Don't ignore the nutrient powerhouses hidden away in your spice cabinet. Spices contain phenols which stimulate your immune system to protect against disease and are rich in anti-oxidants to protect your body from free radical damage. Not to mention the flavor possibilities! Spices can elevate a simple dinner into a nutrient dense, delicious masterpiece.
As a general rule of thumb dried spices will stay “fresh” for about a year and whole spices for 3 years. If you are unsure how long that jar of dried basil has been lurking in your cupboard perform this simple test: 1) check the color, if it has faded dramatically it is most likely past it's prime 2) rub the spice between your fingers and smell, if it still let's off a decent aroma you are good to go.
Spices past their prime won't make you sick, they just wont flavor your food.
Here are my a few of my recent favorite spices and their amazing health and healing properties. Plus, how to use them in your kitchen.
- Smoked Paprika – This has been my “spice crush” for quite some time. A little dash will turn a simple vegetable dish into something richer, heartier, and so delicious. Paprika, because of it's high vitamin C content, helps your body absorb iron rich foods and fight infection. Smoked Paprika hails from Spain's La Vera region where farmers harvest and dry chilies over a wood fire creating a woodsy smokey flavor. You should be able to find smoked paprika in nearly any grocery store, it is also called Pimenton de La Vera.
Try smoked paprika in these yummy recipes:
- Garlic Gomasio – Gomasio is a traditional condiment in Japan made of toasted sesame seeds and sea salt simply ground together. Gomasio is a great condiment to use when you are trying to reduce your sodium content. The little bit of sea salt ground with nutty crunchy sesame seeds satisfies the salt craving. Garlic gomasio has the added benefit of cancer fighting garlic. Sprinkle this on salads, greens or grains.
- Dried Oregano – An aromatic herb traditionally used in Mediterranean and spanish cooking. Oregano is a rich source of vitamin K, iron and manganese. Oregano has anti-bacterial properties and has been used to treat bacterial infections.
My Grampa used oregano religiously in his salads, he would dress the salad greens with olive oil, then sprinkle sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and dried oregano. Toss the salad until leaves were well coated then would finish with a dash of red wine vinegar. That was the salad I ate every night of my life and loved it. Or try this recipe:
Greek Kale Salad
- Dried Coriander – The seed of cilantro, ground coriander lends a lovely citrus note to any dish. Coriander may help control blood sugar levels and is an excellent tool to help cleanse heavy metals from the body. Ground coriander is a lovely rub for grilled scallops or the perfect citrus balance in this healthy snack recipe:
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