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August 27, 2014

Ode to the spice rack: warming spices that boost your health

By Kate Robitello

Did you know that some of the most he spices in the world are already in most kitchen cabinets? That’s right, there’s no need to trek through the Sri Lankan forests to obtain the healthiest baking spice. Instead, just look for them sitting modestly next to your nutmeg and allspice.

Many cooks, novice to advanced, use spices daily, but typically do so without knowing their healthful qualities.

As an ode to our spice rack, here are three popular spices that have some surprisingly powerful health benefits and a recipe to help you appreciate each.

Turmeric

A root native to Indonesia and India, and mistakenly pronounced tu-mer-ic by many (even in the nutritional world), this spice has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Turmeric is a powerful, brilliant orange spice that boasts an entire list of benefits including the ability to reduce inflammation, aid in irritable bowel syndrome, relief of arthritic pain, and improvement of skin health.

Roasted Vegetable Curry

1 lb cauliflower florets (pulled apart)

1 green bell pepper (cut into 1 inch squares)

½ vidalia onion (pulled apart)

1 sweet potato (cut into rondelles) 

¼ cup organic extra virgin olive oil 

½ cup coconut vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)

2 tsp curry 

1 tsp turmeric 

½ tsp coriander

Preheat Oven to 450. Chop and mix vegetables into large bowl, set aside. Whisk vinegar, olive oil, and spices and pour over vegetables. Toss mixture with hands to coat. Spread vegetables onto baking sheet covered in tin foil. Cook for 20 minutes, turn vegetables and cook for additional 15-20 minutes. Serve alone or with rice. 

Ginger

With over two thousand years of use in China, ginger is an important component of Ayurvedic medicine. Its ability to aid in digestive issues has brought popularity to our modern use of ginger-ale, although the benefits of soda to ease a hurting belly are questionable. Ginger, in root form or as a powder, is a wonderful warming spice that ads flavor to a variety of dishes and also reduces chronic inflammation.

Ginger Chai for two:

Boil 2.5 cups almond milk 

Mix in 1 tbs raw honey, ¼ tsp ginger, ½ tsp ground cloves, and ½ tsp cinnamon

Sip, relax, and enjoy on a cool summer night

Cinnamon

What’s more reminiscent of a quintessential fall day than the sight of multi-colored trees and the faint scent of apples and cinnamon? Cinnamon, harvested from the bark of a tree, is not only one of the most popular baking spices, but is extremely beneficial for long term health.  It helps to manage blood sugar, promotes hormone balance, prevents candida overgrowth, assists in preventing certain types of cancer, and is a natural disinfectant and food preservative.

Guilt-free late summer treat

10 pitted dates 

¼ cup almonds

¼ cup almond milk

1 ½ macintosh apples

½ tbs cinnamon 

Blend or process ingredients until well mixed, roll into 1 inch balls, refrigerate for 4 hours, drizzle with warm maple syrup and welcome the fall!

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