warming spices

Spiced Up Raw Cuisine!

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You may have noticed by now that there's always a little spiciness going on in my raw food recipes. To say I love spices would be a complete understatement lol!

My mother was a pundit (sage or guru) in the kitchen, thats where I learnt to prepare food - by taste, colour and aroma. A pinch of this and a dash of that, was the norm and it's where my love affair with fragrant, spiced up food began. Mum was an excellent cook, knowing how to combine the recipes of two different cultures with precision, where all Indian spices were referred to by their Hindi names. It feels very much like a natural family art of the kitchen, that has been passed on traditionally through the generations of mothers in my family. I am to this day inspired by their culinary wisdom.

In my raw, plant-based food lifestyle, one of my primary purposes with plant food, is to create a healthy fusion of the African Caribbean and Indian flavours that is synergistic with my own experience. In this post, I'm going to list some easy-to-use spices, which you can usually find more cheaply in the Caribbean or South Asian grocery stores and markets.

As a raw food teacher and mentor, I'm often asked, "do I have live on boring salads for the rest of my life?". It's a genuine question of course, when it's being asked, people are hoping for some sort of reassurance that their fear of living on a bland diet, no matter how unfounded, won't be the truth of it. It's always a pleasure for me to reply with a smile and an a reassuring example as to why their fear couldn't possibly be true, (unless they chose it). And not that salads are at all boring either...

Clearly taste is important to us and can make a big difference in our ability to stay committed to  transitioning to a clean (non processed) and healthy eating lifestyle. In some parts of the world, including spices within your dishes is standard, in others the emphasis is more on herbs, while still others use very little of either, so it's not only subjective, but cultural too. Additionally geographical location and climate plays a role in the availability of certain spice or herb plants. Yet still, it's so simple to develop our appreciation of the spice world.  

I love that having lived most of my life in a culturally diverse city, it is totally normal that virtually most food types are available. 

For many of us now, as we approach the autumn, it is a time when we begin to consider the shorter, darker and much cooler days that are coming. It's a time when taking care to stay well and warm through the long winter months will form the backdrop to what we choose to eat. In corporations more spices into our raw soul food creations, offers an opportunity for warming, energising ourselves.

Many culinary spices come from an ancient linage that have been revered for their health-  properties, both preventive or healing, and for many health conditions. They have been the jewel in many ancient kingdoms and their therapeutic power have been widely valued as part of ancient health systems, which have helped thousands of people to live more healthful lives.

Here I am, visiting Mr Vijay Ghandi's spices shop in Lusaka early this year. The stunning aroma of spices hits you the moment you turn into the street. After that, on a visit to Varkala in South India, I enjoyed creating food using fresh, locally grown spices, the taste and aroma of which were magnificent.

Why use spice?
Spices perform several culinary tasks at once:

  • Spices add a pleasant aroma to dishes, this stimulates your appetite.
  • Spices add a pleasing flavour to your raw food dishes.
  • Spices help create sweet, tangy, hot or sour flavours.
  • Spices can act as thickeners and binders in sauces.
  • Spices can add colour to your dishes.
  • Spices assist in the digestive process.

Spices are rich in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and any herbalist, ayurvedic doctor or traditional healer will tell you, they have an immense capacity to not only add flavour to food, but are an essential part of natures own pharmacy in our homes. You can add spices to your raw soul food dishes to boost immunity, cleansing, energy, warming, restorative, and their calming benefits. More than that though, learning about how to combine spices, is a domestic art worthy of your attention. 

Take your time to get to know the magic of spices, if you're not accustomed to using spices or herbs in your kitchen, it's best to start off using small amounts, then build up as your confidence increases, adding additional amounts to suit your taste. Consider taking a course in learning how to combine spices to achieve the results you'd like to create in your kitchen.

Here's a handy list of selected spices that fall under those categories mentioned above.

Immune boosting spices:
Turmeric, cumin, clove, allspice, star anise and citrus zest
Our immune system strives to keep us well and healthy. These spices lend a hand to our body's protector. 

Add turmeric to smoothies, sauces, juices and teas. 
Add cumin to dips, sauces, soups and sprinkle whole seeds over salads.
Add clove to sweet & savoury dishes, add to seasonings, pumpkin dishes & herbals teas.
Add allspice to sweet & savoury dishes, sauces, marinated vegetables, infused fruit desserts.
Add citrus (lemon, lime, tangerine, orange, mandarin, grapefruit) zest like to sauces, dressings, soups, herbal teas, flavoured water.
Add star anise to marinated fruit, soup, masala teas, in chocolate recipes. (Not for babies).

Calming spices:
Mint, sage, lemongrass, saffron and basil
Packed with phytonutrients that can help to soothe the body and calm the mind

Add basil to salads, soups, sauces, juices, ice-cream.
Add saffron to raw breads, health drinks, sauces, desserts and parsnip rice.
Add mint to juices, salads, herbal tea, pea soup, sauces, chocolate recipes and ice-cream.
Add lemongrass to herbal teas and juices
Add sage to salads, sauces, seasonings, dehydrated savoury balls and soups

Warming spices:
Ginger, horseradish, wasabi, mustard and chili pepper
Warmth for the body when there's a chill in the air. Increase circulation, open sinuses and stimulate the body's defence mechanisms.

Add chill pepper to seasonings, soups, sauces, dips, marinades, drinks and fermented vegetables.
Add ginger to juices, sauces, dips, seasonings, herbal teas, and desserts.
Add mustard seed to sauces, pate's and seasonings. 
Add horseradish to salad, sauces and marinades.
Add wasabi to salads, sushi, sauces, seasonings and marinades.

•Cleansing spices:
Cinnamon, hibiscus, bay leaf, oregano, and rosemary
Providing support for the body's natural detoxification processes.

Add cinnamon to desserts, shakes, fruit marinades, herbal teas, energy balls, raw cakes & cookies, lassi and dips.
Add rosemary to sauces, dips, crackers, seasonings, marinades and dehydrated flans, pies and pizza's.
Add oregano to sauces, dips, crackers, seasonings and dehydrated flans, pies and pizza's.
Add bay leaf to herbal tea, sauces, dips, crackers, fermented vegetables, seasonings and dehydrated flans, pies and pizza's.
Add hibiscus to drinks, herbal tea, juices, desserts, sauces, dips and dehydrated and fruit pies.

•Energy spices:
Cocoa, nutmeg, tamarind, black pepper and coriander
To spark the system and the body's stores of energy; and aiding digestion.

Add black peppercorns to seasonings, pate's, salad dressings, sauces, and crackers.
Add coriander (cilantro) to sauces, dips, juices, seasonings, salads and dehydrated crackers.
Add cocoa to drinks, desserts, dressings, cookies, chia pudding and chocolate energy bars.
Add nutmeg to desserts, dressings, seasonings, drinks, herbal teas, pumpkin pie and juices.
Add tamarind to sauces, fruit marinades, fruit pies, chutneys, raw non-dairy yogurt and dips.

•Restorative spices:
Fenugreek, cardamom, thyme, garlic and pomegranate
Restorative spices for restoring strength and radiance by helping your body to reboot.

Add garlic to sauces, dips, juices, savoury dishes, marinades, soups and dehydrated crackers.
Add cardamom to ice-cream, lassi, desserts, masala tea, fruit pies, energy balls and dehydrated cookies.
Add pomegranate to desserts, salads, juices, soups and parsnip rice.
Add fenugreek to seasonings, fruit marinades, sauces, chutney and dehydrated flat breads.
Add thyme to seasonings, herbal teas, soups, salads, chocolate recipes dressings and sauces.

It's a great list isn't it? As a quiz, why not check off how many of these spices have been part of your life experience so far and at what stages...with absolutely no judgement!

Buying, storage and equipment for spices:

Different spices have different shelf life, its best to buy whole spices and grind them down yourself, the aroma is released when they are ground. Where this isn't possible,  you can purchase them dried, coarsely or finely ground. Store your spices in a cool dark place, in airtight containers, preferably glass in order to preserve freshness. Old spices loos their flavour and healing power. 

You only need a few pieces of equipment for using spices. A mortar and pestle for crushing spices. Make sure that the pestle fits snuggly into the mortar, it make it easier to keep the spice in one place while you're working with it. You can also use a spice grinder if you want to grind more than a tiny amount to a smooth powder.

Quick view of selected spices above.

Quick view of selected spices above.

Resource and Research:
Book: Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal, PHD
Book: Food as Medicine, Vol 2 by Brain Clement PHD

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3891794/
http://hippocratesinst.org/the-ayurvedic-diet
http://hippocratesinst.org/spicy-vegan-chai-latte
http://knowledge.cta.int/Dossiers/S-T-Issues/Reducing-Postharvest-Losses-A-Challenge-for-the-Scientific-Community/Feature-articles/Adding-value-to-Jamaican-herbs-and-spices-reducing-postharvest-losses-and-expanding-market-opportunities

www.MySpiceSage.com (New York)
www.TheSpicery.com (Bath, UK)
www.chilepepperinstitute.org (Mexico)
www.coppersfolly.co.nz (New Zealand)

Gandhi's Spices (Cairo Road, Lusaka, Zambia)

Want to know more?


Living Food = Vibrant You - Create healthier habits, try out one of my online wellness programmes, register here

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now atwww.sistahintheraw.com

Medical Disclaimer
Sistahintheraw.com provides information on this website as an educational service. This website does not provide medical advice. The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. The products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications and medical conditions.  

11 Tips to Stay Warm on Raw

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Depending on where you are in the world, facing a raw food lifestyle in autumn and winter can at times appear daunting and understandably so…

However although it’s one thing to be a raw foodist in the Caribbean and warmer parts of the globe, it’s quite another thing to be raw in the UK where I currently reside. In some communities, the tradition of using warming herbs and spices in food preparation has been around for a long time and this is one way to approach feeding your inner body fire; and for keeping your blood circulation in check in the colder weather.

We can cultivate or transfer these skills to our raw food lifestyle to achieve an acceptable balance for remaining comfortable and raw as the weather turns more chilly.

My 'raw in winter' food classes have always proved to be a great success, with group members learning about recipes that can help them to incorporate warming foods into their raw food menu on a daily basis. Warming herbs and spices help warm you from the inside and can make all the difference to your sticking to your clean and healthy eating raw food goals. 

Great nutrition is only part of the story, you’ve got to get moving physically too. I usually also provide a group with a useful list of 15 Sistahintheraw-Winter-Raw-Food-basic’s tips; here are a few examples:

1:  Eat Warm Food, Not Cold Food. Raw food doesn’t mean cold food. Don’t use food straight from the fridge if possible. Take out what you're going to use in good time and leave to reach room temperature before preparing your dishes, or pop into the dehydrator for a short while to bring up to room temperature.

2: Ensure that you undertake some kind of body movement everyday, like walking, yoga, cycling etc. This will get your blood circulation moving, helping to warm you up from the inside. 

3: Try delicious recipes like ‘escovitch’ vegetables or spicy raw soups, which can contribute to a delicious feast with family and friends.

4: Gently 'warm' your soups and pour into pre-warmed soup bowls to take the chill off if necessary. You can also warm up your plates.

5: If you get really cold you can also have steamed seasonal veggies, or have buckwheat or amaranth porridge for breakfast.

6: Use warming ingredients in your sauces, see https://www.sistahintheraw.com/raw-soul-food-blog/2017/9/8/spiced-up-raw-cuisine

7: It's easy to warm up with herbal teas throughout your daily routine.

8: Take a sauna: infra-red saunas help to pull toxins and helps your body detoxify harmful chemicals while increasing lymphatic flow. 

9: Add daily wheatgrass shots to your daily routine for vital nutrients and to boost your immune system. A strong immune system fights off viruses, heals wounds, keeps you awake and alert, and attacks anything trying to harm the body.

10: Add dehydrated recipes to you menu that are warm when ready to eat.

11: Try winter squash recipes with warming pumpkin spices for raw dehydrated pies, soups and chai tea.

The most important thing to remember is that there's no need to suffer or to feel deprived during the colder months. Do the best you can to stay on track, knowing that these tips will be  very useful in achieving that goal.

Source: HHI

Source: HHI

Living Food = Vibrant You - Create healthier habits, try out one of my online wellness programmes, register here

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE OR WEB SITE?
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Anita McKenzie, is a Raw Soul Food and Holistic Health Lifestyle Mentor, she is founder of the brand "Sistahintheraw" and "Raw Soul Food" and a leading authority on Raw Food Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make healthier choices, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get FREE success tips from Sistahintheraw now atwww.sistahintheraw.com

Medical Disclaimer
Sistahintheraw.com provides information on this website as an educational service. This website does not provide medical advice. The information and reference guides in this website are intended solely for the general information for the reader. The contents of this web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice, diagnose health problems or for treatment purposes. The products is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. It is not a substitute for medical care provided by a licensed and qualified health professional. Please consult your health care provider for any advice on medications and medical conditions.