Every year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics proclaims March as “National Nutrition Month,” in an effort to pull public attention to the importance of a healthy lifestyle and its impact on long term quality of life. There is usually a theme and this year it is to, “savor the flavor” of eating well. Rather than looking at healthy food as bland and boring, we encourage you to spice up your cooking and get creative so that you can get excited about healthy meals. One of the best ways to do this is to use spices instead of extra oils, creams, or salt to heighten the flavor of your foods. The plus is that some of these spices have possible health benefits.
Let’s explore some spices and ways to use them in foods.
Cinnamon: This spice has a sweet connotation. It can be used to heighten the sweetness in desserts, especially if you have taken some of the sugar out of the recipe. You can sprinkle it on foods like warm or cold cereals, a plain latte, or on fruits. You may not have thought of it, but it can be used on savory foods as well, such as stuffed acorn squash or as a rub for meat. Interesting to note, since it pairs so well with sweet foods, is that cinnamon can help control glucose levels, both in the short and long term. Studies have shown decreases in participants glucose measurements over time with regular cinnamon use.
Turmeric: This spice is typically associated with Indian dishes, but can be used in so much more. This spice has garnered a lot of attention recently for its powerful anti inflammatory powers. The active compound in turmeric can protect virtually every organ in your body! Some recent studies show that supplemental levels of this compound, curcumin, can actually be more effective than ibuprofen or aspirin at relieving pain and inflammation. So how can you use this awesome spice? Well, if you use yellow mustard, you are already using it! Try mixing a little in chili or chicken noodle soup if you are not sure you want the flavor to overpower the dish and as you get more adventurous, try using it when sauteing veggies.
Coriander: From the nutty seeds of a plant, this is another spicy-sweet spice. This spice may be useful in calming digestive discomforts. Studies have been promising in reducing abdominal pain in people suffering from IBS, a very common complaint and diagnosis recently. And the benefits don’t stop there; it can help bloating, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Incorporating this spice can be as easy as mixing it with peppercorns in your pepper mill to use similarly, or mix with spices for a rub on meats. It can also be used in dressings or marinades.
The possibilities are endless when incorporating herbs and spices into your dishes.
Get creative and don’t be afraid to experiment!
In health, Angela