by Rachel Chemerynski
Fresh herbs and spices are a great way to experiment in the kitchen, especially during the summer months. Their flavor, aroma, and texture are enough to turn any dish from bland to zesty in an instant. While we love incorporating them into our recipes here at SpaFinder Wellness, did you know their superpowers go far beyond the kitchen table? Today we look into five different herbs and spices and their many natural benefits (both on and off your plate).
Mint: While mint is most known for its lively scent and refreshing flavor, this little green herb surprisingly has many nifty uses. Got a tummy ache? Sip on some warm mint tea or water to help boost digestion, while relieving any feelings of nausea. When combined with rosewater and lemon juice, mint can be applied directly to the skin to help sun-damaged skin. It’s also known to alleviate congestion (especially helpful during allergy season) and, perhaps best of all, naturally freshen breath! Who needs mints when you can go for the real deal?
Try This: Homemade Frozen Mint Lemonade from Miraval, the perfect complement to a summer BBQ. We also love Kamalaya’s unique Chilled Ginger & Melon Soup, topped with fresh Mint Granita for an extra kick.
Turmeric: Famously used in Indian cuisine, turmeric is what gives curry powder its bright golden color and distinct warm flavor. But spicing up dishes isn’t the only thing this herb is known for. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties make it great for calming acne-prone skin and rashes as well. Just dilute it with water, and be careful with staining your clothes! Recent research suggests this super-herb may even help fight off cancer and reduce cognitive decline associated with aging.
Try This: Active Center for Health & Wellness’ Forbidden Rice Salad, complete with, not one, but three superfoods (including turmeric!).
Rosemary: This needle-like herb is commonly found in households and outdoor gardens alike, and is known for its distinct, woody flavor. Aside from its culinary perks, rosemary is packed with antioxidants and acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial. Due to its strong scent, rosemary has been touted as a DIY insect repellant, keeping insects and mosquitoes far away. Simply apply in oil form to use as a “bug spray” or grow rosemary plants along your patio or garden.
Try This: Bright Tomato & Rosemary Salad from Pritikin Longevity Center, which combines ripe tomatoes with fresh, flavorful herbs.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon mixes perfectly with a variety of dishes from sweet oatmeal to a more savory chili. But beyond the stove, this warming spice is quite the treat. Due to its naturally sweet notes, cinnamon can be added to tea or oatmeal to help curb sugar cravings before they get out of hand. Cinnamon sticks are also a key ingredient in potpourri and decorations, and can even be used for moth and ant-repellants (that actually smell nice!).
Try This: Hilton Head Health’s Skinny Cinnamon Ice Cream for a tasty cool-down summertime treat. If you’re in the mood for something a little more savory, you’ll be wowed by Miraval’s Rack of Lamb with Cinnamon-Peppercorn Sauce.
Sage: While sage is known best for sprucing up fall recipes (like basting the annual Thanksgiving Day turkey), this popular herb is often used in Italian cuisine as well. Due to its refreshing, soothing scent, sage is commonly found in beauty products from body scrubs to face creams. Combine it with lavender and mint to create a little sachet to keep your linens fresh!
Try This: “Thyme to Scrub” Body Scrub, courtesy of The Lodge at Woodloch, which combines sage and thyme for a beautiful scent.
What are your go-to herbs to experiment with around the house? We’d love to hear your favorite recipes and ideas!
Rachel Chemerynski is a Certified Health Coach and freelance writer living in Boston, Massachusetts. She is the founder of Healthy Chicks, a wellness community dedicated to inspiring twenty-something women to live happier, healthier, more meaningful lives (without dieting).
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