Kitchen Cabinet Health

By: Julie Fletcher

Stay Healthy With What You Have On Hand
You may not be aware, but the everyday spices and herbs you have at home can be just as healthy as the ones you hear so much about in the news. While not every kitchen cabinet will have ginseng or gingko biloba tucked inside, most kitchens are stocked with cinnamon, nutmeg, and other herbs or spices you might normally use in cooking or baking. These herbs and spices have been around for centuries and many have been used by our ancestors for herbal remedies and some have medical benefits backed up by recent scientific studies. Spicing up your food will not only wake up your taste buds, it will also improve your health. Nearly every herb used in cooking has it's own health benefits, it is only a matter of taking the time to incorporate them into your routine of cooking and baking.

Herbs in cooking
Some herbs like rosemary are used in cooking all over the world for a lovely flavor and scent added to foods. But did you know that such simple herbs can offer you health benefits? Rosemary is known to have antibacterial properties and the essential oil has been used in aromatherapy since the days of the Roman Empire. Thyme has antiseptic qualities and is used for bowel disturbances and even anemia. Sage, like that used in sausage or some stuffing for fowl, has qualities that will help expel excessive mucus from the body. Teas made from peppermint, blackberry, or chamomile are popular and each have medical benefits for the body. Blackberry is wonderful for stomach problems, chamomile is know the world over for it's calming properties, and peppermint is a very useful aid in digestion. Garlic is the king of all the herbs used in everyday cooking. It has health benefits that range from weight loss to blood purifier to cholesterol kicker. Medical studies have backed up nearly every claim made to the health benefits of garlic, with more being conducted every year. If you add just one herb and spice to your cooking, make it garlic!

Cinnamon has so many qualities that are beneficial to the body it would be impossible to list them all in this article alone. Cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar, it can also help those with joint problems such as arthritis. A spoonful of cinnamon and honey has been proven to help those with severe arthritis regain some mobility without pain. Black pepper has been getting a bad rap, but this spice is a stimulant, helps digest fat, and helps the body expel mucus much like sage. Turmeric is an herb used in Indian cuisine and is beneficial for all of the body's systems and tissues. Much like cinnamon, there are very many uses and benefits for this spice, including arthritis, diabetes, and as a blood purifier. Ginger is another spice found and used in kitchens all over. Though ginger is very spicy, it is used to settle upset stomach and is more effective than many over the counter remedies. Chili powder has ingredients that make it beneficial for those with joint problems. The anti-inflammatory properties of red pepper and other spicy peppers come from capsaicin and can help ease the pain and swelling from arthritis.

Getting More Spices For Less
Some people do not use as many herbs and spices as they would like to use due to the high cost of them in many outlets. Saffron for instance, can be quite expensive. One well kept secret is to shop in the ethnic aisles for your herbs and spices. Spices purchased in the ethnic aisles or section of your market can be up to ninety percent lower in cost than in the traditional spice section. Spanish saffron is a high quality alternative to that purchased in traditional spice sections and can be bought for as little as one dollar, USD! Herbs can be purchased in the ethnic section or in ethnic neighborhood markets. You may also try your hand at growing herbs in small pots or window boxes. Fresh herbs have a great taste and make a tasty addition to meals. Kits for growing herbs are often for sale in department stores.
International Herbs and Spices
Grocery stores have expanded their spice shelves to include spices and herbs from all over the world. Shopping and searching for international spices does not have to take place in specialty markets any longer, though you can often find a larger selection via online markets. EBay is especially good for finding spices from other parts of the world than you live in. In fact, you can get fresh herbs and spices direct from growers in some online shops! Some herbs from other areas of the world may not grow well in an herb garden, so it is best to do some research on which will respond well to a greenhouse or kitchen window. If you find an herb you enjoy but cannot grow, purchasing it will save a lot of frustration in the long run. Be sure to check out an online shop before purchasing a large amount of any herb, as some areas of the world still use chemical fertilizers and pesticides that are illegal in other countries and can be detrimental to your health.

Using herbs in everyday foods
You may wonder exactly what foods can benefit from the addition of some of the herbs and spices mentioned above. Rosemary is traditionally used in meats, though it can be added into other foods as well. If you wish to help prevent colds and other airborne illness, try adding a little rosemary into your eggs or omelet for breakfast. An unusual but tasty way to enjoy rosemary is to add about a teaspoon into a batch of sugar cookies. The taste gives an unexpected compliment to the buttery flavor of the cookies. Thyme can be used in the same way. Try adding a pinch of cinnamon into your pasta sauces or a dash into a pork dish. Blackberries can be added into many cake or cookie recipes. You may also tear open bags of herbal teas to mix into cookies, breads, or homemade breakfast bars.

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