Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Top 10 Spices and Herbs

Welcome back everybody, today we've got some great but often under-utilized info for you - Spices and Herbs.  Often we just get caught thinking about the bigger pieces of eating, the actual food itself and their tastes, but forget how spices and herbs can impact eating.

Many people often suffer on diets because they find eating "healthy" foods boring and not very flavorful.  A chicken breast with broccoli doesn't often ring a bell of delicious in most people's mind, but these can be greatly improve by experimenting with spices/herbs and condiments.

Spices and herbs are great because not only do they provide great flavors themselves, but they often bring out and intensify the flavor of foods and other spices/herbs.  Many people love Italian, Curry, Tai, and French types of food, the reason these kinds of food are so great is they utilize and emphasize spices and herbs.  All it takes is a little knowledge, a little time, and some experimenting and you'll soon be putting some spice in your life.

Before we start take a peek at our other Top 10's

Top 10 Fruits
Top 10 Muscle Sprouts (vegetables)

And a quick review of some big words...

Phytonutrients - Natural nutrients in plant sources.  Phyto is Greek for plant, and these nutrients can help with many different health issues and help prevent diseases.  Some of the major phytonutrients for humans include - flavonoids, glucosinolates, resveratrol, caretonoids, ellagic acid, and phytoestrogens.  Overall the more phytonutrients a food has the better it is for us.

Antioxidants - Antioxidants help protect and repair damage done by free radicals.  Free radicals can cause damage to our body if they are not kept in check over time.  Antioxidants assist in reducing the natural damage done by free radicals.

Ok, enough talking, let's get to the meat and potatoes, uh I mean the spices and herbs

1. Basil - Aka Groovy Basil

This green herb packs a mean punch of Vitamin K as well as being a strong anti-inflammatory and great for cardiovascular strength.  Although you may be tempted to use dried varieties, try to stick with fresh Basil.  Go to a farmer's market for some fresh basil or grow your own.

Tummy Time - PESTO! That's right basil is the main ingredient in pesto, and pesto is freakin' awesome!  Check this out Grilled Pesto and Ham Sandwich

2. Oregano - Aka Orega-yes!

Oregano is another Italian spice that is high in fiber, anti-oxidants, vitamin K, anti-bacterial, and flavor.  Like most things on this list, fresh oregano is much better than dried.

Tummy Time - Add some chopped oregano to the top of a pizza and your taste buds will thank you.

3. Garlic

Ooohhhh I love Garlic.  It may have to be an acquired taste for some, but it is definitely worth it. Garlic is very versatile and may help with blood pressure, cholesterol, and provides a good anti-inflammatory effect.  Although it is technically in the vegetable family, it is more commonly used like an herb or spice.  It's flavonoids and sulfer-containing nutrients help prevent cancer and other diseases.

Tummy Time - Add garlic to everything, literally everything.  I can't think of many things that smell better and get my mouth watering than sautéed garlic in olive oil!

4. Cinnamon

If you haven't jumped on the Cinnamon wagon, then you better start, and were not talking about Cinnabons.  Cinnamon adds a great flavor and smell to food and is also a very effective at helping to stabilize blood sugar levels, which can help prevent diabetes. Cinnamon can also help muscle and joints stay healthy and pain free through it's powerful anti-inflammatory properties.

Tummy Time - Add touches to yogurts, proteins, shakes, eggs, hamburgers, etc.  Here's a good way to get some solid cinnamon in your life - Peanut Butter Protein Balls

5. Cayenne Pepper - Aka Spicy cowboy

Warning, Cayenne Pepper is spicy, very spicy, 5-10 times more spicy than a jalapeño!  So if you're up for the challenge spice up some meals with cayenne pepper and help sore muscles, assist the immune system, and boost digestion.  As with any kind of spicy pepper, you'll get a boost to your metabolism for a time period afterwards, so it you can handle it, try to incorporate cayenne into your everyday diet.

Tummy Time - I like to add it to eggs or the BBA famous Breakfast Scrambler

6. Turmeric - Aka Source of Curcumin

Turmeric is becoming more and more popular due to it's incredible anti-inflammatory benefits.  This bad boy can be a better replacement for many anti-inflammatory medicines and is great for athletes to recovery from hard workouts. It has also been shown to help arthritis, prevent Alzheimer's,  and becoming a very potent cancer fighter.

Tummy Time - Turmeric is a common curry spice, so if you like curry foods, add additional turmeric.  Other options include adding to eggs, salads, or in sauces/dips.

7. Cilantro

Cilantro is high in fiber and has been shown to provide some great blood sugar stabilizing effects and may help reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) while increasing HDL (good cholesterol).  Cilantro is dense in phytonutrients which provide great antioxidant support.

Tummy Time - The easiest and tastiest way to enjoy cilantro, in my opinion, is through homemade salsa.  Salsa should be part of your everyday diet, and cilantro is what brings that fresh flavor and increases the intensity of a great salsa.

8. Dill - Aka Dill

Good ole' dill is a classic and one of my favorites for it's soft and sweet taste.  Dill not only taste's great but also provides a good amount of antioxidants and anti-bacterial properties.  It can also be a good source of calcium.
Tummy Time - Peaches Stuffed with Tuna is a favorite of mine.  Take some pitted peach halves, and fill in the pits with some fresh tuna salad.  Top it all off with a healthy serving of dill, might need to make this a Good Eats very soon.

9. Ginger - Aka Not Red Heads

Ginger is a very tasty addition to any meal. Ginger is renown for it's ability to reduce nausea and motion sickness, but more than that it can help soothe sore throats, reduce muscle soreness, and fight cancer

Tummy Time - Add ginger to stir-fry's and also experiment with adding ginger zest to things like dressing, drinks, and meats.

10. Chili Pepper

Peppers are known for their capsaicin properties, which give them their spicy taste, but also provide many health benefits.  Things like decreasing inflammation, clear congestion, help boost cardiovascular health, and give your metabolism a boost.  Chili peppers provide good amounts of Vitamin C that helps boosts immune system function and has been linked to help prevent cancer.

Tummy Time - While the most obvious recipe would be in chili, but it's also an easy addition to vegetables, eggs, meats, salads - really anything you don't mind having the spice volume pumped up a level.

So now you've got the tools to start playing a 5-Star chef and start throwing around those spices and herbs like a boss.  Soon you'll be cooking up some unique dishes and meals that will make your taste buds burst with flavor!

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Go Get 'Em!

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1 comment:

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