The low down on Ayurvedic spices: The 5 C's

February 19, 2017

I had a spicy photo session the other day, paying homage to the amazing spices I picked up during my travels.  Incorporating more spices into your cooking creates more complex flavor profiles to your dishes, cuts down on amount of fat needed, and adds a ton of heath supportive properties to your meal! 

 

Ayurveda claims that the number one way to prevent disease is through the food we eat! And spices play a huge role in that. Each spice has unique properties and effects on the body that help keep our energy levels in balance.  Here's a quick intro to what I call the '5 C's,' the main spices widely used in Ayurvedic cuisine, and their corresponding health benefits. All of them are amazing digestive aids, which is super important during cold winter months when we need our digestive fire at full throttle!  Stay tuned for future posts on how to better incorporate these spices into your everyday life!

 

 

1

CARDAMOM

 

A great spice to use in everyday cooking because it pacifies all three of Ayurveda's energy types, Vata, Pitta, & Kapha!  With citrus and baking spice notes, Cardamom is great to infuse in coffee, wonderful for desserts, and pairs well with savory dishes & sauces!

  • Great for heart 

  • Increases digestive fire

  • Helps to alleviate headache & nausea

  • Reduces bloating due to its pungent quality

2

CUMIN

 

 

 

A wonderful digestive aid that helps to ignite your agni, or digestive fire.  Boil water with cumin and drink about 30 minutes before your meal as an appetizer (literally meaning something that stimulates your appetite and get your digestive fire going!).  Cumin also goes well with meat dishes like lamb & chicken, or mixed in beans like when making hummus!

  • Nourishes all dhatus or tissue levels in the body

  • Reduces bloating and combats IBS

  • Helps to alleviate uterine problems and pain during menstruation!

3

CORIANDER

 

 

For some reason, I was intimidated and unfamiliar on how to use this spice until my travels in India set me straight!.  Coriander is an amazing cooling spice that pacifies all energy levels in the body. While most spices are hot in potency, increasing Pitta energy and fire in the body, Coriander is one of the outliers that is actually cold in potency so it keeps Pitta pacified & in balance along with the other two doshas! Toast seeds until they are fragrant and grind using a spice grinder. Sprinkle in with your tea, season your meats with it, get creative! It's the predominant spice used in garam masala powder when making curry and has a bit more subtle notes to it than it's other C spice counterparts.

  • Helps to absorb nutrients in the body and nourish tissues

  • Increases digestive fire 

4

CINNAMON

 

 

 

During my travels to Tulum, I picked up some amazing Canela Molida, a variety of cinnamon found in Mexico that has sweeter and more complex notes to the normal cinnamon we get here in the States. It's a super aromatic, warming, and sweet tasting spice that goes well in just about anything.  I love infusing it into my coffee, baking it into spiced tea cakes, and mixing it with other spices and olive oil to make a savory rub for meats like chicken or lamb.  If you buy the whole stick and don't know how to use it, you aren't the only one! Cooking with the whole stick can be amazing to infuse into soups & stews, but if the powder is what you're after, use a microplane and grate away!

  • Great for complexion

  • Aids in absorption of nutrients

  • Counteracts congestion with its astringent properties

  • Alleviates intestinal gas

5

CLOVE

 

 

 

Spicy, bitter, and sharp, this spice packs a punch with flavor and aroma.  It's great to use as a baking spice to accompany squash and root veggie-based desserts (think kabocha squash pie, carrot cake, parsnip cupcakes).  Cloves also go well with savory meat & grain dishes!  Buy cloves whole and grind up just before using - they lose potency pretty quickly!

  • Great breath freshener (good thing to have in your pocket for any first date situations)

  • Great pain reliever, especially with toothaches! Just chew clove gently in the affected area. It acts as a natural numbing agent!

  • Helps to fight nausea

  • Decreases Inflammation

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