Spice Blends to “Spice Up” Your Health
The melodic blending of notes in a song can please the ear and heal the soul. So too can the synergistic blend of spices please the palate and provide healing potential to the body.
Yin and Yang of Spice Blends
While salt and pepper are the individual yin and yang on most traditional American tables, spice blends used to enhance the flavor of foods are common throughout the world. The idea of combining spices dates back thousands of years. India, Southeast Asia, Northern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean have rich histories and unique flavors associated with dishes from their respective regions. As rich as this history is, chefs have always taken creative rights to modify and adjust spice blends according to their personal taste. This makes each dish as unique as the region and chef that prepared it.
The Synergy of Four (or more)
Spice blends can be in the form of powdered, ground or whole spices. They can be used as rubs, toppings, in marinades and more. Regardless of the form they take, spice blends usually contain four or more spices. The key to a good spice blend is that one spice does not over power it counterparts, but instead melds together.
When we look at spices blending together for taste, we can also look at spices blending together for possible health benefits. In earlier sections of this series, we spoke about the phytonutrient properties of spices. In another article about the synergistic effects of eating foods together, we explored the power of 1 food plus 1 food often having health benefits equaling more than the sum of the parts. If we apply this same theory to the phytonutrient dense properties of spice blends, it only leads this author and health advocate to believe the same would be true.
While many commercial spice blends are on the market, the rule of “Buyer Beware” must be noted for individuals who choose to or need to leave MSG (monosodium glutamate) out of their diets. Many commercial blends contain MSG. MSG can be referred to by many names on food labels and still adhere to current labeling laws in the US. The Dr. Sear’s L.E.A.N. Start and Prime-Time Health workshops provide information on reading labels to facilitate “informed” consumers.
So what is a consumer to do? One option is to make your own spice blends. The internet has many spice blend recipes or get creative and try your own. If you want a more comprehensive look at individual spices, how to use spices, the history of spices, and spice blend recipes, the book “Healing Spices” by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PhD is a personal favorite, inspiration for this blog series and a great resource for any kitchen.
Enjoy this homemade spice blend from Frontier Natural Products Co-Op:
Ingredient possibilities: black pepper, cayenne, chili peppers, cumin, garlic, nutmeg, onion, paprika
- Bharat B. Aggarwal, PHD & Debora Yost. Healing Spices. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2011