Spices with health benefits

spices with health benefits

Do you use spices regularly in your cooking? If not, you should start. Here’s why.

The Benefits of Using Spices

Not only do spices add a ton of flavor to your food, but they offer great health benefits. Here are a few ways spices are good for your health:

1. Aid Weight Loss

Spices can help to increase your metabolism, helping you to lose weight. For example, studies have shown that capsaicin (found in chili peppers), may cause the body to burn extra calories for 20 minutes after eating.

2. Improve Heart Health

Research has shown cultures that eat spicy foods have a lower rate of heart attack and stroke. This may be because chili peppers can reduce the damaging effects of bad cholesterol (LDL). Additionally, the capsaicin in chili peppers may fight inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease.

3. Protect Against Cancer

According to the American Association for Cancer Research, capsaicin has the ability to kill some cancer and leukemic cells. Also, turmeric (a spice found in curry powder and some mustards) may slow the spread of cancer and the growth of tumors.

4. Protect Against Diabetes

Inflammation and high blood sugar levels both largely contribute to diabetes. Spices can improve blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation, helping to prevent or improve diabetes.

5. Improve Your Mood

Spicy foods increase your body’s production of “happy” hormones, like serotonin, which can help lessen stress and mild depression.

How to Get Spices into Your Diet

Small amounts of both dried and fresh spices can provide health benefits, so don’t worry if you’re not a spicy food person!

Below are some easy and delicious ideas for using spices in your cooking:

  • Put some slices of ginger or a pinch of cumin in a cup of hot tea
  • Add chopped chili peppers to soups, stews and chili
  • Coat shrimp in cumin and coriander and then sauté
  • Grate fresh ginger into vinaigrette
  • Add red pepper flakes or chopped ginger to stir-fry dishes
  • Make chicken curry
  • Sprinkle ground ginger on cooked carrots
  • Add cumin to brown rice or red lentils
  • Sprinkle ground cloves on applesauce or add to quick bread batters
  • Sprinkle turmeric* on egg salad, add to a chicken or seafood casserole or add to water when cooking rice

*To absorb 2,000 percent more turmeric, pair it with black pepper

Start with the suggestions above and then let them inspire you to experiment with your own ideas. In no time, you’ll be a pro at using spices in cooking and will enjoy the great taste of your food, as well as the added health benefits.


Dr. Dirk’s Favorite Protein-Packed Dinner Recipes

One of the keys to successful weight loss is a good diet. In fact, eating the right food in the right amounts is probably the most important step you can take if you’re serious about living a healthy lifestyle.

For people who are overweight or obese, Dr. Dirk recommends a high-protein, low-carb diet with plenty of lean protein, vegetables and whole grains. (Here’s why this diet is best for people who want to lose weight and keep it off.)

If you’re looking for some healthy spring dinner recipes, try one or all of these high-protein, low-carb meals this week.

Protein-Packed Dinner Recipes

Stir-Fry Sesame Chicken with Brown Rice

This recipe is a great way to get in some lean protein (in the form of skinless chicken breast) and a variety of delicious, nutritious vegetables. Add a side of brown rice, and you have a tasty dish that beats your favorite Chinese takeout. Serves six.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil or coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into strips
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups stemmed and chopped fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions, sliced diagonally, or chopped cilantro
  • 1/8 cup sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. Set aside.
  2. Coat chicken strips in half the teriyaki sauce. Add oil to a pan or wok over medium heat. Cook for about 4-5 minutes per side until golden and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Add green beans and water or chicken stock to the pan. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, until beans are crisp-tender. Add sesame oil and peppers to the pan with the beans. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and some teriyaki sauce, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Return chicken to pan and add remaining teriyaki sauce. Cook for one minute, until warmed. Remove from heat and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Garnish with scallions or cilantro.
  5. Serve with brown rice.
Protein-Packed Dinner Recipes

Wild Salmon with Rainbow Salsa

Wild salmon is one of the best sources of protein you can get. Not only is it lean, but it’s also loaded with omega-3 fatty acids (the good kind of fat). This recipe pairs zesty salmon with a colorful sweet and sour salsa. Serves two.

Ingredients:

Miso-lime marinade

  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Salmon

  • 2 fillets (6 ounces each) wild salmon
  • 1 lime, thinly sliced
  • Fresh parsley sprigs to garnish

Rainbow salsa

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 large ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  1. Mix together the ingredients for the lime marinade and smear over the salmon fillets. Set aside for at least 30 minutes so the salmon absorbs the flavor of the marinade.
  2. While the fish is marinating, prepare the salsa.
  3. Char the outside skin of the peppers and jalapeño. You can do this by holding them with tongs over an open flame, turning them so the outside chars evenly. Put the peppers and chili in a paper bag so they sweat (this makes it easier to remove the skin). After about 5 minutes, remove the peppers and jalapeño from the bag, and the charred skin should slide off easily.
  4. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and chop finely. If you don’t want the salsa to be too hot, remove the seeds from the jalapeño before chopping.
  5. Place the peppers and jalapeño in a bowl with the tomato and garlic. Add the lime juice, sea salt, honey, and cilantro and mix well.
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Lay enough lime slices on an oven tray so that the fish can sit comfortably on top. Place the fish on the lime slices and place the tray on the top shelf of the oven. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through. (The thicker the fillets, the longer they will take to cook through.)
  8. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter, keeping the lime slices underneath. Serve immediately with the rainbow salsa.
Protein-Packed Dinner Recipes

Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon Stew

Beef can be high in fat, so try to limit your intake of red meat and choose leaner cuts of beef, like strip steak and eye of round roast.

Of course, there are those days when nothing will satisfy like a hearty beef stew. For those days, use this low-carb, veggie-packed recipe. Serves eight.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean beef chuck, cut into bite-size cubes
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 2 carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 2 stalks celery, thickly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 whole sprig rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dry oregano
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, halved
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef stock
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 10 pearl onions, halved or 1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle beef cubes with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Dredge in flour to coat.
  2. Put 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add half the beef cubes and brown on all sides, for about 5 minutes. It is not necessary to cook the beef all the way through yet. Repeat with the second batch. Set the beef aside.
  3. In the same pan that the beef was browned in, add 1/4 cup of the wine and scrape the bottom, allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. Add herbs, mushrooms, pearl onions or diced onion, celery, carrots, and 1 more tablespoon of olive oil and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  4. Pour everything from the pan into the slow cooker. Add the rest of the wine, the stock, the rest of the salt, the bay leaf, the potatoes and the beef cubes. Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours, or on low for 8 hours.

Avocado-Yogurt Dip with Cumin

Avocado-Yogurt Dip with CuminScoop this creamy dip with pita chips and carrot, celery, red bell pepper, and jicama sticks. Prepare up to eight hours in advance, and refrigerate in an airtight container. To further simplify your evening of meal prepping, use precut vegetables from the produce section.

 Photo by: Becky Luigart-Stayner
  • YIELD: 16 servings (serving size: 2 tablespoons)
  • COURSE: Appetizers, Dips/Spreads

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ripe peeled avocados, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

Preparation

Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth.

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving

  • Calories: 70
  • Calories from fat: 76%
  • Fat: 5.9g
  • Saturated fat: 0.9g
  • Monounsaturated fat: 3.6g
  • Polyunsaturated fat: 0.7g
  • Protein: 1.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 4.6g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
  • Iron: 0.4mg
  • Sodium: 83mg
  • Calcium: 21mg

Source