Plants are medicine. Herbs and spices have healing properties and are easy to integrate into your diet. They can be used to boost antioxidant levels, relieve stress, enhance sleep and relaxation, improve female hormones levels, reduce PMS symptoms, enhance fertility, relieve pain, and improve organ function.
One of my favorite spices, especially in the midst of a liver cleanse, is turmeric. Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine, turmeric is a member of the ginger family and gives curry its vibrant yellow color. Curcumin is the particular constituent responsible for turmeric’s bright hue.
Turmeric has been getting a lot of attention lately for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It is particularly helpful for joint pain, making it very effective for arthritis since it reduces both the pain and swelling associated with arthritis. It’s also very high in antioxidants, helping your body fight free radical damage and therefore keeping you feeling and looking younger. Here are turmeric’s key benefits:
*helps maintain healthy digestion
*potent blood cleanser
*may be useful in combating allergies
*liver cleansing properties
*superior antioxidant – protects cells and DNA from oxidative damage
*good for immune health
*promotes healthy, radiant skin
I’m using turmeric quite a bit right now for its blood and liver cleansing properties (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t want glowing skin and protection against DNA damage?). You can fine it in capsule form at health food stores, but why not just use it fresh? I find it freshly ground in the bulk section of my local natural foods store. It’s fresh and organic (avoid irradiated spices). I’ll throw a teaspoon into smoothies, or add to stir-frys, eggs, salad dressings, soups or stews.
For therapeutic purposes, take 1-2 teaspoons per day, mixed with cow, goat, or nut milks (ayurvedic method), or in smoothies, soups, etc. Or if you just desire an extra super antioxidant dose of miracle spice (when free radical damage is heightened: during times of stress, or a bad hangover, for example), throw some into your cooking. It pairs especially well with indian cuisine and is also yummy with lentils.
Now, just in time for Easter, here is a DELICIOUS moroccan inspired spiced lamb dish. Enjoy!
SPICED LAMB WITH LEMON ZEST AND PRUNES
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. turmeric (If fresh is available, even better. Grate or press about 1 to 2 tsps.)
1 tsp. cumin
cayenne pepper to taste
3 sticks of cinnamon
sea salt and pepper to taste
fresh ginger, 1 TBSP grated
fresh garlic, 4 cloves, pressed or chopped
fresh cilantro to taste
fresh parsley to taste
1 TBSP fresh lemon zest
OTHER MAIN INGREDIENTS
4 carrots, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces or so (large dice)
1 onion, chopped
kalamata olives (maybe 10 or so)
prunes (around 6)
coconut oil for cooking
1 to 2 cups of chicken stock
Lamb loin, 1 -1/2 lbs for approximately 4 servings. Chop it into about 2″ size pieces to stew.
*Mix all dry spices.
*Chop lamb and coat with dry spices, let sit or marinate for an hour to overnight. Do not put wet spices into dry mix.
*Cook chopped onions and carrots until mostly done, set aside.
*Use same pot, add more oil and cook lamb- browning it. To brown properly, make sure you have enough heat, but not too hot. Heat pan first, then add oil. Wait 20 seconds, to let oil heat, then add meat. Do not stir, let brown on one side, then another. Only put enough lamb in the pan at a time that you can brown. Use enough oil. Keep taking it out once browned and add to the bowl with the cooked carrot and onion.
*Add all lamb, carrot, onion, ginger, garlic, prunes and zest to pan with more oil. Add chicken stock to cover. Simmer until meat is tender, perhaps 45 mins, this will depend on the size you cut the meat. Add more stock if necessary. Season to taste.
*Last 5 to 10 mins of cooking add the cilantro, parsley, olives.
*Serve with brown rice, quinoa, or cous cous (if you are doing gluten.)
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