Monday, February 22, 2016

7 Spices Loaded with Serious Flavor -- and Incredible Health Benefits

Cayenne pepper really hit its prime in the early aughts. When Giselle Bundchen credited cayenne with helping maintain her slim, Victoria's Secret-worthy figure, the spice was suddenly stylish.

It's almost too easy—just a pinch of some magic powder and suddenly you're a fat-burning machine? Well maybe not a machine, but fiery cayenne does seem to have an effect on increasing the metabolism. It's well documented that turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that give Advil a run for its money, and cinnamon is coveted amongst those with metabolic disorders thanks to its blood sugar-lowering effect.

The rest of your spice rack isn't to be overlooked—there are some superfood seasonings hidden in the pantry that are worthy of a little more love. Put down the salt and start cooking with these spices—your blood pressure, waistline, and tastebuds will thank you.


Sweet, spicy, smoky—paprika comes in tons of different flavors and varieties, but it's always a vibrant brick red. Thanks to its plenitude of antioxidants that impart its quintessential color, paprika is also full of vitamins A and E. Together, they fight free radical damage in the body, but vitamin A also promotes cell growth and recovery, which supports anti-aging.


With its distinct taste and smell, fennel is often loved or loathed. If you fall into the latter category, this classic Italian seasoning is worth your adoration—full of phytonutrients, fennel has been proven to have anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects. A special phytonutrient called anethole found in fennel has been linked to slowing the growth of cancer cells and apoptosis, or cell death, in breast cancer cells. Additionally, fennel's antioxidants can help reverse damage to liver cells... So after a really rough night out, look to this spice to help heal your hangover.


Especially popular in some of the most beloved holiday foods—gingerbread, hot toddies, and pumpkin pie, to name a few—cloves are a warming and aromatic addition to any dish. Along with their lovely flavor, cloves impart another interesting element to dishes: eugenol. A compound found specifically in clove oil, eugenol is incredibly effective at protecting the body from external toxins found in the environment, like carbon tetrachloride. It's also a potent natural pesticide, so mixing a little clove oil into your lotion can ward off annoying mosquitos and bugs.

Bay Leaves

You don't really realize how important bay leaves are to Grandma's chicken noodle soup, your favorite bolognese sauce, or classic cooked beans until you accidentally forget to throw one into the mix. When you do overlook these dried leaves, it's clear that something is missing. Although the pungent, almost bittersweet flavor of bay leaves isn't necessarily appetizing on its own, when added into dishes and left to simmer, they impart a little extra depth and dimension. Plus, as it turns out, these leaves also bring some pharmacological properties to the table.

Even dried, bay leaves help the digestive system function properly, acting as a diuretic and eliminating toxins. They also contain a plethora of B-vitamins that support the nervous system to increase energy and amp up the metabolic rate.


Whether fresh or dried, thyme deserves a permanent place in your pantry, especially during the fall and winter months. The woody and aromatic herb has been used for centuries in aromatherapy to treat illness, but it's proven over time to be a powerful antimicrobial treatment. In fact, thyme actually encourages a healthy immune system by increasing white blood cell formation. Next time you feel a chill coming on, throw some thyme into almost any savory dish to reap the immune-boosting benefits of this spice.

Black Pepper

Try not to roll your eyes. Black pepper—no duh! Of course you already know about this spice. But before you skim to the next incredible ingredient, reconsider black pepper for its fat-burning powers. Yep, you read that right. That freshly ground black pepper you've been declining at restaurants for years can actually help your body break down fat cells. Plus, pepper raises core body temperature, forcing the body to eliminate toxins via sweat.


Too often, nutmeg is relegated to holiday treats (what's up, eggnog?), but there are plenty of reasons to throw nutmeg into your cooking all year round. Nutmeg has long been used as a home remedy for insomnia—and there's actually something to this old wives tale.

This spice has a high magnesium content, which has been proven to help those who suffer through restless nights fall asleep and relax far more easily than normally. The powerful antioxidants myristicin and elemicin found in nutmeg fight inflammation and pain, and some researchers believe actually slow down the deterioration of neural pathways in the brain. Slow down aging and maintain memory for a long time? Sounds like it's time to start adding nutmeg to every morning cup of joe.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Food Is Medicine: 20 Natural Painkillers in your Kitchen

This fascinating list, based on scientific research, also gives specific information as to which ache or pain a particular ingredient may assist with. The list is understandably very long and it is impossible to comprehensively deal with every ailment and cure listed.

Below you can find a list of the top 22 natural painkillers that are commonly found in nearly every kitchen. So next time you are feeling poorly, afflicted by aches and pains, before you rush off to the pharmacy, check out your natural painkillers list!

Please note however, that pain or other symptoms which persist could be a sign of something more serious and may require medical intervention. If you are concerned, consult your medical practitioner.

1.  Heal Heartburn with Cider Vinegar 

Sip 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed with 8 ounces of water before every meal, and experts say you could shut down painful bouts of heartburn in as little as 24 hours. “Cider vinegar is rich in malic and tartaric acids, powerful digestive aids that speed the breakdown of fats and proteins so your stomach can empty quickly, before food washes up into the esophagus, triggering heartburn pain,” explains Joseph Brasco, M.D., a gastroenterologist at the Center for Colon and Digestive Diseases in Huntsville, AL.

Help to relieve arthritis and muscle pain, and improve joint mobility. Find 30 amazing uses for Apple Cider Vinegar here.

2.  Ginger 

When Danish researchers asked achy people to jazz up their diets with ginger, it eased muscle and joint pain, swelling and stiffness for up to 63 percent of them within two months. Experts credit ginger’s potent compounds called gingerols, which prevent the production of pain-triggering hormones. The study-recommended dose: Add at least 1 teaspoon of dried ginger or 2 teaspoons of chopped ginger to meals daily.

3. Erase Earaches with Garlic

Treat that dreadful earache pain by placing two drops of warm garlic oil into your aching ear twice daily for five days. This simple treatment can clear up ear infections faster than prescription meds, say experts at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine. Scientists say garlic’s active ingredients (germanium, selenium, and sulfur compounds) are naturally toxic to dozens of different pain-causing bacteria. To whip up your own garlic oil gently simmer three cloves of crushed garlic in a half a cup of extra virgin olive oil for two minutes, strain, then refrigerate for up to two weeks, suggests Teresa Graedon, Ph.D., co-author of the book, Best Choices From The People’s Pharmacy. For an optimal experience, warm this mix slightly before using so the liquid will feel soothing in your ear canal.

4. Cure a Toothache with Cloves

Gently chewing on a clove can ease tooth pain and gum inflammation for two hours straight, say UCLA researchers. Experts point to a natural compound in cloves called eugenol, a powerful, natural anesthetic. Bonus: Sprinkling a ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves on meals daily may also protect your ticker. Scientists say this simple action helps stabilize blood sugar, plus dampen production of artery-clogging cholesterol in as little as three weeks.

5. Tame Chronic Pain with Turmeric

Studies show turmeric, a popular East Indian spice, is actually three times more effective at easing pain than aspirin and other similar chemical medications, plus it can help relieve chronic pain for 50 percent of people struggling with arthritis and even fibromyalgia, according to Cornell researchers. That’s because turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, naturally shuts down cyclooxygenase 2, an enzyme that churns out a stream of pain-producing hormones, explains nutrition researcher Julian Whitaker, M.D. and author of the book, Reversing Diabetes. The study-recommended dose: Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon daily onto any rice, poultry, meat or vegetable dish.

6. Relax Painful Muscles with Peppermint

Suffering from tight, sore muscles? Stubborn knots can hang around for months if they aren’t properly treated, says naturopath Mark Stengler, N.D., author of the book, The Natural Physician’s Healing Therapies. His advice: Three times each week, soak in a warm tub scented with 10 drops of peppermint oil. The warm water will relax your muscles, while the peppermint oil will naturally soothe your nerves — a combo that can ease muscle cramping 25 percent more effectively than over-the-counter painkillers, and cut the frequency of future flare-ups in half, says Stengler. Additionally, drinking peppermint tea may help to relieve sore throat and reduce feelings of upset stomach and abdominal pain caused by stress. The menthol in peppermint inhibits nerves that react to painful stimuli.

7. Give Your Back Some TLC with Grapes

Got an achy back? Grapes could be the ticket to a speedy recovery. Recent studies at Ohio State University suggest eating a heaping cup of grapes daily can relax tight blood vessels, significantly improving blood flow to damaged back tissues (and often within three hours of enjoying the first bowl). That’s great news because your back’s vertebrae and shock-absorbing discs are completely dependent on nearby blood vessels to bring them healing nutrients and oxygen, so improving blood flow is essential for healing damaged back tissue..

8. Fight Pain with Flaxseed

Recent research has shown that just 3 tablespoons of ground flaxseed added to the daily diet, eases sore and painful breasts associated with the start of the menstrual cycle. There are a number of natural compounds in flaxseed which prevent estrogen spikes that can trigger breast pain. Applying flaxseed oil to the breast is also effective. More good news: You don’t have to be a master baker to sneak this healthy seed into your diet. Just sprinkle ground flax on oatmeal, yogurt, applesauce or add it to smoothies and veggie dips.

9. Prevent Pain with Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice cuts your risk of picking up a painful bladder infection. Cranberry juice flushes bacteria from the bladder by preventing bacteria from sticking to the bladder wall. Drink at least 2 glasses of the juice per day as soon as you notice the signs of bladder infection. Find here more information on how to treat urinary tract infection naturally.

10. Tame Leg Cramps with Tomato Juice

Leg cramps are usually caused by a potassium deficiency due to heavy perspiration during exercise or when it is flushed out by diuretics. Tomato juice, rich in potassium, will reduce your risk of these painful leg cramps. Take 2 glasses daily to keep cramps at bay.

11. Heal Mouth Sores with Honey

Raw honey works wonders on sore throat and mouth sores. The natural enzymes in honey banish inflammation, help to destroy viruses and speed up the healing process. Cinnamon and honey mixed together are also promoted by Ayurvedic medicine and alternative medicine. In a paste form this mixture can be applied to the painful area and massaged into the skin. Mixing honey and cinnamon in a warm cup of water and drinking it on a regular basis has also shown to relieve arthritis symptoms.

12. Energize Migraine Medication with Coffee

Prone to migraines? Try muscling-up your painkiller with a coffee chaser. Whatever over-the-counter pain med you prefer, researchers at the National Headache Foundation say washing it down with a strong 12- ounce cup of coffee will boost the effectiveness of your medication by 40 percent or more. Experts say caffeine stimulates the stomach lining to absorb painkillers more quickly and more effectively.

13. Drink Tea to Relive Pain

The tannin in tea helps to stop the contractions in the intestines which occur during a bout of diarrhea or colitis. Drink plenty of tea to relieve the pain when suffering the unpleasant effects of diarrhea.

14. Mustard is an Anti-Inflammatory

For a congested and sore chest as a result of a cold, rub a generous amount of mustard onto your chest. Place a warm cloth over it to make an old-fashioned mustard poultice to relieve pain and congestion.  The active ingredients in mustard have fantastic pain relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

15. Take Away Pain of a Burn with Baking Soda 

An excellent way for easing the pain of a burn is with household baking soda. Make a paste and apply to affected area and cover with a wet gauze for a few minutes. The alkaline nature of the baking soda will neutralize the acid in the wound, preventing infection and reducing the pain. Find here 6 uses for baking soda as a kitchen medicine.

16. Heal Sinus Problems with Horseradish

Latest studies show sinusitis is the nation’s number one chronic health problem. And this condition doesn’t just spur congestion and facial pain, it also makes sufferers six times more likely to feel achy all-over. Horseradish to the rescue! According to German researchers, this eye-watering condiment naturally revs up blood flow to the sinus cavities, helping to open and drain clogged sinuses and heal sinus infections more quickly than decongestant sprays do. The study-recommended dose: One teaspoon twice daily (either on its own, or used as a sandwich or meat topping) until symptoms clear.

17. Heal Infections with Salt

Soaking infected minor cuts and scrapes naturally nixes inflammation, plus it’s anti-bacterial, so it quickly destroys the germs that cause swelling and pain. Just mix 1 teaspoon of salt into each cup of water, heat to the warmest temperature that you can comfortably stand, and then soak the affected area for 20 minutes twice daily, until your infection subsides.

18. Gargle with Lemon Juice 

Dilute lemon juice in water to ease the pain of a sore throat when used as a gargle.

11. Prevent Digestive Upsets with Pineapple

Got gas? One cup of fresh pineapple daily can cut painful bloating within 72 hours, say researchers at California’s Stanford University. That’s because pineapple is naturally packed with proteolytic enzymes, digestive aids that help speed the breakdown of pain-causing proteins in the stomach and small intestine.

20. Soothe a Sting with Meat Tenderizer

Use a meat tenderizer which has papain (papaya enzyme) to neutralize the venom in a jellyfish or bee sting.. A paste of meat tenderizer and water offers relief for back pain as well. Use a sufficient amount of the tenderizer and water and apply the paste directly to the areas of your back that are in pain. The enzymes will work to break down the proteins, reduce any inflammation and therefore soothe your back muscles.

21. Ease Sore Throat with Cayenne Pepper

The role of the cayenne pepper is to help relieve the pain in a sore throat. The main active compound found in cayenne is a substance known as capsaicin. Capsaicin has shown to contain pain-relieving properties by hindering the transmission of a neurotransmitter responsible for transmitted pain signals to your brain. If you can bear the taste, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of cayenne pepper in a glass of water (8 ounces) to find instant relief of migraine headache.

22. Chase Away Joint and Headache Pain with Cherries

A daily bowl of cherries could ease your ache, without the stomach upset so often triggered by today’s painkillers, say researchers at East Lansing’s Michigan State University . Their research reveals that anthocyanins, the compounds that give cherries their brilliant red color, are anti-inflammatories 10 times stronger than ibuprofen and aspirin. “Anthocyanins help shut down the powerful enzymes that kick-start tissue inflammation, so they can prevent, as well as treat, many different kinds of pain,” explains Muraleedharan Nair, Ph.D., professor of food science at Michigan State University . His advice: Enjoy 20 cherries (fresh, frozen or dried) daily, then continue until your pain disappears.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Learn How to Grow Peanuts in Your Spring Garden

Peanuts are not actually nuts, they are a vegetable that belongs to the legume family. Learn how to grow peanuts in your garden and enjoy the benefits of this hassle free, delicious crop.

Peanuts are native to South America and take about 120 days tomature. The plant is hardy and can withstand light spring and fall frosts. Although peanut plants are normally considered to be Southern crops, Northern gardeners can grow them successfully if they start the plants indoors, and use certain varieties that can withstand cooler climates.


Peanuts require full sun and soil with good drainage. You can ensure enough drainage by working in organic matter in order to make it loose and friable.

Peanut seeds can be planted hulled or unhulled but be sure not to remove the thin, pinkish brown seed coverings, otherwise the seed will not germinate.

If you live in a cooler climate, start your peanut plant indoors in a large pot about a month before the last frost. Seeds should be sowed on inch deep and placed in the sunniest spot possible. Be sure to water weekly. You can transplant your peanut seedlings into your outside garden once the soil is between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Transplants should be spaced 10 inches apart.

If you live in a warmer climate, plant your crop outdoors around the last expected frost. Space your seeds 2 inches deep and 5 inches apart in rows that are 2 to 3 feet apart. Be sure to water well and thin the plants to 10 inches apart.


Once it is about 1 foot tall, long, pointed pegs will grow from faded flowers and push 1 to 3 inches into the soil. This is where you will find the peanut. The soil around the plant should be soft enough so that the pegs growing from the plant do not have too much difficulty penetrating the soil. You can help your plant by laying down some light mulch, like grass clippings or straw to prevent the hardening of soil.

1 inch of water a week is perfect for a peanut plant. Since it is a legume, it can supply its own nitrogen. The use of nitrogen-rich fertilizer will encourage foliage instead of fruit, so try to avoid the use of any fertilizer that may contain a lot of nitrogen. Soil that is well-prepared will provide all the nutrients the plants need.


Once the leaves turn yellow and the peanuts’ inner shells have gold looking veins, your crop is ready to harvest. You can check the peanuts periodically by pulling out a few nuts and shelling them. The pegs will become very brittle and the pods will break off if you wait too long to harvest. To harvest, pull the entire plant our of the ground while the soil is moist. Dry the plant in an airy space until the leaves become crumbly. Once the plant is dried, remove the pods. Unshelled peanuts can be stored for up to a year if they are stored in an airtight container.

Friday, February 5, 2016

15 Soups That Will Actually Cure Your Cold

1. Coconut Ginger Carrot Soup

Creamy is where this incredible coconut ginger carrot soup recipe goes. Have your heard so many delicious flavors in one recipe title? Even better, this soup is an amazing immunity-booster just in time for cold and flu season.

2. Immune Boosting Vegetable Soup

Tis the season for colds, flus, and sickey germs everywhere. This supremely flexible ingredient soup is the perfect antidote to all that.

3. Flu Fighter Chicken Noodle

Loaded with good for you ingredients and full of flavor – this absolutely delicious chicken noodle soup makes for a wonderful dinner! It’s also a tasty remedy for battling off a nasty cold or flu!

4. 5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili

All you need are few simple ingredients to create this delicious 5-Ingredient Easy White Chicken Chili recipe. You can make it quickly on the stove, or let it simmer all day in your slow cooker.

5. Healing Green Tea and Chickpea Soup

This recipe is for a marvelous, healing soup with some cold-fighting garlic-y tortilla triangles for dipping. It’s a triple-carb affair (naturally) because your body needs the fuel so, yes, now is the time to eat chickpeas, pasta and bread in one meal. There are veggies in there too and it’s the perfect base to add some shredded chicken or tofu to if you desire.

6. Roasted Carrot Ginger

Besides the vigor added from the fresh ginger, the flavoring of this soup comes from a little bit of ground coriander and allspice. Simple.

7. 15-Minute Coconut Curry Noodle Soup

Despite the speediness of its assembly, this soup has an amazingly complex, flavor. Enjoy the richness of the coconut milk, the spicy of the curry paste, the tangy bite of the lime to the funky awesomeness of the fish sauce.

8. Roasted Carrot and Sweet Potato Turmeric Soup

This roasted carrot and sweet potato soup is warm, comfy, and healing for the soul. And with turmeric – a natural anti-inflammatory will ease all pain.

9. Turmeric Miso Soup with Shiitakes, Turnips and Soba Noodles

To “cleanse” your body of toxins is to treat it well. By that, we mean more fruits and vegetables, clean food free of preservatives, and more home-cooked meals. We know the thought of making a home-cooked meal can be daunting, given busy schedules and such. But what if you could make this delicious (and healthy) soup in 20 minutes?

10. Turmeric Broth Detox Soup

Make this fragrant detoxing Turmeric broth, then make the soup your own. This one meal can easily be made in 30 minutes or less! If you feel like slurping, add in some rice noodles, chickpeas and kale

11. Cleansing Detox Soup

This oil-free Cleansing Detox Soup is packed with all the good stuff, and by good stuff we mean immune-boosting natural remedies like fresh lemon juice, fresh zingy ginger, bright turmeric, balancing cinnamon, and a touch of spicy cayenne. Detoxifying vegetables and leafy greens like kale, broccoli, celery and carrots will cleanse, nourish and make you feel whole.

12. Golden Beet and Fennel Soup

This Golden Beet and Fennel Soup is an earthy creamy healthful soup. full of nutrients and fiber. Not only is this golden beet soup not red, it also hits the spot on a cold winter’s day. BOOMshakalaka!

13. Thai Yam Soup with Lemongrass and Ginger

Vegan and gluten free, this recipe for Thai Sweet Potato Soup is healthy and light, and will bring a little sunshine into your life with its bright, warm flavors.

14. Black Bean and Sweet Potato Superfood Soup

This soup has a hint of sweetness and is spiced with chipotle chili powder, cumin, and turmeric. Black beans, sweet potato, and red cabbage all make a superfood star appearance dressed with cilantro and avocado.

15. Immune Boosting Garden Herb Stock

There is nothing more of a sialagogue than a pot of stock simmering away on the stovetop and this vegan garden herb stock is a recipe you will definitely want to make again and again.


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

14 Edible Plants You Can Grow Indoors

Many of us dream of having our own vegetable patch, but it can be challenging to find the ideal space – and that’s assuming you have a garden at all. If you don’t then you’re in luck, you don’t need a large out door plot to grow all your ideal crops, for many edible plants all you need is a sunny spot inside.

The idea of growing an indoor farm, full of healthy food you can spoil yourself with over summer may sound too good to be true. But with a little love and care, whether you live in a house or a flat, you can grow a variety of fresh veg, fruit and even edible flowers ready for your next dinner party – guaranteed to impress.

But the benefits don’t stop there, growing your own greenery will give the satisfaction of harvesting your own foodstuff, save you money and added health benefits making your five a day a walk in the park. You might even start replacing that takeaway pizza with home-grown veg packed with vitamins and minerals.

You can grow almost any plants indoors with a loving hand, best growth occurs in areas that receive plenty of sunlight, such as windowsills. But for those of you who just don’t have a sunny spot to make the most of, grow lights can allow you to cultivate your edible plants in even the darkest of corners.

Although growing conditions vary from plant to plant, a few general rules should be followed. If you’re starting completely from scratch, sowing seeds on moistened soil, covered with plastic wrap and kept in a warm area will get your plants off to the best possible start. Also ensuring all pots and containers have drainage holes or a layer of grit to prevent root rot and overwatering will make sure your plants stay strong and healthy.

For more on edible plants you can grow indoors – including sowing and harvesting times – check out our helpful infographic below.