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The Spice is Right

by Caroline Robertson, Ayurvedic consultant Cert Ayur; ND; Dip Hom; DRM; Dip Bot. Med.

visit her website

Need to spice up your life? Bored with the same old tastes and aromas? Spices not only add a distinctive flavospices varietyr to food, they also have impressive health benefits. So instead of popping pills when you feel unwell first consider how you can use food as your medicine. If you’ve got the runs, try nutmeg. Nausea? Chew on ginger. Feeling bloated? Favor fennel tea. To savor the variety of medicinal spices available create your own kitchen pharmacy with the following essential spice elixirs.



Asafetida’s one of those rare foods that smell weird but taste
great. Sulfurous compounds in this resin give it a distinctive
garlicky aroma. Also known as hing, this yellow resin is most
commonly sold as a powder generally mixed with turmeric
and wheat. I think of it as the “great bloat banisher” due to its unprecedented power to absorb gas from the body, flush out fluid,
and neutralize gaseous foods in cooking.

For millennia, Indian mothers have massaged their baby’s colicky tummies with 1/5tsp roasted asafetida and 2 tbs warm sesame oil, and were delighted when the pain and crying rapidly dissipated. Asafetida is also effective for painful periods, asthma, and arthritis. For this it is taken as a mixture of equal parts cumin seeds, ginger
powder, black cumin seeds, ajwain seeds, and rock salt. Try
1 tsp twice daily before meals with warm water or more frequently
with persistent pain.
The easiest way to cook with asafetida is to throw a pinch of
powder in with your beans, nuts, veggies, or grains. This will
not only add a rich oniony flavor but will quieten any uncomfortable
after-dinner rumblings.

A sweet seed often added to desserts, cardamom gives one
a sweet breath and voice. Called the grain of paradise, cardamom
was once one of the most valued exports of South India.
It is not only delicious but bears medicinal properties that
make it indispensable to any kitchen dispensary.
Added to sweet curries, desserts, dahls, and curries, it will help to clear the passageways of mucus and to reduce gassy indigestion.
Given with ginger, it is credited with stimulating the appetite
and reducing nausea. Recent research also indicates that it
may aid the body to detoxify from caffeine and codeine. Used in
cooking, you can bruise a green pod, fry it, and add to savories,
or for sweets add the powder, seeds, or raw crushed pods. To
help strengthen the respiratory system and eliminate coughs and
colds, try this...:

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