“What you put at the end of your fork is more powerful medicine than anything you will find at the bottom of a pill bottle.”
You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to sit down and enjoy a thoughtfully prepared meal of fresh food. You are probably the same way. But why? We intuitively know that when we eat better, we feel better. We also intuitively know that fruits and vegetables are great for us and that beans, whole grains, honey, ghee, and seeds keep us full and nourished. You see, knowing that we should be eating great food is not the problem. Making great food more accessible through convenience, affordability, and flavors that make us salivate, is where we could use some help to turn this knowing into action.
Eating fresh food is important, but do you get tired of the same salads, soups, and steamed vegetables day in and day out? Me too, but luckily Ayurveda has a master cure for what may be fresh, but now seems bland and humdrum. Ayurveda teaches us that when we eat, we not only see, hear, taste, smell, and touch our food, but food’s tastes and flavors have the power to evoke our emotions—opening the doors to a richly complex eating experience. Eating food isn’t just about shoving calories into our bodies to stay alive, it’s about putting prana into our bodies to come alive.
Ayurveda teaches us that spices carry unique medicinal properties. Let’s come alive by spicing things up!
- Cinnamon: Sweet and spicy. Cinnamon helps support normal blood sugar and healthy cholesterol levels, and cleanses the blood and promotes circulation. Add a dash of cinnamon to your morning coffee or sprinkle a generous amount of it into your oatmeal.
- Cayenne Pepper: Muy caliente. It’s no shocker that cayenne pepper warms up your mouth, but did you know it also boosts your agni (digestive fire), burns up excess kapha, and feeds your passionate heart? Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your kitchari, lentils, or morning omelet.
- Ginger: Sweet and spicy—plus oh so versatile. Put ¼ inch of fresh ginger root in juice or hot water to make a robust tea that will stimulate your metabolism and support ease in your body. Ginger is a root that supports comfortable joints, boosts agni, promotes stomach comfort, and can easily be added to soups, smoothies, and stir-fries. I love sautéing cauliflower with ginger and cinnamon because the cauliflower acts as a delicious flavor sponge. It’s easy!
|Simple Spiced Cauliflower|
|First cut a whole cauliflower into small florets, then toss the florets into a wok with the coconut oil or ghee. Add the ginger and cinnamon, and sauté on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked to your liking. The spicy-sweet goodness will make your taste buds so happy.|
- Turmeric: Bitter and gloriously golden. As an Ayurveda practitioner, I wouldn’t dare fail to mention Ayurveda’s most beloved spice. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years and is the foundational spice of ancient plant medicine. Turmeric is a bright orange spice that recently became popular in the pages of magazines, posts on social media, and even segments of the morning news. While there is nothing new about turmeric, I’m thrilled it has stood the test of time. This spice has so many properties! It strengthens digestion, cleanses the blood, supports the joints, and brings a glow to one’s skin. It is important to note that turmeric is fat-soluble and is best consumed with foods containing fat or with a carrier that has fat in it such as almond milk, coconut oil, or ghee. The elixir known as Golden Milk is a great way to get all the benefits from turmeric. It’s best taken before bed because the synergistic effects of its ingredients are calming and prepare the body for peaceful rest.
|Heat the milk to boiling and add all the spices. Let cool and enjoy!|
You can also add ½ teaspoon of ginger and ½ teaspoon of turmeric to your morning juice or smoothie to kick the drink’s naturally occurring antioxidants into overdrive. Keep in mind that if your juice or smoothie is fat-free, you should add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil to ensure the spices are properly digested and assimilated so you receive all the benefits.
Used by themselves, spices can provide wonderful health benefits. However, just as with herbs, using two or more spices together creates a synergy that can provide amplified benefits. One easy way to reap this synergy is by combining spices in a salad dressing. Here’s one of my favorite salad dressing recipes.
|Spiced Up Salad Dressing|
|Combine the rice vinegar and olive oil in a mason jar or other small container, add the spices, shake well, and pour over your spring salads! It will last in the fridge for a week.|
The medley of flavors in the salad dressing’s spices highlights the natural flavors in your fresh veggies. The blend also enkindles your agni, and supports healthy lungs and clear breathing.
Spices are colorful, aromatic, and exciting. There are no rules when it comes to spices, so don’t be bashful—get creative! You can be shy at work or at a party, but don’t be shy in the kitchen. The kitchen is your safe haven for exploration, innovation, and health. Your senses and emotions will appreciate your creativity, but, more importantly, your health will honor you.