I once had a fear of my spice cabinet.
Salt and pepper were easy staples. You really couldn’t go wrong with those; but hand me a jar of oregano, thyme, and cilantro and I was dumbfounded. I might shake some oregano over a pot just to look like I knew what I was doing, but truly I didn’t notice a difference. I admit, my culinary skills lacked some depth and excitement. I needed to spice it up! Forgive the pun *wink*
Fast forward five years later. I’m older, and apparently wiser. I’ve learned exactly what to do with cumin, rosemary, and even coriander! What a difference! My BLAH dishes of yesteryear are now edging towards BAM! Maybe I should get a chef hat! Key spices that are zesty, savory, and even sweet can do more than turn every day meals into memorable moments on your tongue. Your pantry and spice drawer hold amazing healing properties. It’s time to explore this statement:
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.
– Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.
My favorite spices include cinnamon, clove, cumin, and cacao. I love them for their warm, comforting properties and cacao for a touch of chocolate decadence. Let me be completely honest. I also use these spices to help me curb my sugar cravings.
Yes, as an admitted sugar addict, I wrestle with my sugar demon on a semi-regular basis. He seems to visit in times of severe emotional stress. And, being a WAHM of two boys, 5 and 3.5, I’m sure you can imagine the stress that may brew in my home. Dealing with my sugar demon is not always an easy road, and while I have found many weapons against him, the easiest line of defense is right here in my spice cabinet.
7 Spices to Curb Your Cravings
1. Cinnamon- I would imagine you already use this in your oatmeal, soups, or to spice up a boring black cup of coffee. I prefer Vietnamese cinnamon and Ceylon, but really, any version will do the trick.
- Cinnamon regulates blood sugar in your body. It does this by decreasing the rate of stomach emptying after a meal which will slow the rise of your blood sugar levels.
- It also contains components that promotes the use of insulin in the body. If your insulin is working properly, the dip in blood sugar is less severe after a meal.
- Cinnamon is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.
- It inhibits bacterial growth, which makes it a GREAT natural food preservative.
- It has an anti-clotting effect on blood.
- It has been shown to decrease cancer cell growth in leukemia and lymphoma.
2. Cloves – This spice reminds me of the holidays. It makes a great accompaniment to cinnamon, in fact using them together boosts their effects!
- Cloves regulates blood sugar and therefore reduces cravings.
- It has a tangy, sweet taste that can give us the sweet fix we were looking for in sugar.
- Great added to salads, grains, veggies, and poultry.
3. Turmeric – Yes, it’s in your curry! That bright orange spice is hard to miss. It’s the curcumin in the turmeric that gives it the magical power to curb cravings.
- Turmeric regulates blood sugar.
- It supports insulin production.
- This herb supports weight loss.
- It helps with oxidative stress – the antioxidants in turmeric help neutralize free radical formation (oxidative stress).
- Turmeric helps remove metabolic waste.
4. Stevia – If you are currently dealing with sugar cravings, you probably are looking for a sweetener alternative. Stevia is a great choice! Ideally, you should use green stevia because it’s less processed, however, stevia extract is a fine choice too!
- Stevia balances the pancreas which helps with insulin production.
- It doesn’t raise blood sugar.
- Stevia ia an anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic.
- It regulates the digestive tract and greatly increases energy.
5. Cacao – If this is not part of your pantry, run out a grab some! Cacao is the edible part of the cocoa bean after it’s been harvested, dried, fermented, and hulled. It’s not as sweet as milk chocolate, but you can use it to ‘chocola-fy’ anything! My favorite uses: smoothies, fruit/nut balls (from Healthy Snacks to Go), in my decaf, and in baking.
- Cacao is loaded with Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is rampant in America (SAD diet) and it leads to imbalanced brain chemistry which promotes increased cravings and appetite.
- It raises happy brain neurotransmitters and hormones such as serotonin, endorphins, PEAs, and anandamide.
- Because it doesn’t have any sugar, it doesn’t cause an insulin spike like milk chocolate.
- Cacao is a potent antioxidant! By weight, it beats out the likes of red wine, blueberries, and green tea!
- It contains iron and potassium, as well as magnesium.
6. Coconut Oil – As an avid fan of KS, I’m sure you are already using coconut oil for all of its amazing benefits. This oil is a medium chain fatty acid that contains lauric acid, capric acid, and caprylic acid.
- Coconut oil helps control blood sugar and improves the secretion of insulin.
- It converts easily into energy.
- It boosts energy and endurance.
- Coconut oil is an antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-fungal, and has antibacterial properties.
- It helps digestion.
- It promotes healthy thyroid function.
- Coconut oil takes stress off of the pancreas, which helps to boost metabolism.
7. Honey - This superfood has a high amount of enzymes and gives us a sweet boost to nip the sugar demon in the bud. A little goes a long way!
- Experimental research shows that the body can tolerate honey significantly better than to sucrose or glucose.
- It may promote better blood sugar control.
- Honey has been known to be a slight appetite suppressant.
- Honey has immune boosting effects.
- It can help with wound healing.
- Research is looking into the benefits of honey on athletic performance. One study revealed honey to keep blood sugar levels stable and recovery time shortened in one group of athletes.
Take another look at your pantry and spice drawer. Have you utilized your spices to their best ability? Do you have some trouble with sugar cravings? While many sugar cravings may attack because emotional needs, exhaustion, or nutrient deficiency, you can fight back with an arsenal right at your fingertips. (Sugar addiction is a true problem that may need professional guidance. Please seek the help of a certified Holistic Nutrition counselor for additional support.)
Pull out some cinnamon and KAPOW! it right onto a spoonful of honey! Better yet, add a dash of cacao for an added explosion of sweet sensation that will stop the craving cycle in its tracks.
Toss some cloves and cinnamon into some homemade yogurt for a snack attack that won’t perpetuate a new set of sugar desires.
Shake some turmeric in your next cooked greens dish, or into soups, on eggs, and in your homemade hummus! KABLAM! No desire for a sugary treat after your meal!
Blend up your favorite green smoothie and add in coconut oil and stevia to keep that sugar demon locked up!
The ideas are endless. Start to spice up your life and create a healthy, loving relationship with yourself, your food, and your spice drawer!
Which spice are you going to try today?
Note from Katie: the photos are actually of my own spice cabinet, part of preparing for "Organizing October," a month-long series during which I’ll give you a tour of my own kitchen and challenge you to organize yours for maximum efficiency. I’m excited!
Selena Moffitt is a mom on a mission to help women survive motherhood through simple changes for herself and her family. Her blog 1 Moms Mission provides solutions for improved relationships with God, the Earth, and Yourself. In her spare time, she supports busy women in their quest for RADIANCE as a Holistic Nutrition Counselor. If you want to Rock the Radiant life, visit her new blog at www.RadLifeRocks.com.
Disclosure: I am an affiliate of Mountain Rose Herbs, so if you purchase anything there (green stevia or otherwise) starting with my link, I’ll get a little kickback. Thanks!