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- Spices, Herbs, and Other Condiments: The Powerful Medicine in Our diet Food
- Condiments, Dressings, Vinegars, and Sauces
- Salad dressing:
- Fish sauce:
- Soy sauce and tamari:
- Chili sauce and hot spice sauces:
- Barbecue sauce:
- Cocktail sauce:
- Healthy Processed Foods :
- Tofu :
- Tempeh :
- Yogurt :
- whole (full-fat) :
- Cheese :
- Kimchi :
- Sauerkraut :
- Jerky made of meat
- Nut butter:
There are plenty of little touches we can add to our food to make it more delicious, and if we choose right they can also make meals more nutritious.
Spices, Herbs, and Other Condiments: The Powerful Medicine in Our diet Food
Prized for centuries, and the inspiration for trade routes established as far back as 3000 BC, spices and herbs are
celebrated not only for their flavors but also for their medicinal powers. Some, like turmeric and ginger, are anti- inflammatory.
Others, like oregano, are antibacterial and antifungal. These and many more were eaten daily before the invention of pharmaceuticals. And many are still revered and regularly consumed by people in places where costly drugs are out of reach. In fact, many drugs are derived directly from spices and herbs.
Dried, their potency often increases. Infused in oil and used in cooking, they retain their powers. They’re easy to grow at home in tiny spaces, and although we eat just a little, herbs and spices pack a big nutritional punch. Most of us don’t use nearly enough of them. Because I love using spices and herbs when I cook, my pantry is always filled with my favorites. Here’s a partial list of the ones we should keep handy in the kitchen, ready for every meal:
Basil: good for the heart, antioxidant, antibacterial
Black pepper: helps the absorption of nutrients
Cayenne and all hot peppers: boosts metabolism, increases circulation
Cinnamon: improves circulation, antimicrobial
Cloves: protection from environmental toxins, anticancer
Coriander and cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant): lowers blood sugar, good for detoxification
Cumin: helps immune system, anticancer
Ginger: helps digestion, anti- inflammatory
Oregano: antimicrobial, antioxidant
Parsley: promotes good breath, contains antioxidants and antitumor agents
Rosemary: stimulates immune system, improves digestion
Sage: good for the brain, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant
Thyme: good for lung function, antioxidant, antibacterial
Turmeric: good for the heart, anti-inflammatory, anticancer properties
Salt is an extremely important part of history. It’s prominent in the Bible. It’s the root of the word “salary” and the origin of the saying that something is “not worth its weight in salt.” Once, it was a rare, highly prized substance. Today it’s everywhere. That’s where the problem begins.
Salt, or sodium, as we all know, has been linked to hypertension, the precursor to death due to heart disease and stroke, but only in a subset of people who are genetically salt-sensitive. Sodium is important for overall health, but our sodium levels needs to be in propertion to our levels of other important mineral mainly potassium. When the ratio of sodium to potassium in our bodies gets out of whack, high blood pressure follows.
So, we need optimal amounts of both to stay healthy. The best source of potassium is whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods like cooked spinach, broccoli, squash, avocados, papayas, and bananas .
If you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure and hypertension, you’ll be instructed to eliminate sodium from
your diet as much as possible. But this isn’t great advice. In fact, patients with heart failure who ate a salt- restricted diet were 85 percent more likely to die or be hospitalized than patients who didn’t limit their salt intake.
We’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about sodium in general. Sodium is naturally found in whole foods, and, as with any other food or mineral, it’s best in its purest form. Look for these foods that are rich in natural sodium to get your recommended daily allowance of about 2,300 milligrams:
When it comes to seasoning, be sure to choose unrefined varieties of salt. I prefer Himalayan pink salt, which is as beautiful as it sounds, as well as kosher and sea salt in moderation.
We can safely add these to our food, as long as our diet is also rich in potassium. And here’s a tip: If you use all the amazing, potent spices and herbs we just discussed, you really won’t need to add much salt to make your meals taste great.
Also, if you add salt to your dishes after you’ve finished cooking them, flavor-wise you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Now, none of this means you can eat as much salty food as you want. You absolutely can be harmed by too
much sodium. Although we have an unfairly negative view of salt as bad, emerging science has disproven the “salt is bad for you” mantra.
The highly refined salt that food manufacturers add to processed and packaged foods is killing us. Again, it is not the salt you add to your food, but the salt added by food corporations. Refined salt has been stripped of any beneficial trace minerals (found in sea salt or other forms of salt such as Himalayan salt) and is there purely to mask the unpleasant tastes of the processed food and nasty ingredients.
You should also watch for refined salt that’s been “iodized,” or supplemented with iodine. Iodized salt was introduced in the mid-1920s to supplement iodine poor diets that were causing goiters.
But today, if you are eating enough real food that is rich in iodine like fish, shellfish, and seaweed then you really don’t need to get iodine from salt. Not enough iodine can cause thyroid dysfunction, but so can too much. So, I recommend staying away from iodized salt when possible. Morton’s iodized salt also contains sugar in the form of dextrose.
So, as is often the case, the first thing we need to do is stop eating so much processed food that’s high in sodium.
Go through the supermarket shelves and look for it on the labels—it’s everywhere, including many places it doesn’t need to be. And use salt in its most natural form. It’s that simple. If you want to learn more about how we have unfairly maligned salt and its health benefits, read The Salt Fix by James DiNicolantonio.
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Condiments, Dressings, Vinegars, and Sauces
There are literally thousands of items that fall into this category, and if you read the ingredients you’ll see that most brands contain ingredients we should be avoiding unhealthy oils, added sugars, additives,preservatives, and weird chemicals with long names that are added to flavor or color or thicken. But condiments are meant to enhance our favorite foods. We should be able to use them freely just be sure to use the right ones.
It’s nutritionally crazy, not to mention a waste of money, to buy premade dressing when you can do so much better at home. Most store-bought dressings are full of high-fructose corn syrup, corn thickeners, and refined oils, even many of the “healthy” ones.
Try this instead: Add some of the best, tastiest extra virgin olive oil you can find, ideally organic, to a jar. (I know, good olive oil is expensive, but you’re worth it, aren’t you?) Mix in oil from another healthy source, like walnuts or avocado, if you like the taste. Add vinegar of any kind balsamic if you want, or wine vinegar, rice vinegar for an Asian kick, or apple cider vinegar.
Next, add a little mustard, some dried or fresh herbs and spices, and a little salt and pepper. Shake it up and you’re done. Now you’ve got a dressing that’s delicious on salads and vegetables.
Don’t be afraid of the oil, which helps you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your food. If you want to make it even healthier, add a little raw garlic (½ or 1 clove) and liquefy it all in the blender. Some people also add tahini, the paste from ground sesame seeds, for a creamier dressing.
Buy organic, with as little sugar as possible. And no high-fructose corn syrup.
It’s healthy, as long as it contains just mustard seed, water, vinegar, and spices; stay away from those that contain soybean oil and additives.
Fine as long as it’s made the traditional way, with eggs and oil, and ideally not with nonorganic canola or soybean oil. You can find it made with olive or avocado oil my favorite kind.
Take your pick apple cider, wine, balsamic, rice they are all delicious and add a pleasant zing to a dish.
Again, as long as you can pronounce all of the ingredients, this is a great addition to your condiments
inventory for Asian cooking.
Soy sauce and tamari:
Look for brands that are brewed in the traditional way, with no sulfites, coloring, sweeteners, or, ideally, gluten.
Usually contains some form of sugar, vinegar, anchovies, and other ingredients for flavor. Any other weird stuff has no place in it.
Chili sauce and hot spice sauces:
Again, make sure there are no added chemicals such as sulfites, which can cause allergic reactions and make you feel bad. Otherwise, these make a great addition to your homemade sauces.
Help yourself. It’s a healthy fermented food you can use in soup or salad dressing. And there are many
You can make it at home, or buy it as long as there are no extra ingredients just ground hulled sesame seeds. It’s healthy and delicious, and you can mix it with miso, rice wine vinegar, tamari, and a little water to make a great sauce for salmon or veggies.
Make your own. It’s easy, cheap, and the only way to avoid the excess sugar and additives contained in commercial variation.
Ditto if you’ve got ketchup, lemon juice, and horseradish, you’ve got a delicious sauce for your shrimp!
Healthy Processed Foods :
As we’ve said before, there are many unhealthy processed things to eat out there, but there are also examples made with whole food and using traditional methods. These are the ones we can safely enjoy.
as long as it’s organic and, if you can find it, made from sprouted soybeans. Be careful with tofu that’s been smoked, baked, or otherwise processed. Sometimes, a lot of sodium and flavorings are added to tofu.
if it’s organic.
as long as there’s no sugar, fruit, or flavoring added. You can make your own additions if necessary once you get it home. Be sure it’s made from organic,
whole (full-fat) :
grass-fed milk, or better yet goats’ or sheep’s milk if you have trouble digesting cows’ milk. They are healthier options for you.
as long as you follow the same rules as yogurt.
which we’ve been eating since before recorded history, is made from milk, bacteria, rennet, and salt.
Sometimes herbs, spices, and even fruit may be added. But that’s it any variety that contains anything that
doesn’t sound like food should be avoided. American cheese cannot legally be called cheese because it is mostly a “cheese-like substance” containing very little actual cheese. They are typically called American “slices” or “singles.” I encourage you to stick to organic sheep’s or goats’ cheese.
as long as it’s organic and dark (not milk), at least 70 percent cacao. In moderation, naturally.
a Korean spicy cabbage condiment is a great source of probiotics due to natural fermentation.
as long as it was fermented naturally, meaning without the use of vinegar.
Jerky made of meat
poultry, or fish, as long as there’s no sugar or other weird and unnecessary ingredients or preservatives. Watch out for gluten and MSG. Hummus is a great food if it’s organic and chemical-free. It’s easy to make at home in a food processor by combining chickpeas, tahini, cumin, olive oil, garlic, and lemon.
as long as there’s no sugar or palm oil added. Nuts contain a lot of fat, so there’s no need to add any more. Most peanut butter contains high-fructose corn syrup and emulsifiers. Read ingredients lists, not just the nutrition facts.
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( Our purpose is simply to provide you with information. Be sure to consult a specialist or your family doctor before consuming anything. )
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