Angela: One of the first things I do with patients when starting a clean eating diet is clear out their pantry. Which can be full of condiments high in Omega 6 oils, sugar, colours and preservatives. Nature has provided so many wonderful herbs and spices to enhance our food with great flavours and they have amazing health benefits! Here is my top 10:
Turmeric – Anti-bacterial, Anti-inflammatory, Anti-oxidant
Turmeric is a beautiful golden colour. It’s used a lot in Indian cooking. It contains an active ingredient called curcumin, which gives turmeric its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, which helps the body fight against degenerative diseases. Research has also shown that adding turmeric to flavour foods may help prevent the growth of cancerous tumours in the body in addition to benefiting the cardiovascular system. Turmeric increases immunity my enhancing the health of your liver.
Ginger is great for colds and chills. It’s good at clearing phlegm and mucus from the respiratory tract. It’s also good for circulation and helps the body get rid of toxins. It’s also a quick remedy for an upset stomach, either chewed or brewed into tea. In winter I always have ground ginger in my handbag to add to hot water when I have cold hands and feet to get the circulation pumping.
Garlic – Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-coagulant
Garlic is the first thing I reach for in winter. I add it to everything to fight off colds and flues. Garlic is good for increasing immunity and increasing blood circulation. The anti-bacterial and anti- fungal properties are good for gut health and help balance the good bacteria in the gut.
Cayenne – Anti-bacterial, Anti-cancer, Removes Excess Mucus, Anti-oxidant, Stimulant, Tonic
Gets its kick from a compound called capsaicin, which can not only increase the body’s metabolic rate to help it burn calories faster, it also encourages the production of certain chemicals in the brain to curb your hunger pangs. Consuming cayenne pepper also prevents ulcers and improves heart health. Powerful circulatory stimulant that increase blood flow.
Cinnamon – Kills Bacteria, Stimulates Digestion, Warms the Body, Treats Colds and Flues, Suppresses Muscle Spasms
Has proven helpful in stabilising the body’s blood sugar level. Many individuals with type 2 Diabetes enjoy one teaspoon a day to help prevent blood sugar spikes that often occur after eating a meal. Kills bacteria that improves the function of the respiratory and cardiovascular system.
Parsley – Diuretic, Detoxing Agent, Laxative properties
It also serves as a natural breath freshener when chewed or it can be chopped directly into omelettes, salads or other dishes. Stimulates appetite and liver function, regulates bile flow and is a good anti-septic for the lungs.
Coriander – Good for Digestive Complaints
Also known by the name Cilantro, is power packed with 11 essential oils, six different acids including Vitamin C, along with other vitamins and minerals. Good for abdominal pain, flatulence, indigestion, treats IBS symptoms, nausea and stomach upsets.
Basil – Suppresses Muscle Spasms, Antiseptic, Tonic for the nervous system, Digestive Complaints
Is great for helping to reduce high blood pressure. Because certain compounds existing in basil are known to help reduce inflammation and ease pain. Contains a powerful essential oil that has antispasmodic and antiseptic properties. Very good at easing digestive complaints.
Cloves – Anti-septic, Good for Intestinal Infections
Is a tiny spice with giant health benefits. They have anti-bacterial, analgesic, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties. Cloves can sooth the inflammation caused by rheumatism or arthritis, can ease the pain of a tooth ache, alleviate the pain of sore throats and upper respiratory infections, and improve the digestive system by soothing the gastrointestinal tract to prevent stomach aches, nausea, diarrhoea and vomiting.
Nutmeg – Antiseptic, Analgesic Properties
Is a spice commonly used in baking, it is known for its ability to serve as an anti-bacterial as well as anti-fungal agent. Nutmeg has wonderful anti-inflammatory properties, which enable it to be applied directly to skin blemishes for more rapid healing.
Learn what goes with what! I’m not a recipe follower. I like to have lots of healthy ingredients available in my fridge and pantry and decide on the day what I am going to cook. It’s how I roll…A really good book that works for me is “The Cook’s Companion” by Stephanie Alexander. It lists an ingredient, tells you a bit about it and what it goes with. It’s a great way to learn what herbs go with what. I have loads of dried herbs in my pantry and I grow fresh herbs on my balcony. You don’t need to have loads of space! It’s a great way to always have fresh herbs available when you need them. When you buy sleeves of herbs from the supermarket they never last very long. I have basil, parsley and coriander always growing at home. They can make a dish transform into something wonderful.
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What herbs and spices can you not live without? Mine would be coriander. :)