Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spices (Chili Peppers, Thyme)

Variety is the spice of life.=) In reading about spices and herbs, they mention to not eat them in excess. I think that would not be a problem for most of us. Usually it is the opposite of not having them enough.

Some helpful insights:

1. Buy in small amounts. If you haven't been using them. Start added them to your foods and see which ones you like. They enhance your foods.
2. Fresh is usually better, but not always possible. Usually it is 1 tsp. dried to 1 T fresh. You can start with less and add more according to your preference. Fresh ground is more flavorful than pre-ground. Dried ones are more potent when you first buy them, they lose some potency as time goes on.
3. I have grown them in my garden with great success. They are on the whole fairly hardy plants. It is gardening time coming up again soon. =) It is a good time to think about what ones to grow.
4. I got some starts in the produce section of the store and have them growing by my kitchen sink. (Basil and Marjoram) They have done really well. I find I use them more often having them right there. I am looking to add more varieties to my indoor garden. They add a nice smell to my kitchen too.
5. Have fun with them! I feel like a scientist at times. Try out new ones. There are a lot of resources out there to increase your knowledge.

Chili Peppers:

Ways it may help you:
Capsaicin is an ingredient found in chili peppers that makes them spicy.* It also has a lot of helpful benefits. I need to use these a lot more.
*People with heartburn or ulcers shouldn't eat a hot diet.

1. Fights Inflammation
2. Cardiovascular benefits
3. Clears Congestion
4. Boosts Immunity
5. Helpful in losing weight
6. High in Vitamin C (Contains more than an orange)
7. Curbs your appetite
8. Releases endorphins and serotonin- That can give you a good overall feeling.
9. Can help with migraines and headaches
10. Some people say you can warm your feet by sprinkling cayenne in your shoes. ;)
11. Fights prostate cancer and ulcers.

Helpful ways to use it:

1. Add to scrambled eggs

2. Put them in sandwiches, quesadillas, burgers, and wraps.
3. Stir in soups, stews, and pasta sauce
4. Toss in stir frys
5. Saute them with other vegetables
6. Add to dips, salsa, and sauces
7. Add to your favorite Mexican food
8. You can add sprinkle cayenne peppers on foods.
9. Here is a great recipe using Chili powder--one of my family's favorites.
10. Here is another great recipe with chili powder.
English Thyme
image from

Thyme: There are about 60 different varieties. I usually use the dried variety and love the flavor it adds to my food (because that's what I have on hand.) They say the flavor in fresh form is superior to dried. The leaves should be free from yellow or dark spots. It is slow to release its flavor so add early in the cooking process.

Ways it may help you:

1. Good source of iron, calcium and manganese
2. It is an antiseptic as well as antibacterial. You can crush it to clean cuts
3. Soothing for coughs and sore throats.
4. Good antioxidant

Helpful ways to use it: The strong flavor goes well with comfort foods.

1. Sprinkle dried thyme onto to cooked vegetables
2. Add 1/8 tsp to scrambled eggs and salad dressing
3. Use for a rub for salmon
4. Add fresh thyme to chicken soup or salad
5. Add to bean dishes
6. Great with chicken dishes
7. Season soups and vegetable and chicken stocks with it.

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