Spices have been around for almost as long as time can remember.  Today we mainly use them to flavour our food & to take our tastebuds on a culinary adventure.  However, did you know that there’s also a lot of health benefits in spices, and for thousands of years they have been used for many different healing processes.  

Using spices in your food regularly can be one of the most important things you do to keep well, sleep well & feel calm.   Spices will boost the flavour of fresh foods, so you are drawn to eat more of these & eat less processed foods.  They can help with digestion which can reduce bloating & cramping.  They can also make you feel amazing when they absorb into your body and brain and give you a buzz that can linger for a while after eating. 

Unfortunately, not all spices are created equal with some brands using fillers, additives & inferior products.  Set some rules when it comes to buying spices:  1. Buy organic.  2. Buy a product that is pure and the producers care about.

I’m going to take you through a couple of my favourite spices and why I use them.

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has two varieties Cassia & Ceylon.  Whenever possible buy Ceylon, also branded as Cinnamomum Verum (true cinnamon) as it’s known to be a cleaner form of cinnamon. Cinnamon has an appealing sweet flavour, but it does work well in both sweet & savoury cooking.  This sweetness can also help curb cravings for sugary snacks.

HEALTH BENEFITS: In many spice studies cinnamon comes in with one of the highest levels of antioxidants.  Antioxidants are known to neutralise free radicals in the body that can cause a multitude of medical conditions like heart disease, dementia, diabetes & many more.

HOW TO USE IT:  In smoothies, baking, porridge, curries & yoghurt.  One of my favourites is to mix equal amounts of cinnamon & cumin with a sprinkle of sea salt.  Coat sweet potato wedges and bake in the oven.  Delish!

2. Turmeric

Strong in colour, flavour & health benefits.  There’s a lot of information out there that Curcumin, the main active ingredient in Turmeric, is Turmeric’s only power source.  However, recent studies show Turmeric can stand on its own with powerful health benefits.

HEALTH BENEFITS: It's a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Inflammation in the body can cause a multitude of health problems.  Turmeric has high anti-inflammatory properties, using it in small doses on a regular basis can have lots of health benefits.  There are many different studies on how you should take turmeric & curcumin.  Do some research on what is best going to suit you & your needs.

HOW TO USE IT:  It's got to be a curry or tagine.  We have quite a few recipes that use Turmeric on the Well for One website, and the Brazilian Chicken Curry is definitely a favourite from our members.   Turmeric Lattes are also awesome if you are craving a warm healthy drink. 

3. Chilli

Fresh, flakes, dried or powdered, chilli is the spiciest of spices.  It comes in many different colours, sizes and heat strength.  Add it gradually - even 2 of the same type of chilli can vary in heat.  You can always add more to your food, but it's hard to take it away. 

HEALTH BENEFITS: High in Vitamin A & C, it's also a "feel-good" spice that boosts endorphins & can increase metabolism.   

HOW TO USE IT: This will depend on your tolerance with chilli heat.  Long red & green chillies are milder…  then it gets hotter from there!
Fresh: gives exactly that to a dish - freshness.  Great for salads, stir-fries or salsas.
Flakes: are great to use if you can't get fresh (take it slowly when adding), plus sprinkled on top can give a little burst of flavour to dishes. 
Dried: Great for infusing into creamy sauces or stocks.
Powdered: Best for long cooking like chilli beans & stews as it can have a raw powder taste.

4. Ginger

Ginger is a herb, but can also be known as a spice, especially when it’s in powdered form.  Using fresh, young ginger is a much milder way to enjoy ginger, as once it is dried into a powder it becomes much stronger & pungent in flavour.  The health benefits are undeniable whichever way you use it.

HEALTH BENEFITS:  The list is long, so here are a few of the reasons why ginger is so good for you.  It can effectively treat nausea, migraines, fatigue, colds, coughs, viral infections, stimulate digestion, ease pain... and so much more.  Just do a little research.

HOW TO USE IT:  Steep it with tea, add it to drinks, biscuits, stir fries, curries & so much more!  I love fresh ginger, but ginger in powder form is always added into a chai blend to make a gorgeous chai almond latte.

By Janene Inigo
August 2020


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