Time for part 2 of our crash course on spices. You’ve probably noticed that a lot of spices have health benefits attached to them. Aside from making your food taste great, they’re often full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, so they’re a great thing to get into your diet.
Fenugreek isn’t one of the most common spices used, but when it’s used in Indian cuisine it can really transform a lot of dishes. It’s also used in a lot of African cuisines too. The leaves of the fenugreek plant can also be used as herbs, and it’s got a tonne of health benefits… Even more than most spices!
Mustard seeds come in black, brown and white varieties. The US and canada are actually major producers of this spice, although it’s often used in Indian cuisine. It’s also used when pickling and of course… making mustard! Making homemade mustard is definitely something to try!
Not technically a seed, but a dried fruit of a plant that also produced edible roots and leaves. They have an aniseed flavour, but it’s not as strong as in other spices. They’re used in curries, alcohols and we love the flavour in breads and cakes.
Cayenne peppers are part of the capsicum family. It’s used fresh, but is better known in it’s ground, or at least dried. It’s very spicy, but that brings quite a few health benefits, particularly related to weight loss. As always it’s all about balance. You definitely don’t want to be eating a lot of this spicy spice!
These may be closer to herbs, but for some reason they came to mind as a spice. Curry leaves can make a huge difference to… (you guessed it)… Curry. They actually grow on trees and shouldn’t be confused with curry plants, which are totally different! They’re best used fresh, although over here in the UK they’re easier to get dried.
Nigella seeds (black onion seeds)
I LOVE this spice. It’s got a real earthy, pungent flavour. It goes by a lot of different names, so you might know it as fennel flower, nutmeg flower, black caraway, black cumin (which is actually a whole different spice) or black sesame. Confused? Me too… Whatever it’s called, try to find some of these. They’re really good in naan breads!
Paprika is used in many different cuisines, but it’s the staple spice in Hungarian dishes like Goulash. Hungary also produce a lot of paprika, with their variety often being considered higher quality than others! It’s made from air dried chilli peppers, but the powder is not quite as hot as chilli powder or cayenne. In fact it can have a sweet quality to it. Another well known use is for Spanish food, like the amazing Paella! In Spain it’s often smoked, which add an incredible flavour to the already distinct taste.
Again, Sumac is the dried fruit of a number of species of plants. It grows in the Middle East, Mediterranean and North America. The fruits are ground into a citrusy, bright red powder. It’s a versatile spice that goes with a lot of meats and fish, as well as veggies and pulses. It’s particularly good with chickpeas in hummus! Try it on courgettes in this recipe -
Tumeric is the bright yellow spice that gives many dishes a distinct, bright colour along with a slightly bitter flavour. It’s most often seen in a powdered form, but you can also get it fresh, where it looks a little like. You don’t need to use much, but it’s not a bad thing to have in your diet regularly… There’s a long list of health benefits claimed to be associated with turmeric!
And finally… How could we leave out vanilla? Could we even live without this awesome spice? The best way to use it is scraping the seeds from fresh pods, but you can get really good extracts and pastes that give great flavour. It’s just essence that isn’t so good, so treat yourself to the good stuff!
The end! Phew… There are a lot of spices out there, and hopefully parts 1 and 2 of this blog post gave you a bit of information that you can use when you’re getting into the kitchen and experimenting with them. That said, I’m sure there are spices that have been missed out! Let us know if you use any different spices in the comments!Comments
We should all eat a varied and balanced diet but there are a few ingredients that are exceptionally good for you. Our mate Layla shows us some of the ones everybody’s talking about right now… with the help of Jamie… in a Morph suit!
Grab a sneak preview of today’s video, then check out a bit more info on each food below! :)
- The wide selection of healthy fats and nutrients found in avocados – (oleic acid, lutein, folate, vitamin E, monounsaturated fats and glutathione to name a few) can help protect your body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.
- Avocado is one of the best sources of beta-sitosterol from a whole food. It’s basically a healthier version of animal cholesterol and your body prefers to use it if both are present, therefore lowering cholesterol in the blood and as a result reducing heart disease.
- The Brazilian football team enjoyed a sweetened avocado smoothie for breakfast during the world cup as it gives a slow release of healthy fats and proteins throughout the day.
- Be careful though… the avocado is also the UK’s most dangerous fruit. There are more admittances to A&E because of avocado preparations than any other fruit!
- A gluten-free plant from Ethiopia. The smallest grain in the world… about the same size as poppy seeds.
- Teff has 5x more calcium than wheat so is ideal to those on dairy-free diets.
- Not just that, but teff contains the full range of eight amino acids essential for humans, so is excellent for vegetarians.
- The grain is pretty versatile too and can be added to breads, biscuits and savoury dishes likes stews, casseroles or soups.
- This is currently classed as the most nutrient dense superfood… otherwise called a ‘Powerhouse Fruit and Vegetable’. This means it has , on average, 10% or more daily value per 100 kcal of all 17 qualifying nutrients.
- It’s a good source of loads of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A,K and C which are brilliant for maintaining healthy hair, eyes, skin and nails.
- Plus, it’s got stacks of iron, calcium, potassium and also phytochemicals and antioxidants which provide protection against heart disease, cancer and other degenerative conditions
- It is also beneficial in treating cough, bronchitis and constipation and improves general appetite and digestion.
- Chia seeds are probably the most trendy right now. They’ve become a bit of a celeb superfood, but also popular among athletes at the commonwealth games.
- They are high in fibre which most can help prevent heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, some cancers, and improve digestive health.
- Chia seeds have 15 x more magnesium than broccoli and 8 x times more Omega 3 than salmon. Both of which are handy for contributing towards healthy cognitive brain function.
- We had ours as a powder which is ground up from the Maca Root which grows in the Andes in Peru.
- It’s super high in Vitamin B2, C, Calcium, Copper, Iron and Zinc.
- These vitamins and minerals helps your body with fertility, libido and menopausal health.
- It can also reduce tiredness meaning you can enjoy life more as you’re full of energy.
- Also brill for sexual health… thanks to the Zinc in Maca which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.
- A natural berry native to South America that has a taste somewhere between blueberries and chocolate
- The berries have a phenomenal concentration of antioxidants that help combat premature aging, with 10 times more antioxidants than red grapes. So if the doctors say a glass of red wine a day is good… just think what Acai berry juice could do!
- Acai is particularly high in the antioxidant Glutathione, which plays an important role in carcinogenic detoxification (I.e. It’s anti-cancer fighting).Comments
You might have noticed something a little different in #eyeCandySorted yesterday. We took inspiration from a recipe uploaded by a SORTEDfood community member and stuck it into an epic video, introduced by the fantastic Alessandra from The Foodie Teen. We noticed Alessandra’s recipes right from the start, and it turns out that she had started a blog just under a year ago.
I’ve come across some really awesome blogs whilst doing Foodie Spotlights. There has been the inspiring to the downright inspirational, but what Alessandra has done with The Foodie Teen is absolutely amazing. In less than twelve months, she’s attracted thousands of followers with her fantastic recipes, and now has a fully fledged blog and social media presence.
All that and I haven’t mentioned that Alessandra has only just turned 16 and has Coeliac disease, as well as 72 allergies. Instead of letting that get the better of her, she embraces the challenges and uses it to fuel her creativity! Find out loads more about her here.
She blogs creative Vegan and Paleo recipes like the awesome Dark Chocolate Pistachio Freezer Fudge recipe that we featured on eyeCandy. In fact chocolate seems to be a speciality of Alessandra’s. Her Malted Chocolate Maca Pudding sounds amazing (and chia + maca powder is superfood heaven!).
Then there’s the Egg-Free Paleo Chocolate Fudge Mini Cake. You don’t often see a gluten and egg free cake that looks this good! (Although if you check out the Lemon Drizzle Cake and Triple Coconut Donuts then you’ll see more!). That’s because Alessandra puts in a lot of obvious time and effort into the recipes. It’s not easy developing recipes using alternative ingredients!
And if you’re not into sweet stuff, there’s plenty of savoury too. The Grissini recipe is another one with unusual ingredients that looks great. Have a look!
So you must have heard enough by now! Go check out The Foodie Teen and get cooking :)
Our favourite recipe: How about these Coconut Salted Caramel and Chocolate Popsicles?
Top reason to follow Alessandra: Creative Paleo and vegan recipes.
Other stuff to check out: Go follow thefoodieteen on Sorted Food!
After writing all about herbs last week, clever me thought it would be a great idea to follow that up with a post all about spices! Then I thought about spices. I came up with 20 spices, and that’s probably not all of them.
Well this is gonna be a long one… Might have to split it into two :)
Remember I said that herbs are the leaves of a plant? Well spices are the seed, fruit, root or bark (thanks Wikipedia) of a plant. They’re what gives your food depth, and flavour; Even if it’s just a pinch of pepper, it can make all the difference. Read this for a crash course in spices - from where they’re from to what to use them in. In case you’re looking for it, salt isn’t on this list… Because it’s a mineral!
Cumin is an amazing spice. It’s usually dried in the fruit that contains it, then sold either as seeds or as powder. It’s earthy, slightly spicy and to me, it’s that distinct curry flavour (although that definitely not all there is to curry powder or curries!). It is native to India, and is used in many curries, but it’s also great in chillies and even in cheese!
Coriander seeds are the dried fruit of the coriander plant, where fresh coriander (or cilantro) comes from. Again you can get it whole or powdered. It’s strong… Really strong, but tastes pretty different to fresh coriander. It’s got a bit of heat, but the overwhelming flavour is almost citrus-like. Coriander is another spice thats great in curries, but apparently it’s also often used in brewing beer!
Did you know that cardamom is the world’s third most expensive spice? It’s worth it though! Once again, it’s great in curries and quite unique in both appearance and flavour. It’s really strong and almost medicinal in taste, and although it’s great for flavour you really don’t want to bite into a whole one. Although it’s usually bought whole, you can find powder, which is great for more unusual uses, like our Orange Blossom and Cardamom Iced Buns.
Black pepper is the world’s most traded spice and although it’s native to India, it’s used in virtually every cuisine all over the world. It’s so popular that it’s even been used as currency! It’s spicy flavour is perfect for adding a kick of flavour to your food and comes in whole peppercorns of different colours, depending on the ripeness of the fruit when picked, and in ground form.
Cloves are the one smell that never fails to remind us of Christmas. You never need to use much, because it’s seriously aromatic and is awesome in dishes like mulled wine, or even a classic béchamel. These little flower buds are native to Indonesia and in addition to adding a great flavour to dishes, are also great for your health. They’ve got anti inflammatory properties and are full of anti oxidants. They can also be used as a mild anaesthetic and to freshen your breath. Talk about a superfood!
Cinnamon is another fragrant one! It can be seriously strong, so use it sparingly. Use whole sticks to infuse the flavour into sauces, or use it in a powdered form if you’re really looking to get a strong flavour. Cinnamon has a load of health benefits, but remember it’s also got a Tolerable Daily Intake too, so don’t go adding too much to your cinnamon rolls!
Saffron is well known as the worlds most expensive spice! By weight it’s more expensive than gold, and if you know where it comes from then you might understand why! Saffron is the dried stigma of a flower, and need to be hand picked from thousands of flowers just to get a little of the precious spice. It’s best steeped in hot water before adding to a dish like Paella to give it that distinct, floral, almost metallic flavour.
Nutmeg is another of those spices that are used all over the world to create completely different tasting dishes. It’s fantastic in meat. From sausages, to burgers, to haggis… It gives them a real depth of flavour. Don’t forget pumpkin pie as well. Like sage, it lifts pumpkin to another level… It becomes delicious and incredibly moorish!
Allspice is not all the spices! :) It’s actually a berry, and got it’s name by having a flavour like a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Unsurprisingly that means that it’s great in sausages and even cakes, but the absolute best thing to use allspice for is Jerk seasoning! It’s one of a few ingredients that add to the unique flavour, but it really is the star of the show!
Now this is a great looking spice! It looks just as it sounds, like a star! It’s usually used whole, and infused into sauces, soups and even a lot of alcohol. One of the most well know uses is in Vietnamese Pho, but it’s also ground into garam masala and Chinese 5 spice.
There you go! 10 ways to spice up any dish this week! Remember, there are 10 more coming up soon but just in case we haven’t thought of your favourite, which should we be including next time? Go forth and spice up you food!
Let’s kick off the week with something BIG!
Yes, we’re going on a quest. An epic quest to find the best burger on the internet. Why? Because everyone loves burgers. No matter what you love to eat, there’s a stack for everyone.
The thing is, everyone is unique right? One person’s perfect stack might be another person’s nightmare. Remember, a burger doesn’t need to be beef, cheese, mustard and ketchup. It can have ANYTHING you want in it. It doesn’t even need to have bread as a bun! It can be a meaty feast, vegetarian, low carb, low fat… The possibilities are endless.
Now we’ve been thinking this through for a while, but the time has come…. We need your help. We want to make this big. Huge in fact! We want to get the whole world talking about burgers and it’s going to start right here and now.
We’ll be talking A LOT about burgers, and we’re going to get a few friends involved, but the first thing we need from you guys is inspiration. We’re going to be eating our way around some of the best burger joints in London, but what about the best burgers you’ve ever had? Whether it’s an incredible piece of meat, the perfect bun or the ideal combination of flavours, we want to hear about it AND see it.
It can be from last weekend or last year, it can be homemade or from your favourite restaurant… upload your burger photos and recipes to Instagram, Twitter and Sorted Food using the hashtag #beatmyburger and we’ll be checking them out and discussing them in videos coming up very soon!
Who’s with us? #beatmyburger
I’ve just been looking through the recipes on Feeding My Addiction and seriously, I now have 18 tabs open that contain recipes that I think I could put into this blog post. Is that an acceptable amount of links to put in one post? Miiiight have to work on narrowing it down a bit huh?
Summer makes desserts. And sweet stuff. And lots of it! BUT, she creates healthier versions of your usual sweet treats… So you can eat as much as you want! Kind of. Not really. Use common sense :D
I’ve been following Summer for on Instagram for a while now, but Jamie posted one of her photos on Facebook last week and I thought it was about time we gave her a feature! A good place to start is probably the photo we featured: Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake Squares. If you follow us on Facebook you might recognise it, but check out the recipe; There’s nothing *really* bad for you in there! While you’re at it, go ahead and make these Breakfast Protein Cookies.
Next in my tabs are three cakes. OK, I’ve chosen two. I could narrow it down to one, but then again I can’t. How do you choose between Cinnamon Roll Cake (awesome idea) and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Protein Cake? HOW? If you can, then you’re a better person than me, because both of them look awesome.
So I have a confession. 8 of my chosen recipes are doughnuts and cupcakes. So here are my favourite
2 4 doughnuts and cupcakes:
Gluten Free Chocolate Protein Donuts
Baked Birthday Cake Donuts
Marshmallow Fluff Birthday Cupcakes
Rainbow Magic Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream
AND finally. Let’s talk about sugar cookies. Summer started baking sugar cookies in December 2013. This is what they looked like (not a bad effort!):
And this is what they look like now:
If that’s not inspiration for improving your cooking skills I don’t know what is! Summer wrote a couple of awesome posts (pt.1 & pt.2) on tricks and techniques for great sugar cookies. When you visit Feeding My Addiction (if you haven’t already) have a read!
Our favourite recipe: This looks like an awesome post-workout treat - Simple Chocolate Protein Soft-Serve.
Top reason to follow Summer: Loads of sweet treats with a healthy twist.
Other stuff to check out: This was another Instagram discovery!
**Warning… the following blog post gets super geeky with food science and biology**
Now THIS is fascinating (in my eyes). It’s far too easy to forget how incredible and complex the human body actually is…
For example, I’m off on my hols in a month’s time (which yes, does probably mean I won’t stop banging on about the delicious delicacies I discover there) but the reason I mention this is that last week I went to get my vaccinations. It’s impressive to think that for a while my body was fighting off 5 diseases that it thought I had by producing specific antibodies to fight the bad stuff… all in preparation for if I fall victim to the real thing whilst away. Super clever and intelligent biology!
Similarly, but on a far lesser scale (not convinced the food examples that follow will ever result in life or death) our bodies do react to certain foods differently… and not just from food to food, but from person to person.
How many of you have really smelly wee after eating asparagus? It can be almost instantaneous. After eating a few spears of asparagus the aroma given off from your pee is really quite potent. It certainly affects me… but incredibly it doesn’t have the same impact on everybody.
The odour is down to an acid given off when asparagus is digested. It’s called asparagusic acid and, well the clue is in the name, but it’s pretty exclusive to asparagus… one of the only foods that contain the acid. As your body attacks the food stuff to get the good bits out it also leaves behind some pretty nasty smelling sulphurs which get into your pee pretty damn quick… sometimes as quickly as 15 minutes after eating the veg.
It’s been known for centuries, in fact a guy in the 1700’s said that asparagus transformed his ‘chamber-pot into a flask of perfume’. But only recently have we discovered why the smell is caused and, more importantly, why about 30% of people don’t seem to be affected. In reality…. their urine smells just the same but that 30% or so of people have a genetic mutation which results in a difference on the coding of the olfactory receptors. Again this sounds very technical but it basically alters your sense of taste and smell. So at the end of the day, it smells the same, they just don’t have the ability to smell it… lucky them!
Coriander leaf / Cilantro
You either love it or hate it! And apparently, according to research undertaken by a consumer genetics company, it’s only 10% of humans who have a severe distaste for it. For some people it can be as extreme as to revoke a nasty reaction and bout of illness. It turns out that the reason for this is that some of us suffer a ‘genetic variant buried inside a cluster of smell-influencing genes’. In a nutshell, this variant can seriously enhance the smell of it to become something unbearable.
For the most part (90% of the population), people can’t get their heads around what’s so bad about the beautifully fragrant herb that adds value to curries, tacos, burritos, guac, pho or stir-frys. It’s the blindness to this that angers those who suffer… so much so… they have set up their own Facebook group!
So there we go… do you fall in the coriander haters and smelly urinators or not?
Food, cooking and taste is all so subjective and personal. Our experience of it differs from person to person… but that’s not to say you can’t share your experiences with others for them to make up their mind. That’s all we encourage… dish out your food ideas, interactions and opinions and see what others make of it!Comments