ina dry pan or in fat, at the beginning of cooking, you will get more aromas and flavor with less spice.
Also, here's a fun frugal fact: did you know that cinnamon sticks or vanilla beans can be rinsed, dried again and then be reused?
My "candy/jewelry" store
5 years ago, I became a US citizen, and it was one of my proudest moments. I went to New York City to see the Statue of Liberty for the first time. After a few days of exploring New York, we wandered to the Chelsea Market area. What a joy it was for me, and I was like a kid in a candy store. I loved all the different types of foods and of course the spice stores were fabulous. One of the Indian stores that I visited was truly a heavenly experience. I left the shop with 2 grocery-sized bags full of spices.
My mother-in-law asked me, "Inna, why are you buying all these spices?"
Before I could answer, my lovely husband said, "Mom, as long as she is not buying jewelry in this quantity, we are good, spices are cheap." LOL.
I brought home half a suitcase of just spices!
A spice store is definitely one of my happy places.
For me, spices are like edible jewelry. Their beauty and brilliance are not from their initial appearance but rather in their assistance of benefiting many areas within my body and for my household.
Fun facts about spices
Did you know that?
The powerful nutrients in spices have more health benefits than some fresh fruits and veggies. For example:
1. Chiles and oregano can help relieve the symptoms of arthritis.
2. Black pepper protects brain cells?
3. Rosemary is one of the most powerful antioxidants on earth.
4. Turmeric has potent anticancer properties.
Please, don't go another day without adding spice to your life!
Do you want to prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer's? Who doesn't? Well, add more healing spices to your meals for many spices contain antiviral and antibacterial properties. They are high in B vitamins, minerals, they help with inflammation, appetite control, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, and so much more.
I hope through my spicy video tour, it will inspire you to love your spices and use them every day! Allow yourself to experiment with your own spices making up your own creations and combinations. You can eat the cuisine of another country every day, and quality spice blends can make even plain meat and vegetables exciting. Open your spice cabinet and explore the possibilities and know that sweet spices are not limited to desserts nor are hot spices limited to savory dishes. This is your opportunity to be adventurous and be the king of your plate and your health.