26 Jun Herbs, Spices + Your Microbiome
Don’t you hate it when a food looks really good in a restaurant or at a friends house… until you take a bite and it’s bland and needs a bit of flavour? I think we have all been there. Sometimes all you need is a pinch of salt, a sprinkle of cinnamon or a dash of fresh herbs.
I’m constantly reaching for herbs and spices to pimp my food. I want my food to sing, crunch, pop, sizzle, full of spice and all things nice.
Why? Because herbs and spices not only add flavour but they add extra nutrients and healthy properties to boost any meal. They are small but mighty and your mircobiome loves them.
If I am honest, there are numerous veggies I’m not crazy about but when they are slathered and hidden in among flavours you are going to be more inclined to eat not only the veg you don’t like but more veggies in general. The most common excuse for not eating brussel sprouts is because boiled sprouts are gross!! I totally agree. But lathered in ghee, sprinkled with smoked paprika and roasted they are one of my fav winter veggies.
Learning to introduce herbs and spices will open you to a new world of flavour and help you eat more veggies. Health in general will improve from the abundance of fibre, nutrients and excess veggies, your gut microbiome will begin to proliferate (due to the higher veggie intake) and head to a more healthful balance. Herbs are rich in antioxidants, unique compounds, some are amazing for lowering inflammation, while others contain anti fungal properties… they have a place in every cuisine of the globe, with good reason.
Also the best thing is they are not expensive. You can grow your own herbs on a balcony or in your kitchen and spices take up little pantry space… so there are no excuses.
As it is winter here in the southern hemisphere we all dusting off the slow cookers, heating up our ovens for roast veg and also making liters of soup to freeze for rainy days. I know I have been cooking up some pretty flavourful soups lately. Once thing I cook a lot is cauliflower rice because it is so easy to flavour and can be had summer and winter… see below for 3 easy flavourful variations you can try.
3 ways to pimp bland cauliflower “rice”.
- Asian Style (Fried Rice Alternative)
Grate ½ head of cauliflower into “rice”. In a large pan add a generous tbs of coconut oil, grate a knob of ginger, a clove of garlic (or 2), a sprinkle of chili flakes and let that cook for a min then add the cauil rice. Add 2 tbs of tamari sauce (or gf soy sauce), 1 tsp of 5 spice, 1 tsp of cumin seeds (or powder), ½ tsp of coriander powder. Chop a handful of coriander, chopped spring onions and add / mix through just before serving. For a more substantial meal with protein add some bacon, prawns or scramble some egg into the mix for a more authentic fried rice.
- Mediteranian (Side Dish)
Grate ½ head of cauliflower into “rice”. Add a generous tbs of coconut oil or butter to a pan, brown half a red onion with a clove of garlic, sprinkle of chili flakes, 1 tbs smoked paprika. Add cauli rise and stir through. Once warmed through add ½ cup of chopped basil, ½ cup chopped parsley and a sprinkle of dried oregano (or thyme). Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve as a side dish to meat or fish. This also works well with added cherry tomatoes or grated broccoli for some added veggies.
- Indian (Side Dish / Rice Alternative)
Grate ½ head of cauliflower into “rice”. Into a large pan add a generous tbs of coconut oil or ghee and brown half a brown onion a clove of garlic. To the oil add the spices, 5 cardamon pods (crushed to crack the pod open), pinch of fenugreek seeds. Add cauli rice and 1 tsp turmeric powder, ½ tsp cumin powder and ½ coriander powder. Finish with a generous handful of chopped coriander and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve with curry or as a side dish for some indian flavoured meat.
I have used cauliflower as an example because it is super easy to flavour due to its mild flavour. It works as a great low carb alternative to pasta, rice or quinoa if you are trying to avoid gluten or starchy grains.
Hopefully this has given you some inspiration to pimp your dinner plate and opt for some flavourful and healthful herbs and spices.
2 spices I use daily = Turmeric + Cinnamon
These are really beneficial for your microbiome because turmeric reduces internal inflammation and cinnamon regulates your blood sugar / insulin which prevents the spikes in glucose circulating around your body, which also causes internal inflammation. Then there are other spices such as fennel seeds and coriander seeds that help to improve digestion and making sure your food is being digested properly is imperative to having a healthy gut. My weekly shop always includes herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander and my apartment complex has a small herb garden with thyme, rosemary and oregano which is super handy! However my spice cupboard is always running at full capacity. There is never enough space for dried herbs and spices!
If it means you will get more vegetables on your plate or your children’s plates I hope this will give you some inspo to get cooking and adding some seriously healthful flavour.
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