When it comes to cooking, it is wise to cook with intelligence and creativity; allowing yourself to experience the new wonders of the kitchen and the food that lays within it. Feeling stuck on our routine recipes is normal, we often mindlessly add salt and pepper to all our meals, perhaps butter or oils too, just to give it that extra flavor. But there are other more beneficial, and even tastier, ways to go about cooking with flavor- ways that contain zero added calories. When planning for my recipes, I keep in mind and use some of the most powerful spices on the planet, such as cumin, turmeric, curry, paprika, and cinnamon. Not only do these spices provide a wealth of health benefits, they are calorie free! Spices are the perfect additives to spice up your palate.

Cinnamon: Seasoning a high-carb food with cinnamon can help prevent a spike in your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon slows the rate of gastric emptying after meals, steadying the rise in blood sugar levels after eating. Smelling the scent of cinnamon boosts brain activity by stirring our appetite cues, refreshing and warming the senses, and may even produce feelings of joy.

Curry: Growing evidence suggests that curcumin, the biological active constituent of a main spice found in curry, may help prevent and treat Alzheimer’s disease. Curcumin turns on the production of antioxidant proteins. This particular antioxidant protects the brain against oxidative injury, the culprit of aging and neurodegenerative diseases, and thus may delay the onset of the effects of aging and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease when consumed often.

Cumin: Cooking with ground cumin can help prevent iron deficiency, since each teaspoon provides 4 milligrams of iron, or 22 percent of the daily recommended value. The iron found in cumin helps increase energy and is necessary to support proper metabolism for muscles and other active organs. Almost all of the cells in our body burn dietary calories to create energy through a process that requires iron.

Paprika: A small amount of paprika delivers antioxidants and nutrients. One teaspoon of paprika has 4 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B6. Like most B vitamins, B6 is a coenzyme. These enzymes initiate biochemical reactions responsible for the creation of energy.

Turmeric: The yellow pigment in turmeric is called curcumin. When used regularly, curcumin helps treat diseases such as arthritis, in which free radicals are responsible for joint inflammation and damage to the joints. The combination of turmeric’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body explains why many people with joint disease find relief when using the spice regularly.

This Indian-spiced quinoa recipe contains almost all of the spices mentioned above. Almost any recipe can be altered to reap the benefits of spice.

Cheers!

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