Turmeric Part I

TurmericSummary.gif

As a graduate student working towards my PhD in molecular biology at a highly regarded US University, the last thing I expected to hear touted for its beneficial effects on cancer (and pretty much everything else) was 'haldi'! Having grown up in India, I had witnessed the spice turmeric or haldi being indiscriminately claimed as the ultimate panacea for all ailments. Fighting a sore throat? Turmeric boiled in milk was what mum (and often the doc) ordered. Suffering a digestive upset? Turmeric-infused 'khichdi' - rice and lentil porridge - was a must. Healing from an open wound? A paste of turmeric and water would do the trick. And even plagued by unwanted body hair?! Turmeric mixed with chickpea flour and water was better than anything Sally Hansen could concoct. You can therefore imagine my delighted surprise when world-renowned scientists and clinicians at Harvard and everywhere else were suddenly obsessed with curcumin, a bioactive component of turmeric, for its miraculous medicinal properties. 

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

Ancient medical systems like Ayurveda in India and Traditional Chinese Medicine began using turmeric as medicine about 4000 years ago. It has a plethora of claimed health benefits including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, choleretic (promoting bile production by the liver), antimicrobial and carminative (preventing formation of and easing discomfort from abdominal gas) effects. Traditionally therefore, it's been used for digestive distress, jaundice, menstrual problems, heart disease, colic, gallbladder ailments, arthritis, conjunctivitis, skin cancer, small pox, chicken pox, wound healing, urinary tract infections, liver problems, respiratory conditions, anorexia and diabetic wounds. The list is long! A query for turmeric on Pubmed, a search engine for all biomedical research and review articles, yields 3000+ results over the last 70 years. Modern science is frantically trying to understand why this miracle spice has dominated the traditional medicine cabinet for centuries and how it may be used effectively in modern medicine.

Read More....

 

 


ANCIENT WISDOM

Anti-inflammatory
Antioxidant
Antimicrobial
Digestive Health
Liver & Gallbladder
Health

RECIPES

 

A Spiced Thanksgiving

As far as Americans are concerned, Thanksgiving is the King of culinary holidays. Yes there are other celebrations where families gather around for a feast but Thanksgiving simply takes the cake (or pie!) when it comes to planning and obsessing over the menu and then planning and obsessing over how best to use the leftovers. Oven roasted turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, candied sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple pie - you get the picture. The best part of the meal is being with friends and family of course (and drinking spiced mulled wine) but at the end of the day, it's the food that inspires and excites. 

Here, we spice up some very traditional Thanksgiving staples in ways that are laughably simple yet utterly tasty. And the ultimate test?! Your kids will love them too.

Here's to love, laughter and spice on the family table. Happy Thanksgiving!

Read More....

 

 


RECIPES

Nutmeg Sweet
Potatoes
6 months+, Toddler,
               Kid, Adult

Caraway Green Beans
Toddler, Kid, Adult

Grandpa Ish's Spiced
Baked Apples
Toddler, Kid, Adult




Paprika Part V - Death by Chocolate

paprikabrownies.gif

Over dinner and wine in sufficient enough quantity to warrant this type of conversation, (and inspired by http://www.mylastsupper.com), I recently asked my husband what his ideal 'Last Supper' would be. "My mom's shepherd's pie" he responded, without the slightest hesitation. "And you?" he inquired, not one to usually initiate such discussions but now indulging me a little. "Ummmmm chocolate in some shape or form. Oh and something spicy of course!" I said, thinking hard about how that would indeed go down, were I to plan my last meal before departing the earthly plane. "OK - weird" he observed, and we moved on. 

Turns out that if I'm weird, so were the ancient Aztecs. Chilli and chocolate have been soulmates since as early as 1900 BC when they were consumed together as a frothy drink with additions of honey and black pepper. 

Read More....

 

 

 

 

Spice Mama of the Month - Guest Post

Guest post alert! This one comes from an all around fabulous mommy of two gorgeous girls, one of whom is just starting solids! Priya Giri Desai lives in Wellesley, MA and is a creative genius both inside and outside the kitchen. When not cooking up delicious dinners for the fam and contributing recipes to publications around the country, Priya makes TV shows and films. Her first documentary, Lovesick, is currently in post-production. Backed by a grant from Sundance, a successful Kickstarter program and other awards, this story about love in the time of HIV in India is surely going to move and astound us all. Here, in the most effortless and elegant way, Priya shows us how to cook to impress. A weekday family dinner or weekend BBQ never tasted this good with such little work. Thanks Priya! 

PAPRIKA PART IV
Priya Giri Desai

Last week, in a holiday haze (and more than a little inspired by Spice Spice Baby), I decided to throw a backyard BBQ a mere 24 hours after landing back home from visiting the south of Spain. I did this with a six year-old about to enter kindergarden in two days and a four month-old whose sense of when to sleep seemed solely dictated by when I reached for a sling. Logic be damned when your memories are of fresh, grilled seafood bathed in olive oil, sweet garlic, and smoky pimentón de la Vera (that’s paprika from Spain’s La Vera region). If I couldn’t have it there, I’d have it in my own backyard! And so, with friends we gathered around a platter of simple, beautiful food that can be modified to work as an elegant entrée or a quick, weeknight meal for all ages.

Read More....

 


HEALTH BENEFITS

Omega-3 Fats
Protein
Selenium
Vitamin D
Anti-oxidants
Immune boosting
 

RECIPE

Grilled Fish
with garlic
pimenton oil
12 mo+,
Toddler,
               Kid, Adult


 

Paprika Part III

At a recent dim sum lunch here in Hong Kong, my 2 year old son, to my surprise and delight, reached for the plate of garlicky spinach. So far, his dim sum proclivities had included all sorts of delicious steamed dumplings but he always eyed the green veggies with suspicion. I hadn't pushed the matter much thinking he would grow into his greens in time. Nevertheless, I was elated and watched proudly as he proceeded to stuff a forkful into his mouth. Sadly, the fibrous nature of the vegetable quickly broke the 'yay my toddler is finally eating greens that are not hidden in a soup or pesto' spell - a choking fit and lots of water followed ending with with "NO MORE SALAD NO MORE SALAD"! We were back at square one on our path to conquering leafy green vegetables. 

Read More....

 


HEALTH BENEFITS

Minerals
Vitamins
Phytonutrients
Choline
Protein


RECIPE


 

Paprika Part II

Apologies for the delayed post my dear readers. A root canal and a subsequent tooth abscess shut down operations in the Spice Spice Baby kitchen last week. I did learn that ground clove rubbed on the gums can truly help a toothache but we'll get into that in our clove chapter. For now, let's get back to paprika. 

In our previous post we shared some widely held notions regarding health benefits of paprika including the capacity to aid digestion, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects and the ability to control body weight. Unconvinced by anecdotal evidence alone, we set out to separate fact from fiction and put those claims to the scientific test. We found excellent evidence for paprika's anti-obesity effects and good data for its antioxidant and anti-cancer capacities. 

Read More....


MODERN SCIENCE

Anti-obesity
Antioxidant
Anti-cancer
Vitamin A


RECIPE


Paprika Part I

This summer my parents invited us to join them on a family holiday on the Spanish island of Mallorca so we embraced the 'joys' of a 12+ hr flight with a toddler and went. Having never been to Spain before, I soaked in the culture, the wine (literally) and the FOOD! Ohhhh the food. Patatas bravas, Octopus a la plancha, Padron peppers, Croquettes of every kind that my son Ilhan inhaled, I could go on and on. I quickly saw that aside from being simple yet delicious, most Spanish dishes had one other thing in common - the spice paprika. 

Read More....

 

 

 

 

 


ANCIENT WISDOM

Anti-inflammatory
Weight Loss
Antioxidant
Digestion aid
Anti-cancer
Vitamin A

RECIPES


 

Cardamom Part V: It's A Wrap

When a dear foodie friend gifted me the cookbook PLENTY by Yotam Ottolenghi a few years ago, my experience as a 'home chef' was elevated forever. Both PLENTY and his more recent offering JERUSALEM occupy the VIP corner of my bookshelf and I reach for them whenever I'm looking for culinary inspiration. 

Yotam's dishes are inspired by the generations old, rich and sophisticated cuisines of the Middle East. Simple to prepare yet utterly complex in the unique and unexpected combinations of flavors, all his recipes have woken up my palate to new possibilities, if not completely blown me away. 

We close our cardamom series then with an easy to execute, comforting and totally delicious one pot meal for the family table. Cardamom joins hands with cinnamon and clove to enliven a chicken and rice pilaf with caramelized onions, juicy golden raisins, fresh dill, parsley and cilantro. Let's get cooking.

Read More....

 


HEALTH BENEFITS

Protein
Iron
Zinc
Selenium
Magnesium


RECIPE

Cardamom
Chicken
Rice Pilaf
12 months+,
Toddler, Kid,
Adult


 

Spice Mama of the Month - Guest Post

Drumroll please we have a guest blogger people!

Our fourth recipe in the Cardamom series comes from our first ever SPICE MAMA OF THE MONTH, Kelly Mezyk Mokkapati. Kelly is a school teacher turned fabulous mommy who loves experimenting with new recipes for her toddler. She's also working on a creative and educational new venture Felted where she hand makes gorgeous felt food for kids - https://www.facebook.com/feltedbykelly. She invited my son Ilhan and I over to try these absolutely divine popsicles and I melted into cardamom mango heaven after my first bite. These babies have no added sugar and they taste better than any store bought popsicles - guaranteed.

CARDAMOM PART IV
Kelly Mezyk Mokkapati

The distant hum of a lawnmower, the birds’ song, the chime of the ice cream truck . . . to me, these are the sounds of summer!  Although these aren’t the same sounds my city-dwelling son relates to summer, I recreate our own version of the ice cream truck in our kitchen.  These mango lassi popsicles hit the spot on a hot summer day, or even a chilly winter day; they’re that good.  The added bonus is that you can feel good about giving them to your kids—they’re a healthy treat! (shhh, keep that part to yourself)

Read More....

 

 


HEALTH BENEFITS

Vitamins A and C
Fiber
Antioxidants
Calcium
Protein
PLUS all the previously discussed cardamom benefits!

 

RECIPE


 


 

Cardamom Part III

CardamomPancakes.jpeg

Nothing says love and comfort like homemade pancakes on a Sunday morning. And nothing screams even more love and comfort when it's Dad making the pancakes while mommy sleeps in (hope one particular Daddy is reading this wink wink).

My favorite pancake recipe calls for nutritious spelt flour while my hubby's involves a box of Bisquick. Despite the incongruence, it's the cardamom that makes these pancakes luxurious and delicious. You can go the spelt or Bisquick route or add ground cardamom to your favorite pancake recipe. Either way, Sunday mornings are about to get a lot more delicious. 

Read More....

 


HEALTH BENEFITS OF SPELT

Vitamin B3
Minerals
Soluble fiber
Complete protein

 

RECIPE




 

Cardamom Part II

backgroundcardamom2.gif

As much as I love cardamom for its flavor alone, I was very intrigued by the ancient wisdom around its health benefits. After all, wouldn’t it be wonderful if flavorful foods were also super foods? If cardamom tasted so darn good but also had REAL health benefits, there was absolutely no reason for me not to use it in my kitchen regularly.

To separate fact from fiction, I dug into modern scientific research that has put to test some of cardamom’s ancient health enhancing benefits. And here’s what I found.

Of the five traditionally claimed benefits, there is decent to good scientific evidence for three, namely cardamom’s anti-bacterial activity, its ability to promote digestive health and its general detoxification capacity. Tied to this last property, there are several studies from independent research groups that show cardamom has potent anti-cancer effects! This was a nice surprise. Another modern scientific addition to ancient wisdom is cardamom’s ability to relieve post-operative nausea through aromatherapy as part of a concoction of essential oils from ginger, spearmint and peppermint.

Read More....


MODERN
SCIENCE

Anti-Cancer
Digestion Aid
Antibacterial
Anti-nausea


RECIPE

Cardamom
Quinoa
Porridge
6 months+,
Toddler, Kid,
Adult

 


Cardamom Part I

When I think of my childhood in India, I think of cardamom. Cardamom in rice pudding, cardamom in chicken curry, cardamom in the pot of ‘chai’ tea my mom and aunts would drink and gossip around on a rainy afternoon. I remember biting into a cardamom pod in a dish and the avalanche of flavors that would ensue – flowers, pepper, citrus – their intensity and warmth comforting me wholly. I also recall cardamom making an appearance when I was sick. Cardamom concoctions with honey and ginger and basil were touted as a cure for colds, coughs, stomachaches, nausea – the list was endless! Typical of many spices, cardamom straddled both my mom’s kitchen and medicine cabinet.

TRADITIONAL MEDICINE

Like most spices, cardamom’s allure is not due to its flavor enhancing abilities alone. For thousands of years, from the centuries old Indian medical system Ayurveda to Traditional Chinese Medicine to ancient Egypt, cardamom has been revered for its medicinal properties.

Read More....

 


ANCIENT
WISDOM

Anti-infective
Digestion Aid
Expectorant
Breath Freshner Detoxification


RECIPE