Power Spicing is your primer to demystifying the healing powers of spices and their ability to fight cancer, reduce inflammation, protect your organs, burn fat, and boost your metabolism, all while enjoying flavor-packed dishes throughout the day. From turmeric that gives your morning latte an antioxidant boost to cayenne that infuses that bar-snack popcorn with an anti-inflammatory kick, this book is filled with recipes that add disease-fighting power to your daily routine.
Registered dietitian nutritionist Rachel Beller teaches you how to build a spice pantry while sharing the health benefits of each and explaining how to help them work synergistically—for example, anti-oxidant, cancer-fighting garlic is even more effective when combined with rosemary. Whether you’re in search of quick tricks such as stirring paprika and sumac into homemade hummus or looking to boost your weeknight repertoire with a Glowing Green Frittata or Anti-Inflammatory Chickpea Curry, Power Spicing boasts countless ways to mix and match spices in order to get the most out of every dish you create.
|Publisher:||Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed|
|Product dimensions:||7.31(w) x 8.29(h) x 0.62(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Spices have never been hotter—and I’m not talking about that burning sensation you get from crushed red pepper flakes. People everywhere are spicing up their dishes, drinks, and even desserts, not only to add flavor but to boost their nutritional values. Suddenly exotic spices like turmeric, which used to get little attention outside of Indian cuisine, are appearing in American breakfasts.
And I say bring ’em on! As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I can tell you that the most effective eating plans are those that taste great. Spices transform healthy dishes from bland to in demand—a simple bean salad can take on a rainbow of personalities depending on the spices used. But there’s so much more.
Spices pack amazing medicinal properties. Our ancestors developed spicy remedies for all sorts of ailments. And today we’re still discovering new benefits. As I’ve learned through my years of research, spices add “daily power” to our lives by promoting health and decreasing the risk of illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Spices and herbs are the easiest, tastiest, and most affordable way to boost your health every day.
In 2013, an article from the American Institute for Cancer Research discussed how just a pinch of any spice could deliver antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cancer-fighting benefits. In just the past five years, more than 1,900 studies have been conducted on turmeric; 1,600 on cayenne; 1,400 on garlic; 800 on clove; 750 on cinnamon . . . and the list goes on! These studies reveal that the spices we take for granted are really super-concentrated sources of phytonutrients (a.k.a. natural plant compounds) with a wealth of health benefits. For instance, did you know that cloves have the highest antioxidant concentration of all foods? Here’s another one: While you know that broccoli is good for you, I bet you didn’t know that flavoring it with garlic powder can boost the meal’s anticancer properties, and sprinkling on some cumin and cayenne may help your body burn fat.
Then there’s my favorite discovery, which I call “spice synergy.” When used together, certain spices boost each other’s powerful nutritional effects. For example, cacao (the basis of chocolate) helps your body absorb more of the anti-inflammatory nutrients from turmeric, so using these two spices in combination yields the most potent effect.
All this research and experimenting with spice combos inspired me to up my family’s spice game. Last year I launched my own brand of spice blends called Rachel Beller’s Power Pantry (and no, you don’t need to buy them—in this book I’ll show you how to make your own combos at home), and I now keep them on my dining table alongside the salt and pepper. I’m thrilled to watch my family of finicky eaters use spices regularly.
Now it’s your turn.
This book unlocks the potent power of spices (which come from plant roots, bark, or seeds), herbs (which come from plant leaves), and blends. I’ve combed through the science for you to reveal the jaw-dropping health benefits, and included shopping tips and easy recipes to make spices part of your daily routine. By the end of this book—or even just a few chapters—I hope you’ll start introducing these habits into your daily routine:
I’ve seen so many friends and patients spend way too much money on the latest and greatest superfood, only to find a half-used package in the back of their pantry a year later. Spicing isn’t a trend; it’s a great habit to form. With just a pinch, you can dramatically double—or triple!—the nutritional power of your dishes, even after they’re cooked. You can and should add spices to everything, whether you’re cooking or dining out (that’s why I bring spice blends with me to restaurants, and I hope you will, too).
Go for variety and combos.
Some say variety is the spice of life, and I’ll add that a variety of spices makes life even better! While spicing consistently is key, don’t hold back: try out my DIY spice combinations on page 51, or experiment on your own.
To some, packaged foods taste better than homemade. But most manufactured, packaged meals fill you with too much bad stuff and not nearly enough good. The spice-intensive recipes in this book, however, are designed and tested to be nutritious, delicious, and easy. Even my noncooking brother now prepares them on a regular basis! If you include at least two beverages and five meals from this book in your weekly meal rotation, you’ll experience a big difference in how you feel— for now and for life.
Above all, I hope Power Spicing will forever change the way you think about spices. By adding them to your daily routine, you’ll transform your kitchen pantry into a tiny pharmacy and convert your dining room into the world’s tastiest health club. So don’t hold back: Spice up your dishes (and your health) with just a pinch!
Power Spicing 101
Five Reasons to Spice Up Your Life
Why should you get your spice on? Yes, of course, spices taste great, but here is why you should make sure they’re part of every meal, even in drinks and desserts.
1. You need your daily antioxidant and antiinflammatory fix. Antioxidants are compounds that help protect and repair your body’s cells. They do so by blocking unstable molecules known as free radicals, which wreak havoc on your body by damaging cells. Antioxidants protect your DNA, preserve your cellular function, and promote your longevity.
Once upon a time everyone thought blueberries were the best source of antioxidants. We now know that spices far outshine produce. A 2010 study by Harvard and the University of Oslo tested the antioxidant levels of over 3,100 foods and made some eye-opening discoveries: A teaspoon of ground cloves has about 50 percent more antioxidant content than a half cup of blueberries! If you add just a few pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg to the mix, you more than double your antioxidant dose. And imagine the flavor!
As for inflammation, it is your body’s natural response to injury and illness. You know when you have a cut or bacterial infection, and that part of your body starts to experience swelling, heat, and redness? That’s inflammation helping your body heal. But long-term (i.e. chronic) inflammation has been linked to some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and more. Studies have shown that spices can boost genes that promote anti-inflammatory processes and reduce pro-inflammatory ones. And even though some spices may taste hot, they actually “cool down” (reduce inflammation in) your body.
2. Spices help fight cancer. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of spices may help keep regular cells from transforming into tumors. But spices may also attack a wide range of cancers, including breast, colon, gastric, lung, prostate, skin, and pancreatic. Hundreds of laboratory studies have shown that compounds in spices may inhibit cancer cell growth, block cancer cell proliferation, prevent metastasis, and even kill damaged cells before they reproduce. Other spices may enhance your immune system so that it can annihilate tumor cells, or they may block the formation of blood vessels to tumor sites, cutting off their access to nutrients and fuel. While more studies are necessary to further explore the anticancer properties of spices, enough research has shown that spicing is a promising cancer-protective strategy.
3. You might lose weight more easily. Of course, weight loss mostly depends on eating appropriate amounts of nutritious foods and maintaining an active lifestyle. But spices do offer extra help when the going’s tough—think of them as “sprinkles of support.” For example, the major compound in cayenne pepper is capsaicin, which has been shown to help burn some extra calories while reducing your appetite. A 2014 Iranian study demonstrated that just a half teaspoon of ground cumin may lead to greater weight loss. And spices such as fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, and orange peel may reduce your hunger and regulate your digestion by activating hormones that make you feel full.
4. You’ll make your gut happier. Spices and herbs have antibacterial effects, but throughout most of history, we didn’t know how spices affect the all-important bacteria in our guts. Then, a 2017 study published by scientists at UCLA found that extracts of black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, oregano, and rosemary promoted the growth of helpful bacteria, such as those found in commercial probiotics. In addition, the spices inhibited growth of nasty microbes often found in unhealthy digestive tracts. Although more research needs to be done, I’m excited about the potential of everyday spices and herbs to regulate the gut microbiome.
5. You’ll eat more real food. The best healthy eating plans are those you stick with, and I know that boring diets get dropped in no time. People need flavor, variety, and deliciousness in their meals! If you want to take steamed broccoli from zero to zapper, all it needs is a few pinches of garlic, pepper, and cayenne, plus a squeeze of lemon juice. Dress oatmeal for success by decking it out with cinnamon and orange peel. The possibilities are endless.
I tell my clients to spice things up consistently over time—pinches of goodness add up to greatness!