Food: Spicing up food offers health benefits |

Food: Spicing up food offers health benefits

Angela Shelf Medearis and Gina Harlow
The Kitchen Diva explains how spicing up your food can benefit your health. A little bit of herbs and spices can go a long way toward receiving antioxidant benefits.
Kitchen Diva |

“Get healthy” and “eat well” are common buzzwords at the start of a new year. Magazine and news articles make it seem as though you need only to eat fruits, vegetables, fiber and omega-3s. But that’s not the whole picture.

While many well-known foods have cancer-fighting and immune-boosting qualities, there are some tasty additives that elevate mild to magnificent and palatable to unforgettable, and also are very good for us. For some time now, doctors have known that there is a scientific basis for why people have used herbs and spices for more than just seasoning for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

Besides being zesty and hot, intense and complex, and even lovely to look at, herbs and spices have proven health benefits. In addition to preventive attributes, they also may be effective in managing, if not curing, chronic disease. When using spices and herbs, a little goes a long way toward receiving their antioxidant benefits.

That brings us to using them in recipes. The world of spices and herbs is a big one, and most of us only have an inkling of all the choices available and how to use them. Ethnic cuisines have been using native herbs and spices to prepare both beverages and sweet and savory dishes for millennia.

Even though America is a melting pot, we still consider many herbs and spices as exotic. For example, while we are now familiar with herbs like rosemary and use it often in both savory and sweet dishes, most of us consider mint, another versatile ingredient, for use only in sweet dishes.

Mediterranean cooks use mint often and deliciously in savory dishes. The use of cloves and cinnamon is common in Indian savory dishes. The list goes on of the myriad of spices and the ways we can use them to punch up flavor and keep us healthy.

My recipe for Spice Breaded Chicken Fingers with Quinoa and Green Onions puts an international and nutritious spin on a childhood favorite. You can change the spice combination to make the dish reflect your favorite flavors from around the world.

So find an ethnic grocery and explore its spice aisle, and buy a cookbook featuring unique ways to use spices or herb. Make the 2015 the year that you spice up your food … and your life!

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

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