· By Leeza Cooper
What Spices To Use This Autumn For Your Body And General Health
Met Rutchi is a spice enthusiast whose desire for showcasing the power of spices and their true value led her to leave her full-time career as a CFO to start-up Inner Spice.
Rutchi offers unique spice workshops that take you on a sensory spice journey. She also handcrafts the most delicious Spiced Granola you have ever had! This issue Rutchi will share her top 3 spices you should include in your food this autumn for a health self.
Autumn is here. You can hear the crackling of dried leaves underfoot and the chirping of the cockatoos, but closer to home is the snapping and popping of spices roasting, and their crunching and grinding in my pestle and mortar as I combine warming, earthy, aromatic flavours, to balance their complexities and prepare a soulful spice blend for the season.
Spices bring comfort and sustenance during these cooler months; they are full of health benefits and nutritious plant-based goodness that, incorporating these into our everyday meals, can provide a breadth of flavours to please every palate.
Focusing on seasonal produce, some of my favourites this Autumn include Sweet Potatoes, Beetroot, Eggplant, Pumpkin, Cauliflower, Tomatoes, Figs, Pears and Apples.
Here are a few warming and earthy spices that I like to mix and match with these seasonal ingredients.
Bitter, earthy with a slight lemony undertone, cumin exudes punchy warmth when combined with a multitude of ingredients and roasting them wonderfully enhances these characteristics.
Take a good pinch of cumin seeds, lightly roast in a heated cast-iron pan until slightly browned and their aromas start to release; take off the heat and allow to cool, then lightly crush and grind with a generous pinch of salt-flakes in a pestle and mortar.
Sprinkle this blend on freshly sliced tomatoes over smashed avocado and crusty sourdough, with a drizzle of EVOO; use as marinade with some olive oil for roasted pumpkin, beetroot or sweet potato.
Health & body
Cumin is known to have numerous health benefits including, antioxidants to improve our energy levels and promote healthier-looking skin, in particular aging; improving our metabolism, blood sugar levels and hydration (in India ‘cumin-spiced water’ is commonly consumed to combat this); its natural oils are also said to be an effective antiseptic.
Grounded, subtle yet emanating peppery and musty tones under the nose, turmeric has become the superfood of the West in recent times, although it has been one of immense importance for thousands of years in South Asia.
Add a good pinch of turmeric to your cumin blend and sprinkle on eggplant for pan-frying or marinate a whole cauliflower and roast. On its own, add a pinch to steamed rice, bread dough and smoothies; add to warmed milk, porridge and omelettes, pancake batter or creamy dip; sprinkle over sliced apples, pears; or combine a pinch with some yogurt and serve with some fresh figs and a sprinkling of our crunchy Spiced Granola.
Health & body
Its global recognition as a superfood stems from its main chemical compound, Curcumin, which boasts high anti-inflammatory properties. However, to really appreciate its benefits it is said that pairing it with black pepper –which consists of the chemical compound Piperine, enhances the benefits of turmeric - so try adding a grind of this to your turmeric spiked concoctions.
Zingy, punchy and fearless, this spice is a pure pleasure to add to your diet and health, whether fresh or in its dried, ground form.
Combine half a teaspoon of ground ginger with a pinch of turmeric to marinate sliced eggplant, then pan-fry; use the same blend for sprinkling into baked dishes, like apple/pear crumbles, pies, muffins; add a fresh slice of ginger to a mug of hot water, with a squeeze of lemon, a pinch of turmeric and a drop of honey for a homemade cough/cold cure; brew a slice with your breakfast tea for an instant pick-me-up.
Health & body
Ginger has a plethora of benefits and is my go-to spice when I feel run down, to ease period pains, or sense the onset of a cough or cold.
Ginger comprises Gingerol – the main active compound that gives it, its antioxidative and antiinflammatory qualities to combat various health issues such as, the flu/common cold, reducing nausea, aiding digestion and reducing menstrual pain; it is also said to have positive effects on weight loss and for lowering blood sugar levels.