The Year of Yes, ep. 7: YES, SPICE IT UP!

At home with my Indian spice box. 

At home with my Indian spice box. 

It’s Valentine's Day tomorrow after all… so let’s get spicy!

Name a spice!

Tumeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, caraway seeds, chili powder, black pepper, clove, star anise, mustard seeds, ginger, paprika, chili flake, garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, asafoetida, chipotle... shall I go on?

Why are spices so amazing? For thousands upon thousands of years, spices have been used in food preparation and preservation as well as for their medicinal properties. At one time they were the hottest commodity out there (no pun intended), more valuable than gold, think spice trade, spice routes, and the accidental run-in with the Americas. As authors from Oxford Academic BioScience journal write, “Spices taste good, because they are good for us.

1. Beauty, Flavor & Joy - Spices add gorgeous color and exquisite flavor to foods making them a joy to cook with and eat.

2. Health - Many spices have potent antimicrobial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and/or anti-cancer properties making them a healthy addition to your meals. A BMJ population based prospective cohort study showed that compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week, those who consumed spicy foods 6 or 7 days a week showed a 14% relative risk reduction in total mortality. Furthermore, unhealthy pre-packaged and processed foods are full of added fats, salt, sugar and additives like MSG (monosodium glutamate) to entice our palates, mainly because they have stepped away from using spices for flavor.

3. Variety - They’re readily available, take up little room in your kitchen, and can be blended in nearly endless combinations, often working synergistically with one another or with other foods making them even more healthy (example: the active compound curcumin found in tumeric + piperine found in black pepper). Cooking with spices is a great way to keep things interesting while also keeping your body, mind, heart, and soul healthy. 

It’s no lie: variety is the spice of life. Look at all of the options you have! Comment below and let me know what your top three favorite spices are and why. 

Happy Valentine's Day! 💋 XOXO

The Year of Yes is a weekly photo-and-word installment by Dr. Shah written with the purpose of evoking hope, resilience, and a gentle movement toward healthy change in all of us.