Spicing Things Up in the Kitchen, Ladies!

Imagine you are in the kitchen on a Sunday and you are following one of your favorite recipes. It is ladies night and you want to cook up some healthy chicken stir fry for your guests. First you clean the chicken, cut it up into bite size pieces, throw it in a pan with some olive oil and broccoli. Without even thinking, you sprinkle some salt and pepper on top and call it done. Seasoning dishes with different herbs and spices can cut down on fat, salt and sugar. You also get the health benefits of all the spices! In addition, it is a great way to cut down on salt. Not to mention, herbs and spices make your meals flavorful and unique; you can get creative. It does not take a great deal of time, but can make a big difference in the taste and experience of your food. Read on to become educated about the ABC’s of cooking with spices.

A. Cayenne- For those who enjoy a little extra spiciness in meals, give cayenne a try. Adding a lot will really kick the heat up, but you can also get health benefits from sprinkling a dash. Some of cayenne’s amazing effects are an increase in metabolism, reducing hunger, lowering in blood pressure, and a decreasing in joint pain. Cayenne tastes great on eggs and can pack a punch in a spicy chili. There is also a popular cleanse and weight loss enhancer that involves drinking half a teaspoon of cayenne, a tablespoon of raw honey, and two tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a liter of water. If you have a sensitive stomach, start off slow with cayenne to see if it is the right spice for you.

B. Turmeric- Turmeric is gaining a lot of popularity in the United States for its unbelievable anti inflammatory effects. Women dealing with arthritis may find relief from the typical stiffness, pain, and swelling. In addition, this spice contains curcumin which can prevent the growth of cancer. Turmeric is an acquired taste and a tip is to definitely not get it on your clothes or skin -- it will stain them yellow. This ingredient is best used in soups, stews, sauces, meat dishes, and bland vegetables. Turmeric works best blended with other spices.

Golden turmeric tea is a warm and zesty beverage that includes 1 teaspoon cinnamon, pinch of clove, pinch of nutmeg, teaspoon of fresh ground ginger, pinch of black pepper, and 1-2 cups of hot water. Add a small amount of turmeric such as 1 teaspoon and increase depending on your taste tolerance. Add raw honey to sweeten.

C. Parsley- Containing an impressive amount of vitamin K and C, parsley helps boost the immune system as well as reduce inflammation. This herb also contains B vitamins that help keep your heart and cardiovascular system healthy. Parsley compliments savory meat and pasta dishes well and many Italian dishes call for it. You may like to try a parsley sauce over black bean pasta for an exciting new meal. Sauce includes: ½ bunch of fresh parsley, 3 cloves garlic, ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil, ¼ cup water, 2 tablespoons lime juice, pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Next step is to blend in your food processor and refrigerate for 7 days to thicken. Enjoy on everything!

When shopping for spices, be as critical as you are when shopping for your meats and dairy products. Read the whole label and buy a reliable brand. Some brands add fillers, like flour or soy, to their product to cut down on the price of manufacturing. Spices tend to last a long time, so feel good about spending a couple extra dollars on good quality ones. When you purchase higher quality spices you need less in your cooking since they deliver a more intense flavor. Do not buy spices in bulk because they will go stale. Look for organic herbs that were grown without chemicals and pesticides. The best way to use spices is to buy them whole, and grind them up yourself. Yes it is a little extra work, but that is the special secret ingredient, love.