The use of spices has been incredibly important throughout history. Many spices were celebrated for their medicinal properties before their culinary use. Spices not only help flavour your dishes but are composed of an impressive list of phytonutrients, essential oils, antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that are essential for wellness. They have been an essential part of our food for centuries, and today, even become more relevant for us in the kitchen.
Here are 7 spices we love using:
While most people know cinnamon as the popular spice that gets us in the holiday spirit, it’s also a powerful spice that has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
But where cinnamon really shines is in its effects on blood sugar levels: cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity.
Use cinnamon in: Butter chicken, sprinkled on top of coffee or oatmeal, or mix it in with your favourite nut butter!
Turmeric contains a potent compound called curcumin that has powerful healing potential. Curcumin has a long history dating back to Chinese and Indian culture and is a great anti-inflammatory. Curcumin helps protect against cancer and enhances cardiovascular health.
Add turmeric into: scrambles, rice, roasted veggies or blend it in a smoothie!
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin which helps reduce appetites and increase fat burning. This spice has been credited to weight loss. This spice is also a very well-known digestive aid – it stimulates the digestive tract, increasing the flow of enzyme production and gastric juices which helps the body metabolize food and toxins!
Many of the health benefits of cayenne pepper is due to a compound called capsaicin – which is what gives cayenne its spicy taste. Got a stuffy nose? Sprinkle cayenne pepper on food (we suggest chicken noodle soup) and grab some tissues because the capsaicin in cayenne pepper makes a powerful decongestant!
Add cayenne pepper to: a cup of hot water and sip it in the morning if you’re looking to lose weight – or add it into chili for a spicy kick!
Cloves are a spice commonly found in many baked goods as well as many curries from Southern India. Its dried seeds are common in many Indian spice mixes and flavorings, such as garam masala, advieh, or even pumpkin spice! It was traditionally used as a pain reliever during dental procedures, and the essential oils can benefit in aromatherapy treatments to help with digestive problems.
Add cloves to: your Easter ham, your daily cup of tea, meats, stews or, rich sauces such as Mexican mole
Fun fact – cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice after saffron and vanilla! Good thing you only need a small bit to impart its flavour due to its intense aromatics and unique taste. To get the full benefits of the spice, you need to break the outer shell and expose the tiny pods inside. Cardamom pods are said to help with digestive issues, and stomach problems – so next time you’re feeling under the weather, pour yourself a steaming mug of chai!
Add cardamom to: stews and curries, pilafs, basmati rice
Ginger is surprisingly the most widely used dietary condiment in the world today. Believe it or not – it’s actually part of the plant family that includes turmeric and cardamom, which may explain why the health benefits of ginger are also so extraordinary. Everyone has been told at some point in their life that, if you’re suffering from an upset stomach, to drink a ginger ale – but did you ever wonder why? Well, it’s because ginger contains a chemical that helps to reduce nausea, indigestion and inflammation!
Add ginger to: hot water for a soothing tea, in soups that contain sweet vegetable such as carrots, fish dishes and any stirfries.
With all these different health benefits of spices, we’re sure you’d love to incorporate more of them into your cooking. Luckily, we’ve enlisted renowned celebrity chef, restaurateur, and cookbook author Vikram Vij to create a simplified – but just as delicious version of the notoriously laborious Chicken Biryani! Vij’s Family Chicken Biryani is a beautiful dish with layers of spices such as the aforementioned cloves and cinnamon to build a fragrant rice dish.
Spice up your taste buds and wellness with healthy spices in your diet.
Try out Vij’s Family Chicken Biryani – available for delivery on the week of April 17, 2o17