Spice up your life (if you’re having a good time!)

Spice up your life, (if you’re having a good time!) Any former Spice Girl fans will appreciate that reference. I used to be a HUGE Spice Girls fan growing up. One of my favorite things to do with my best friend and her sister was play “Spice Girls” where we would each choose a member of the group and pretend we were on tour as we sang and danced on their swing set in the backyard. I even dressed up as Baby Spice for Halloween one year. Back on track to spices though. I’m also a big fan of adding spices to everything when I cook to switch up bland meals and recreate old recipes. Cinnamon, cayenne pepper, basil, and rosemary are just a few of my favorites.

Baby Spice

In addition to boosting food’s flavors, spices can serve a purpose in providing many benefits for the body as well.

Ginger: Anti-inflammatory

Cumin: Aids in digestion

Turmeric: Antioxidant/antibacterial

Cinnamon: Increases metabolism of glucose in cells

Cardamom: Removes toxins

The results from spices are best when consumed as a supplement as most require more than the amount you’ll find in your food. Unless you want to pull off a Mrs. Doubtfire and cover your plate in spices. However, when a blend of spices are added into your daily food consumption, one benefit you can obtain is managing your blood sugar levels.  Penn State conducted a study that found simply by adding 1 tbsp of combined spices to foods created a decrease in post-meal insulin levels by 21 percent.

Regardless of whether you’re seeking the health benefits from spices, or you’re looking for a way to change up your diet and add a little spice to your life, spices are definitely something you should try playing around with in your daily diet. Here’s a recipe I adapted to my taste buds’ liking by randomly grabbing an array of spices I thought would mesh well together. This soup is also great for a rainy day (hello Spring flowers!) or as it was served at my place over the weekend, a chilly winter’s night in watching The Oscars with friends!

Sweet Potato, Spinach, and Barley Coconut Soup

2 tbsp. olive oil
3 celery stalks chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups barley
4 cups coconut milk
5 cups water
3 carrots, chopped
3 sweet potatoes, cut into one-inch chunks
a few fistfuls of spinach
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried basil (or a small handful of fresh basil)
1 tsp dried thyme
salt/pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine olive oil, celery, onion, and barley in a soup pot over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Gradually add coconut milk, sweet potatoes, carrots, and spices. Allow the veggies to soak in the flavor from the spices while the coconut milk comes to a boil, then add the remaining water. Allow to boil again until the barley is fully cooked and the sweet potatoes are soft, but not mushy. Mix in the spinach, garlic, and any other spices you think will add that extra kick! Play around and see what pleases your taste buds.

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I didn’t add chicken initially but I think this would taste amazing with some shredded chicken breast in it. You can also add a little bit of cayenne pepper to add a bit of heat, just the way my dad likes his food! Hot spices are a great way to add a boost to your metabolism as well. A double whammy!

This recipe was derived from Dig This Chick

What are some of your favorite spices to cook with?

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