Food for Thought – Spice Up Your Life!

Food for Thought – Spice up your food and you’ll spice up your life!

You got a bland, boring, boneless, skinless chicken breast. What to do? With a few spices you can go from the American Southwest to the Orient, from the Caribbean to Italy, from New Orleans to the Pacific Rim. The possibilities are endless! What are you doing with a boneless, skinless chicken breast anyway? That’s for a restaurant! Like mine! You’re eating primal, so you want bones and skin, but we’ll talk about that when we talk about Proteins.

What kind of spices should be in your pantry?  For me, I gotta have dried basil, oregano and thyme. That’s basic European flavors for me. I also have to have cumin, chili powder, cayenne and cilantro. I prefer fresh cilantro, but dried is ok. These are for the American Southwest flavors. Don’t forget your hot sauces! I also got to have ginger, coriander, granulated garlic or fresh garlic, coconut aminos, tamari and fish sauce for the orient. If I’m doing Cajun, got to have allspice, cloves, cayenne and red pepper flakes! Its always good to have granulated garlic and granulated onion on hand. They’re good in anything. I don’t recommend garlic salt or onion salt. The granulated product is good and you can make the dish garlicky enough without making it too salty.
As is the case with a lot of spices, they not only taste good but many of them have health benefits. Some are listed below and all are in my spice rack!
Black Pepper
Helps the body break down fat cells plus it raises your body temp, like cayenne pepper, helping the body eliminate toxins through sweat. Grate some fresh black pepper on your salads, burgers and eggs.
Bay Leaves
Helps the digestive system and acts as a diuretic and helps eliminates toxins. Also has B Vitamins that support the nervous system, increasing energy and your metabolic rate. A must in soups and stews.
Cayenne Pepper
Some like it hot! If you do, use this. Like black pepper and all spicy peppers for that matter, it gets your metabolism going! A key ingredient to many spicy dishes and essential in Cajun cooking.
Cinnamon
I use this to help control my blood sugar. I add it to my protein shakes and smoothies.
Fennel
Full of phytonutrients, fennel has anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects, slows the growth of cancer cells and help reverse damage to the liver. When I do pork belly, I grind fresh black pepper and whole fennel seeds in my spice grinder, then rub it into the scored fat of the pork belly, then cook the pork belly. Great in ground pork dishes. Imparts a flavor of Italian Sausage.
Nutmeg
This spice has a high magnesium content causing you to relax and can help you fall asleep which can, in turn, help with insomnia! Maybe add some to your bedtime tea if you do tea at night. The only time I use nutmeg now is when I cook something with spinach. I always add nutmeg to the spinach I’m cooking. You can buy nutmeg already ground, or buy whole nutmegs and a nutmeg grater for that fresh scent of grated nutmeg.
Paprika
Full of vitamin A and E and together they fight free radical damage to the body. Vitamin A also supports healthy cell growth and recovery. If you want a colorful red appearance to your dishes, look no further. When I make Jambalaya (no rice) lots of paprika goes in, and a little cayenne and chili powder for spice. All good!
Thyme
Boosts healthy immune system by increasing white blood cell formation. Can’t make a stew, or soup without thyme. Essential for Pot Roast!
Turmeric
Anti-inflammatory effect. If you want to turn something freaky orange/yellow this is the one! Its the main ingredient in curry powders and gives them that characteristic yellow color. When I make curry apple chicken salad, or any other dish where I use a curry or straight turmeric, I always seem to add ground coriander and ginger too. Just goes together!

Please share your thoughts!