Ok, we all have to eat to stay alive and we have to cook in order to eat to stay alive. Have I lost anyone yet?
So since you have to cook, why not use the healthiest ingredients to add some taste to your food? Instead of using the sodium rich, water retention and everything else that goes along with that spices, here are some of my favorite ones that I use, it’s benefits, and how I use it.
In no particular order…
… a plant that belongs in the ginger family (spoiler alert, ginger is also on the list!). Its’ origins is India. When processed for consumption it forms an orange-yellow powder.
It is known to regulate hormones and stimulate liver function. It assists in preventing fattening hormone induced cravings.
My favorite use for turmeric is in fish and poultry dishes.
…is derived from the inner bark of trees that fall in the Cinnamomum family. I won’t get into who in the world would have thought that something so good would come from inside the bark of a tree, let’s just be thankful that they were very adventurous!
Cinnamon has a sweet taste so it is great substitute for those sugar addicts that are trying to kick the habit. It aids in digestion and also helps reduce and regulate blood sugar levels. Remember it is those spikes in insulin from the consumption of sugar that keeps your body from burning fat!
I like to use cinnamon on my oatmeal and if you are going to splurge and have a chocolate dessert, at the very least add cinnamon to control the spike of insulin when your body encounters that sugar rush!
…is used for medicinal purposes as well as a spice. Its origins are China although it can now be found in most parts of the world. It is the root of the plant.
Although there have been many medicinal claims for ginger, the only studies that have proven where it is effective is in the treatment of nausea, morning sickness, chemo has strong anti-inflammatory effects.
You can use it in cooking either from shaving slivers off the root directly (my favorite form) or in powdered form.
I use it on fish mainly, but also like to put it in my soups and veggies.
…native to India, this spice has many forms. I personally like the whole black peppercorn that you can ground to any level of coarseness you desire.
Black pepper stimulates your taste buds causing your stomach to increase its hydrochloric acid (HCL) secretion. This rise in HCL helps improve digestion which is vitally important in breaking down protein rich foods. You increase the efficiency of which your body takes in protein which is important if you work out.
I use black pepper on almost everything! On my eggs, most fish, fowl or meat dishes, soups, salads, etc. It’s that added ‘kick’ that compliments it with any other spice and herb I use.
…another spice from India and another one that aids in digestion. They come from the small dried fruit of a plant in the parsley family.
It acts in much the same way as black pepper in terms of how it aids digestion, by increasing activity in our salivary glands resulting in increased HCL levels. Note how many of these healthy spices and herbs impact digestion.
I started this blog post talking about how all of us have to eat to stay alive. This means digesting what we eat in the most efficient way, is the key to maximizing the nutrients we extract from what we consume.
It all goes together, quality food, prepared in a quality way, leads to quality digestion which leads to quality of life.
I like to use it in powdered form on my chicken, fish, beans, soups and stews.
…probably the world’s most popular herb. It is a native plant to the Mediterranean region. One of its main benefits is reducing the amount of glucose in the blood or basically regulating it. As I have mentioned before, to promote fat loss you must always be burning fat. Spikes in blood sugar levels inhibit this process so anything that can regulate those spikes is good for you.
I use parsley in soups, stews and fish primarily.
Two words of caution on parsley. It is very high in vitamin K which is a good thing unless you are on some sort of blood thinners. Monitor your PT/INR levels closely if you are on blood thinners and increase your use of parsley.
Secondly, parley contains high levels of oxalates. Too concentrated of levels can cause body fluids to crystallize. So if you have kidney or gallbladder problems, you may want to minimize its use.
…this is a plant species in the onion family. It is native to central Asia. You can use it in crushed garlic clove form (my favorite) or powdered.
It aids in metabolizing carbs and fats and some studies have shown it prevents the body from creating more fat. In some movies, they claim it protects you from vampires and in High School, from stealing your first kiss J
Like black pepper, I use garlic on just about everything. When cooking in a pan, I like to use large chunks of garlic cloves because if you crush them too much, they tend to burn before the food you are preparing is done.
…its origins are from the Middle East. This plant can be used either in powdered form or in fresh or dried leaf form. The fresh form is the most flavorful.
Not only does it have a lot of anti-oxidants, thyme helps in protecting and even increasing your good health fats, omega-3s.
I use thyme in omelets, beans, some fish as well as soups.
I use other types of spices and herbs but these are my favorites. There are many ways to make healthy food not only tasty, but even healthier, by choosing the right ingredients to cook it with.
Spice up your life to be….Fit Forlife!