Spice Up Your Life

It May Take Less Than You Think to Healthfully Spice Up Your Life

When it came to eating what nutritionists dubbed "superfoods," it always seemed like aneasier proposition to slice a tomato or grab a handful of blackberries than to try to figureout how much cinnamon or black pepper would equal stellar nutritional status.

For years, along with foods like tomatoes, blackberries, kiwi, oatmeal and salmon, I'd been hearinghow certain spices and herbs are spectacular when it comes to the large amount of nutrients,antioxidants and even phytonutrients - naturally occurring components of plants that are thought
to provide health benefits beyond the usual, due to their strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatoryqualities - that cause dietitians to dub them "superfoods." Like so many of the results of scientificstudies, though, I thought that the amount needed of the spices was probably much larger and more frequent than would usually be used in everyday cooking.

Recent research has shown, however, that small amounts, like one-quarter teaspoon, are enoughto provide the benefits. Much of this has been uncovered by or reported by the McCormick ScienceInstitute (http://www.McCormickScienceInstitute.com), an arm of the spice manufacturing giant created to advance research regarding the health benefits of herbs and spices. Their goal is to translate the scientific results that are quickly piling up and make them usable in everyday home kitchens.

First, it's essential for consumers to know which spices and herbs have been shown to possess the most nutritional benefits. That's part of the information, along with recipes and tips, kept in the helpful "pantry" at http://www.McCormick.com/ SpicesForHealth and includes:

Simple solutions are the next step, such as one-fourth teaspoon
ground black pepper sprinkled over scrambled eggs, one-fourth
teaspoon oregano leaves drizzled over grilled cheese or one-fourth
teaspoon ground ginger mixed into a serving of soup.

Nutritional benefits can be amped up even further with creative

Pair super spices
, like mixing four cups hot cooked mashed
potatoes with three-fourths teaspoon garlic powder and onefourth
teaspoon ground black pepper.

Double up superfoods (every one of the following is considered one), such as drizzling honey over cantaloupe or honeydew and sprinkling lightly with ground black pepper, or adding one-fourth teaspoon ground cinnamon into oatmeal and topping with dried cherries and sliced almonds or chopped walnuts.

Once your interest is piqued, you might want to browse or print out the "30-Day Challenge" calendar on the McCormick Spices for Health website that notes innovative swaps, such as: "In place of salt, wake up your taste buds with herbed scrambled eggs. Beat one-eighth teaspoon thyme or oregano leaves into two eggs before scrambling"; or "Next time you make green or fruit tea, try adding ground ginger instead of sugar. The softly spiced flavor makes for a perfect complement."

Here are some recipes to spices things up even more:

Cayenne-Cinnamon Ribs

º cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper or Ω to 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 pounds pork baby back ribs
º cup maple syrup
Yields 8 servings.

Preheat oven to 375?F. Mix brown sugar and spices in small bowl. Rub
spice mixture onto both sides of ribs. Place ribs in single layer in foil-lined
roasting pan. Cover with foil.

You can bake and then grill this recipe at the end or only grill it. If you
are only grilling it, see tips below. Or to bake, place in preheated 375?F
oven for 1 hour, or until meat starts to pull away from bones.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Brush ribs with maple syrup. Grill ribs 3 to
5 minutes per side or until browned.

If you are only grilling: Preheat grill to low heat. Rub ribs with spice
mixture as directed. Wrap ribs with 2 to 3 layers of heavy-duty aluminum
foil, sealing ends tightly. Grill ribs 1 hour. Remove foil. Brush ribs with
maple syrup. Grill ribs 3 to 5 minutes per side or until browned.

Curried Red Pepper Dip

1 (7-ounce) container Greek-style 2 percent plain low-fat yogurt
º cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon paprika
Ω teaspoon curry powder
º teaspoon sea salt
Ground red pepper, to taste (optional)
Yields 8 (2-tablespoons) servings.

Mix all ingredients in medium bowl until well blended. Cover.
Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serve with assorted cutup
fresh vegetables (such as baby carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, baby
patty pan squash, blanched asparagus spears or broccoli and cauliflower
florets) and baked pita chips.

- Recipes from http://www.McCormick.com/SpicesForHealth

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