Sunday, April 8, 2012

Healing Power of Culinary Spices

Found this great book at the library the other day and highly recommend it. "Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Every Day and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease". The author is Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD. You can purchase it through  this blog by clicking the link in the sidebar.

Many of the spices you already have in your cupboard if you like to cook. Some have to be purchased at an herb store, some at ethnic grocery stores. I love it that spices and recipes from many world cuisines are included. The book describes the spice, where it comes from and how to identify it if there are others that are similar to it.

There is some history about the plants and how they have been used. It goes into research from around the world as to the healing properties both from the 'folk' point of view and through scientific research. On top of that there are recipes for using them in your everyday diet. Here are just a few examples:

Pomegranate Guacamole

1 lime
1 cup sliced scallions
4 garlic cloves, diced
2-3 serrano or jalapeno chiles, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbs. pomegranate juice
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

1. Peel and pit the avocados and place them in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with lime juice. Mash until it forms a coarse pulp.
2. Add the scallions, garlic, chiles, cilantro, and pomegranate juice. Continue to mash until well blended but still a little chunky. Fold in the pomegranate seeds.

Makes about 2 cups

The author refers to pomegranate as "a pharmacy unto itself", with special value for blood vessels, lowering blood pressure, and numerous types of cancer.

Another gem - Lemongrass "the calming spice"
And who would not benefit from that these days? This is a good one for hot summer days (haven't seen many of those for a long time)...but you could drink it hot as well.

Lemongrass Tea

1 cup lemongrass pieces about 1/2 inch each
1/2 cup sugar
8 cups water

It says to boil 2 cups water with the lemongrass and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Steep til cool then put in blender or food processor until finely chopped. Then you strain out all the solids. Serve cold or iced

Lemongrass is helpful in reducing cholesterol and has anti-cancer properties as well.

Although the book does have illustrations, more would be better. It has a chart on what you can use to substitute for spices you don't have when cooking and recipes for popular blends such as: bouquet garni and mulling spice. I was pleased to see another recipe for Ras-el-hanout since I collect them. A whole section at the back is devoted to curry and masala blends. Finally there is a section on where to find spices that may not be available in your area...websites and phone numbers.

I appreciate the fact that the author includes research done outside the U.S. and Europe, because we don't always have access to that. He pulls it all together in a very user friendly way. This book is a 'must have' for anyone trying eat their medicine.

2 ripe avocados

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