Posts Tagged ‘spices’


Many of us today are trying to find away to lower cholesterol, lowering blood sugars, reducing arthritis pain and yes boosting our memory. If we open our cupboards looking to add flavor to our food we might just find a spice that is common in our households called Cinnamon. What does cinnamon look and taste like, and are they all the same?

Cinnamon is the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which when dried, rolls into a tubular form known as a quill. Cinnamon is available in either its whole quill form (cinnamon sticks) or as ground powder.

Are all Cinnamon’s the same? What is the Best?

Cinnamon is one of the oldest and most popular spices, and has been used for millennia both for its flavoring and medicinal qualities. Two major types of cinnamon used Cassia and Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon is known as “true cinnamon”, Ceylon cinnamon is NOT the kind of cinnamon that is normally sold in the spice section at your local supermarket, Cassia is the one seen most. Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, the parent compound of warfarin, a medication used to keep blood from clotting. Due to concerns about the possible effects of coumarin, in 2006, the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment warned against consuming large amounts of cassia cinnamon.

Let’s Get Using the Cinnamon!

Studies have shown that just ½ teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon add to cereal, oatmeal, toast, tomato sauces or on an apple can have many health benefits. These are just a few ways of how you can add cinnamon to your meals. You might have your own special recipes!

Benefits of Cinnamon!

  • Lowers Cholesterol: Studies have shown may significantly lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, and triglycerides and total cholesterol.
  • Reduces blood sugar levels and treating Type 2 Diabetes.
  • Heart Disease: Reducing blood pressure.
  • Fights Cancer: A study released by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland showed that cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. The combination of calcium and fiber found in Cinnamon can help to remove bile, which prevents damage to colon cells, thus prevents colon cancer.
  • Tooth decay and mouth freshener: Treat toothache and fight bad breath.
  • Brain Tonic: Cinnamon boosts the activity of the brain and hence acts as a good brain tonic. It helps in removing nervous tension and memory loss. Also, studies have shown that smelling cinnamon may boost cognitive function, memory, performance of certain tasks, and increases one’s alertness and concentration.
  • Reduces Arthritis Pain: Cinnamon spice contains anti-inflammatory compounds, which can be useful in reducing pain and inflammation associated with arthritis. A study conducted at Copenhagen University, where patients were given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  • Itching: Paste of honey and cinnamon is often used to treat insect bites.

Share with us how you enjoy cinnamon!




Source: George RC, Lew J, Graves DJ. Interaction of Cinnamaldehyde and Epicatechin with Tau: Implicationsof Beneficial Effects in Modulating Alzheimer’s disease Pathogenesis. The Journal of Alzheimer’s disease. 2013.

Author: Marie Economos, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Trumbull County, economos.2@osu.edu 

Reviewer: Candace Heer, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Morrow County,  heer.7@osu.edu



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HerbsHerbs have been around since the dawn of civilization. Ancient people gathered herbs to flavor foods, which were often spoiled, and to use as natural health remedies. Today, we still use herbs to enhance the flavor of our foods.

Herbs can also be thought of as health promoting. Replacing salt with herbs has been used by many cultures in the Mediterranean, South America, Asia and Europe. Although sodium plays an important role in the body too much salt is can cause hypertension and fluid retention. Experts recommend that we not consume more 2400 mg (teaspoon) to prevent hypertension and cardiovascular disease. We are not born with a taste for salt but we develop it with our diet. A preference for salt can be unlearned by gradually lowering it in our diets. Fortunately, herbs are fat-free and often sodium free so that you can spice up your dishes with sacrificing flavor and nutrition.

In addition to being low-sodium, research suggests that culinary herbs are health promoting in other ways. A diet in which culinary herbs are used to flavor food provides a variety of active phytochemicals that may protect against chronic diseases.

Herbs should used sparingly so as to not overwhelm the flavor and fragrance. Herbs can be used as fresh or dried. To substitute dried herbs for fresh, the general rule is to use 1/3 teaspoon of ground or 1 teaspoon of crumbled dried herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.

Fresh herbs can easily be grown in containers with lots of sunshine and water. When harvested, bunches of fresh herbs can be stored in the refrigerator with their stems in water. To dry fresh herbs, tie stalks into small bunches with a string and hang upside down in a paper bag punched with holes. Store the bag in a warm, well ventilated place. Once the herbs are dried they should be stored in tightly closed glass jars and kept in a cool dry place.

Here are some ways to use the following herbs:

 Allspice: Use in pickling, baked apples, puddings, cakes, cookies, meat and fish.

 Basil: Use in soups, stews, eggplant, squash, tomatoes, sauces, egg dishes, stuffing, tossed salads and potatoes.

 Bay leaves: Provides a pungent aroma and flavor. Use in stews, sauces, and salad dressings.

 Cayenne: Use in stews, sauces and salad dressings.

 Chili Powder: Provides a hot flavor. Use in stews, boiled eggs, chili, and other Mexican dishes.

 Thyme: Add carefully; very penetrating. Use in soups, stews, meat loaf, onions, carrots, beets, stuffing and sauces.

 Oregano: Use in tomato sauce dishes, egg dishes and salads.

 Paprika: Use in potato dishes, shellfish, and salad dressings.

 Parsley: Is mild and versatile. Use with meat, vegetables, soups, eggs, and potatoes.

Growing herbs can be a family affair. Childhood obesity rates are at all time highs and many children will suffer from chronic disease in early adulthood. Many diseases are preventable if lifelong habits of physical activity and healthy eating are adopted. Involving children in the process of growing, harvesting, and using herbs could foster an interest in life-long interest in cooking and healthy living.

Herb garden

Sources: “Spice Up Your Life with Herbs” by Jennifer Even. OSU factsheet SS-208-02.

“Health-Promoting Properties of Common Herbs”, by Winston Craig. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 70, No. 3, 491S-499S, September 1999.

Writer:  Dan Remley, M.S.P.H., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Field Specialist, Family Nutrition and Wellness, Ohio State University Extension, Remley.4@osu.edu

Reviewer:  Michelle Treber, M.A., L.D., Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension,  Pickaway County, Heart of Ohio EERA, treber.1@osu.edu

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How can you add extra flavor to the foods you eat without adding calories?  Spices answer that question nicely. Beyond adding extra taste and flavor, spices also provide significant health benefits.  This  article will highlight two of the many spices that add to the taste of foods while also possibly contributing to your health.

The first of these spices is garlic. Garlic can be crushed or bruised.  Either way it releases compounds that have antiviral, antibacterial and antioxidant effects.  The most notable compound in garlic is allicin which gives it its aroma and taste which is certainly well known to many people.

For those who consume garlic regularly a number of diseases may be reduced. These include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or triglycerides or periodontal disease or infections.  The amount needed to reduce risk is about a clove of garlic daily. Studies have shown that freshly crushed garlic has a more substantial effect than processed garlic. This is due to the allicin decaying quickly.

Garlic can be used in many recipes and with a wide range of foods. Tomatoes, dark greens, broccoli, cauliflower, meat, fish and poultry are a few such items. Almost any recipe that calls for onions or shallots can include garlic in addition or instead.

Roasted Garlic Bread
Makes two servings

One garlic bulb (recipe uses four roasted cloves)
Olive oil

Two pieces of whole-grain bread, toasted

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. With a knife, cut off ¼˝ to ½˝ of the top of the bulb, exposing the top of the garlic cloves.

Place the garlic heads on a baking pan or a muffin pan. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the garlic bulb, using your fingers to make sure the exposed garlic head is well coated.

Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° F for 30-35 minutes or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Allow the garlic to cool enough so you can touch it without burning yourself.

Use a small knife to cut the skin slightly around each clove. Use a fork to pull or your fingers to squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin. Spread a clove or two on each piece of toasted bread.Spice Rack

The second of many spices that will be highlighted is ginger. Research has shown that ginger has a number of compounds that can provide anti-inflammatory effects. Ginger is associated with treatment or prevention of a number of diseases such as stomach aches, asthma, toothaches, gingivitis, arthritis and high blood pressure. A recent study showed the usefulness of ginger to reduce muscle soreness after an intense workout. These benefits can occur with as little as two grams of ginger per day. This equals 1 Tablespoon of fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon of powered ginger.

Ginger is often used in Asian and Indian cooking and works well with carrots, spinach, fish, chicken, meat and even fruits such as oranges or Granny Smith apples. The recipe below is one in which ginger adds a great flavorful addition.

Orange Ginger Stir-Fry with Chicken
Makes four servings

1  medium orange
4 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 cup (C) reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp chili sauce, optional
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1˝ pieces
Two garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp olive or sesame oil
2 C fresh broccoli florets
2  medium sweet red or yellow peppers, julienned
½ C carrots, cut into thin coins
⅓ C unsalted cashews, optional
3 C hot, cooked brown rice

Grate orange peel, reserving 1½ tsp. Peel and section orange. Set orange sections aside.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and ginger. Stir in the broth, soy sauce, chili sauce, and reserved grated orange peel until blended. Set aside.

In a large skillet or wok, stir-fry chicken and garlic in oil for 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned.

Add the broccoli, peppers, and carrots. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir broth mixture and add to the pan. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.

Remove from the heat. Stir in cashews and reserved orange sections. Serve with rice.

These are only two of many spices that do double duty. Enjoy the flavor and improve your health at the same time!

Source: www. rd411.com.

Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.




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The recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that everyone, young or old, reduce sodium consumption.  Although we need some sodium in our diet, almost everyone is consuming too much.  Research has shown that the higher our sodium consumption the higher our blood pressure.  Research also indicates that if we reduce our sodium intake the blood pressure level also decreases.   By keeping your blood pressure in the normal range you reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease, congestive heart failure, and kidney disease.

To reduce your sodium intake you will need to use the Nutrition Facts label on foods and check the sodium content.   Try to buy foods with sodium at 5% or less.   If buying canned foods look for labels with “reduced sodium,” “low sodium” or “no salt added.”  Check different brands as sodium levels can vary greatly.  Rinsing your canned foods will also help remove some sodium.  Most frozen entrées and cured meats also are high in sodium.  However, just eating foods with moderate levels of sodium many times a day can quickly cause your sodium levels to be higher than you thought.   Be cautious about yeast breads, chicken and chicken mixed dishes, pizza, and pasta and pasta dishes.

Don’t add salt (sodium) when cooking or eating.  Try adding spices and herbs instead.  Take the salt shaker off the table.  Try preparing more foods at home from fresh ingredients.  When eating out ask the restaurant not to add salt to your food.

Eating more potassium rich foods can also help lower blood pressure, and reduce your risk of developing kidney stones and decreased bone loss.   Vegetables, fruits, beans, milk and milk products are good sources of potassium.

Reference:  http://www.dietaryguidleines.gov

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