The truth behind good cooking is that it’s all about flavor, and nothing provides flavor so readily as herbs and spices. While not necessarily packed with calories and label-worthy nutrients, herbs and spices tend to carry many health benefits. In other words, they’re are medicine for our bodies.
There are many spices believed to be so potent that they are argued to be as effective, if not more so, than prescription medicines. However, using spices for their preventative, medicinal qualities is much like using prescriptions in that it requires regularity. Having a bit of turmeric or garlic every day is much more effective than having it only when ill.
In order to do that, it’s important to have many methods for introducing these spices into our diets. There are lots of recipes like the ones below from the Food Monster App that’ll provide us with unique, different flavors and meals to satisfy today’s complex palates.
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Ginger is renowned for its medicinal qualities, in particular its ability to settle stomach, decrease nausea, and prevent motion sickness. That said, it’s a strong, unique flavor that many of us aren’t accustomed to using. While drinking ginger tea is an easy way to get good daily doses of it, there are a host of good recipes for making ginger part of a medicinal meal plan.
- Kale, beet, and pecan salad with ginger dressing
- Ginger citrus power bowl with bok choy and cashews
- Ginger garlic chickpeas (a healthy, high-protein snack)
In terms of medicinal spices, nothing really gets equal praise as turmeric. Claims for its powers range from defeating cancer to curing colds, and there is actually a lot of science behind these assertions. That said, it’s another spice that hasn’t found common use in traditional Western diets, which means a little help working it into the mix is useful.
- Cinnamon turmeric sweet potatoes
- Roasted cauliflower steak with turmeric white bean dressing
- Spicy golden turmeric cashews (a healthy, high-protein snack)
For those into Cajun food or fiery flavor, cayenne is a familiar spice. It packs a wallop of heat, and whilst doing so, it delivers some powerful medicinal qualities. It boosts our metabolism, lowers blood pressure, aids in digestion and plenty of other things. The best way to work cayenne into meals is to use in place of black pepper or start adopting Louisiana recipes into the culinary repertoire.
Another familiar spice is cinnamon, and like the others on this list, it has real medicinal value. It’s chocked with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s particularly useful with blood sugar levels. Even better, it’s one that we are more likely to see in deserts and breakfast pastries, so we have a valid reason to feed the sweet-tooth a little.
In all likelihood, with modern tastes being as they are, garlic is likely to feature in most savory dishes we cook. It’s a favorite spice for many, and fortunately, it’s also highly respected as beneficial for our hearts and blood. Infamously, it’s bad for our breath but tastes so good that most of us don’t care. For some extra garlicky suggestions, here are a few great recipes.
- Quick-rise garlic breads
- Roasted garlic ginger carrot soup
- Rosemary and garlic roasted almonds (a healthy, high-protein snack)
Nutmeg is one of those spices that largely gets overlooked. It remains somewhat mysterious to most of us, and aside from a shake or two atop a cappuccino, we might not often see it in our diets. However, it helps with insomnia, digestion and brain health. Also, there are many ways to incorporate nutmeg into meals.
- Creamy cauliflower curry soup
- Raw pumpkin pie cheesecake (Nutmeg is part of the pumpkin pie spice mix.)
- Maple spice oatmeal
Undoubtedly, mustard has made its mark on the Western diet. We readily identify it as that nasal-clearing condiments everyone has in the fridge. Well, it has a good lot of medicinal qualities that make it cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory. Also, it has many more ways it can make it into our meals.
Medicinal herbs and spices can genuinely go a long way in keeping us healthy. Luckily, using them regularly is no great mystery: They are what make meals all the more delicious. Spices are amongst the greatest gifts the world has bestowed our kitchens and our bodies.
I also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 15,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!