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: Bay Leaf
**Please note: The ad link above takes you to Amazon, where you can purchase the Bay Leaf that I use in my own kitchen!
What is a bay leaf exactly? A bay leaf is an aromatic leaf commonly used in cooking. It can be used in whole, dried or ground forms. Most people I know are familiar with the dried, whole version of the leaf which is found in the spice section of your local grocer. There are at least 6 varieties of bay leaves available, all of which have various subtle differences in flavor, shape and color.
Bay leaves are used to flavor dishes in a wide variety of cuisines around the world. You will notice it used in Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Greek, Mediterranean, Italian, American, French, Thai, Caribbean, and Laotian dishes – to name just a few! So you can really experiment with adding bay leaf to almost any dish you want to make.
There is a misconception that bay leaves are deadly, and that’s why they need to be removed from food after cooking. They do look similar to other leaves in the same family which are poisonous, but they themselves are non-toxic and can be eaten. However, they remain very tough and stiff (even after long periods of cooking) and if swallowed whole or in large pieces, can pose a risk of harming the digestive track or causing choking.
So other than flavor, what are some of the health benefits of using bay leaf?
- Even though complete scientific evidence is not available for how these benefits are gained, bay leaf has been used effectively in the treatment of diabetes, cholesterol, cancer, gas, dandruff, and joint/muscle pain.
- Bay leaf has a strong effect on the gastrointestinal tract. It has been found to relief upset stomach, soothe IBS, and decrease the symptoms of Celiac’s disease. It also stimulates urine production, which detoxifies the body.
- Bay leaf contains a phytonutrient called parthenolide, which is great at reducing inflammation and protecting the body from free radical formation.
- Bay leaf contains a compound called linalool, which can lower the levels of stress hormones in the body, particularly when used through aromatherapy.
As with anything in life, too much is not always a good thing. All the research I’ve done promotes using bay leaf in food amounts as a great way to get your intake. However, it can interfere with certain drugs such as narcotics and sedatives. If you take medications in either of those categories, be careful in your use of bay leaf.
So how do you use this magic spice? Here are a few of my favorites:
- Add a few leaves to a slow-cooked meal. The dried leaves release their flavor gradually as they heat up, so low and slow recipes are the perfect place to try them out.
- You can also add a few leaves to any sauces, stews, or soups that have to simmer for a period of time. Simmering food works similar to slow cooking in releasing the flavor from the leaf.
- You can also add them to fresh foods that you plan to cook via steaming or boiling.
- I have yet to try this, but I know of some people who use bay leaf to make tea. Simply steep a few leaves in hot water for 15 minutes or so, remove the leaves, and drink. I’m a huge tea lover, so I’ll have to give this a try and see what I think!
It’s such an incredibly versatile spice! And with the great flavor and health benefits, there’s no reason not to start using it today. If you’d like to find the bay leaf which I routinely use 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 bay leaf. These recipes and other kitchen hacks have helped me to shed over 30 lbs. and stay healthy while loving the food I eat, so I’m excited to be able to share them with you!
In order to make sure you don’t miss out on these recipes when they are released, please make sure to enter your email address in the blue box below. Not only will it keep you informed of all the great things coming from the blog, but you’ll also get a free gift just for signing up!
All the best,
P.S. Do you have a favorite recipe which features bay leaf? What’s your favorite way to use this spice? I’d love to hear from you and what it is!
Some of the links above are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with these products and I am recommending them because they are helpful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.
If you have questions, feel free to check out my health disclaimer.