Do you know which spices in your kitchen cabinet can relieve an upset stomach, nausea, morning sickness or a toothache? These 5 popular culinary spices not only enhance the flavor of our foods, but also have healing properties and medicinal benefits. Try our ideas for adding these health- and flavor-enhancing culinary spices to your meals and beverages.
Turmeric comes from the root of a perennial plant in the ginger family and is native to China. The rhizomes are sun-dried and ground. It has a pungent, ginger-pepper flavor. It is used extensively in Indian cooking and medicinally in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine. Turmeric powder is used commercially in prepared mustards, curry powder, dressings, cheeses and butter. The healing properties in this spice are largely attributed to its high curcumin content. It is a powerful antioxidant, and natural antibiotic that boosts the immune system, and protects against cancer, and liver and lung damage. Its anti-inflammatory properties are extremely helpful at reducing the inflammation and pain associated with all types of arthritis including rheumatoid arthritis. It also stimulates circulation.
Culinary Uses of Turmeric
Turmeric is the main ingredient in curry powder. Use when preparing traditional Indian cuisine, chicken, fish, egg dishes, rice, cream sauces and salad dressing, mayonnaise, mustard, dry spice rubs, marinades, soups, hot tea, corn and pickle relish, and chow-chow.
Cinnamon is one of the most versatile and popular spices in the world. It comes from the peeled and dried bark of a species of evergreen tree that belongs to the genus Cinnamomum. Cinnamon is available in sticks, ground and distilled into essential oil. Cinnamon has been a valued commodity since ancient biblical times. Most of the cinnamon we consume comes from Sri Lanka. Cinnamon has a wonderful fragrance and flavor, but it also has nutritional and health benefits. It is rich in antioxidants, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and in preventing or improving diabetes. It assists in the proper digestion of food, and contains anti-inflammatory properties which helps heal digestive disorders as well as joint and arthritic pain. In addition, it boosts metabolism for weight loss. To curb your appetite add a cinnamon stick to a glass of water or tea and sip between meals.
Culinary Uses of Cinnamon
Ground cinnamon can be sprinkled on baked sweet potatoes with honey butter, in fruit salads, applesauce and yogurt, over hot beverages, in pancake or muffin batter, pies, and lamb stew.
Cloves in French means nails, “clou.” Whole cloves resemble small nails, but are actually the dried, aromatic flower bud of a tropical, evergreen tree, grown and harvested in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Madagascar. It is available whole or ground, and is also distilled into essential oil for medicinal and aromatherapy uses. It is one of the strongest flavored and most aromatic spices. Cloves is an antioxidant that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy in oriental medicine. It aids digestion, relieves an upset stomach, and alleviates intestinal parasites. It makes a good anesthetic for toothaches.
Culinary uses: Ground cloves are used often in desserts and baked goods. Stir a pinch of ground cloves into glazed carrots, mashed sweet potatoes, chili, fruit salads or a pot of tea.
Cayenne is a very hot spice that comes from ground and dried hot, red peppers. Columbus introduced Europe to red hot peppers after discovering them in Cuba. Cayenne has anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties and contains vitamin E, which works to prevent cancer, colon disorders, and heart problems. It promotes good circulation and digestion. It also promotes weight loss as it helps burn fat, curb the appetite, and boost metabolism. It is also helpful in ridding the body of cold and flu symptoms as it works to break up and expel mucous. For therapeutic benefits add a pinch of ground cayenne to a glass of lemon water and drink daily.
Culinary uses for Cayenne
It is frequently used in Mexican dishes such as tamales, chili, salsa, guacamole, and Mexican cornbread. Cayenne is also a key flavoring in cheese straws, tomato juice cocktails, chowders, sausage, barbecue rubs and sauces.
Ginger is a favorite spice used in Asian cuisines. It comes from the rhizomes, underground root of the ginger plant. The dried root is available whole, ground or distilled into an essential oil. It is native to Southeast Asia and is also grown in Jamaica. Ginger has a spicy hot, yet sweet flavor, making it versatile to cook with. Ginger has long been used in households to relieve morning sickness, nausea, motion sickness, and stomach aches. This powerful antioxidant fights inflammation, muscle pain, and infection, boosts the immune system, cleanses the colon, stimulates circulation and helps reverse or prevent diabetes.
Culinary uses: Whole ginger is used in syrups, pickling, chutneys, beverages, marinades and teriyaki sauce. Ground ginger enhances the flavor of cookies, cakes, gingerbread, fruit and rice puddings and custards, oriental dishes, grapefruit brûlée, most vegetables, fruit salads, and pies. Stir into brewed tea or lemonade. It blends well with other culinary spices.