By Bea Kunz

In ancient and medieval times, rare spices served as currency. Peppercorn was used to pay rent and ginger traded for sheep.

Here we are several centuries later and while I doubt going to the bank with a bag of anything that isn’t green and made of paper will get us very far…spices are still worth their weight in gold….if we just use them.

We have huge amounts of ongoing science studies and documentation that holds truth in just how important our food choices are to good health and long life.

I offer a small list of spices and herbs that are proven to add a whopping good amount of goodness to any day, any food…both in flavor and in benefits for long term better health.

Basil-The antioxidants in basil work to improve circulation and prevent adhesion in red blood cells.**toss fresh basil into salads and use like lettuce on a sandwich. Dried basil is the key to flavor in any tomato sauce dish. Delicious tossed into green peas and squash dishes.

Cayenne-A red chili pepper with a sweet/pungent flavor, contains capsaicin, the ingredient that gives it the heat. Cayenne can boost the metabolism and reduce the appetite. It’s also know for the power to relieve pain when applied to the skin in the form of a cream.
**A tiny pinch adds spark to most any food group.
Try adding just a small shake to a cup of hot chocolate…zippy!

Cinnamon-Is noted for being anti-inflammatory and may help control cholesterol and blood sugar.**again, delicious in hot drinks from coffee to chocolate, apple cider, and any fruit punch. Add it to oatmeal and pancakes, sprinkle on steamed carrots, and pumpkin pie isn’t the same without cinnamon.

Curry-of all the ingredients in curry, turmeric is the star for its health perks. Great for reducing swelling in joints. Also much ongoing research in the ability to help battle cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Curry is typically a blend of turmeric, ginger and cumin…sometimes other spices as well. **A staple in Indian foods and stir-fry’s.

Oregano-one of my all time favorites. Oregano is well documented for its ability to fight free radicals that are so damaging to our cells. It also has plenty of antibacterial properties.
**sweet and aromatic, oregano is a staple in Italian foods. Delicious addition to roasted meats and sprinkled on egg and potato dishes.

Let your culinary thoughts run wild with spices…try all manner of different uses, there are no hard and fast rules when using spices and herbs…make them yours…build a close relationship with them and in turn, they will be your protector for life~

This is the season for intergrating spices and herbs into your foods, go for it !

**Tip**Carry a small shaker of your favorite blend of cayenne, basil, and oregano in your purse or briefcase…when eating out…instead of reaching for the salt/pepper shaker…add your own dash of goodness. A little works in big ways.

Wishing everyone a spicy Autumn season~