Home' Nova National : September 2009 Contents I LIKE to cook. I cook at least once a day
and I rarely follow recipes and when I
do I tend to make them into healthier
versions of the original. I learnt to cook
as a young bachelor and hence my dishes
tend to be quick and easy to prepare, with
minimal dishes to wash.
Over the years, I have added a few
more health-specific rules to follow
when I set out to put food on my family's
plates. This includes a daily six serves of
vegetables and two fruits. Beans and
mushrooms appear most days, along
with nuts and seeds, both as snacks and
incorporated into recipes. I tend to use
grain products in much smaller servings
than the packets suggest and choose
wholegrain options whenever possible.
A balanced serving of protein is provided
with each meal in a varying array of plant
and animal options and sugar never needs
to be added to anything I cook. Healthy
oils abound and cooking temperatures
generally tend towards the lower end
of the scale to minimise the formation
of advanced glycation end products
associated with accelerated ageing.
While serving sizes in our house are
never huge (overeating is one of the
biggest causes of chronic illness), our
meals are full of nutrients... but wait,
there's more. Other extremely therapeutic
ingredients that I use frequently are
culinary herbs and spices.
Garlic, chilli, parsley, rosemary, sage,
thyme, coriander and oregano are a few
of the tasty and therapeutic favourites
we can easily add to our meals with a little
phytochemicals supplied by various
simple spices can provide significant
antibacterial, antifungal, anticarcinogenic,
anti-inflammatory, heavy metal scavenging,
immune boosting, blood sugar lowering
and antioxidant effects, bringing with them
numerous possibilities for better health
and a high level of wellness.
Breakfast in our house this morning
was a good example of turning an old
standard into a superfood. Pancakes
may not sound like a health food, but
they were by the time I finished with
them, mixing wholemeal flour, rolled oats,
eggs, natural yoghurt, grated apple and
lemon peel. That was pretty good, but
when I stirred in powdered cinnamon and
ginger, the mix became a medicine, and
tastier -- that's what spices can do. The
daily consumption of cinnamon can
improve blood sugar control and reduce
symptoms of poor digestion, such as
tummy cramps, bloating and flatulence.
Adding ginger to the mix also taps into
a long history of use for promoting
digestive health, while its anti-inflammatory
effect and role in stimulating circulation
make it a welcome addition to the diet
of many elderly people who are suffering
joint stiffness and circulation issues. I
then topped off the pancakes with linseed
meal, lecithin, berries and yoghurt
and we all sat down to a tasty and very
Ginger and cinnamon both go well
in a good curry too, as does cumin,
the ancient spice. With its multiple
therapeutic actions and its terrific taste,
cumin is one of my curry favourites.
It has been used in the Middle East
and South East Asia for many centuries
and research has confirmed its
inflammation inhibiting potential.
Another two tasty spices, cardamom and
cloves, also make a welcome addition to
my curries, with each offering a unique
array of gentle health improvement.
No discussion of easily incorporated
therapeutic spices would be complete
without mentioning turmeric. Despite
its bright yellow colour which suggests
a powerful flavour, in fact turmeric is one
of the milder spices. But when it comes to
the potential for health benefits turmeric
may indeed be King (sorry to break it
to you that way garlic). Unfortunately,
curcumin, the active principle found in
turmeric, is in a small amount and poorly
absorbed, with one research group
finding curcumin at a level of just 0.6% of
turmeric powder dry weight, while
another group found that the average
level of curcumin was a higher 3.14%.
While this level shouldn't be dismissed,
it is far below the therapeutic amounts
being provided in supplement form these
Absorption of curcumin improves,
though, by using another popular
spice, pepper in the same dish -- its
piperine content drastically increases the
absorption of curcumin and many other
nutrients. Curcumin also tends to be
far better absorbed when taken with a
higher fat meal, like a nice peppery
seafood Laksa, perhaps. Remember,
tasty and therapeutic, that's what spices
Jeremy Hill (Diploma of Natural Therapy)
is a Qualified Naturopath
Spice it Up
© NOVA SEPTEMBER 2009
Pancakes may not sound like a health food, but they were by
the time I finished with them, mixing wholemeal flour, rolled oats,
eggs, natural yoghurt, grated apple and lemon peel.
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