Sumac is an exotic berry with a rich history of use in many different countries around the world. It’s most commonly known in several areas of the Middle East where it is said to originate from. There are also reports of it growing in areas of the Mediterranean and even North America. Yet despite that, it’s no cakewalk trying to find sumac in stores and supermarkets. Many people are familiar with the word sumac because of the poisonous shrub that grows. The edible sumac is easily distinguished by its shape and color.
Sumac has a rich culinary history of use in Turkish, Arabic, and Lebanese cuisine. The Roman empire also used and enjoyed sumac for its unique flavors and health benefits for many years. There are even records of the medicinal benefits of it in ancient Greek texts. From spice rubs on meats, to desserts, vegetables, soups, stews, and side dishes, sumac has a wide culinary range. It blends well with sweet and savory dishes to add hints of tartness and citrus.
In most dishes, it works best when used as a small part of a blend rather than as a sole flavoring agent. The slightly sour, tart, and citrus notes compliment flavors such as cilantro, cumin, lemongrass, cardamom, spicy dishes, thyme, saffron, cinnamon, and brown sugar. With sumac, it’s important not to overdo it in quantity. Despite its versatility, the most exciting part of this berry is the multitude of health benefits it offers.
For starters, sumac berry is a very powerful antioxidant. The word antioxidant is so incredibly overused and abused in the health world. Everything is touted as having these potent benefits that will allow you to ride off into the sunset unperturbed by these damaging free radicals.
When compared to just about any other superfood, berry, herb, and spice, sumac is vastly superior as an antioxidant. In fact, it is often 20,40, to 100 times more potent than other powerful antioxidants. It usually comes in as number 1, or at least top 3 on any ORAC rating (measuring antioxidant capacity) list. Despite all the boasts and claims of most of these mainstream nutrients, this humble, barely known berry tops all of them with ease.
The benefits for of sumac berry for diabetes are quite significant according to research thus far. Several studies found a very big reduction in postprandial spikes in glucose levels. The insulin and glucose spike following a meal is one of the more damaging processes that occur in the body. Especially if meals are filled with unhealthy ingredients. This gives even more incentive to use sumac in cooking.
As we see, sumac can impact diabetes in many important ways such as improving insulin resistance, lowering glucose levels, as well as leptin levels. In many people, this hormone is out of balance and causes overeating. In human clinical testing, several measurements that hold great importance in health such as CRP, malondialdehyde, and insulin levels were positively impacted by sumac.
A study using a sumac extract improved cholesterol and lipid profiles in obese subjects. The extract cause HDL (protective) cholesterol to increase and LDL to decrease. The same study also saw a decrease in triglyceride levels. One of the main protective benefits is the effect sumac has at decreasing cholesterol from oxidizing and producing “foam cells”. This is when things become more dangerous. Studies show that stable cholesterol on its own isn’t harmful like we once believed.
A second study backed up sumac’s protective effects on the arteries. This study proved that this potent berry can lower a harmful type of cell from forming and migrating into the vascular walls. This cell, called a vascular smooth muscle cell, is an indicator of arterial disease. In addition, sumac shows promise for those suffering with high blood pressure.
Other noteworthy attributes include possible benefits for respiratory disorders, weight loss, infectious pathogens, and even bone loss. Human research is lacking for bone loss, but it still holds excellent potential based on what we know so far. The tart, tangy subtlety coupled with the fantastic health benefits may cause it to be a favorite in your spice cabinet. At Spice Station, we carry two high quality forms of sumac from Turkey and Syria.
Spice Up Your Fruit Salad
Who doesn’t love a fresh and tangy fruit salad in the summer? This classic dish is popular with all ages, and it can be done many ways. Fruit salad can be too sweet for some people, and spicing it up will give it that savory flavor that takes it to the next level. If you haven’t tried adding some Spice Station spices to your fruit salad, you are missing out!
Fruits to Use
Feel free to mix it up and substitute in other fruits, or even neutral vegetables such as cucumber. Fruits that are in season will have the best flavor, so it will depend on the season. Chop up your larger fruits into bite size pieces. You can even use a melon ball tool for the watermelon and cantaloupe if you are feeling fancy! The great thing about fruit salad is that you don’t have to measure anything to make it. Just grab the fruits that you love, and fill up your bowl! Load up your chopped fruit into a big, decorative bowl and then get started on your seasoning.
- Lime Juice
- Chile Powder
Squeeze the lime juice over the fruit in the bowl and mix well to make sure all fruit is coated. Then sprinkle on the chile powder and mix again to ensure all fruit is evenly coated. The amount of lime juice and chile powder you will need will depend on how much fruit you are using and how big you want your fruit salad to be. You can adjust the levels of both ingredients based on how tangy and or/spicy you want your fruit salad!
Bring some spice to the sweetness with this refreshing combination that is perfect for those hot summer days. This spiced up fruit salad will be a hit at summer picnics and potlucks, and brings a Mexican twist that will appeal to kids and adults alike who appreciate some spice!
Trying to eat better? Top spices for veggies.
We have all been stuck in our homes for too long, some have taken the opportunity to veg out, and some have been dabbling in eating better and cooking more. Either way you have gone, this article is sure to get you salivating, here are the top spices for veggies.
Rosemary: Strong and delicious
One of the best spices to use is Rosemary, which has been a staple classic with a strong piney flavor that will elevate bland tasting raw vegetables. It will change your perspective on eating veggies more regularly by adding a savory and sweet addition to your meals. They can be cooked with the vegetables in dried or raw form and each yields a different flavor.
Thyme: A classic taste
Thyme has the ability to add a savory quality to any vegetable with a remarkable flavor profile that has been used in cooking since ancient times. It has a slight mint profile but it doesn’t overpower. You can cook it with the vegetables in the same way as rosemary and can choose between raw or dry ingredients. This particular spice has every pleasant aromatic profile that sends your tastebuds on a journey. They are an excellent spice for vegetables.
Mint, coriander, and parsley
These herbs can be utilized on their own or are commonly combined into an herb medley that will accomplish a complex and delicious flavor profile. There are definitely ways to experiment with combining herbs to spice up your veggies, and sometimes it takes experimentation to accomplished the desired results. These are some of the best spices to use in combination for an incredible taste. It will be so good that you’ll forget you’re eating veggies. Finely chop these herbs and add some olive oil or butter to the mix while cooking with a delicious vegetable selection.
Italian mixed herbs
This is an example of a mixture of herbs that are combined to create a specific effect. In this case, the result will be a zingy Italian blend of oregano, basil, and thyme for an interesting and invigorating flavor. There are also some other herbs available in different blends that make it so powerful with one simple shake into your cooking apparatus. They are great for Italian meals that feature a vegetable side dish to make them compliment any dish with a mouth-watering aroma.
Cajun Spice seasoning to add a flare
Spice up your veggies by seeking a seasoning that steps outside the box and adds some heat to the mix. It doesn’t overwhelm but adds the perfect amount of spice for a fantastic finish. It can help to bring out the natural flavors of vegetables and is also a common spice blend used in cooking. The cajun spice seasoning features classics such as paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, and a few more that make this an incredibly versatile option. It will definitely be a noticeable flare that will have you craving veggies again to remain healthy. Spices are a great way to make healthy vegetables taste great and trigger future cravings.