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62 HEALTH & BEAUTY


Spice Girls M


ost of us are aware of the health giving


Health & beauty advice from Rowena Kitchen Many


properties of herbs and spices. You can get giant amounts into your body if you drink them. Juicing has become a fad that will not go away. It is not for me as I prefer to eat the whole fruit, vegetable, herb or spice. I understand that you are getting the fibre and nutritional content without having to chomp your way through a whole field of kale or coriander or jar of cumin but those green drinks make me feel quite bilious. I do not want to even look at them let alone carry them around or buy a special machine to create them. Tucking herbs and sprinkling spices into sauces and dishes are things I can manage. There is a certain reluctance with some to try out unfamiliar tastes. How to sneak the stronger spices into foods for a family that baulk at white pepper is a game of stealth. Spices were once powerful valuable commodities


herbs and


spices could just as easily be in the medicine cup-


board than on the table.


and now our arrogance sees them turn to dust on our shelves before we get around to using them. The spice trade has been central to Empires being built and brought down, wars won and lost and lands discovered. Ancient historical civilisations in


Asia, North East Africa and Europe traded spices vigorously and the old spice roads can still be seen from space. Cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, pepper and turmeric had turned up in the Middle East long before the Christian era. In the Middle Ages spices were in high demand due


to the lack of refrigeration and dodgy hygiene that left foods less than fresh and often tasting rather bad. Preserving foods was a vital necessity, not a hobby like it is today for most home cooks. We like to think we are pioneers of taste and cooking methods but those Middle Ages cooks were far more adventurous in the way they flavoured foods and drinks. Mind you, they drank beer all day long starting at breakfast, when they added honey and called it mead, so they might have been rather freer with their thoughts! Certain spices are associated with certain cultures


and countries. Middle Eastern, Italian and French all have their signature spices and claims to health


benefits. Many herbs and spices could just as easily be in the medicine cupboard than on the table. Cinnamon - we are all familiar with this spice. Just ½tsp daily reduces blood glucose levels and wards off urinary tract infections. Add it to a tablespoon of greek yoghurt and have it on your porridge or cereal. Basil - this can be used for skin infections and insect bites! It can also help with eyesight and digestive distress - that’s a bad stomach to you and me!


Adding some to salads, soups and other dishes


is a good thing. If you have a headache or feel stressed then steep some leaves in hot water. Drink it as a tea to calm the nerves. Cayenne - boosts circulation and metabolism while smoothing out digestion problems. It is used by the medical profession in creams that act as painkillers. Cloves - are anti-fungal and anti-microbial so act as a preservative in cakes and other foods. It also promotes digestive health. No wonder our Middle Ages ancestors were so keen on them. Chewing one helps with tooth pain and throwing some in a foot bath helps with athletes foot. Parsley - reduces itching if applied to the skin. It is our most nutrient rich detoxifying herb. It acts as an anti-


Illustration by Lisa Wyman


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