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Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Marjoram!

Do you use a lot of spices when you are cooking up fabulous meals? Is marjoram a spice that you use in your salad dressings and sauces? Not only does this spice have a slightly bittersweet taste, it contains a lot of healing properties. For example, studies have shown that marjoram can help to slow Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also been shown to contain compounds that help the body fight off cancer. In Iranian folk medicine, marjoram is used as a blood thinner and have been used to cut platelet aggregation. Marjoram is also great at improving digestion due to it’s ability to trigger the release of pepsin, an enzyme that aids in digesting protein. In addition to all of these health benefits, marjoram has been shown to aid in preventing strokes, warding of fungal infections, and helping the body heal from the side-effects of pollution.

FUN FACT:

– Marjoram pairs nicely with cumin, garlic, sage, and rosemary and compliments dishes with cabbage, bell peppers, and eggs.

– Research in Saudi Arabia showed that using marjoram helped in preventing the formation of ulcers.

 

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Coriander!

The nutty yet sweet little seeds that are found on the coriander plant are not only an excellent spice to add to a variety of dishes, but they are loaded with health benefits! Coriander has been around for thousands of years and was even used as a spice in ancient Greece. In ancient Asia, natural healers used coriander to treat a variety of health ailments. For example, coriander has been shown to have a soothing effect on digestive issues that include IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), chronic constipation, and gas. In Ayurvedic practices, coriander has been used as a diuretic and in folk medicine it has been used as a way to heal bladder infections and calm allergies. Studies have shown that coriander can help in decreasing blood sugar levels and LDL cholesterol. It’s also shown to be very useful for headaches, insomnia, and bloating. Coriander works well with many spices but it’s especially wonderful with ginger, garlic, turmeric and allspice. You can add it to a variety of dishes with fish, chicken, mushrooms, lentils, and vegetables. When it comes to purchasing coriander, you can typically choose from two varieties; European and Indian. European coriander has more flavor and Indian coriander has a lemony scent. Most of the coriander available for purchase in the USA is European. Check out the fabulous coriander powder from MySpiceSage, perfect for cooking yummy Indian dishes!

FUN FACTS ABOUT CORIANDER:

– Indians use the entire plant (including the leaves, stem, roots and seeds) of coriander to make chutney and different sauces.

– Coriander is often used as a flavoring in gin and other varieties of alcoholic beverages.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Peppermint!

Did you know that there are about 600 different plants that can be referred to as “mint”, including curly mint, peppermint, spearmint, forest mint, and slender mint?  Today we are specifically going to talk about the healing power of peppermint, the “sweet” tasting variety of mint.  Peppermint is one of the most easily recognized and most enjoyed flavors in the world. It can be used in a variety of dishes and pairs nicely with  other spices including thyme, sage, lemongrass, and basil. Not only does peppermint taste amazing but it’s well known to have incredible healing properties. For example, peppermint has been shown to help ease the symptoms associated with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Peppermint has also been shown to help fight an overgrowth of  bacteria in the small intestine and can aid in relieving indigestion. If you suffer from allergies, you should know that studies have shown mint extract to stop the release of histamine, the chemical that gives us itchy eyes and a stuffy nose. Peppermint has also been shown to help with coughs, stress, tooth decay, and symptoms associated with menopause. I recently tried the dried peppermint leaves from MySpiceSage and I love adding them to fruit and yogurt dishes. When it comes to drinking mint tea, you have to try Stash Tea’s Guayusa Tea with Mint. This tasty tea contains both peppermint and spearmint in addition to energizing guayusa. Yum!

FAST FACTS:

– Korean researchers found that people who inhaled peppermint and other essential oils had less stress and anxiety.

– The English were the first to start incorporating mint into their dishes, including their traditional lamb with mint jelly.

– Growing peppermint? You should know that this plant requires a lot of water and it rarely produces seed.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Thyme!

Thyme is everywhere! Did you know that there are over 100 hundred varieties of thyme of these little herb? The one thing that they all have in common is the volatile oil called thymol, a powerful antiseptic that kills harmful germs. If you ever get a nasty cough or a sore throat, try brewing some dried thyme leaves as a strong tea. You can even add a little raw honey for some more powerful nutrients. Thyme has also been shown to help prevent tooth decay and cold sores, making it a dream herb for dentists! This herb is also known to help prevent cancer, ulcers, and heart attacks. It is also a dream-herb for those trying to slow the signs of aging. Thyme pairs well with basil, bay leaf, rosemary and sage. It is a delicious addition to casseroles, sauces, chicken and fish dishes. Check out the fabulous thyme from MySpiceSage.com. You will love it!

FAST FACT:

– Dried thyme can be used in potpourris to repel moths!

– Studies have shown that by adding thyme to a high-fat diet can reduce the the formation of blood clots, a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Basil!

Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow in my little home garden! It has such a beautiful flavor and pairs nicely with many other spices. I add it to many different dishes including soups, pesto, salads and sauces. There are different varieties of basil including sweet basil (very popular in the United States and Europe), Thai basil, holy basil (I drink this as a tea), and East Indian basil. In addition to tasting great, did you know that basil has amazing healing properties? It has been shown that basil can help kill the bacteria that can cause acne and aid in the healing of wounds. Basil is also known to help prevent certain cancers and cholesterol problems. If you are suffering from eye problems, you can find many eye drops on the market that contain basil. These drops help relieve the symptoms associated with conjunctivitis and aid in the recovery from cataract surgery. Some studies have shown that the extract from basil leaves can help lower blood sugar levels, which is helpful for those with diabetes. Check out the fabulous basil leaves from MySpiceSage! Love them.

FAST FACT:

– Basil is a favorite plant in India and is carved into prayer beads called Tulsi beads.

– The flavor of basil pairs great with garlic, mint, oregano, saffron and thyme.

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Bay Leaves!

Did you know that those little green bay leaves that you add to your soups are loaded with health promoting nutrients? Believe it or not, bay leaves are an amazing source of powerful antioxidants. There are more than 80 active compounds in a bay leaf, but the specific antioxidant that keeps disease at bay is called cineole. Cineole (also found in eucalyptus) has also been shown to help in preventing type 2 diabetes. Bay leaves are also known to help prevent cancer, specifically cervical cancer. These leaves are also a traditional remedy for those suffering from arthritis. If you have ulcers or poor digestion, bay leaves can stimulate the health secretion of stomach acids to help break down your food. If you are sick with a bacterial infection, you should know that bay leaves have a strong antibacterial effect on the body.  When it comes to pairing bay leaves with other spices, try including them with garlic, basil, cinnamon, parsley, and oregano. You can include them in stews, fish dishes, pot roasts, and soups. Check out the Turkish bay leaves at MySpiceSage.com.

FAST FACTS:

– Researchers have found that the volatile oils found in bay leaves can help speed up the healing process of wounds.

– Curious on how to include bay leaves in your diet? Try adding some to boiling water when cooking vegetables or noodles. You can also add them to pasta sauces or infuse them in your rice dishes. You can also brew a “bay leaf tea”, just like you would any other tea!

 

References: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal. Sterling Publishing Co, 2011. New York, NY.

Spice up your Life – The Healing Power of Cinnamon!

In my three years of being a nutrition blogger, I’ve found that when the topic of spices comes up, people get really excited about cinnamon. It’s such a delicious and warm flavor that compliments so many dishes! Did you know that in addition to tasting amazing, cinnamon has awesome health benefits? Believe it or not, it’s been said that cinnamon can help balance blood sugar levels. Cinnamon has also shown to have heart-protecting properties and aids in lowering the risk of diabetes. If you suffer from candida, cinnamon is very effective in fighting off the abundance of yeast that can take over the body. This spice has such powerful antibacterial and anti-fungal properties that it can also aid preventing cancer and promoting swift wound healing. Ground cinnamon contains many nutrients including manganese, fiber, and calcium.

FAST FACT:

– Eating cinnamon may boost your brain power! Studies have shown that chewing on something cinnamon or even just smelling it improved peoples’ cognitive function.

– Much of the cinnamon available at stores is not “true” cinnamon. It’s called Cassia cinnamon and is very similar to the real cinnamon called Cinnamomum verum. These spices look a lot alike but they differ in flavor. You can often find true cinnamon in Indian marketplaces or specialty spice shops found online.

References: Aggarwal, Bharat. Healing Spices, Sterling Publishing Co, New York, NY. 2011.

Spice up your Health – The Healing Power of Allspice

Did you know that allspice is a common flavor found in ketchup, barbecue sauces, and even chewing gum? This spice also adds flavor to some liqueurs and Mexican chocolate. Allspice has a peppery kick to it which makes it a great spice to add to a variety of dishes. It pairs well with a variety of other spices including cumin, cinnamon, onion, and oregano. Studies have shown that allspice may help with high blood pressure and certain menopause problems. This spice is loaded with antioxidants that help to fight cell oxidative damage and it aids in boosting the immune system. It has anesthetic and analgesic properties which makes it a great spice for offering some pain relief. When used as an essential oil, allspice has been found to help with sore muscles. It’s antifingal properties make it a great spice for relieving athletes foot (just sprinkle the spice in-between the toes).

FAST FACT: Allspice is used in many Jamaican dishes, including delicious jerk chicken!