One of my favorite February traditions is to watch the movie, Groundhog Day. An abrasive & obnoxious weatherman, Phil Connors, played by Bill Murray, repeats February 2nd over and over again until he finds the true meaning of friendships, love and life. It took a while for Phil to embrace his predicament and make the best of it. Having grown up in the midwest, winters did seem endless or as Phil put it, “I’ll give you a winter prediction. It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be gray, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.” If you feel like you’re in a winter weather rut maybe it’s time for a change of season…ing!
After four grueling college years spent braving the bitter cold and record snowfalls in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, I was ready to escape my own version of Groundhog day and migrated south. Once I thawed out, I found the milder climates created an abundance of culinary delights from New Mexico’s red & green chilies, spicy peppers and freshly baked tortillas to the fiery cajun spices found in boiled crawfish, Étouffée, and gumbo of southeast Texas. Sampling spices and local cuisines are a great way to learn about an area’s history and culture. They also provide some surprising health benefits.
Spice of Life
Hopefully after reading my “Shake It Off” article, you’ve put down the salt shaker and dusted off your spice rack. Did you know that herbs and spices do much more than just adding a zip to your dish? Herbs (from plants) and spices (from seeds, bark, and roots) have an abundance of polyphenols — micronutrients essential in the prevention of degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer. Check out the power in these powders:
- Garlic - helps support a healthy immune system and beneficial in reduction of blood clots. Studies have also shown a decrease in stomach and colon cancers.
- Onion - has natural antioxidant, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory properties. Its high sulphur content may even promote hair growth.
- Black Pepper — improved digestion and helps eliminate toxins from the body.
- Cayenne — more than just a spicy kick, it is very beneficial for the stomach, helping to aid in digestion, reducing gas and cramps. It also aids in respiration and breathing. If you’ve ever sweated and sneezed after downing a spicy chicken wing, you’ve experienced the power of this little pepper.
- Cinnamon — aids in controlling blood sugar levels, supports a healthy colon and improved digestion. Its metabolism enhancing benefits may also result in greater weight loss for dieters.
- Cloves — a natural analgesic found to support healthy gum tissue. Great for breathing issues like asthma, colds and sinus inflammation. Topically, the oil may help relieve muscle spasms.
- Cumin — aids in digestion and helps to prevent constipation acting as a natural laxative. It also has both a natural stimulating and relaxing effect so you’ll feel more alert during the day while avoiding insomnia issues at night.
- Ginger — great for motion sickness and nausea as well as helping to reduce inflammation especially for those suffering with arthritis.
- Thyme — I’ve used this as a tea to help with excessive coughing and sore throats during cold and flu season. It has natural analgesic, antiseptic and antispasmodic properties shown to be beneficial for everything from fungal infections to menstrual cramps.
- Turmeric — like its ginger cousin, it seems to be beneficial in reducing pain especially due to arthritis. It also helps reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Italian Seasonings - like basil, oregano and parsley, all help reduce stress, improve digestion, and aid breathing and respiratory issues. I call these my feel-good herbs as they also may help relieve depression and improve mood. No wonder we all love italian cooking!
Like all herbs and spices, look for natural, local sources to avoid contaminants and toxins. It is also wise to consult your physical before using any herb or spice as single source or mega-dose supplements. Too much of a good thing is usually too much.
While the official start of spring may be six weeks away, we can all take sage advice by “…basking in the warmth of (your) hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.” Oh, and while you’re at it, sage is great on turkey burgers and omelets!
Spiced Up Supplements: Get great sources of healthy herbs and spices in balanced formulas found in Reliv Now®(comprehensive multi), Fibrestore® (aids digestion) and 24K™ (healthy energy/focus/stress relief) and LunaRich X™, the most pure, concentrated form of lunasin. Go to www.reliv.com/buy enter RCN 53960101 for your free customer account & product information.
“Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.