Summer of Spices – Episode 1
- Posted on: Aug 21 2016
The summer is in full swing in NYC and with it comes the undeniable scorching heat. It’s the best time to have picnics, BBQ’s, and beach time (all with the protection of sunblock of course!)
It’s also one of the quintessential times to maintain that beach body WITHOUT sacrificing taste and health. Many believe that flavor is the nemesis of health, however that is not the case.
Through the next few weeks we will explore the world of spices, with an emphasis on their roles in health, science, culture, and of course flavor. The mélange of aspects will give you a wider foundation to stay healthy and tasty.
Episode 1: Cardamom – Cinnamon’s Unrequited Love
Cardamon is a spice that is actually a composition of difference seeds of several plants that are indigenous to South East Asia (India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc) that has both a flavorful component and nutritional effect. It is very common in South Asian and African dishes and provides a distinctly sweet, yet raw taste. Cardamom is variable in presentation, from a powder to black seeds enclosed in an equally aromatic shell.
What is rarely recognized is that cardamom actually has beneficial effects in gastrointestinal health, high cholesterol, circulation, and it’s actually an aphrodisiac!
In Ayurvedic medicine, originating from India, cardamom was actually used as a treatment for many ailments. At that time, it was considered more of an herb versus a spice. It is not meant just for spicy dishes, but also for beverages and a key component of tea, or chai.
Within the GI tract, it has been shown to have benefits against constipation, as well as an anti-nausea agent. From personal experience, I have found cardamom to not only provide aromatic stimulation, but also a unique and exquisite flavor within many different dishes.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, 100g of cardamom contains energy, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber.
From a nutritional standpoint it is rich in macro and micronutrients such as niacin (often used in cardiovascular patients), thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin C, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. The spectrum of nutrients helps in insulin sensitivity, eye health, skin health, blood cell development, and overall electrolyte balance.
From an antioxidant perspective, cardamom has actually been studied for its anti-cancer properties. There have been suggestions that it may be beneficial for colon cancer.
It has also been shown (Jamal, et al) to reduce common GI complaints such as flatulence, acidity, and stomach cramps.
Cardamom Mango Lassi /Smoothie
- 4 glasses
- 1 peeling knife
- 1 blender (or juicer)
- 1 egg beater
- 2 mangos (can be substituted with precanned mango pulp or frozen mango)
- 16 oz of greek yogurt or low fat yogurt (for a recipe of Indian homemade yogurt, just ask!)
- 8 oz of skim milk or almond/soy milk
- 2 teaspoon ground cardamom (found at most grocery stories and definitely in Murray Hill)
- 1 cup of cubed or crushed ice (to preference)
- 1 teaspoon sugar rock
- 1 lemon
- Peel the mango so the fruit is exposed. Cut the mango completely off the seed.
- Take the mango pieces and place in the blender with cardamom and blend to create a mango puree.
- Next mix the mango and yogurt together so there is a thicker consistency (which is why you avoid the blender)
- In a jug mix all the above contents.
- Cut the lemon in half and use to apply moisture to the rim of the cups. Use sugar (or even extra cardamom) and turn the cups upside down to apply a rim of flavor.
- Add 2-3 ice cubes per cup and pour the mixed concoction and it’s ready to serve!
Another variation is to the cardamom and mango puree into your favorite ice tea! For extra spice add a pinch of white pepper. You can also repeat the above recipe with other fruits such as bananas.
You can also add the cardamom pods into basmati rice for an aromatic and tasteful change!
If you enjoyed this or want more, please provide feedback!
Next time: Turmeric—the hidden golden root
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