In focusing on spices for health and wellness, I would be remiss not to mention cardamom. This uniquely flavoured and delicate native spice from India and Nepal is growing more and more in popularity, (in fact, Starbucks has introduced a lovely Cardamom Latte this fall that’s already a ‘fave’ of mine). If you aren’t familiar with this unassuming ‘pod’ its worth looking into.
Available in pods or as a crushed spice, I like adding a pod or two to a cup of steaming black tea. Some people find cardamom minty in flavour, I find it slightly smoky and earthy, a cross between mint and vanilla. Dig around to discover and learn more about cardamom’s goodness. Used in traditional medicine for many years, this spice has valuable antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory benefits, (which is more than enough to make me want to keep it in my spice shelf!) Use and experiment with cardamom for both savoury or dessert preparations, and visit Healthline’s list of cardamom benefits or additional highlights at Organic Facts.net.
AllRecipes.com has a marvellous line-up of cardamom-featuring recipes to try, including two I absolutely love – Chicken Korma (or for a delightful black tea or coffee ‘dunking’ treat), Cardamom and Espresso Chocolate Cookies.
We’ve all heard of people who are solid and reliable and referred to as the “salt of the earth“. It’s kudos to them, for without question salt is one of the world’s humblest, most valuable gifts. Esteemed for centuries, common table salt (or NaCl as it’s referred to chemically), is a savoury flavour ‘must’. Today, discreet salt-seekers are prone to choosing sea salt or rock salt (like Himalayan pink salt) (my favorites). Salt derived from the sea or ground from a rock salt like Himalayan salt, can deliver health-boosting trace minerals or elements like potassium, magnesium, zinc and calcium, while not ‘taking over’ food but adding more delicate flavour than regular iodized salt. Sprinkle some on a bowl of plain popped corn or in your next stir-fry. EcoWatch and Healthline provide a good overview of various salts on the market and what to expect in terms of benefits.
Aside from salts we eat, mineral salt blends for aching muscles and a home-spa treatment year-round are a great health treat. Look for natural blends and beauty products that provide rich minerals directly from renowned sites like Israel’s Dead Sea, (I love Ahava products). The Body Shop’s Mediterranean Sea Salt Body Scrub is another awesome body treat. Don’t write off salt. Discover its goodness — for mind, body and soul…
You know what I mean. If you can’t spell it, don’t eat it. I doubt you’ve ever asked yourself, “…did I eat my butyl today…? i.e. Butylhydroxytoluene. (BHT) is just one of several common food additives often found in breakfast cereals. Smart and healthy food choices means avoiding chemical additives, even if we’re told they’re ok in small amounts’. Problem. Our bodies aren’t designed to deal with additives. Some of these affect and disrupt natural hormones. BHT is just one of a long line of additive culprits you don’t want in your life or diet. Learn how BHT can cause you to pack on unwanted pounds, (in an article from Livestrong.com). In Canada, the Yummy Mummy Club had helpful info on BHT, BHA, etc., and the impacts they have on our health.
Eating smart means not skipping meals and eating a balanced breakfast. Healthy grains, fat, fruit, veggies, moderate protein. You can start right by toasting a slice of organic sprouted grain bread with a non-dairy healthy fat ‘butter’, (I use Melt for healthy fat and Silver Hills – a superb line of sprouted grain breads). Add a poached free run egg or scrambled egg whites and herbs, a few cucumber slices, and a (pesticide-free!) orange. Another great energizer —old-fashioned steel cut oats. Cook it ahead, store in 1/2 c. baggies, freeze, and have it ready to go. Heat it up and add slivered almonds, coconut, fresh berries or fruit, a dash of Ceylon cinnamon, and plain yogurt, or dairy-free milk.
For people on the go, a protein smoothie is ideal. Start your day with a smoothie protein base that gives you at least 18g of protein per serving. Add frozen or fresh fruit, 1.5 c. water, ice, non-dairy milk, some greens, blend it up and keep inventing new recipes. For a delicious plant-based smoothie, try VegaOne (awesome flavour and blendability (is that a word?), or go for Usana’s ‘MySmartFoods‘ macronutrient line. Give your body a break from anything that smacks of ‘preservatives’, and keep sharing all that good energy!
I recently visited a natural food/juicing bar for lunch and was pleasantly reminded how easy it is to prepare and enjoy wholesome good food, including something as simple as lemons, which were included in the fresh juice I ordered, and recommended in the restaurant’s brochure as a daily wellness beverage. (I will talk more about juicing another day…) Lemons are a great thirst quencher and better yet, have a long history of positive health benefits including as a natural body cleanser. Treat your immune system to a happy dose of lemon. Lemons provide a natural combination of vitamin C, citric acid, flavonoids, B-complex vitamins, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and fiber. (I also supplement and boost my immune with a high science Vitamin C and Grape Seed extract product) Learn more about the goodness of lemons at organicfacts.net. For a refreshing morning pick me up, (instead of your usual beverage), slice a large lemon in half, juice it by hand with one of those old style glass citrus juicers, (great exercise!) and enjoy with 1c. warm water (I usually add one packet of xylitol/stevia blend sweetener, and in winter, a dash of cinnamon, or a cinnamon stick) When life gives you lemons — make the most of it!