In 2015, I made a New Year’s resolution to take control over my health, beginning with diet. After some experimentation, I removed gluten and red meat from my diet and reduced my dairy and sugar intake dramatically. I added more greens to my daily meals, as well as nuts and beans for protein. I’ve not been perfect on this journey, indulging in burgers and ice cream from time to time, but this diet change made a huge impact.
In 2017, I started introducing delicious and anti-inflammatory spices into the dishes that I already loved. Not only are these easy to incorporate into almost any dish, they give me more control over my body. Today, I want to share with you a few of my favorite spices and how to incorporate them into some of my favorite recipes, healthy and not-so-healthy dishes.
This vibrant yellow-orange spice contains curcumin, which has been known to reduce inflammation by blocking the NF-kB molecule. It has an earthy and peppery taste, and can leave your tongue tingling. It can be consumed freshly grated or chopped, as a liquid, or in a ground powder form. This spice is often used in Indian cuisine, giving it that unique flavor and color, but is delicious in a variety of savory applications.
This is hands down my favorite Butter Chicken recipe. It does contain a significant amount of dairy, so this could be a splurge meal, or you can replace the dairy with other non-dairy options.
In our house we call this our Award-Winning Chili, that is a story for another day, inspired by Bobby Flay. We cook our own beans, use pork instead of beef, pour in a gluten-free beer, and add turmeric for more depth and earthiness.
I miss indulging in a golden latte at my favorite local coffee shop, but this Golden Latte is easy to make at home, delicious, and vegan.
This zesty spice is has been used for its health benefits for centuries, including its anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties. Like turmeric, it is a root, and can be consumed freshly grated or chopped, as a liquid, or in a ground powder form. Used in Asian, Indian, and Caribbean cuisine, ginger adds a very unique and spicy component to ordinary dishes.
Ramen is a staple in our house in the chilly winter months. We like to use whatever we have, which often consists of homemade duck broth, rice noodles, sesame kale, soy eggs, any variety of delicious vegetation and protein, and of course, ginger. This Duck Broth Ramen recipe is a tasty starting point for your own creations. Try adding some more gingery, probiotic goodness into the mix with Roy Choi’s Kimchi.
I’m in love with the creamy, sweetness of butternut squash soup. In fact, I’m craving it right now. Bon Appétit has some fantastic recipes for the dairy fiend, Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Sage Cream, and the vegan home chef, Vegan Butternut Squash Soup. A bit of fresh ginger in each makes this soup unique.
Ginger is a lively addition to mocktails, you can even make your own Ginger Ale at home. Cocktails can also be leveled up with a bit of ginger. The Ginger Rogers incorporates grapefruit, gin, and ginger in a surprising combination, reminding me of the Pau Hana cocktail at Mama’s Fish House in Hawaii.
Chili peppers contain capsaicinoids. These give the spicy fruit its anti-inflammatory properties. If you can handle leaving the seeds in your chili peppers, do it, this is where the capsaicinoids are most concentrated and where you will get the most benefit. Cayenne is kicky and should be used in moderation (unless you want to pepper spray your entire house, another story for later).
Mole Chicken Tacos are rich and earthy, incorporating unsweetened cocoa powder. In our house, we like to add a sprinkle or two of cayenne into the chicken and some additional chili peppers, seeds in, on top for a kick.
I really enjoy introducing heat as much as possible, even into my bone broth. Bone broth already has a host of health benefits, but enjoying a cup of bone broth during a flare is so delightful. The best part about it is that you can use the portions of produce and meat that you would normally waste, including onion skins and chicken spines.
Being born in West Virginia, attending college in Virginia, and living in Tennessee, I do love a day of smoking meat. Using cayenne in your rubs for pork, brisket, and even salmon, adds a manageable heat to a savory meal. This simple Memphis Dry Rub is ideal for any meat.
Cinnamon is most commonly associated with sweet dishes and baked goods. It is a spice that is known to reduce swelling in inflammatory diseases. It is a tasty addition to snacks, sweets, drinks, and even savory dishes. Snag some ground cinnamon, but don’t skimp on the cinnamon sticks, which can be added as a garnish or used whole in dishes.
I’ve been surprised and impressed by gluten-free, vegan sweets. Bake time can be finicking, so there is some trial and error, but you can create something delicious with a little practice. These Vegan Snickerdoodles are free of gluten and oil.
Cinnamon adds warmth to savory dishes as well, especially those with a long cook time. Carnitas is a perfect example of this, as it cooks low and slow for several hours. Need an easier way to cook it? You can add all of the ingredients to a slow cooker and check in after four hours.