This Month’s Topic:

Expand Upon Your Assortment of Spices

A plant’s tastes and flavors help us to know it has valuable biochemistries for us to tap into. This natural calling to us by the colorful and flavorful parts of Nature – each with their particular life-positive principle(s) – has been terribly corrupted by many food manufacturers today.

Consider why the spice trade stimulated much of the commerce during Europe’s age of world discovery. Life becomes more interesting, fun, and pleasurable when we draw upon more of Nature’s many principles that plants put into the flavors of a spice.

Along those lines, it’s worth considering how spices serve as a first level to our use of herbs. It’s because spices are filled with molecules that have health-strengthening properties. Some of them will kill parasites within your gut, others will help you digest food, or stimulate your peristalsis; others are good against inflammations present in your body, some will help to stabilize your blood sugar, protect your brain, and give you energy. A spice’s gustatory flavors, as well as its body-affecting properties, expressed to the old herbalists its herbal principle(s).

We’ve been noting that these non-caloric parts of food have a more primitive nature. Humankind’s spices (and herbs in general) are filled with compounds that manifest the deeper energies of life. We are meant to engage plants that have these rich biochemistries of life. It is worth drawing them into ourselves on a regular basis.

As you increase the use of vegetables in your diet, you’ll benefit from having a variety of spices and condiments on hand to make your sautés, stir-fries, casseroles, and roasted vegetable dishes more varied and flavorful. These spices could be individually put in, they might be part of a rub (or mix), or they might be the spices making up a curry paste, the spicy sweetness of a chutney from India, or the harissa paste of Morocco.

Of course, you can throw in dashes of traditional American spices like dill, oregano, and basil. While black pepper and some hot sauce can work, you may be missing out on drawing in the power of valuable principles-spices when you rely too much on those standbys. So step out and try some new spices!

Action Step:

In addition to all those above, I am a proponent of having at the ready for your everyday use a foursome of anise (or fennel) seed, caraway seed, cumin seed and celery seed. There is a useful spectrum of principles that compose this family of herb-spices.

It’s worth noting that in herbalism, we have “the law of signatures” – meaning the look of an herb gives an outward expression to its inner energetics. This herb family’s very airy upright “umbels” – umbrella-like stiff flower stalks seen also in dill, the more familiar plant of this umbelliferae family of plants – speaks of the chi, or Air element energy of this plant family.

Furthermore as seeds, these four contain high stores of valuable nutritional components. That’s because plants often shunt important nutrients to their seeds. I regularly put dashes of one or more of these four seeds into my stovetop cooking pots or directly onto my plate. I find the “right balance” between one or more of them as I do. Mortar and pestles are nice, but just pinches of whole seeds work well, too. Some of you out there will find that this part of a four element lifestyle is kind of fun as you aim to balance the tastes-principles-energies of life as you cook. On some level, that is what the “foodie” concept of modern cookery is all about.

You’ll find yourself balancing the bitter to the sweet; assessing warm, pungent, floral, or earthy spices; choosing how much salt to add; considering the organic acid sour principles of vinegar or citrus; deciding between a sweet or tart fruit, a butter’s oil richness or an earthy crunch. These are all there to enjoy and to balance as you make great food for yourself and for your family.