Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Medicine In Your Spice Cabinet

Nick and I have learned a hard lesson about cabinets; do NOT paint them! Yeah, painting cabinets is a labor-intensive job and most cabinets are better off without paint. So, overall our cabinet project wasn't the biggest success, but I did manage to better organize what was inside our cabinets and drawers after taking everything out and putting everything back in. For example, my spices used to be all over the place, but now I have this nifty little spice rack that pulls out and drops down. They are all placed in alphabetical order (for now) making it easier to find the spice I need.

And speaking of spices, today I am going to discuss some of the amazing health benefits that two of my favorite spices provide. Starting with my favorite (ironically), garlic.


What a great picture, right? I wish I could say I took it myself, but it is from this article in the New York Times. This is a garlic bulb, and the individual sections are each garlic cloves (in case you didn't know the difference).

I know you may be wondering why am I blogging about something I can't eat. Even though I can't eat garlic, I still love it and try to enjoy the flavor by using my garlic infused oil (which, by the way, probably provides very minimal health benefits). Nick, my lovely Italian Stallion, can eat three garlic cloves in a sitting (or four). After watching Nick eat a dish with four cloves of garlic in it the other day, I decided to start adding chopped garlic cloves to many of the dishes I make (I chop the garlic and then add it to the dish after I have cooked the dish, so it really just adds more flavor to Nick's portion but doesn't distribute throughout the dish to my part of the dish. So sad.). Here are some reasons to eat more garlic;

  • Garlic has anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-clotting properties.
  • Allicin is the active ingredient in garlic that provides the anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties, and it tends to be destroyed by heat.
  • While cooking garlic may destroy most of garlic's beneficial properties, the antioxidant properties are probably not effected by cooking (yeah!). The most notable antioxidants found in garlic are vitamin C and selenium.
  • You are supposed to crush garlic before consuming it, and let it sit for about 15 minutes to help release some of garlic's healthy compounds
  • There are sulfur-containing molecules in garlic (such as Allicin) that produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which may help expand blood vessels and thus lower blood pressure.
  • Studies suggest that you need about 2-5 grams of garlic per day in order to get any benefits (1 clove is about 1 gram).

Wondering what type of recipe calls for raw garlic? Well, there's Original hummus, Black Olive Hummus, and garlic broccoli. Do you know any others?


Turmeric is an ancient spice that is found in curry dishes and is a kitchen staple in India. Turmeric is actually a root (like ginger) but because it's so difficult to grind you almost always find it already ground. I love turmeric, but it's one of those very distinct spices with which you can easily ruin a great dish. It's a great flavor, when used correctly. I love how it "stains" any dish it comes in contact with yellow! I once heard that yellow dye is made with turmeric, can anyone second that statement? Here are some of turmeric's benefits;

  • Curcumin, a compound found in turmeric, may inhibit the cell enzymes that contribute to inflammation (inflammation can cause chronic diseases such as cancer and arthritis).
  • Studies show that turmeric may aid in the prevention of acne, allergies, Alzheimer's, arthritis, asthma, cancer, cholesterol problems, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 2 diabetes (to name only a few).
  • Try to get 1/2 - 1 teaspoon per day, if you can, and keep it in the fridge to extend shelf-life.
  • If you use curry in your cooking you are likely getting some turmeric, but studies suggest it's not enough. Some curry blends have more turmeric than others. It's best to stick with plain turmeric, or just add extra turmeric to your curry blends.

Try some of these recipes; Indian-Style Rice with Cashews, Raisins and Turmeric, Pork and Carrot Curry, AllRecipes' 20 Best Turmeric Recipes, or you could do what I do and add it to simple egg dishes, homemade soups and stews, or cooked vegetables! Also try adding turmeric to;

QUESTION: What is your favorite dish with garlic and/or turmeric?

Some other great medicinal spices include cinnamon, ginger, and coriander, just to name a few! Happy Monday everyone :)


  1. I LOVE the title of this post- so true and so easily overlooked! Thanks for the reminder!

  2. We eat a lot of garlic, but I don't have turmeric at the moment. I'll have to pick up some again.

    Have a great week!

  3. I am such a big believer in using spices for health...they are powerful!

    I get plenty of garlic and turmeric whenever I make a curry. And my dad always made "Moroccan chicken" while I was growing up, which was basically just chicken baked with lots of garlic, turmeric, and marinated olives...so yum.

  4. We have those spice organizers too! I love them!

    Love garlic...cinnamon...curry...I love ALL spices, pretty much! :-)

  5. I'm pretty sure I've never used turmeric in a recipe, but now I'm going to have to start.

  6. omg you would HATE my cabinets haha the spices are everywhere i'm ALWAYS moving things around and its so damn annoying. i can't wait till i get my own place and can organize everything like a mad woman!

  7. I'm a big fan of anything that has herbs/spices in it. They have such great flavor! We have a spice rack that hangs off our pantry door so it's easy to see them all, but it's starting to get packed!

  8. garlic is such a staple item for me. i probably eat 1-2 cloves everyday. its the best! even when i was a kid, i used to eat it raw (crazy right?)

  9. I love garlic, a lot of it in sautéed greens!
    turmeric is something that I don't eat often unless I eat out Indian food. maybe I can start making teas with it? :)

  10. Man that stinks that the cabinets didn't work out. Eric painted our bathroom cabinets and I like how they turned out, but that's probably a little different.

    I love garlic and it's great to know how good it is for you. My favorite "medicine in the spice cabinet" would have to be ginger... that counts as a spice right? I never go on any boat, train or plane without ginger gum and I find it helpful when my stomach is just having a rough night in general- I'll often make ginger tea. I didn't used to be the biggest fan of the taste but now that I associate it with helping me, I love it.

  11. My heart seriously aches for you not being able to have garlic. I start with 2-3 cloves in nearly everything and go up from there...we can't get enough of the stuff! And I love tumeric, too :) But yes...it is strong!

    P.S. I am super impressed with your alphabetically ordered spices...you are a much better woman than I!

  12. Tumeric tea! A Dr.Weil concoction that I started drinking. Yea, Garlic is quite a staple isn't it? Everything gets a clove or two it seems!
    I do love tumeric though, that and cayenne are my 2 favorite and they pair perfect together. I love the flavors of Indian cooking so it is always on hand and so therapeutic..as you pointed out! Fun post and yes, that is a good pic of the garlic!