Spice Up Your Meals, Spice Up Your Health
Spices and herbs can transform any old recipe into a delicious meal experience. Not to mention that many spices and herbs found in traditional Asian, Mediterranean and Mexican dishes pack a powerful punch of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here’s how to spice up your meals with some international flavor:
Oregano – The active compound in oregano is rosmarinic acid, a powerful antioxidant which makes ½ teaspoon of oregano equivalent in antioxidants to 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries.
· Sprinkle oregano on sliced tomato and mozzarella salad.
· Boost flavor of any store-bought marinara sauce by adding some oregano.
Thyme – One teaspoon of thyme contains as many antioxidants as ½ cup of chopped tomatoes or 1 large carrot.
Thyme also contains flavonoids, compounds which are linked to anti-inflammatory benefits.
· Create an herbed scramble at breakfast by adding thyme and oregano to eggs in place of salt.
· Sauté mushrooms in olive oil and sprinkle with thyme.
Rosemary – This herb also contains the antioxidant rosmarinic acid and is rich in B-complex vitamins.
· Add rosemary, garlic powder and thyme to mashed potatoes
· Brush dinner rolls with a mixture of olive oil and rosemary before baking.
· Rub chicken breasts with rosemary, garlic, thyme, and salt and pepper before roasting.
Ginger – Derived from gingerroot, ground ginger has been used for centuries to soothe stomach pain and discomfort.
The active ingredient, gingerol, appears to have anti-inflammatory properties that help to relieve nausea, migraines and arthritis.
· Sprinkle ground ginger on fruit salad
· Top warm winter squash or sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of ground ginger.
Sesame Seeds – These seeds are rich in calcium and vitamin E — a powerful antioxidant. White and black sesame seeds are sold at your local ShopRite. To get the most out of your sesame seeds, toast them in a dry pan over low heat until they are lightly browned and fragrant.
· Add toasted seeds to salads, vinaigrettes, or a stir fry.
· Coat a tuna steak in white and black sesame seeds before grilling for a crunchy, nutty coating.
Cumin – This spice is rich in many minerals including iron, copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, selenium, zinc and magnesium. In addition, 1 teaspoon of cumin has as much antioxidant power as ½ cup of chopped red cabbage.
· Sprinkle store bought hummus with ground cumin and serve with tortillas.
· Top black bean soup or tacos with Greek yogurt mixed with ground cumin.
Chili Powder – This spice is made of ground chilies, cayenne pepper and paprika. The active component in chili peppers, capsaicin, is what makes 1 teaspoon of chili powder equal in antioxidant power to ½ cup of broccoli.
· Stuff peppers with a mixture of chili powder, brown rice, black beans and bell peppers. Bake until warm.
· Pulse black beans, roasted garlic, chili powder, and cumin in a food processor for a quick bean dip.