Winter Warming Spices!

 

capsicum

 

Winter is a time to curl up with a blanket or throw on the insulated running tights. Whether it’s cold or wet, your body craves warmth. There is no easier way to get your circulation flowing than adding some savory heat to your meals, drinks and shakes. Some herbs and spices may just have the kick you need to warm up your chilled body — from the inside out.

It’s easy to incorporate more herbs and spices into your day: Add fresh ginger to a hot cup of rooibos tea; when making a veggie and flax scramble in the morning, add a dash of cayenne; or add fresh garlic to an already cold raw-food dish. Here is a list of five warming herbs and spices, to help ease the winter chill.

    • Ginger – Packing a pungent kick of spicy heat, ginger is also mineral-dense, making it a great addition to meals, not only for its heat factor, but for its nutritious attributes as well.Best uses: freshly sliced into chai tea; added to salad dressings (sesame, orange and ginger make a great combo); or blended into soups on a cold day.

     

    • Garlic – An allium related to onion, garlic is a delicious yet complex plant used for centuries for its many health benefits. Each raw clove is chalk full of sulphuric compounds, shown to have immune-function boosting, anti-microbial and possible cardiovascular-supportive effects1,2.

     

    Best Uses: great for cooking in general: sauces and dressings, stuffed vegetables, soups, et cetera.

     

    • Capsaicin (peppers) – Hot peppers get their heat from capsaicin, a compound with thermogenic (heat generating) properties3. Add some dried or fresh chilies to a smoothie.

     

    Best smoothie combos: cocoa, cayenne, and raspberries, or mango, banana, spinach, and jalapeño (to name a couple).

     

    • Oregano – A Mediterranean herb, oregano is another pungent plant with valued nutritional attributes. Besides its high chlorophyll content, this herb is often looked upon for its antimicrobial qualities and antioxidant value4.

     

    Best uses: a fresh herb added to salads, raw noodle dishes (zucchini noodles), or baked in pasta or rice dishes.

     

    • Turmeric – Curcumin, the phytochemical in turmeric that gives turmeric its signature orange-yellow color, is well known for its anti-inflammatory benefits5. Add turmeric to foods not only to spice up a meal but to support recovery post-workout.

     

    Best uses: smoothies, curries and rice dishes, add small amounts to salad dressings.

    1“Clarifying the Real Bioactive Constituents of Garlic, JN: The Journal of Nutrition. American Society for Nutrition, 2006. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/3/716S.full

    2“Garlic and Cardiovascular Disease: A Critical Review” JN: The Journal of Nutrition. American Society for Nutrition, 2006. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/3/736S.long

    3“The Effects of Capsaicin and Capsiate on Energy Balance: Critical Review and Meta-analyses of Studies in Humans” Oxford University Press http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257466/?report=abstract

    4Singletary, Keith PHD. “Oregano: Overview of the Literature on Health Benefits.” Nutrition Today. May/June 2010. http://www.journals.lww.com/nutritiontodayonline/Abstract/2010/05000/Oregano__Overview_of_the_Literature_on_Health.9.aspx

    5Jurenka, MT. Julie S. Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Curcumin, a Major Constituent of Curcuma longa: Review of Preclinical and Clinical Research. Alternative Medicine Review, Volume 14, November 2, 2009. Page 143-144.

    Contributed to Vega News at: http://myvega.com/blog/2013/warm-inside-out

    Photo from: www.freedigitalphotos.net