3 Super Spices To Stock in Your Kitchen - Guest Blog Post from Dr. Beth Ricanati
We take care of our bodies on the outside; we exercise and make sure that we have the right clothes and shoes – the right equipment – to maximize both the experience and the end result.
We need to take care of the inside of our bodies just as well. We need to choose good, smart food choices. No fancy diets, no crazy food restrictions, not a medicine cabinet full of the latest supplements. Just food. Good, clean food. What I know to be true: pay attention to what you eat. You’re not going to put tomato juice in your car’s gas tank and expect to drive off into the sunset, so why put something unhealthy, processed or chemical-based in your body and expect to feel good, to be healthy?
I’ve learned that it matters which ingredients I use in my cooking; and this extends to which spices I use, too! Specifically, stock your kitchen with these three super spices. Why? Spices have been used in cooking and as medicine for thousands of years. And I love to use them now. Nothing beats the smell of fresh spices permeating our house. I buy organic spices, in glass jars. I usually buy them in the grocery store, though it’s probably easier to buy them in bulk on line.
Scientific research explains what so many of our ancestors knew: not only do spices add so much flavor to food, but they have proven health benefits too! They act as anti-inflammatories, anti-oxidants, blood sugar-balancers and so much more.
Ginger: great for nausea and vomiting (car trips and pregnancy, anyone).
How to buy: Ideally, purchase fresh gingerroot as opposed to powdered ginger. I use both. Fresh ginger has knobs (called ‘hands’) and these should be firm, with a smooth outer peel. Once a piece of it has been peeled, you can store the rest in the fridge in a paper bag for up to two weeks; or left unpeeled, you can store it frozen indefinitely in a freezer bag.
Cinnamon: balances blood sugar, thus lowering diabetes risk, most likely mimicking insulin, the pancreatic hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
How to buy: Ideally, buy cinnamon sticks – known as quills – and use a spice grinder or fine grater as needed. I usually just get the powder form, but read the labels regardless and get the good stuff! If you purchase the powdered form, make sure that it’s from the quill and not just ‘featherings’ or ‘chip’-based. Not sure: buy Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka; it’s the best in the world.
Turmeric: reduce inflammation and inhibits tumors. It contains curcumin, a truly potent anticancer (especially adenocarcinomas like prostate, breast and colon), anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. Turmeric gives that great yellow color to mustard and Indian curries.
How to buy: Turmeric comes from two places in India, Alleppey and Madras. The turmeric from Alleppey has more curcumin in it. It’s hard to grind, so I buy the powdered form.
Dr. Beth Ricanati has built her career around bringing wellness into everyday life, especially for busy moms juggling life and children. Trained and worked at Columbia Presbyterian and then at the Cleveland Clinic, both in the Women’s Health Center and in the Wellness Institute at the founding medical director for Lifestyle180, a lifestyle modification program to treat chronic diseases with nutrition, exercise & stress management.