Now is a great time to think about positive changes you may want to make to your cooking and baking habits to nurture a healthier, happier you.
A great place to start is by doing a refresh on the spices in your kitchen cabinet. I think herbs and spices are the celebrity components of a healthy diet. They are the most affordable, tastiest way to boost your nutrition as they can take healthy ingredients from good to irresistible.
Herbs and spices are being investigated for their positive health impacts at top university nutrition programs across the United States including Tufts, Berkeley, Columbia, Wisconsin, University of Washington and North Carolina. Research is underway to determine how spices and herbs may:
- Enhance memory
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
- Reduce sugar cravings
- Improve digestion
- Boost immune function
- Decrease inflammation
I don’t advise ingesting mega-doses of any spices or supplements. You should always check with a doctor before making significant changes to your diet. However, most people can enjoy seasoning their food to enhance flavor while also supporting their health in a natural way.
While more research is needed to understand exactly how spices can improve health, it is clear that enhancing flavor encourages consumption of healthy foods which can decrease the appeal of unhealthy options.
As you go through your spice cabinet and clean out the old to make space for the fresh, think about which herbs and spices you want to arrange on the front lines of your cabinet to make them easy to grab in a pinch.
Here are my top picks for herbs and spices to incorporate into your diet that are easily combined into a sweet yet earthy spice blend you can make at home.
Turmeric: This bright golden spice is found in a root very similar in appearance to ginger. It has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It appears to be quickly metabolized so it is wise to add turmeric as part of a spice blend to increase the likelihood of absorption.
Black Pepper: Piperine is the major active component of black pepper. When combined with curcumin found in turmeric, black pepper has been shown to increase bioavailability by 2000%. So hooray for black pepper which can help you reap the benefits of turmeric!
Parsley: This leafy green “super herb” is packed with vitamins and minerals almost like a natural multivitamin. Parsley delivers vitamins C, K and A as well as potassium, folate, iron, calcium, magnesium and manganese.
Cumin: Cumin is high in antioxidants and a great addition to many spice rubs. Research is revealing that cumin can improve digestion and is a good source of iron. Cumin offers a delicious nutty flavor to dips and marinades.
Garlic: Garlic has been used for centuries for its distinctive taste and health benefits. It contains several nutrients including manganese, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and selenium. Garlic cloves contain sulfur compounds that may have a positive impact on your immune system and blood pressure.
Coriander: Coriander is a seed that comes from the same plants where the leaves are called cilantro. In nutrition studies, coriander has been shown to reduce blood sugar and boost the immune system by suppressing inflammation.
When creating a spice blend, I always aim to design a simple, colorful blend that imparts fragrant notes and offers versatility so it can be your go-to easy jar to pull from the cabinet. Versatility is the key here, adding flavor to many dishes; from soups to salads, roasted vegetables to omelets and even to baked goods.
This Meet My Kneads® blend is the perfect balance of a savory, earthy blend of herbs and spices that can enhance so many dishes. Quick and easy to make, you will be sprinkling it on everything, guaranteed.
2 T turmeric
2 T onion powder
2 T garlic powder
2 T cumin powder
1 T dried parsley
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp black pepper
Pinch kosher salt
Regardless of the health benefits, herbs and spices add color and flavor to food. This makes eating healthy meals more delicious, appealing and ultimately more satisfying.
Go forth, my friends! Spice your way to a brighter, healthier year ahead!