Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Super Spices

Did you know some of your favorite herbs and spices contain as many antioxidants as a serving of fruits or veggies? (I realize this is a departure from my usual post, but if you read through the lesson, there’s cake at the end!) This is not an in-depth lesson. You can google any of these and discover their health promoting qualities. This is just a post to say you should try to incorporate these herbs and spices into your daily diet, and a few suggestions to help you do so. And maybe by doing so, you’ll cut down on your salt intake if that is an issue for you., plus you’ll be doing your body good.

Generally speaking, a half teaspoon of these dried spices and herbs provides the same or more antioxidants than a half cup of fresh fruit. Hence, they are Super Spices.

Cinnamon is among the highest in antioxidants. Of course we all add cinnamon to our muffin and cookie batters. TRY adding a half teaspoon cinnamon to coffee or tea before brewing. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon over peanut butter and banana sandwiches. When you bring home that pint of Soy Delicious Vanilla, let if soften, then stir in a teaspoon of cinnamon and refreeze. There’s nothing better on a hot summer evening than cinnamon ice cream over fresh fruit.

Ginger – I love my fresh ginger, but I do keep ground ginger as well. It’s not just for holiday baking. TRY sprinkling ground ginger over fresh fruit or adding a half teaspoon to a quart of lemonade.

Turmeric – DID YOU KNOW turmeric is a root and is in the ginger family? It has long been used as an anti-inflammatory to aid in treating conditions such as IBS and arthritis. We all use turmeric to make yellow rice and dals. TRY adding a half teaspoon to your next batch of hummus, or to a bag of popcorn to give it a buttery look, or to your next tofu scramble if you want an eggy look.

Pepper – this includes paprika, chili powder, red pepper, and cayenne. DID YOU KNOW the hotter the pepper, the more antioxidants it contains? TRY sprinkling some crushed red pepper flakes into your next batch of pizza or pasta sauce. Add it to store bought sauces or relishes for a real flavor boost.

Rosemary – Rosemary may be abundant in Mediterranean cooking, but it’s abundant in Texas too. The bushes grow roof high here! DID YOU KNOW rosemary is great for your hair and scalp? We are used to adding rosemary to focaccia and roasted potatoes. TRY adding a half teaspoon to your recipes for greens and dried beans, especially fava beans.

Oregano – This wonderful herb has one of the highest antioxidant levels of all the dried herbs, up to 20 times more than all others studied. Fortunately for us, oregano can be used as a flavor enhancer for practically any vegetable or legume. DID YOU KNOW there are 3 varieties of oregano - Italian, Greek, and Mexican? Mexican oregano is my favorite and I buy the dried whole oregano flowers. It’s the secret ingredient in my delicious and healthy ranch dressing and also in my favorite pinto beans. TRY adding fresh tomato slices and dried oregano to your grilled cheese sammies. Sprinkle it over those frozen pizzas when they come out of the oven for a more homemade flavor.

Thyme – This is another herb that goes with most veggies, as well as mushrooms and grains. It is a key component in the classic mire poix. Thyme lends an especially hearty flavor to bean soups, mixed vegetable soups, corn (think cornbread, cornbread stuffing), and tomatoes. DID YOU KNOW there are approximately 60 varieties of thyme? TRY a lemon juice, thyme, and white wine sauce on your artichokes. Sprinkle it on your tofu scrambles and into your tofu salads. And always season your homemade vegetable broths with thyme.

REMEMBER to crush your dried herbs before adding them to your food to release their full flavor. If you need just a pinch, simply rub the herbs with your thumb and forefinger as you sprinkle them onto the food. For more, pour it into the palm of one hand and rub your palms together to sprinkle it over your pan.


Thanks for sitting through your lesson! Now you may have cake, as promised. This is a picture of a slice of my mom’s lemon cake I made her for Mother’s Day. She LOVED everything about the cake – the flavor, the moistness, the bit of a crust it made on the outside, and the cute little personal size.



25 comments:

VeggieGirl said...

It IS fascinating how nutritious spices are - especially cinnamon, my favorite :0)

No WONDER your mom loved that lemon cake - looks HEAVENLY!!

romina said...

I'm happy to hear how beneficial these are all since I use them on a regular basis!

Paulina said...

How interesting about the antioxidant content of herbs and spices - I never knew that!

Vegetation said...

Interesting, I always assumed because they were dried that really they were just there for flavour, it's good to know they're actually good for me too.

And it's funny, my 4 spices that I owned pre-veg used to always go stale before I even got half way through the jar. Now I have cupboards full of spices and I never have to throw them out!

vegan addict said...

Wow! Oregano has a high level of antioxidants? That is my favorite herb for homemade pizza sauce! You would make a nice teacher if you handed out cake after every lesson! And even if you didn't hand out cake! Hehehe...

Celine said...

I had no idea about the spices! this is great news.
and the cake looks amazing!

healthyceliac said...

Thanks for all that great information on spices. I'm happy to know that I was using all those spices without even knowing how beneficial some of them are!
And that cake, well, it looks amazing :)

Vegan_Noodle said...

What interesting information about spices. Does this mean I can feel good about eating chocolate chip cookies last night with cinnamon in the batter? :-)

Mmmm, I love looking at cake crumbs. Glad your mom enjoyed it!

LK said...
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LK said...
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LK said...

Love your "Super Spice" post! We love using cinnamon, oregano, and rosemary in our cooking - especially using fresh oregano and rosemary from the garden!

Your cake looks so good and moist!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

I would’ve pored through this blog post even if you HADN’T provided a picture of cake at the end! I did know spices provide antioxidants prior to reading this; however I never knew which spices supplied which antioxidants. Your post was informative and interesting—as all your posts are.

Melody Polakow said...

Thanks for posting this information!

I love that things that are so delicious are so good for you!

Carrie™ said...

I found your lesson very interesting. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs and cinnamon is one of my favorite spices and they have health benefits! Excellent! I'm curious about the rosemary for hair and scalp, so I'm going to look that up for more info. The cake at the end was a perfect finish.

Mihl said...

That was really interesting to read, thank you! Spices are really fascinating and they provide not only a lot of antioxidants but some of them are also very rich in minerals. Since I know that thyme and cumin are loaded with iron I throw them into everything.

Liz² said...

sweet! and half a teaspoon, that's not very much at all, my curries and oatmeals and stuff must be benefit-city. thanks for the awesome information! (and that cake looks incredible... lemon + cake = oooooooh)

Susan G said...

Neat post...go to the McCormick's website for a chart of all the ORAC values of foods and spices. They're very happy to tell you that 1 tsp of cinnamon (or cloves) has more antioxidants than 1/2 cup of blueberries!

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Every time I see purple cabbage on your blog, it makes me happy. That’s a food I should start eating more often—I never think to buy it, but whenever I do, I’m always glad.

I found this website the other day, and it made me think of you, my fellow vocabulary fiend:

http://phrontistery.info/a.html

funwithyourfood said...

I finally posted my news about school. Work knows now and I did a mini review of veggie heaven. GREAT place, thank you soo much for recommending it :)

Teddy

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Balderdash is one of my favorite games too! But my family always seems to want to play Trivial Pursuit—I’m lousy at that one!

Wheeler's Frozen Dessert said...

I totally didn't know that those spices contained antioxidants. Shame on me! Thanks for posting about it - Awesome cake :)

bazu said...

herbs and spices are amazing. I try to find ways to eat parsley as a veggie instead of a garnish! and I try to have as much cinnamon and turmeric as possible too! this is such a fun and informative read, thank you!

Jackie said...

Great info. I take a turmeric capsule daily due to it being such a great antioxidant.

Erin said...

Thanks for the information! I already use these herbs and spices fairly regularly, but I'm sure your ideas could help me eat them more often. And you cake looks lovely, glad your mom enjoyed it.

ChocolateCoveredVegan said...

Aww that’s so sweet your sister used to call you Mama. When I was ten, I would’ve loved to have had a baby sister… but I bet the joy of a baby sister goes hand-in-hand with having to do a lot of babysitting!