Spices are a vital part of healthy cooking; they provide nutritional and medicinal values and have been used not only for seasoning foods and creating perfumes, but also for love philters.
- Spices may be the bark, root, bud, fruit, or berry of a plant.
- Most of the flavor and aroma of spices comes from oils and these are quite volatile.
- Buy small quantities at a time, get them whole, and then grind them as needed. You can use a mortar and pestle or a spice/coffee grinder.
Mustard seeds are cabbage family members and acts as a blood purifier, a stimulant for body energy, circulation and heat.
Mustard seeds reduce vata and kapha.
Use in soups and stir-fries and favour the brown mustard seeds for their pleasing aroma. Sauté the seeds in warm olive oil until they turn grey, then add onions or other vegetables and proceed accordingly to your recipe.
This small shrub, which as a place in almost every garden, has one of the most powerful flavour to be found among the culinary herbs. Rosemary is a warming herb with many curative virtues: it improves circulation, stimulate liver function, lowers cholesterol, eases muscle pains and soothe lung congestion to name a few. Rosemary reduces vata and kapha.
Only a little rosemary is needed to season chicken, lamb, soups and breads. It pairs well with garlic, olives, saffron and anchovies.
Cinnamon one of humanity’s oldest spice is one of the most commonly used warming Oriental herbs and has a stimulant, analgesic, and astringent properties. Its aroma relieves tension and helps steady the nerves.
Chinese medicine uses twig parts as well as the bark for different ailments such as flu, coughs and fever, gas, indigestion, circulation and menstrual cramps.
When using ground cinnamon, add it shortly before serving, it becomes bitter with prolonged cooking. Sprinkle it into hot oatmeal, onto baked apples, cherries or pears, or stick into a mug of hot apple cider.
Five- Spice Onion Soup
Eaten in the fall and winter, this soup is especially good for warming cold hands and feet.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 onions cut in half and sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh peeled ginger, minced
6 whole cloves
3 stars anise
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
6 cups chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tamari sauce
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper to taste
1- Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add onions and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 20 minutes.
2- Stir in garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise, mustard seeds and thyme and cook uncovered, stirring quickly for 2 minutes.
3- Stir in stock and tamari sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until onions are very soft. Stir in cinnamon, adjust salt and pepper and cook another 5 minutes.
4- Remove cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick before serving.
Geneviève Blanchet is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She blends Asian tradition and modern western nutritional science with the wisdom of healing herbs. She is passionate about eating fresh, seasonal and nutrient-rich food and would like to share what she’s learned with you. www.lepetitchou.ca.