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Let's Get Spicy Tonight
December 03, 2010
Marilyn and I hope you're benefiting from adding healthier foods to your diet throuh the holidays!

You know our motto is living longer and living younger, so... we thought we'd talk about...

Seasonings 101

Can't tell cumin from cardamom?

Learn to navigate the flavor matrix and become an amazing cook.


The dried unripe berry of the Jamaican Pimenta dioica tree

Taste traits: A sweet mix of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg

Health powers: Blocks glycation, which is connected to aging.

How to use it: Mix allspice into lean ground beef to punch up plain hamburgers and meat loaf.

Aniseed (anise)

The seed of the Middle Eastern Pimpinella anisum plant

Taste traits: Strong licorice notes

Health powers: Aids in digestion and stamps out date-killing bad breath.

How to use it: Sprinkle ground aniseed into soups, curries, and stews. Heat some whole seeds with honey in a skillet, then drizzle over yogurt.


Ground from the seeds of a tropical plant originally from India

Taste traits: Slightly sweet and very aromatic with lemony citrus notes

Health powers: Its bioactive ingredient, cineole, may lessen asthma symptoms by reducing inflammation.

How to use it: Remove from pod, grind, and sprinkle on fruit salad or oatmeal.


Ground dried cayenne chili pepper

Taste traits: Fiery and slightly smoky

Health powers: Capsaicin, a phytochemical, improves insulin sensitivity, which lowers diabetes risk.

How to use it: Dash cayenne into chocolate recipes, hummus, scrambled eggs, and rice, or sprinkle it over steamed shelled edamame.

Chili Powder

Various types of ground dried chilies mixed with other spices such as garlic and cumin

Taste traits: Earthy, with heat levels that can range from tame to "volcano"

Health powers: Curbs appetite and reduces calorie intake.

How to use it: Spritz over plain popcorn with butter-flavored spray.

Chinese Five-Spice

A blend of peppercorns, cloves, fennel, star anise, and cinnamon

Taste traits: Combines sweet, sour, pungent, bitter, and salty

Health powers: Teeming with antioxidants that fight disease.

How to use it: Simmer any protein in a sauce of vegetable broth, sesame oil, soy sauce, and Chinese five-spice.


Dried inner bark of an evergreen tree found in India and Sri Lanka

Taste traits: Mildly sweet with heat

Health powers: The antioxidants found in cinnamon keep blood sugar and energy levels on an even keel.

How to use it: Drizzle some flax oil and honey on whole-grain toast, then sprinkle cinnamon on top.


The fruits of a parsleylike plant

Taste traits: An earthy, nutty flavor with a peppery kick

Health powers: Used to improve digestion and contains more energy-boosting iron than other spices.

How to use it: Dust salmon and lamb with it. Add cumin seeds to water when steaming or boiling root vegetables.

Curry Powder

A mix of turmeric, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, and coriander

Taste traits: From sweet to hot

Health powers: Antioxidants in curry may combat heart disease by reducing fat buildup in arteries.

How to use it: Jazz up egg or tuna salad, or steam mussels in a mixture of curry powder and coconut milk.

Fennel Seeds

The dried seeds of the Mediterranean fennel plant

Taste traits: Licorice-like flavor

Health powers: Chew on a few to freshen up your breath and help relieve bloating after a pig-out.

How to use it: Whisk with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, and Dijon mustard; drizzle over salad.

Garam Masala

Typically cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and black pepper

Taste traits: Smoky with slight heat

Health powers: A multifaceted antioxidant punch from four spices.

How to use it: Sprinkle it over corn on the cob or popcorn, or roast chickpeas at 400°F for 30 minutes and toss with this spice and a dash of sea salt.

Ginger Powder

Ground dried gingerroot

Taste traits: Tangy and warm

Health powers: Its anti-inflammatory compounds can tame postexercise muscle pain.

How to use it: Combine with honey, then heat in a saucepan to make a glaze for carrots and other root veggies, or stir into green tea.


Seeds of a cruciferous-family plant

Taste traits: Mild to sinus clearing. Yellow mustard seeds are less fiery than their brown or black counterparts.

Health powers: High in selenium, which may protect against skin cancer.

How to use it: Toast mustard seeds until they pop, then add to cooked red cabbage or a curry dish.


The dried seeds of an apricot-like fruit indigenous to tropical areas

Taste traits: Sweet and vibrant

Health powers: Contains myristicin, a compound that helps fight infection.

How to use it: Nutmeg is a great secret ingredient in recipes for rice, meatballs, or cream soups, as well as cooked spinach, broccoli, or squash.


Ground from mild dried peppers

Taste traits: From bittersweet and warm to smoky and hot

Health powers: Brimming with vitamin A, which aids vision, bone growth, and immunity.

How to use it: Garnish shrimp, roasted nuts, or eggs. Sprinkle smoked paprika over a grilled cheese sandwich.


The threads of the saffron crocus, from the lily family

Taste traits: The Rolls-Royce of spices is slightly bitter. Avoid yellow threads.

Health powers: One study found that saffron may ease PMS symptoms.

How to use it: Simmer a pinch of saffron with chicken broth and ladle over cooked whitefish or shellfish.

Star Anise

Dried star-shaped fruit of a small Asian tree. Not related to aniseed.

Taste traits: Strong, very sweet, with hints of licorice

Health powers: It contains anethole, an oil with possible antivirus abilities.

How to use it: Add it whole to flavor tea, braising liquid, soup, or a marinade. Or grind it and use in a meat rub.


The dried root of a tropical plant

Taste traits: Woody and bitter

Health powers: Curcumin, a compound in turmeric, may fight Buddha belly by halting fat cells.

How to use it: Add a few dashes to egg dishes or the cooking water when making a pot of quinoa or rice.


The beans of a fruit-bearing orchid

Taste traits: Rich and smooth

Health powers: Vanillin, vanilla's active component, has been shown to help kill cancer cells.

How to use it: Whole beans add flavor to marinades or chili.

Or bury a split vanilla bean in sugar for two days, then sprinkle the infused sugar over berries.

And, here's a great recipe Marilyn and I would like to share with you;

Classic Beef Lasagna

When everyone gets turkey tired, serve this light lasagna recipe.

It's perfect for a crowd, and cooks in just over an hour.

If you're still feeling stuffed from Thanksgiving, substitute low-fat cheese to slim it down even more.

The old-fashioned goodness of lasagna gets a new flavor twist from smoked mozzarella.

No-boil lasagna noodles and prepared sauce make it a breeze.

Serves: 12

Prep: 15min

Cook: 50min

Total: 1hr 5min


* 1 jar (48 ounces) chunky pasta sauce

* 2 eggs

* 2 c. (8 ounces) ricotta cheese

* 2 c. (8 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese

* 2 cloves garlic, minced

* 1/2 lb. ground beef

* 10 oz. mushrooms, sliced

* 8 oz. no-boil lasagna noodles

* 1/4 c. (1 ounce) grated parmesan cheese

* 1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley


1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Coat a 13" x 9" baking dish with cooking spray.

Pour 2 cups of the sauce in the bottom of the pan.

2. In a bowl, combine the eggs, ricotta, 1 cup of the mozzarella and the garlic.

3. In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, cook the beef and mushrooms, stirring, for 6 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.

Drain off any fat.

Stir in the remaining sauce.

4. Place a single layer of the lasagna noodles in the bottom of the prepared baking dish.

Top with half of the ricotta mixture and a generous 1 1/2 cups of the sauce.

Repeat the layering.

Cover with the remaining lasagna noodles, the remaining sauce, and the remaining 1 cup of the mozzarella.

Top with the Parmesan and parsley.

5. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly and the noodles are tender.

Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes.

Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Nutritional Facts:

per serving

Calories 234.3 cal.

Fat 6.3 g.

Saturated Fat 3.2 g.

Cholesterol 63.8 mg.

Sodium 904.6 mg.

Carbohydrates 24.5 g.

Toyal Sugars 5.8 g.

Dietary Fiber 2.5 g.

Protein 20.4 g.

Sadly, that's all the time we have for today.

We're sure this recipe will come in handy through the holiday season and we hope you found some value in this Newsletter!

Until next time, we want you to,

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