I’ve been thinking about doing a post on spices for a while, and decided to save it for this week. On Monday, I wrote about the importance of creating a comfortable and happy kitchen (here) and then guest blogger Katie gave us some tips on how to go about doing this (here). I thought spices fit in pretty well with this theme.
But, ironically, my sister recently told me that spices only last 6-12 months, and then last week my Nana sent me an article on five spices that are good for the brain. Oh, and then today in class my teacher talked about the literal meaning behind “spicing up” one’s love life! [Translation: spices stimulate sexual desire].
SO, I think it’s definitely time to do a blog on spices.
First, it’s important for people to understand that most spices will last somewhere between 6 and 12 months. Unless you are a personal chef and spend all of your time cooking, most people do not completely use up their spices over the course of a year. When I found this out, I actually was sort of frustrated by the fact that spices are sold in such big containers! I mean, they’re small, but still too big! I buy a lot of my spices in bulk at Savory Spice Shop or Whole Foods, because it saves money. But now I think I’ll only buy bulk spices, and get little glass jars to keep them in (just as Katie suggested yesterday!). And speaking of jars, here’s another thing I learned: proper spice storage is in glass jars. If they are in plastic containers or bags, they should be transferred to glass jars because they will retain their nutrients for a longer period of time.
Now let’s talk about the article my Nana sent me. The title was “A Well-Seasoned Mind,” and it is from AARP magazine, May & June 2010. The article talked about recent scientific research that shows that five spices – turmeric, ginger, garlic, saffron and cinnamon – are good for the brain. Turmeric has the ability to break up brain plaque buildup that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Ginger can be a powerful spice for treating migraines, with some patients reporting total elimination of the migraine with ginger tea, and others reporting significant improvement. Garlic compounds have been shown to eliminate brain cancer cells, and many scientists believe that garlic-based treatments for brain cancer will be used in our near future. Saffron is a pungent herb that has been shown to work as well as Prozac in treating mild depression in some patients, when taken twice daily. An easy way to cook saffron is in rice or quinoa. And finally, cinnamon has been proven to help stabilize blood sugar and helps us remain focused by increasing the rate at which our brain processes information. So, these are five great spices to add to your collection!
The last aspect of spices I want to touch on is their use in weight loss. Adding spices such as capsaicin, jalapeño, habanero and cayenne pepper can actually help stimulate metabolism and speed it up. In addition, adding spices to meals helps us feel more satisfied and full, preventing cravings later in the day. This is great information for those looking to boost their metabolism or lose some weight.
We use a lot of spices at our house. They have so many health benefits, and are relatively affordable and add so much to any dish. Experimenting with spices is the best way to get accustomed to using them. Also, if you can buy any of them in their whole form (such as coriander, pepper, or cloves), they will contain more nutrients and you can just grind them with your mortar & pestle right before you add them to your food.