Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spicing Up Your Life: Get More Use Out of Your Spice Rack

Spices (food, spice, Morocco)Image via Wikipedia
By Teresa Carr

Instead of reaching for whatever ails you in your medicine cabinet look for relief in your spice rack for instant remedy. God gave man every herb in the garden of life. Spices make food taste better and help you feel better, so use spices as much as possible especially when you’re on a sodium-restricted diet. Hippocrates the Greek physician said, “Let your food be your medicine.” That statement has proven itself time and again. The following is a list of known spices used in the kitchen. Try some of these sometime when you’re in the mood for an omelet or salad.

Allspice is a dried berry from the West Indian tree known as pimento and its flavor is similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. It is sometimes called Jamaica Pepper and is used in pickling and liqueurs.

Anise with its pleasant tasting seeds eases coughing by calming respiratory spasms. It was also used to treat children with stomach problems.

Basil is made up of different varieties of spices and herbs. One type called Holy Basil that comes from India is known for its anti-depressant and anxiety properties.

Bay used in combination with the herb feverfew will prevent migraine headaches. Like feverfew it contains parthenolides.

Bayberry is a shrub closely related to allspice. It contains oil that is used to perfume bay rum.

Caper is an unripened flower bud that is pickled in salt and vinegar and used in salads.

Caraway is an herb of the parsley family used to flavor pastry and kinds of cheese. It was long used as a digestive aid, has been found to be helpful in easing irritable bowel syndrome when combined with enteric-coated peppermint oil.

Cardamom is a member of the ginger family and is used as an aid in medicine as a stimulant.

Cayenne Pepper a member of the nightshade family contains a substance called Capsaicin that interferes with pain transmission. If you have a toothache, make a paste with a few drops of water and a spoonful of cayenne. Dip a cotton swab into the paste and dab on your tooth (not gum). It is also used to treat neuralgia, rheumatism, and sore throat.

Celery Seed this makes a great seasoning in salads and even something more to appreciate it. An extract of the celery seed has the ability to calm inflammation and neutralize the harmful effects of uric acid in gout patients. Take 2 to 4 celery seed extract tablets per day.

Chervil a member of the parsley family is used for salads, sauces, soups, & cheese omelets. In Culpepper’s 17th Century Herball the variety Brussels Winter Chervil cites it can dissolve bruises.

Chia, Tarahumara are tall vibrant blue flower spikes. It is a traditional food crop of the Chumash people of Southern California and the Tarahumara people of Mexico. It is still used fro long-distance running by the Tarahumarans, it is said that if the seed is mixed with water to make a gel, one tablespoon can sustain a person’s energy level for 24 hours.

Chili Pepper is ground into a powder and used in Mexican dishes.

Chives are a herb that resemble slender green onions and has a mild onion aroma.

Cilantro with its powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties so potent it can kill Salmonella.

Cinnamon helps ease diarrhea and dries up the sniffles. Make a tea with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 cup boiling water. Steep 15 minutes, strain out the cinnamon, and drink. Cinnamon controls blood sugar is Type-2 diabetes and improves dopamine in brain function.

Cloves are used for cold sores, scabies, and fungal skin infections. Cloves are anti-parasitic and helps eliminate intestinal spasms and gas. If you have a toothache just put a drop oil of cloves on the tooth and it will relieve the pain.

Coriander a native annual of the Mediterranean and a member of the parsley family it is used as a spice in curries, sauces, and liqueurs, and making small round candies. The oil is used to flavor food and a medicine.

Cubeb is a dried unripe berry of a climbing vine belonging to the pepper family. It grows in the Pacific islands of Penang, Sumatra, New Guinea and others. It resembles black pepper. Cubeb is used as a spice and for medicines used in kidney stimulants, urinary antiseptics, and expectorants. Cubeb can be made in the form of cigarettes to treat hay fever, asthma, and pharyngitis.

Cumin helps to rebuild brain cells. It is considered to be the #1 top spice for its antioxidant properties.

Curry is a seasoning with a combination of spices used mostly in Indian and Asian cuisine.

Dill is used to ease an upset stomach. Useful medicines are made from dill. Both the plant (dill weed) and seed (dill seed) are harvested. In the culinary sector, it’s used to season pickled foods.

Fennel helps to cure colic in babies and was used as a popular digestive aid in the Middle Ages. In China it was traditionally used as a “wind-dispelling” (a little bathroom humor) remedy for centuries. Fennel contains phytoestrogens that may help in easing menopausal symptoms.

Fenugreek was used by the ancient Greeks and Roman herbalists to treat diabetes. Modern research has shown that not only does it lowers blood glucose levels, but also reduces insulin levels, total cholesterol, and triglycerides while increasing HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol).

Garlic used as an expectorant combats many bacterial infections and viruses in flus and colds. The oils are excreted through the lungs and they act directly in killing microorganisms and to help you cough up mucus. Garlic can also lower cholesterol levels and control blood pressure. It has also been used in detox cleansing to get rid of parasites. It also has anti-fungal and anti- bacterial properties. Garlic can be purchased in capsules and suggested dosage is about 500mg to 600 mg daily, or you can take 1 to 3 cloves of garlic a day by mincing, eating it raw or crushing it and adding it to food before serving.

Ginger relieves morning sickness and is effective as over-the-counter drugs for motion sickness. In fact, it’s good for most upset stomach. Make tea with 1 teaspoon of powder and 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes, strain and drink. Caution: Do not take ginger if you have gallbladder disease.

Hyssop is not a spice for cuisine but is an excellent medicinal herb used for centuries for lung aliments and asthma. This may be used as a tea by steeping some of the dried leaves in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes sweeten with raw honey. This was also used in ancient times in cough and cold remedies.

Lemon Balm is also known as bee balm, sweet balm and common balm is a native of the Mediterranean is mostly used as a gourmet garnish but can be made into a tea. It is used as a remedy for insomnia and a digestive aid for discomfort and gas. A cream containing lemon balm extract is used to treat cold sores. Lemon balm lowers TSH levels and has been used to treat Grave’s disease (a condition which the thyroid gland becomes hyperactive).

Mace comes from the red membrane that covers the nutmeg fruit.

Marjoram a member of the mint family is known as oregano. Sweet marjoram is used in toilet soaps.

Mint, Peppermint, Spearmint, Wintergreen, are used for muscle aches and pains. The oil from the wintergreen shrub years ago and is one of the oldest remedies. The compound that was distilled from the leaves was methyl salicylate, a chemical relative of aspirin. Peppermint is known to dissolve gallstones and calms upset stomachs. It’s been used to relieve sore muscles and joints, soothe itchy skin and ease menstrual cramps. Enteric-coated peppermint oil has been used in short-term treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

Mustard comes from the seed. Different varieties grow in various heights such as the Black Mustard that grows over 6 feet in height and the White Mustard that grow from 2 to 3 feet in height. Mustard greens that grow in the farmer’s garden are full of vitamins and has a mild laxative effect. When mixed with warm water it is used as a natural ipecac. Pioneer ancestors used mustard plasters to cure pneumonia to relieving pain.

Nutmeg contains a scarlet colored membrane called mace. The fruit ground up and used in meats, cakes, cookies, and pastries.

Oregano also called marjoram is the member of the mint family.

Paprika comes from the capsicum plant similar to the cayenne pepper but has a sweeter taste.

Parsley is used as a remedy for body odor and bad breathe. Parsley contains phytoestrogens, which may help ease the effects of menopause.

Pepper the most commonly used spice comes in many varieties such as, black, red, and white. Black pepper has been found to liberate nutrients from food, making them more available to the body. Red pepper containing capsicin contains an anti-inflammatory agents to ease arthritis pain.

Rosemary high in antioxidants was used traditionally to ease asthma. One study conducted in Jordan showed that the volatile oils could block airway constriction induced by histamine, the culprit of both asthma and allergy reactions. You can make a warm bath of 5-10 drops of rosemary oil or a quart of rosemary tea by steeping ¼ cup of needles in 4 cups of hot water for 10 minutes. You can use the tea for steam inhalation or drink up to 3 cups per day. Rosemary has a gentle stimulating effect on both of the nervous and circulatory systems. It lifts the spirits for one suffering from depression, soothe digestive complaints, and is reputed to improve memory. Caution: Do not take essential oils internally.

Saffron with it nice yellow color comes from the crocus flower popular in Italian, French and Spanish cuisine is used in soups, rice dishes and baking.

Sage reduces menopausal hot flashes and night sweats by drinking a cup of sage tea three times a day: Add ¾ teaspoon sage to 1 cup boiling water. Steep 10 minutes, strain and drink. Pioneers use sage for spring tonic, improves brain function and was used as a hair rinse to darken graying hair.

Shiso (Purple) not must is known of the medicinal properties but make a nice unusual addition to the herb garden. It has beautiful ruffled, purple leaves with a metallic luster and uniquely scented lavender, purplish or white flowers. It is rigorous and resistant to many pests.

Summer Savory introduced from Europe several centuries ago this flavorful herb has a taste like thyme though milder. It is used in salad, soups, and bean dishes. It’s delicious in stir-fry with summer squash.

Tarragon is used to make BĂ©arnaise sauce.

Thyme is rich in germ-killing compounds; thyme has a long history as an expectorant and antiseptic. For an effective cough remedy, add 1 teaspoon dried thyme to 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 10 minutes, strain and drink. For sore throats: brew 2 teaspoons thyme in 1 cup boiling water for 10 minutes. Gargle, then spit.

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, antiviral, high antioxidant, and antitumor agent containing curcumin, which gives turmeric its yellow pigment that helps relief pain and has been used in the treatment of arthritis because they inhibit prostaglandins, chemicals involved in inflammation. Turmeric is also known to lower HDL cholesterol levels.

Seven reasons you can’t be without in the kitchen:
1.    Cabbage is an all-purpose item for just about anything from easing peptic ulcers, inhibiting cancer tumors to weight loss.
2.    Yogurt a healing food containing good bacteria that maintains good digestive health.
3.    Pineapple contains the natural anti-inflammatory agent Bromelain and is high in potassium combined with banana lowers high blood pressure levels.
4.    Beans are packed with protein, B-vitamins and minerals, high in antioxidants and a liver friendly food.
5.    Oats this whole grain your heart will love. It lowers bad cholesterol levels, controls blood pressure and used as a health and beauty aid it soothes the skin that has been exposed to chicken pox and relieves the itch of poison ivy and eczema.
6.    Raw Apple Cider Vinegar is healing to the whole body and sometimes taken as a spring tonic to cleanse the blood.
7.    Flaxseed contains both Omega 3’s and 6’s a healthy essential fat your body needed to build healthy body cells.

Seeds of Change. P.O. Box 152, Spicer, MN 56288. 888-762-7333 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              888-762-7333      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Jones, Lisa. Ancient Foods, Modern Health. Energy Times. November-December 2008.

©2008. Teresa Carr. Almost Midnight Communications.
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