Well-chosen spices can instantly turn a simple dish into a real delicacy.
Moreover, their healing properties can help you improve your overall health, so there is really no good reason to keep these goodies away from your every day menu.
Technically, spices are different vegetables in a concentrated form. Same as vegetables, they contain thousands of healthy compounds, including antioxidants, says Wendy Bazilian, a nutrition consultant.
“The main role in the mix of these spices belongs to turmeric which contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound that is 50 times more effective than vitamin C or E,” says Bharat Aggarwal, a doctor and professor at the University of Texas and author of the book “Healing Spices.”
In fact, a study showed that curcumin inhibits the growth of certain breast cancer cells, and other research shows that it may protect against stomach and colon cancer.
Simply rub some curry powder on a piece of raw meat or fish before baking it, and you can even use it to prepare a light, but juicy soup recipe by Aliye LeeKong, who works as a chef in “Junoon,” a restaurant in New York.
Take a pumpkin, cut it in half, and remove the seeds. Place both halves on a baking sheet, drizzle over just a little olive oil, some salt and bake it in the oven for 45-50 minutes at 200 °C (392°F).
During that time, over medium heat cook two finely chopped onions, 3 garlic cloves, also finely chopped, two tablespoons of curry powder, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of olive oil.
Cook until the onion becomes soft. Put the roasted pumpkin into your blender, add the stewed onion mixture, 6 cups of chicken broth and 1/3 cup of cream or sour cream and blend until you get a smooth texture.
‘Grilling and stewing requires a little or no fat at all, and cooking at high temperatures produces heterocyclic amines, compounds considered as harmful free radicals that cause cancer,“ says Hannah El-Amin, a nutritionist at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.
Fortunately, marinating the meat in a rosemary mixture before baking it prevents the creation of heterocyclic amines up to 84 percent, according to a study conducted at the University of Kansas.
To prepare a chicken or steak marinade, combine two tablespoons of olive oil, half a cup of lemon juice, just a half of a finely chopped garlic clove and a tablespoon of rosemary.
Mix equal parts of thyme, rosemary and oregano together and rub this mixture on chicken breasts, says Limor Baum, a nutritionist from New York.
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