Can you believe that one of the earliest historical references to herbs and spices goes back to 2550 BC? In ancient Egypt, herbs and spices were used to preserve mummies (the bandaged kind). So, it’s obvious that the impact of these potent plants was already understood waaaaay back then. And, it’s also interesting to note that the labourers who put in the superhuman effort to build one of the greatest wonders of the world, The Pyramid of Gaza (aka the Great Pyramid of Cheops), were fed tons of garlic to keep them going. Garlic has magical immune-boosting powers after-all.
Soon after, the Spice Route, which stretched from Asia to Europe, was established. Around the same time, during the Crusades (remember Indiana Jones his search for the Holy Grail?), it was the Europeans’ turn to become enamoured with these plants. FUN FACT! During the Middle Ages in Europe, pepper became so sought after that it was accepted as the common currency. People counted out peppercorns in their palms to pay taxes, tolls and rent. And young brides from wealthy families received as much pepper as the family could afford as a dowry.
Today our flavourful friends are no longer the rare and exclusive joys they once were, but the shelves full of them in supermarkets are testimony to the fact that their mystery and fascination have endured.
Without exception, herbs and spices contain high dosages of vitamins (including vitamins A, B, C and K) as well as essential minerals. That’s why no chef or cook worth their salt (or pepper) would be caught without a good assortment in the kitchen.
Our top 3 go-to essentials?
This is the essential ingredient in every curry. The active ingredient, curcumin, is one of the most concentrated, natural antioxidants you’ll ever find. It helps to increase immunity, improve heart health and relieve conditions such as arthritis. And a twist of pepper can boost absorption by the body by over 1000%.
Ah, the bountiful bulb. Not only does it have just-about-addictive flavouring properties, but it also contains many potent bioactive ingredients which have been proven to lower blood pressure and boost immunity. A recent study of 200 people suffering from hypertension showed that garlic was as effective at reducing blood pressure as a beta-blocker.
It’s no surprise that basil is on our list. It is sweet and super easy to grow on your windowsill or in the garden. But make sure that you always have dried basil at hand for when you’re in a hurry. No pimped Ital Pizza is complete without an extra dash!
So, take a new look at your recipes, and you’ll spice up your family’s life and health … fo sho!
Enjoy these TastyTips?
PS. Have one of your own? Let us know in the comment section below.
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