A Spicy Primer

1. Turmeric –The reason curried dishes are yellow is mainly because of tumeric. Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants are incredible—I take it myself daily in the form of a supplement for my gallbladder. It’s delicious in rice, on fish and stir fried into veggies.

2. Basil -- Ah, the taste of summer. Who can resist fresh basil and tomatoes from the garden tossed with olive oil and garlic on a plate full of pasta? Dried, it's wonderful in soups, pasta dishes and chicken. Basil is good source of vitamin A, plus C, potassium and calcium, with almost no calories.

3. Dill -- It's not just for pickles. Try some dill sprinkled on fish, chicken or even in a light cream soup. Dill is known for its antibacterial qualities, as well as its iron content, fiber and magnesium.

4. Garlic -- Nectar of the gods, well, bulb of the gods anyway. Garlic has a way of making the most ordinary food gourmet. Try sprinkling garlic powder (not garlic salt) into a prepared box of white cheddar macaroni and cheese. Surprise! It's pretty good. Fresh, though, is best. Squeeze it from a press into almost anything, except chocolate. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties and may help lower blood pressure.

5. Ginger -- Sprinkle it in your stir-fry, try it on baked chicken breasts with a little soy sauce and garlic. For fun, get it fresh (it's that alien-looking root mass in the produce department) and freeze it. It will keep almost indefinitely when frozen. To use, hack off a piece, peel it and grate into your recipe. Ginger tea helps quell nausea and an upset tummy.

6. Nutmeg -- I love nutmeg. If you can find nutmeg nuts and the itty, bitty grater that comes with it, buy it. Once you've had freshly grated nutmeg, the powdered stuff in the jar is beneath you. Obviously an ingredient in baking, it's also good grated on sauteed squash, green beans, and carrots. Nutmeg may help with pain relief and stress.

7. Oregano -- A staple in Italian cooking, it's also good in stews and salad dressings. Oregano is nutrient rich, a good source of fiber, plus a fabulous anti-bacterial (oil of oregano is used in some natural cold remedies), as well as a terrific antioxidant!

8. Rosemary -- This beautiful plant grows wild in my garden and provides an intoxicating aroma to meats, stews and root veggies. Try some crumbled in your carrots for a change of pace. Rosemary stimulates the immune system and helps with digestion, too.

9. Tarragon -- An almost licorice flavor, this delicate herb takes front and center in vinaigrettes, as a delicious sprinkle on the top of baked or poached poultry and fish. Tarragon is known for stimulating the brain, nervous system and digestive system as well.

10. Thyme – Definitely make time for thyme! It's strong and adds a hint of character to an otherwise pretty standard dish. Use it with chicken, soups and beef. Thyme is an amazing antioxidant, is nutrient rich (vitamin K content is off the hook) and may protect cell membranes from oxidization.

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