Besides being delicious, did you know that there are calculated and specific (scientific) reasons that herbs and spices are added to your food? As an example, let’s look at cinnamon.
First, it’s important to know what cinnamon really is. In the store, you will find cinnamon and cassia – look closely at the labels. Cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree in the laurel family that is native to Sri Lanka and India. Cassia (native to China) is closely related to cinnamon, and while it can be used in place of cinnamon, it has different properties and characteristics. Cassia is more fragrant and has a stronger “cinnamon” flavor. It is often favored in baking.
Say the word cinnamon. Did it elicit warm feelings and fond memories of cakes, cookies, hot chocolate, stews or soups? Guess what? Cinnamon IS warming – it’s one of the very important energetics and characteristics. Cinnamon is also an amazing stimulant. Among many other things, it can be used to increase circulation, clear congestion, improve digestion, and my personal favorite, cinnamon can be used to stabilize blood sugar levels. This means I can eat as many snickerdoodles as I want, right?
Remember at the beginning I said there were specific reasons for adding spices to foods? Let’s think through adding cinnamon to cookies, cakes and rolls. These beautiful creations are heavy and they’re full of actual sugar and ingredients that are converted into sugar (like flour). This isn’t good or bad, it’s just the reality. Stay with me.
When you eat a cookie, you’re going to get that quick energy boost from the sugar and then you’ll slide down the pole to sleepy-town as the food moves through the digestive system. Adding cinnamon helps level out that blood sugar process so that your body can stay afloat at more of an even keel while it works on figuring out how to break down and use the rest of the ingredients.
I think of digestion as a plinko game. The body receives all of these particles at once, and has to categorize and sort them out for usefulness and necessity, add enzymes and acids to help break them down, and move them on down the line. Adding herbs and spices can help your body digest and utilize the fats, proteins, sugars, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals more effectively and efficiently.
Food should be a whole experience.
- From the moment you see it, what do you feel physically and emotionally? Are you salivating? Are you happy?
- The moment you smell it, what do you think? Does it invite you or repulse you?
- When you taste it, how does it make you feel emotionally and physically?
- Once you have consumed it, what are you feeling then? Do you have more energy or less energy?
Obviously there’s a whole lot more to these concepts, but I hope this gives you food for thought (pun intended).
Make it a good day people. You’re the only one that can!