As I’ve developed my culinary skills over the years, I’ve learned about the magic of incorporating spices into my foods. And I love these magic compounds for 3 main reasons:
- Spices impart amazing flavor to your foods! Being a self-described foodie, I love to try new foods, and it’s super important to me that my food tastes AMAZING. In addition, since I do my best to stay healthy and lean, it’s important that the food I do take in works for me in all ways – so not only do I want it to be good for me, but I also want it to satisfy as well. And eating food with great flavor can go a long way in helping you to feel satisfied with smaller portions, which in turn helps you achieve your weight loss goals!
- Spices have phenomenal nutritional benefits! These magic compounds can do wonders for your health. Benefits can range from lowering blood sugar, improving brain function and memory, reducing nausea, combating inflammation in your body, fighting infections and cancer, boosting your immunity, aiding in weight loss by suppressing appetite, preventing allergies and nasal congestion, improving your heart health, etc. The benefits are too many to list inclusively here, but as you can see, they can do wonders!
- Spices do all this without adding many calories to your diet. Most of the things used to impart flavor in mainstream cooking (especially in processed foods) – salt, fat, dairy – are loaded in calories and have extremely unhealthy side effects when consumed in typical quantities. Spices on the other hand have negligible calorie amounts and generally only health benefits, which make them the perfect way to up the flavor and nutrition without breaking your calorie bank. Yet another way they can lead to weight loss!
Since I’ve routinely started adding spices to my cooking, I’ve noticed great improvements in my health, hair quality, skin tone, ease of maintaining body weight, and satisfaction when eating. Therefore, I’ve decided to run a series of blog posts explaining some of the many health benefits of the spices I use routinely in my own kitchen. Hopefully it will inspire you to incorporate them into yours as well!
Using Spices for Health & Weight Loss: Allspice
So what is allspice exactly? Allspice is actually a fruit from a tree that’s picked before it ripens. (It comes from a flowering tropical evergreen called Pimenta dioica, which is native to southern Mexico and Central America). The present name allspice came from the English who thought it combined the flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, when in fact it’s a different spice altogether.
Allspice is typically found either whole (where it resembles large peppercorns), or ground. Some of the compounds of allspice are essential oils, and therefore the spice does have a shelf life. If you have whole allspice, it can keep up to 2 years in a cool dark place. Conversely, ground allspice should generally be used in 6 months.
In America, allspice is typically added to desserts, though it can lend wonderful flavor to meats and chilies as well. As I’ve found with most spices I cook with, using allspice in unconventional ways can lead to some amazing new flavor combinations and family favorite meals. It’s always fun to be adventurous in the kitchen, and using spices can be a great way to do that.
So other than flavor, what are some of the health benefits of using allspice?
- Traditional medicine has used allspice to relieve digestive complaints such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain and cramping, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, constipation and indigestion. Essentially, it will promote regularity while reducing bloating and excess gas.
- Allspice contains copper and iron, which is great for boosting circulation. This stimulation warms the body and can result in increased energy and proper oxygenation of your limbs (no more cold hands or feet!). The iron found in allspice is also known to create enzymes for a proper functioning metabolism!
- Allspice has also been used as a pain reliever, to improve mood, boost the immune system, and lower blood pressure.
- Allspice also contains many anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cancer fighting, sedative, antiseptic, antiviral, and antifungal components. Namely some of these are cineole, eugenol, quercetin, tannins, alpha pinene, alpha terpene, and limonene. There are also high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A in allspice. Therefore, any condition that causes inflammation in your body may be helped by using allspice.
- Around 2013, allspice was found to contain a novel compound called ericifolin, which helps to fight prostate cancer, specifically.
- There’s even a link to improved dental and gum health due to its ability to protect against bacterial pathogens.
As with anything in life, too much is not always a good thing. All the research I’ve done promotes using allspice in food amounts as a great way to get your intake. However, caution does need to be used when trying to ingest in large medicinal amounts or if applying directly to the skin or gums as negative side effects or allergic reactions can occur.
So how do you use this magic spice?
Since it has such a powerful flavor, a few berries of whole allspice or a sprinkling of ground is generally all you need. It can work well in both sweet and savory dishes. Some ideas:
- You can add a few berries when making tea.
- Sprinkle the ground version on roasted vegetables.
- Add ground allspice to desserts where you may want to add a bit of spice – such as gingerbread, apple pie, chocolate desserts, pumpkin pie, etc.
- Sprinkle into stews, curries and soups. You can either use the ground form, or if your meal will be slow cooked, the whole berries.
- Use ground allspice to make jerk chicken, or you can use ground or the whole berries to season beef or lamb.
- Add whole berries to your foods when pickling, brining or making chutneys.
- Add a sprinkling of ground allspice to drinks, such as hot chocolate or your morning coffee.
It’s such an incredibly versatile spice! And with the amazing flavor and health benefits, there’s no reason not to start using it today. If you’d like to find the allspice I use routinely in my kitchen, you can follow this link to find it on Amazon.
And as Balancing Life as a Mom becomes more developed, I’ll be providing access to some of my favorite recipes which incorporate allspice. These recipes and other kitchen hacks have helped me to shed the baby weight and to stay healthy, so I’m excited to be able to share them with you!
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All the best,
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