While the focus of most spices is solely on enhancing flavor profiles, the medicinal benefits continue to surprise researchers. For thousands of years, spices were heavily sought after for their dish-altering and enhancing qualities. While this is certainly still true, the movement to understand the health benefits of them is rapidly expanding. This adds even more incentive to using these diverse and intriguing flavors in cooking.
Not only are spices inexpensive, but they create beautiful nuances in flavor and add tremendous health benefits. In exploring these benefits in greater detail, the diverse properties of spices are extremely impressive. It’s as if they’ve been created for this purpose, along with adding flavor. Such focused and apparent benefits cannot be an accident.
It appears as if there’s a spice for just about every condition.The focus of this article is to explore and highlight the benefits of these popular spices. Using one is good, but all three together on a fairly consistent basis can impart many different health benefits. In nature, there’s synergy when it comes to medicinal benefits. Let’s explore what some of these benefits are.
The issue of inflammation is much more severe than it appears to be. Many think of inflammation as soreness or something short-lived that subsides after a couple of weeks. However, this is not what is often happening inside our bodies. It’s almost like a wildfire wreaking havoc in an insidious and silent manner. While inflammation is present in cases of accidents, aches, pains, and localized trauma, the chronic, systemic inflammation is what desperately warrants more attention.
Studies show that this chronic, body-wide inflammation is at the core of so many diseases. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, digestive disorders, fatty liver disease, asthma, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases, and so much more. Inflammation is both a contributor and byproduct of disease. It can result from disease states, while at the same time contribute to its progression.
By quelling inflammation on a regular basis in a healthy, natural manner, certain toxic pathways and expressions in the body will gradually dissipate. This will lead to greater health and greater prevention of disease. Ginger, lemongrass, and turmeric are all premier fighters of toxic inflammation. Together, these tasty spices significantly lower harmful markers that lead or contribute to chronic disease according to many studies.
They fight against the expression of inflammation inside the body through many mechanisms. So while this category only highlights inflammation, the effects spill over to many other potential areas. Since inflammation and pain go hand and hand, the combination of these three spices are good options for many different types of pain. Instead of medication, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, with holy basil (tulsi) is a fantastic pain-relieving stack.
Tumeric, Ginger, & Lemongrass for The Big Three
The big three is referring to the top three diseases in many places around the world year in and year out. Cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Diabetes is still slightly lower on the list than heart disease and cancer, but it’s spreading rapidly. In addition, many deaths that are noted as being caused by heart disease and stroke are due to diabetic complications. While turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger may not be a cure-all to the big three, they are extremely helpful in many areas of their progression.
What’s the Evidence?
A compound of lemongrass called citral has shown to lower blood glucose and improve glucose tolerance. Turmeric can improve insulin sensitivity, decrease insulin resistance, and lower triglycerides. A compound called 6-gingerol in ginger contains potent anti-cancer properties. For this purpose, a strong extract would be more successful than regular ginger spice. The nutrients in ginger can also be helpful in preventing blood clots and improving circulation.
In rats, ginger decreased the structural damage done to the heart in those with diabetes. In one study comparing lemongrass to green tea for the heart, the group drinking lemongrass experienced a mild decrease in blood pressure and a reduction in heart rate. Several sources of research suggest that lemongrass contains valuable anti-cancer properties as well.
These benefits are only a sample of what exists with these three powerful spices. They are fantastic for fighting certain infections, digestive disorders, kidney, liver, and brain health, and so much more. Spices are incredibly powerful and extremely underrated when it comes to the medicinal benefits that they impart.
Buying high quality is very important. Low quality spices that are irradiated have all sorts of disgusting toxins and very little benefits. Many of them are pretty much nuked and dead on arrival. High-quality spices are definitely something to incorporate into your routine and can do wonderful things for long-term health.
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.
Oregano is a perennial herb native to the Mediterranean basin whose name translates to “mountain joy” in Greek. A relative of mint, Origanum Vulgare, or common oregano is often called the “pizza herb” in the United States because it was popularized in the twentieth century American GIs who introduced the seasoning as they returned home from the Italian theater after the Second World War. While tomato sauce and oregano are certainly a common pairing, the herb has many uses, varieties, and pairings that allow home cooks to enjoy a spicy, minty sprinkling of southern Europe on their plates.
What Dishes Can I Use Oregano In?
In addition to the above-mentioned pizza and tomato-based dishes, oregano often pairs well other common Greek ingredients such as feta cheese. Popular in Greece and increasingly stateside, marinated feta is unique spin on the brined cheese that includes oregano, thyme, garlic, and a hint of chili pepper all slowly infusing cheese and extra-virgin olive oil with their herbal freshness. Dried or fresh oregano work equally well for this recipe, as either form help mellow out feta’s slight funkiness.f
Chimichurri, an Argentinian condiment that resembles the famed Ligurian basil pesto also uses oregano, in addition to other fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. Served as an accompaniment grilled steak and other beef dishes, oregano’s lightly pungent flavor helps cut through fatty meats and packs an herbal punch to otherwise stodgy meat-heavy meals.
Oregano is also used in Italian dishes that aren’t tomato-based as well, such as with tagliatelle egg pasta, parmesan and lemon. As you’ve probably figured by now, the herb does tend to pair well with other common Mediterranean ingredients, such as garlic, cheeses, lemon, olive oil, thyme and vegetables.
What are the Health Benefits of Oregano?
In addition to having a relatively high amount of minerals like potassium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, oregano contains aromatic terpene compounds such as carvacrol, thymol, and linalool. Carvacrol, which oregano is particularly rich in, is known to have significant analgesic, antioxidant, antimicrobial, antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties and has been shown to be effective against food-borne pathogens, such as E.coli and salmonella.
Its antimicrobial and antispasmodic properties may indicate the oregano is useful in maintaining good gut health, in addition to a host of other potential benefits, so don’t go too easy on the oregano shaker next time. It’s also simply delicious!
What Does Oregano Taste Like?
While there are Mexican, Greek, and Turkish varieties, generally, oregano has a peppery and spicy flavor. The fresh leaves or the dried herb in large amounts are also generally somewhat bitter, although it’s generally not used in large enough quantities to be unpleasant. Like its cousin mint, oregano also has a natural, aromatic sweetness that gives it a well-balanced herbal aftertaste: an initial spicy, pungent, peppery and warm kick followed by a naturally sweet and cooling minty finish.
Where Can I Buy Oregano?
Spice Station Silverlake has several varieties of oregano available for purchase and delivery straight to you. Whether you want to dabble in spicier Mexican oregano, or the more traditional Greek or Turkish varieties, Spice Station’s fast and easy shipping is free when your order totals $25 or more. Find your Mediterranean zest and add an aromatic dimension to your cooking with some oregano today!
As we know, depression and mental health are incredibly prevalent and widespread issues in the world today. Clinical depression, as well as mild symptoms of depression are still on the rise. Studies show that depression is at least 20% higher in the past decade alone. Mental health around the world is worse than ever. Yet, medication is more common than ever. As a result, new problems are arising from the side effects without much long-term improvement.
There are dozens of medications that claim to treat depression, yet the problems they cause seem greater than what they fix. Why is that? Why does it seem like the modern paradigm of drug therapy is digging a deeper hole rather than fixing the problem? Should medicine come with a long list of potential side effects? Whatever happened to first do no harm?
Symptoms of Depression
Depression is something that has deeper currents than what is able to be defined verbally. In addition, there is a wide range of severity. Some people have short bouts of depression, while for others it is perpetual and ongoing. Some forms of depression will come and go because of external events, while for others it is constant no matter what. Feeling down constantly, lacking energy, changes in appetite, sleep patterns, low motivation, lacking self-value, thoughts of self-harm, feeling pressure, and more are some of the most common symptoms.
It is important to know that there are no claims being made that these will cure depression, but rather tools to help improve it. Before running to the nearest psychiatrist or doctor to get a prescription, it’s good to explore natural means. Many different spices have powerful medicinal properties that can offer great value to those with depression. Here is a list of some of the most studied spices that may be worth a try.
Saffron is a potent spice with a high price tag, but has good medicinal value. However, saffron is also one of the most knocked off spices in the world. If you can get your hands on some genuine saffron, definitely give it a try. Studies show that it affects several neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin that play a role in depression. An analysis of over 20 studies showed that saffron had positive effects on depression when compared to placebo. As a bonus, saffron may also improve certain symptoms of anxiety as seen in one study.
Dill not only tastes great, but may also help to curb minor blues and depression. The flavonoids and polyphenols impact the mind in a way that is comparable to medication. One study showed that the anagesic and antidepressant effects rivaled that of tramadol and sertraline. While it won’t cure clinical depression, the goal here is to see improvement naturally.
Although turmeric quality can vary quite a bit, pure turmeric helps to stimulate neurotransmitters that are sometimes low in depression. Furthermore, through its MAO inhibiting properties, it has the ability to help these chemicals to not be broken down as quickly. Turmeric also helps to tame inflammation, which can be high at times in the brain of those with depression.
Studies show that rosemary is is one of the best spices for the brain. It enhances circulation and may help to lower cognitive decline associated with aging. For depression, rosemary may be able to slightly lower the severity. In one study, the group that took rosemary saw an improvement from moderate to mild depression.
Although this is not a spice, it has beneficial properties for depression that combine well with the others on this list. Many people enjoy noni because it works on several pathways that help with mood balance. This includes GABA, the calming neurotransmitter, serotonin, and dopamine. These three compounds largely impact mental and emotional health. In addition, noni is a natural MAO-A & B inhibitor, which allows these important compounds to last longer in the brain before being broken down. Clinical studies highlight low levels of MAO in people with depression.
Before running to the doctor to get a script for medication, there is a treasure chest of healthy, natural items that can help. While it may take time to find the right combination, it is worth experimenting with. With the long list of side effects and lack of long-term effectiveness at times, it’s important to try other options first. You may be surprised by combing some of these spices with nutritional therapy.
Summer is finally here and we bring to you the Summer Spices and Herbs that are aromatic, refreshing, and unforgettable! Here at Spice Station is your one-stop shop for unrivaled selections of spices and herbs from around the country, the world, and for every cuisine conceivable.
You want to put your culinary skills on display, so what better way is there than to dabble in the art of presenting flavorful foods with every dish, at every sitting.
Spices we can’t live without
Vanilla bean is an extraordinary summer spice as a blastoff in the morning with oatmeal (or in a fruity smoothie), sweetened with maple syrup, or honey.
-The vanilla bean is a reliable source of essential oils, vitamins, and minerals that include antibacterial properties.
-It supports the nervous system, and regulates the body’s metabolism.
-Lowers stress and depression.
-Works well as an antioxidant.
It’s easy to know where to begin on the subject of nutmeg! The positive findings of this incredibly celebrated summer spice are numerous. It’s a favorite in breakfast dishes, and in other sweet or savory dishes.
-Many studies have proven that nutmeg’s antioxidant and antibacterial properties provide relief from toothache pain; halistosis (bad beath),
-Because of the potency of its oils, nutmeg aids in the relief of cough, colds, gastrointestinal diseases, and other maladies.
One great way to enliven your smoothies is with this freshly grated summer spice–ginger!
Awaken the flavors of your Asian, European, and other dishes, soups, potatoes, baked sweet or savory delights.
-Ginger is popularly known for its relief of nausea.
-Removes toxins from your body.
-It is regarded as an overall health booster.
Summer herbs that brighten our days
These delicate and versatile blossoms are bursting with goodness for both your inner and outer health. The pleasant aroma of this summer herb is not intrusive but seems to blend well with other herbs. Chamomile is a versatile herb and its popularity for beauty and health dates back to ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt. It is also used in some desserts and drinks.
-Famously known to calm the nerves and allows a good night sleep.
-It can be added to strawberry smoothies for a calming and enjoyable drink that can minimize stress.
-Controls allergies such as eye itchiness when used as an eye wash, and when used as a steam can ease nose stuffiness.
What looks more inviting than a sprig of mint leaves attached to the glass that’s holding your favorite drinks! Just rubbing a couple of mint leaves together in your hand and inhaling the aroma is so refreshing. It is a savored summer herb in most cuisines around the globe for its use in the following:
-Making delicious ice creams, mint julep, mojitos, smoothies, cookies, and candies; hot mint tea and hot, creamy mint chocolate
-Sauces, stews, grilled salmon, buttered beans, and salads
-Dishes like leg of lamb, veal, steak, and poultry
-Mint is often used as an aid to the common cold, relieves headaches, eases the discomfort of asthma, and promotes a healthy digestive system.
-Research shows that it may improve brain function.
-It is well known for its effects in improving breath freshness.
-Mint is rich in nutrients such as Vitamin A, Iron, Manganese, and Folate.
Thyme is highly prized for its longevity in the chef’s kitchen. The aroma of this summer herb stands out among many of its counterparts as a source of providing distinguished flavor to delicious meat and seafood dishes. The nutritional values it provides are lengthy. Here are some:
-Vitamins A and C
-Works as a guard against chronic inflammation in the body.
-Remedies coughs, colds, sore throats.
-Promotes bone health, prevents the risk of bone diseases.
-Rich potassium content, which controls the rise of blood pressure.
This long recognized and favorite summer herb lives up to the standards of culinary expectations. Rosemary is the seasoning for a variety of well-known recipes and exudes a pungent aroma that satisfies the longings of those who crave well prepared dishes such as:
-Seafood and pork
-It is well known and recommended for stimulating brain functioning and improving the memory.
-Aids in improving and treating digestion.
-Studies have suggested that rosemary combats damage to the brain and nervous system.
-Can improve mood and concentration.
-High in antioxidants.
These summer spices and herbs can be found at Spice Station.
Modern research continues to verify the exciting health benefits of spices. This is great news for people that love to drench their food in delicious flavors and herbs. During this time where infection defense is needed, oregano sets itself apart as one of the most potent herbs available. As a result, many companies are utilizing herbs like oregano in supplement form and marking up prices.
The beauty in nature is how diverse its properties are. The taste, flavors, scents, and medicinal effects makes them so intriguing to understand. The medicinal properties are what have scientists interested. It’s important to realize what we have growing right in our backyards. Or at the very least, have access in stores and online. Spices and herbs play a much larger role than just flavoring for food.
There are many different ways that oregano can impact health. The Greeks and Romans even associated it with happiness. Here are some of the most researched and proven benefits:
Oregano for Fighting Infections
Oregano helps to fight several types of infections. Its multifaceted effects go after several types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Moreover, oregano can help fight infections that no longer respond to antibiotics. Studies show effects against over 20 types of bacteria.
For ideal results, use oil of oregano with the dry herb. While it’s not something to take year-round, using both the oil and herb during times where bugs are going around can help provide the body with extra resistance. Combining it with thyme, cinnamon, and clove is especially powerful for infections. For stubborn coughs, mixing it with thyme, elecapmagne, osha, and mullein is a blend that may be helpful.
Diabetes is perhaps the biggest growing threat in the United States right now. This condition even threatens the youth and people in their 20’s. Fortunately, research shows that it is one of most responsive conditions to changes in diet and supplements.
According to rat studies, oregano has a positive effect on insulin resistance and glucose metabolism. In addition, it may improve liver and kidney health, although more studies are needed. Oregano may also have a protective effect on type 1 diabetes.
Mood & Depression
Depression and mood are very complicated issues that often require complex solutions. Hence, no one product is a total solution. Having said that, oregano may be helpful with some of the symptoms. In rats, specific extracts improved markers of depression according to one study. The behaviors indicative of depression improved in rats taking this extract.
Another study presented at a Neuroscience conference in New Orleans showed that certain compounds in oregano may help improve motivation, mental well-being, and mood. Combing it with other spices such a turmeric and saffron will help to strengthen the effects to an even greater degree.
Oregano may help Combat Inflammation
Inflammation is an underlying symptom of many chronic diseases. Oftentimes, it is one of the driving forces in disease growing stronger in the body. Oregano may help to bring down certain types of inflammation in the body. When we break the cycle of chronic inflammation, it can change disease outcomes over time. However, oregano alone will not be strong enough. Using herbs such as cat’s claw, holy basil, and boswellia as an addition will be much more powerful.
In conclusion, many powerful herbs and spices are extremely helpful in helping different types of ailments. Sometimes, the best solution is right under our nose. Medication may not be the best option in many cases. Knowledge is critical when it comes to disease and health disorders.
Clove is a unique and powerful spice in both flavor and medicinal effects. Some say it originates from Indonesia, although there are reports of its existence dating back to ancient Syria. According to so evidence, traces of clove was found in a burnt down kitchen in Mesopotamia around 1700 BC. One of the original uses of clove is for freshening breath.
Since then, research on clove is uncovering an array of benefits and properties of this pungent spice. The strong potency and flavor are what stands out about it. Most people either like it, hate it, or perhaps tolerate it if disguised enough by other flavors. With clove, it’s all about the subtly and using it in the right way in cuisine. However, the health benefits make it worth tolerating, especially if you battle with certain ailments. So, what can you gain by adding more clove into your diet?
Blood Sugar & Diabetes
Research has uncovered some interesting and potent effects for diabetes and glucose levels. A study published in 2019 showed that the potent antioxidants and nutrients in clove may help lower glucose following a meal. The benefits were even greater for those that had pre-diabetes. The clove extract reduced the post meal glucose spike by over 25%!
Furthermore, clove may help promote insulin production and sensitivity when paired with cinnamon. The effects of both are enhanced when combined with each other. In addition, fenugreek may also add valuable benefits for diabetes and pre-diabetes when used on a regular basis. Several studies have further verified clove as one of the most potent spices for these conditions.
Clove for Infection Defense
One of the most powerful attributes of clove spice is its effects on different pathogens. Moreover, the oil has shown in many studies to defeat and disrupt many different types of infections. The compounds within it help halt the growth and spreading of organisms that can cause problems in the body if left uncontrolled.
However, the spice itself can also be helpful when germs are lurking. Its anti-microbial properties are what made it such a great breath freshener for so many years. In addition, clove is helpful for different types of fungal and yeast infections when used properly. If using clove essential oil, it must be diluted in order to be safe for use.
Clove may Lower Triglycerides
Triglycerides are certainly one of the biggest enemies of cardiovascular disease. Along with c-reactive protein and certain cytokines, these markers are important to keep stable. One small study saw a significant drop in triglyceride and LDL (the bad) cholesterol. Another study at Penn State noticed a 30% reduction in triglycerides when comparing a meal with clove, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, turmeric, and garlic to a similar meal without the spices included!
Clove is well known for providing relief for toothaches. However, it is also helpful for muscle aches, bunions, wounds, and cuts. It’s important to properly dilute it first if using the oil or it will sting. Making a water-based extract from the tea and spice is fine to apply as is.
In addition to the aforementioned benefits, preliminary research shows potential benefits for certain types of cancer, liver health, parasites, hypertension, digestion, ulcers, and more! Some of these aren’t yet totally proven, but encouraging research exists. Since it is safe to use, there’s no need to wait years to start benefiting from it.
Clove is also one of the most powerful antioxidants in the world. The ORAC value is much higher than most superfoods that are always pushed for their antioxidant value. In hundreds of herbs, foods, and spices tested, clove ranks as number 2 behind only sumac bran. Very impressive potency for a humble and overlooked spice.
Spices are an essential part of creating delicious and flavorful dishes. It stands to reason that this would be true, especially when creating Italian dishes. Spices are particularly prevalent in Italian cooking in dishes from meatballs to different kinds of pasta to pizza. Aside from rich olive oil and fresh produce, Italian spices just may be the most important part of Italian cooking.
If you’re not experienced with Italian cooking and spices, what takes the most time to figure out is which spices to use with which components of each dish and which combinations work well together to create that authentic Italian taste you are looking for. Below are 5 Italian spices that are easy to use to get you started.
Not only is Rosemary easy to use, but it’s also easy to grow for yourself. There’s nothing quite like a freshly grown herb from your own garden to have fresh in your Italian meals. In traditional Italian cooking, Rosemary is frequently used when adding a spicy, peppery yet floral flavor to stocks and roasted meats.
When you begin creating your Italian dish, all you’ll need is to add a small amount of Rosemary to give your dish some big flavor. You’ll have a delicious dish with a woody, peppery taste. Rosemary is especially good when cooking homemade focaccia.
Basil is the second to none herb in Italian cuisine. The flavor of Basil is fresh and bright, and it goes well with Italian staples like balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, and cheese. Basil Pesto is another popular Italian favorite.
Basil can be used in both its fresh and dried variety. Fresh Basil is most commonly used in cold dishes. It can also be added after cooking. Its dry counterpart is used to flavor things such as soups and pasta sauces that take some time to cook. Basil also is beneficially antibacterial, which is good for your health.
Have you had the Italian dishes risotto, gnocchi, or the ever-common ravioli? If you have, you’ve most likely had Sage, a common herb used in these fabulous Italian dishes. Sage has been used all over the world for its health properties, such as its ability to aid in digestion and its anti-inflammatory properties. Sage has a naturally warm aroma and enhances heavier Italian dishes. Sage can also be fresh or dried and is a complementary herb in either variety.
One of the most universally used herbs in Italian cooking is Prezzemolo or better known as Parsley. The chances are that you will not find a sauce, soup, or pasta without Parsley.
Parsley typically comes in flat-leaf and curly-leaf varieties. However, the flat-leaf Parsley is so much more commonplace in Italian dishes. Although curly leaf parsley is great for fine chopping and garnishing, the flat-leaf variety has a more full-bodied taste for adding flavor to dishes as they cook.
Additionally, Parsley has many vitamins and minerals. It is also frequently added to a variety of dishes to complement other spices because of its natural ability to enhance other flavors.
Oregano is traditionally used in many Sicilian and southern Italian dishes. It works well in everyday cooking with tomato-based pasta sauces. Oregano is also used dry or fresh. Dried is more commonly preferred since the strong, spicy flavor comes out more after the herb has been dried.
Long-known stateside for lending its aromatic, heating qualities to desserts, cinnamon is a popular spice used in sweet but also in savory dishes. What many people don’t realize, however, is that there are multiple varieties that have completely different flavor profiles and organic compounds.
So, what kind should you buy? What kind of cinnamon is right for what you’re looking to do with it? Firstly, let’s take a closer look at what cinnamon is – and isn’t.
What are True Cinnamon and Cassia? What’s the Difference?
Cinnamon is the dried and rolled or ground inner bark of the tree known as Cinnamomum Verum (literally “True Cinnamon” in Latin), which is native to Sri Lanka, the Malabar Coast of India and Burma (also known as Myanmar). Renowned for not only its culinary properties, but also its nutritional, preservative & fragrant attributes, True Cinnamon – sometimes called “Ceylon Cinnamon” – was once the most profitable spice traded by the Dutch East India company. The high demand for the spice before the advent of modern electric refrigeration was partly attributable to its antibacterial compounds which impede the spoilage of meat. In ancient times, it served as an embalming agent and as a perfume or incense for religious rites.
Cassia cinnamon comes in three widely-produced varieties: Indonesian or “Korintje” (Cinnamomum Burmannii), Saigon (Cinnamomum Loureiroi), and Chinese (Cinnamomum Cassia). The Chinese variety is generally the most bitter and has limited culinary applications, although it is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Korintji (or “Korintje”) cassia cinnamon from Indonesia is less bitter and because of its sweetness & relatively strong flavor (as compared to Ceylon Cinnamon) is popular in American baking: because it contrasts well with sugar while delivering a cinnamon-flavored wallop thanks it to its higher amounts of cinnamaldehyde – the active constituent that gives cinnamon & cassia much of their flavor. Korintji cinnamon is best used for snickerdoodles, cinnamon buns and other traditional American baked goods, because it’s the variety that’s been most commonly used for such fare. Think of it as the most nostalgic variety of cinnamon; what you likely sniffed as a child waiting for cookies to come out of the oven.
Saigon cinnamon is known for its peppery, warm and intense flavor. It’s bitter when used in excess and is generally considered best for Vietnamese or other Asian dishes such as Phở, or as a component of Five Spice powder. This spice – which is generally grown in central Vietnam, far from its namesake city – contains even higher levels of cinnamaldehydes than Korintje, giving it a reputation as the strongest of the culinary-grade cinnamon & cassia varieties.
Ceylon cinnamon is often described as “soft” cinnamon because the dried bark is thinner and more delicate to the touch. True cinnamon has a lighter brown hue and a more complex flavor profile than cassia: some describe it as being floral, fruitier and gentler-tasting, with notes of citrus & clove. It can be used in every confection or dish that cassia usually is, but will naturally have a more subtle taste. It goes especially well in baked fruit dishes, such as spiced pears or apple pies, and is a favorite for making cinnamon ice cream that isn’t too spicy.
Where Can I Buy Cinnamon?
While each kind of cinnamon or cassia is a bit different from the other varieties, they all have unique uses & profiles that are suited to differing palates and dishes. Pick out your preferred kind or order a few different varieties – from sticks to ground cinnamon, to ready-to-use cinnamon sugar, you can sample them all and decide which cinnamon suits your tastes – all three varieties are available!
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!