Discover the Healing Power of Herbs and Spices
Nothing makes me feel cozier or more nourished than a warm bowl of wholesome, delicious soup. To me it’s the ultimate comfort food and one my body craves all year round. The heavenly aroma of different vegetables, herbs, and spices simmering on the stovetop is like a warm invitation into the kitchen, enveloping anyone who walks in the front door—and luring people from all corners of the house.
Gentle on your digestive system, soups also provide amazing nourishment for your body. In particular, the spices which you add to soups can go beyond the bowl. Check out the following impressive health facts and benefits to some of my favorite herbs and spices:
A ratatouille isn’t a ratatouille without oregano – just like a margarita pizza which also isn’t complete without this ancient herb. But there is so much more that oregano has to offer other than appetite delight! Did you know that oregano speeds up your metabolism? It also is an incredible immune booster. It helps with digestion, energizes the body, and protects against bacteria!
How to use: I use oregano in so many dishes that I find myself replenishing this in my cupboard the most! It is found in so many cuisines, so whether I’m making a pot of my Tex-Mex Cauliflower soup, or Tuscan Orzo Soup I have fresh and dried oregano handy. I also use it in stir-fries, tomato sauces, tofu dishes, and dips!
Whenever I am around sickness or am about to get sick, I quickly take oil of oregano under my tongue to avoid illness. It works every time and I can’t recommend it enough!
Used all over the world (Indo-Asia, Africa, and Latin America), cumin has been used for centuries not only as a spice to make food more sumptuous, but for all of its amazing health benefits too! In addition to being extremely beneficial for breast-feeding mothers, cumin has a plethora of benefits which include easing fatigue, aiding with digestive issues, relieving stress and insomnia, removing phlegm and mucus, sustaining healthy skin and even helping with cognitive function.
How to use: If you don’t replenish your spices, like cumin, regularly, you may not get the full flavors you’re hoping for. In fact, cumin is tastiest when freshly ground with a mortar and pestle or an electric coffee grinder. I even have two coffee grinders: one for my morning flax seeds and the other for grinding spices. Before grinding however, it’s ideal to toast your spices to bring out their flavors. Place the seeds in a small dry skillet over high heat for a minute or so until they darken slightly and begin to release their fragrance. Shake the pan or stir them constantly. Remove from the heat and transfer them immediately to your mortar, coffee grinder or another dish. Allow them to cool for a minute, then grind them into an aromatic powder that will enliven the flavors in your soup.
Next time you have a stomach-ache: put some cumin in hot water and drink – this simple tonic promotes digestion due to its naturally occurring essential oils and magnesium properties.
Scientifically known as Laurus nobilis, the true bay-leaf has a long list of remarkable health benefits. Not all bay leaves are the same! It is very important to use true bay leaves (Laurus nobilis). Native to the Mediterranean region, “Laurel” trees are where these leaves can be found containing such benefits as improving heart health, digestion, and nutrient intake, easing upset stomachs, reducing inflammation and stress hormones, providing natural protection from bacterial infections, eliminating bad cholesterol and even alleviating respiratory issues!
These simple yet powerful leaves date back thousands of years in culinary and medicinal practices and, of course, are still used today in almost all of my favorite soups!
How to use: Traditionally these leaves are inserted into a soup to produce flavor while all of the spices, vegetables, and juices marinate. I have friends who leave the bay leaves in the dish to get the flavor all the way until the last bite. Others like to keep them in a tea steeper to easily remove them before serving the dish.
The essential oil of bay leaves is a well-known component of aromatherapy for various conditions (particularly for the skin and respiratory health). The healing vapors and natural antibacterial qualities from the salves and dressings/compresses that are made with bay leaves help alleviate all kinds of issues with the respiratory system.
Fun hair tip: after steeping bay leaves in water, rub them on your scalp (right after you shampoo) to invigorate your hair follicles and get rid of dandruff.
Wishing you well,