About a year ago I started experimenting with fresh mint in my cooking – adding it to almost everything that I was making at home.  I’m obsessed.  It adds a subtle flavor (crazy because I don’ even like “mint” flavored anything…ice cream, candies, etc.), it takes each meal I create up a notch and has so many medicinal qualities it got me thinking…what other herbs and spices could I start incorporating into my kitchen?  I’ve known for years through my research that herbs and spices can be crucial in adding nutrition to the foods that we eat – they can be healing, aid in weight loss and boost your immune system.  I started researching top medicinal herbs and spices to incorporate into your kitchen and oh my word…the list is so exciting.  It’s endless.  I was happy to notice that a lot of them I’m already using and some of them offer crucial benefits that will totally surprise you.  I scoured the list and started with my favorites.

Mint:  Fresh mint is my all-time favorite-its so inexpensive, so underrated and so delicious!  Like I mentioned before, I’ve been cooking with mint weekly for over a year now and I cannot get enough – when cooked it’s very earthy, deep flavored, moreish – I cannot stop eating it!  Each week I buy a large fresh bouquet of mint and incorporate it into all of my family’s meals.  I add fresh mint to most of my roasted vegetable dishes, soups, chicken dishes and anything else I think would benefit from this amazing herb!  Literally everything – mint even takes water up a notch.

Health Benefits of Mint:  Mint beats bloating.  Mint can help keep bloating and other stomach problems at bay while you’re trying to lose weight.  According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, mint aids in indigestion and gas as it relaxes your stomach muscles and increases bile flow, improving your digestion of fats.  Mint is a calming and soothing herb that has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach or indigestion.  The strong aroma of mint is also very effective at providing relief in respiratory disorders resulting from asthma and colds.

Fennel: When you think of fennel, you probably think of that strong licorice flavor and if you’re not a fan of that you tend to steer clear of this amazing herb. Don’t!! My father grew up in Argentina where they used fennel in nearly everything! So, growing up fennel was incorporated into lots of his cooking and therefore my meals. I hate the taste of licorice but I love fennel. Its flavor is subtle, not strong like you might think, and fennel packs a huge nutritional punch. Today, I’m constantly roasting fennel and putting it in my veggie soups. Jonathan loves the use of fennel in our everyday cooking due to the fact that it’s been proven to support heart health!

Health Benefits of Fennel: Fennel’s fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and phytonutrient content, all support heart health. Fennel contains significant amounts of fiber and because fiber helps lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, it decreases the risk of heart disease! Fennel seeds are a tasty medicinal food that have been used since ancient times to dispel gas, bring on breast milk, and help digestion. Cramps and colic can be eased by Fennel tea and it is also useful to expel phlegm and Oil of Fennel can be rubbed on painful arthritic limbs.

Cumin: I love cumin! Cumin is one of those herbs that I was already using all the time because of all its health benefits and one that I would definitely recommend you start incorporating into your meals daily. Second to black pepper, cumin is the most popular spice used in cooking throughout the world! I cook with it on a daily basis, incorporating it into my veggie dishes, soups, stews, chicken dishes, etc. Cooking with cumin adds a really nice smoky flavor to any dish without being too overpowering and its medicinal qualities are amazing!!! A little bit goes a long way. By adding only a teaspoon a day into your meals, your health can benefit greatly!

Health Benefits of Cumin: The health benefits of cumin include it’s ability to aid in digestion and weight loss, reduce insulin levels, lower cholesterol, treat IBS, help the body manage stress and help combat memory loss. Cumin contains key nutrients such as iron and copper, which are needed for healthy red blood cell, potassium which is needed for controlling blood pressure and heart rate, zinc, which plays an important role in immune function, calcium, which is important for helping to build strong bones and teeth and regulating muscle contractions, as well as magnesium which aids the process of turning food into energy and is a natural relaxant. Cumin is a miracle spice!

Cinnamon: I am so happy that this one is so good for you! Cinnamon is one of those “power” spices. I feel like I start and end every day with cinnamon without even having to think too much about it! I sprinkle some in my coffee each morning, incorporate it into almost all of my chicken dishes, and I even include cinnamon when making my household favorite stewed fruits each week.

Health Benefits of Cinnamon: Cinnamon can really help with treating type 2 diabetes and has been proven to lower blood pressure and have a positive effect on blood markers for those with Type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon also works directly on the muscle cells to force them to remove sugar from the bloodstream, where it is converted to energy and has even shown to work better than most prescription meds. But, its medicinal qualities don’t stop there. Cinnamon has also proven to lower your bad cholesterol while also raising your HDL (the “good”) cholesterol! Cinnamon has been proven to fight fungal, bacterial, and viral elements and has a tremendous amount of anti-inflammatory properties. We’re just touching the surface here with all that this amazing spice can do to aid in your overall general health. I encourage you to look into how it can cure what is ailing you!

Overall, I think that adding some of these incredible medicinal herbs and spices into your daily lives can really improve your overall heath. Don’t worry too much about where you buy them. All of the above are easily found at your local supermarket. They do not need to be bought organic or from a certified organic health food store. Keep it simple and inexpensive! Stock your kitchens with them so that they are readily available to you on a daily basis, incorporate them into the recipes you already know and love and do some research on some others. These medicinal herbs and spices having been curing people of chronic illnesses and diseases around the world for centuries and there’s something to be said for that! Happy, healthy cooking. Xx Janine.