Welcome to Monday! I hope that everyone had a fantastic weekend and a nice relaxing Sunday to help them get ready for the week ahead. While my weekend was busy (who knew planning a wedding could require so many things….) I did have some time to relax and experiment with some new recipes, which is one of my favorite things to do! And of course I will be more than willing to share the fruits of those labors with you, but first let’s talk about something that often gets overlooked with food: spices and seasonings. They may seem like insignificant ingredients, but they are so powerful. Not only do they add delicious flavor to your food, but they also benefit your health in more ways than you realize.
I have always liked to cook and bake and make delicious things in the kitchen, but within the past year or so I have REALLY gotten into it. Once Adam and I decided that we were going to cut out all processed food and added sugars, we realized that pretty much all of the food that we normally ate was no longer a possibility. Into the kitchen I went and started to make replacements for all of those foods and started to really learn about the flavors of dishes. Most of the time when you buy already made products, say pasta sauce, it will have either a ton of sugar or a ton of sodium to give it the best taste (and to hook your taste buds into thinking it’s getting something super delicious). But in home cooking you can prepare that pasta sauce with all the goodness of oregano and basil and thyme and garlic and get a better tasting sauce, and, as it turns out, a healthier sauce. I have always enjoyed the different flavors of herbs and spices, but never really put much thought or attention into what those herbs and spices can do besides make food yummy.
Now that I have started to really research nutrition, I have come across many different sources that tout all the wonderful benefits of herbs and spices. Did you know that cinnamon can help boost brain activity just by smelling it? http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68 Turmeric has been shown to help block enzymes that promote the growth of certain cancers http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-turmeric Cayenne pepper is showing some promising research in heart disease among so many other benefits http://www.cayennepepper.info/health-benefits-of-cayenne-pepper.html And ginger has long been considered a helpful medicinal spice and is now showing to be helpful in the treatment of diabetes http://wellbeing.com.au/newsdetail/Ginger-spices-diabetes-treatment_000747. And this is only a tiny overview of a few of the more popular spices out there. There are literally thousands of benefits from these as well as the hundred other spices out there!
When you really start to think about it, the benefits of herbs and spices are really amazing. How great is it that we can help heal and strengthen our bodies with things that we can all find in the grocery store, most of the time for less than a dollar? And the even better benefit is that these are all natural, with no added chemicals or preservatives and no extremely harmful side effects. I am all for using natural means to help treat health problems that may arise. And bonus: these spices make your food taste FANTASTIC. It seems like a no brainer to start adding these and other flavors to your meals. It can be as simple as sprinkling some turmeric over your veggies or adding a dash of cinnamon to your oatmeal and kick up your fajita’s with a pinch of cayenne. You will not only be making your food taste better without the added mess of sugar and sodium, but you will be making your body healthier and better able to function. I will definitely keep looking into all the benefits and different research on spices as they start to emerge and then in turn keep sharing the information with you so that you can start to reap the benefits as well!
Now I mentioned on Friday that I would be experimenting with some fall recipes this weekend and I just might share one with you. I am making good on that promise and decided to give you my pumpkin pancake recipe today. This is one that I made up myself, using some elements of other pancake recipes I have tried. And another fun thing about this recipe is that it uses cinnamon AND ginger, so you can start to use those wonderful spices while you are enjoying your fall-filled pancakes!
Katie’s Pumpkin Pancakes
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie puree)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp raw honey
First mix all of your dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix in all the wet ingredients then create a little well in your dry ingredients and pour the wet into that well. Start folding in the wet and dry, stirring just until they are combined. Make sure you don’t mix too much because this will create a tough, sticky dough. Let the batter sit for at least 5 min and heat up your griddle. I usually use 1/4 cup to pour my batter onto the griddle. Now these pancakes are pretty dense so you will have to cook them a little longer on each side. Top with maple syrup or almond butter or just eat them plain! Enjoy!