Adding Spice to Your Holidays!

As seen in the Tolosa Press:

Let’s face it, there is no skirting around the issue…holidays equal tradition, tradition involves food, and foods chosen undoubtedly equal higher fat, higher salt, and higher sugar. But who really wants the extra pounds around the middle, the sluggish energy that accompanies overeating, or the pressure to keep cooking the same unhealthy holiday recipes.

So this holiday season, let’s look to improve our food options and aid our overall health in the process. One of the simplest and most cost effective strategies for doing this successfully is by adding extra spices to your family favorite dishes. Anyone afraid of adding a little “Spice” to their holidays?

Spices, besides the great aromas they bring to your home, contain disease fighting properties such as the prevention of cancer, arthritis, and heart disease. They can be high in anti-oxidants which help slow aging and can add amazing flavor to otherwise bland meals.

Add one or all of the following spices to your holiday meals this season:

Garlic – is there any holiday food not improved with a few cloves of garlic? Not only does garlic enhance the flavor of food, but it has been used for centuries to help prevent heart disease, atherosclerosis, and cancer. Studies have also demonstrated garlic’s role in lowering blood pressure, insulin and triglycerides. Roast it, toast it, chop it, or crush it, but whatever you do, don’t omit it from this holiday season.

Ginger – the health benefits seem endless with this pungent spice most commonly seen around the holidays in popular fruit and vegetable dishes. The herbalist may prescribe ginger to relieve nausea, minimize inflammation, or for its antioxidant properties. It is also used as a natural remedy for cold and flu symptoms and is thought to have immune boosting action.

Cinnamon – often described for its “musky sweet” flavor, cinnamon is not without unique health benefits of its own. Essential oils in cinnamon are known to have anti-microbial properties as well as anti-clotting, but most recently has been used to help reduce the rise in blood sugar after meals. Add a little this holiday to a pumpkin soup, spice sweet potatoes, or a classic holiday cider.

Nutmeg – tough to talk holiday spices and not mention this household favorite. An extremely aromatic spice with a long history of acclaimed healing and magical powers, it doesn’t take but a pinch to create an intense flavor. Add this to a favorite vegetable dish such as cabbage, spinach, onions, green beans or broccoli, or simply stick to tradition and garnish your sweet potatoes, cream pies, custards, or mulled wines.

Rosemary – a personal favorite, rosemary plants are abundant in this Mediterranean type climate we have here in SLO. Known to enhance the immune system, increase circulation, improve digestion, and aid in anti-inflammation, rosemary is not only a memorable flavor but also a health improver making it another indispensable herb. Grab a few sprigs and add to your chicken, turkey, or lamb, or try adding to a morning omelet or frittata.

By no means is this a comprehensive list of spices to be used, but rather a list of personal and traditional holiday favorites. Don’t forget some of the other greats like cumin, oregano, sage, thyme, or turmeric that can all be added with great benefit not only in flavoring your meal, but in aiding your health. Most importantly, have fun spicing up your kitchen and your family’s dinner table this holiday season!

Rex Stevens, Chiropractor and Co-Owner of the SLO Wellness Center, strives to educate patients on how to increase longevity, enhance performance, and maximize human potential.