Spice Up Summer!
by Phil Cameron | Friday Jul. 1st, 2016
As we fully embrace our Bozeman summer fun there are a couple of ways we can really spice up our diets for some amazing health benefits and also for some wonderful gustatory experiences too. Spices have been used throughout history for making food taste good and also for many health benefits. Learning to use spices and incorporating them into your cooking and your diet can be very beneficial for yours and your families health and can also help you to reduce the need for premade or prepackaged food that contain many artificial flavors and processed chemicals that are used to make food taste good but have health consequences associated with them like trans fats, MSG, high fructose corn syrup, preservatives, and excess sodium.
Iced tea is a summer favorite for many! Home brewing iced tea is inexpensive but you can also spice it up to make it a very healthy summer drink. Choosing your tea for brewing iced tea is important. For a healthy choice, organic green tea is great, as green tea is full of antioxidants and bioflavonoids that are good for the body. Spicing up your iced tea can be accomplished in a couple of ways. Ginger is a great spice that is very anti-inflammatory and has been known to help with indigestion and can sooth an upset stomach. It also helps with reducing pain associated with arthritis and it can help to boost your immune system. It really gives the iced tea a little spicy kick to increase flavor and make it tasty so you don’t have to use sugar to sweeten it. If you want to make black tea a great spice to add is cinnamon. Cinnamon is very wonderful for helping to stabilize blood sugar and increase the insulin sensitivity of cells. It also helps with brain health as a powerful anti-oxidant and has been shown in clinical trials to help reduce the risk of plaque build up in the brain while it normalizes neurotransmitter balance. If you really want a brain powered refreshing summer drink, make a Thai Iced tea by adding coconut milk to your home brewed spiced up tea. Coconut milk is a medium chain triglyceride that fuels the brain. It is a good fat filled with good energy to keep you pursuing your summer passions.
As you are drinking your iced while you start your BBQ think about making a spicy meat rub to enhance the flavor of your steak, elk, deer, chicken, pheasant, trout, walleye, etc. to make that local meat even healthier. Making a good meat rub always starts with salt. Salt is essential for every cell of our body, and also provides a lot of flavor! Remember, “If the salt has lost its flavor it ain’t got much in its favor”. Choosing a good salt is very important, as not all salts are created equal. My personal favorite is Celtic sea salt, which can be bought in our local stores, and in bulk at our local co-op. Real salt and Himalayan sea salt are also very good options. Table salt is not the same as sea salt. Table salt is processed to only contain sodium chloride. Sea salt contains many other trace minerals and is more balanced naturally for absorption into our body.
To continue making your perfect-spiced combination you can experiment with many additional spices and herbs to fulfill your gustatory requirements. Sage is a great herb that provides a lot of flavor and has been shown in clinical research to have affects on cognitive function as well as lowering blood sugar levels and helping to stabilize cholesterol levels. Rosemary provides good flavor to your meat as well as many health benefits to your body. Rosemary is good for brain health and has been shown to help increase memory. Rosemary also helps to enhance mood and reduces stress and anxiety. Rosemary also has been shown to help the immune system because it is anti-bacterial especially to H. Pylori, the bacteria responsible for stomach ulcers, which is another reason it has been shown to help sooth stomach distress.
To finish off your delightful summer dinner it is great to make homemade vinaigrette to put on your fresh vegetables you harvested from your garden or bought at the local farmers market. While making your vinaigrette it is a great opportunity to put some healthy spices into your dressing to boost your health. A base of good oil, like extra virgin olive oil and a healthy vinegar like Braggs apple cider vinegar, a raw red wine vinegar or an organic balsamic vinegar are great in a ratio of 2:1 oil to vinegar. Sea salt again is the first ingredient to add for the same health reasons stated above. I like to add turmeric to my vinaigrette because of its many health benefits. Turmeric is great for the brain; it has many protective qualities that protect against brain aging and degeneration. Turmeric has been shown to help with depression, and also has many anti-inflammatory affects for the rest of the body to help reduce the symptoms of arthritis as well. Mustard is another great spice that can kick up your flavor and increase your health at the same time. It also has been shown to be anti-inflammatory, help with respiratory problems, skin and fungal disorders, and it helps the cardiovascular system too.
Iced tea, BBQ, and salad dressings are great easy ways to spice up your diet, and increase your health, but don’t stop there! With a little bit of creativity and a little elbow grease in the kitchen you can come up with many different ways to include spices into your cooking, reduce your grocery bill by making things from scratch and increasing your health by reducing the amount of bad fats, sugars and preservatives in your diet. Doing a quick Google search for healthy quick spicy recipes often will reward you with some easy healthy solutions to help you and your family Live Healthy, Live Naturally, and Live Optimally.