Benefits of Turmeric: Why It’s Finally Okay To Be Yellow-Bellied

The third spice that I’d like to talk about in my spice series (and no, I don’t mean THIS spice series) is turmeric (ter-mer-ick). Did you know that back in the day, this spice was referred to as “Indian Saffron”? Yes. It was. Not only is it CHALK-FULL of benefits, but it also happens to be that spice that gives curry its yellow colour!

Curcumin is the element of turmeric that gives this spice its orange-yellow colour is said to be the main pharmacological ingredient in turmeric (what provides us with amazing health benefits). It’s even more powerful than an over the counter anti-inflammatory like Motrin and the best part is that because it is natural, it is completely safe (i.e. prolonged use won’t cause ulcers, decreased white blood cell count, and intestinal bleeding). Scary stuff! They don’t put that on the labels, do they?

Did you know, too, that inflammation isn’t just caused by pulling a muscle or spraining your arm but it’s mainly caused by the foods we eat – especially too many processed foods. These heavily tax our liver and our digestive system creating a toxic environment and basically wreaking havoc on your entire body. Inflammation has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. That’s why it’s SO important to cut out the out junk, detoxify the liver and eat as “cleanly” as possible.

Incorporating turmeric into your diet is a great way to reduce this inflammation, but like I said, the whole diet needs to be re-adjusted. To put it into perspective it’s like having a gruelling workout to cancel out a bag of chips that you mowed down in your car on your way home from work. The workout doesn’t “cancel out” the chips. In fact, the chips (or whatever junk food – chocolates, candies, fast food etc) would decrease the energy you have for your workouts and your ability to recover since most junk foods are laden with sodium and sugar. Both those are topics for another day 🙂

Here are some of the main health benefits:

  • Powerful anti-inflammatory
  • Effective treatment against inflammatory bowel disease
  • Relief from rheumatoid arthritis
  • Help for cystic fibrosis suffers
  • Cancer prevention
  • Improved liver function
  • Cardiovascular protection
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Protection against Alzheimer’s

Wow…Is there anything it can’t do? Seriously.

I bet you’re thinking to yourself, “Where can I buy this wonder spice?”

Well…pretty much at any grocery store but I recommend you buy organic to get a better flavour and a fresher product. It’s best to buy turmeric straight up to get maximum benefits and not the curry powder since the amount of turmeric in the composition tends to be diluted, so to speak.

I come from an Irish Catholic background so of course, I did not grow up with this spice. In my home, salt and pepper were the staples and paprika was the most exotic spice I’d ever heard of until I moved out on my own and explored other cultural dishes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But now that I’m living on my own and cook my own meals, I make sure that I use it in my cooking at least 3 to 4 times a week. You don’t necessarily have to make curries all the time, just add about a 1/4 tsp in with your other spices if you make a stir fry or add it home made salad dressing. I recently discovered turmeric tea which isn’t half bad (with a bit of agave/honey). More on that later. To get the maximum benefits they recommend 1.2 to 1.8 grams a day (1g = 1 tsp in case you were wondering).

This week, I’ll share with you my experiences with said tea and I’ll share with you a different twist on making chicken curry!

Enjoy!

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Benefits of Ginger

The second spice that I’d like to talk to you about in my spice series is ginger. And, no, I don’t mean this Ginger Spice. I’m referring to the super spice that adds a bit of zing to sauces and teas and is infamous in Asian cooking.

(Side note: Now I have that song, “Spice Up Your Life” stuck in my head. God, I miss the ’90s!).

Let’s jump in, shall we?

Ginger is a root that was originally cultivated in South Asia and has spread to East Africa and the Carribean. It’s available year round at your local market or grocery store.

Benefits:

  • Gastrointestinal relief. Prevents symptoms of motion sickness and seasickness. It also reduces other symptoms including nausea, dizziness, vomiting and cold sweats. It’s even safe to consume while you’re pregnant to aid with morning sickness.
  • Anti-inflammatory. It contains very potent anit-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. Studies have shown that it reduces pain for those suffering from osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. If you are suffering from Candida, like I was, ginger has a soothing effect on any inflammation that the candida growth may have on your intestinal tract.
  • Protection against colorectal cancer.
  • Induces cell death in ovarian cancer cells. The extracts in the ginger have been shown to have anti-tumour effects on cancer cells
  • Immune booster. This spice promotes healthy sweating which is very useful when you’re trying to fight off a nasty cold or flu. Usually, it’s used in ginger teas or hot drinks.

Fresh or dried?

Personally, I choose fresh whenever possible. Not only does it pack in more flavour but it contains higher levels of gingerol (that amazing element of ginger that gives us so many of those great benefits that I was telling you about). With that said, dried is useful if you’re making sauces or baking as it easily dissolves in the liquid.

I’ll admit it, ginger isn’t the most attractive thing you’ll see in the grocery store, but don’t  be put off by its nubbiness (if that’s even a word). Before you throw
one in your basket, make sure that it’s firm, smooth and free of mold.

Uses:

Ginger is often used in teas or hot drinks, especially if you aren’t feeling well. If I’m suffering from the flu or I’ve eaten something that isn’t quite agreeing with me, I’ll cut off a quarter inch of ginger, peel it, chop it into smaller pieces and either throw it my green tea or make a hot honey, lemon and ginger drink. It usually does the trick!

Tell us, what’s your favourite way to cook with ginger?

*** Stay tuned for my Asian inspired recipe using this zesty spice!

Enjoy!

Variety is the Spice of Life!

How many times have you read a recipe and thought, “I have NO IDEA what that spice is (or how to pronounce it) let alone how it will taste?” or “When will I ever use this spice again?” I have.

Before last year when I started my health make-over, I didn’t even own a spice rack! I was so intimidated by spices that if I didn’t recognize one or already have it I would deliberately omit it from the recipe. It’s like saying, “I don’t know what interest vs principle means, so I won’t bother trying to figure that out and I’ll just keep paying the minimum payment.” Imagine? Wait, don’t.

This month, I’m going to try to help take the mystery out of some spices that are not only common but should be added to your dishes frequently. Why? Mainly because not only do they add a punch of flavour but they happen to be very good for you!

Spices are great (and important) because they can turn any basic meal from ordinary to extraordinary!

The spices discussed will be: garlic, ginger, coriander, and turmeric. I consider these to be some of the essential spices.

My plan for the month of May is to demystify them by sharing with you some of their benefits and giving you some recipes to incorporate them in.

There are many others that I wanted to discuss but I wanted to start with these since they are on my top 10 list (yes, I actually have a top 10 list and anyone who knew me in my 20s would be shocked that am this in love with cooking and no longer in a passive-agressive realationship with Dominoes pizza!).

Don’t worry, I promise to do another Spice Month soon to discuss the other six spices that I deem essential and/or amazing.

Stay tuned!

First up: Garlic.

PS: Tell us, what is your  favourite spice?

PPS: What spice would you bring with you on a desert island?