The Gourmet Healer- Healthy Spices

Angie King is back this month with more healthy tips for cooking with your CSA food.  I included her bio again, just in case you missed her November post on healthy oils.  Enjoy.

The Gourmet Healer, aka: Angie King, MS, RD, LD, lives, works and plays in Albuquerque and the surrounding area. The focus of her private practice, Gourmet Healer, is to empower individuals and families to take part in their own healing process by using Food As Medicine together with lifestyle and other therapies.  Passionate about delicious food that serves the senses, the soul and the cells, Angie facilitates healing by teaching classes and workshops, producing a free monthly e-health letter, providing Integrative Nutrition Therapy to individuals and speaking to groups interested in changing their lives, starting with the foods they eat. Angie earned her Master of Science in Nutrition as well as the credentials of Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian from the University of New Mexico. She also works part time for the UNM School of Medicine Nephrology Division as an outpatient Pediatric Clinical Nutritionist.  She is the proud mom of a vibrant, 10 year-old daughter who keeps her on her toes and laughing.

December Tips: Healthy Spices

What if there were ways to prevent or treat illnesses like cancer, arthritis, asthma, heart disease or diabetes other than just the pharmacy?  What if in addition to optimal health, these solutions could bring you pleasure and were easy to use? Wish no more. This is reality.

The answer is in your spice rack and perhaps even in your own back yard or window sill.

Not sure how or where to start when it comes to cooking with herbs and spices?  Read on for a brief introduction to a few of my favorites and for tips on how to begin summoning your own inner Gourmet Healer.

Basil is a highly anti-inflammatory herb which is used in a wide variety of cuisines including Italian, Thai and Vietnamese.  It has cooling properties for those with excess heat, and gram for gram,  its anti-inflammatory properties surpass even those of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).  Think Ibuprofen.  Regular enjoyment of basil can be helpful in decreasing systemic inflammation as well as fighting minor aches and pains and even major arthritis. Have basil regularly in the form of pesto, which can be added to soups, sauces, pasta/rice salads, sandwiches, pizza and toast. Enjoy its whole leaves in green and caprese salads or as a topping for spicy soups!

Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice, which comes from the Curcuma root.  It has heating properties, energetically speaking, and it is used most commonly in Indian/Asian curries. Turmeric fights and prevents many diseases including Heart Disease, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and numerous Cancers, including Childhood Leukemia and Breast Cancer.   Use it with black pepper and get anti-Alzheimer’s action. It has even been shown effective in correcting the genetically altered mechanism responsible for Cystic Fibrosis. Enjoy it often in curries and in the recipe below to get the benefits.

Cilantro is another cooling herb that is used in both Latin and Asian cuisine.  Like Basil, it is a great balancing agent in spicy dishes.   Cilantro has been found to be a powerful antibiotic agent, meaning that it kills bacteria, particularly Salmonella, a common foodborne illness. Going into a questionable food safety situation, say, when travelling?  Ask for extra Cilantro! For that matter, basil, hot peppers, horseradish and wasabi are helpful as well.

Cumin Seeds are loaded with flavor as well as healing properties. Use it to flavor up Latin and Tex-Mex dishes (cumin is what makes “taco seasoning” seem so miraculous), as well as Middle Eastern (think hummus) and Indian dishes.  Cumin has been shown to improve digestion by increasing production of digestive enzymes by the pancreas and has anti-cancer properties due to its high level of antioxidants.

Getting Started

Herbs and Spices are easy to use.  It just takes a willingness to learn and to try new things.  Dining out at ethnic spots and eateries with creative menus can give you a basic understanding of what herbs and spices typically go together.  Use community cooking classes, public television or The Food Network to further sharpen your skills. Worried about buying a bottle of a spice you are not sure you’ll use again?  Buy a small amount to try from the bulk spice section.  Problem solved!

Recipe For Success
Try this Gourmet Healer original recipe: Spiced Asparagus Fries.  It’s a delicious and EASY way to enjoy asparagus (rich in folate and B vitamins for heart health and emotional health)  as well as turmeric, cumin and coriander. I like to challenge those (kids included) who say they don’t like asparagus with this one, and I always win!

Until next time, enjoy your food and enjoy your life!

Blessings and Good Health,

The Gourmet Healer
Angie King, MS, RD, LD
Follow me on Facebook and Twitter!


2. Shoba G, Joy D, Joseph T, Majeed M, Rajendran R, Srinivas PS. Influence of piperine on the pharmacokinetics of curcumin in animals and human volunteers. Planta Med. 1998 May;64(4):353-6.



Filed under Nutrition

3 responses to “The Gourmet Healer- Healthy Spices

  1. Love the culinary flair and the peer-reviewed citation about piperine: black pepper contains it, and adding black pepper to your curry powder (and all yellow curry powders contain turmeric) lets you absorb the curcumin!

    This is an example of improved Bioavailability, one of the 3 principles I’ve suggested for Culinary Medicine for ChefMD and…which you’re an amazing part of!

    Keep up the great work

  2. Cool Recipes from all over the world. Create meals that will wow your friends and family over? Don’t reinvent the wheel, make proper use of it!

  3. Pingback: Gourmet Healer- Cooling Foods « Beneficial Farms CSA

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