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Saffron: The World’s Most Expensive Spice

Saffron

While many have not been exposed to much saffron due to the extravagant cost nearing $2,000 per pound, it is an interesting and useful spice nonetheless. Saffron, which is obtained by harvesting the stigma part of the flower upon the plant Crocus sativus, is utilized for a wide variety of uses. From extracts in perfume, to a flavoring agent and even a variety of health boosts, this spice is still quite popular despite the necessity to harvest 75,000 flowers by hand to get one pound.

Among its health benefits are : 
suppressing Alzheimer’s disease almost as well as some prescriptions
reducing the effects of depression
reduces menstrual discomfort and PMS
reduces insomnia.

There are a lot of other accounts of saffron helping from baldness to infertility but there is no real scientific evidence to support these claims. However, whether you are aiming for a boost in mental health or just want a taste of a truly extravagant spice, the unique properties and manner in which saffron must be harvested must be admired.

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Cloves; Curbing Coughs, Colds, and Indigestion for 2000 years

Cloves

Cloves” by Elanadan licensed under CC by 2.0

                Although relatively small in size, cloves contain a compact variety of healthy benefits alongside their signature aromatic and sweet taste. Native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, they have been consumed in Asia for over two thousand years, growing to popularity in Europe when it was discovered they mask the poor taste of poorly preserved foods. Other than the taste, cloves have been known to improve digestion, reduce inflammation, help combat upper respiratory infections, and even help with minor tooth aches.

                Cloves contain a variety of active compounds that allow it to serve this variety of purposes. One of the compounds called eugenol combines with a few other things in cloves to create a minor anesthesiac, which allows it to temporarily help toothaches when rubbed directly on the pain. Many times you’ll find clove oil in a lot of over the counter sore throat sprays and mouthwashes. Additionally, it serves as an anti-inflammatory, helping alleviate sore throats as well as slight improvements to arthritis. Often times when sick, people would brew clove tea, which served to aid the sore throat and act as an expectorant (helps you cough up phlegm).

                When added to food, clove works great to aid the digestive system as well as provide a few different essential nutrients. Some studies indicate that cloves help to smooth out the greater intestinal tract, which helps out a variety of digestion issues. Concerning nutrition, consuming 2 tsp of cloves would provide you with all the manganese you need for the day, as well as small amounts of vitamin K, fiber, iron, calcium, and magnesium.

                Overall, although cloves doesn’t have the most over-arching of health benefits, it does serve a few niche purposes quite well, as well as providing that distinct flavor many know and love. Whether you want a home remedy tea for a cold, a bit of temporary aid for that annoying toothache, or just get some extra nutrients in from what you eat, cloves works out quite well.

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Cinnamon: The Spice Once Worth its Weight in Gold

               Cinnamon, a spice that was once worth its weight in gold, was highly valued for more reasons than just its taste. While it does have spectacular flavoring qualities, it also serves a variety of other properties, ranging from food preservatives to medicinal. Although its reach of benefits isn’t expansive as some of the other spices we’ve covered, what benefits it does give are no less great.

                With a small addition of cinnamon to your diet, you could see improvement in lowered cholesterol, help stabilize your blood sugar (good for losing weight or for the type 2 diabetics out there), and may reduce the growth of leukemia and lymphoma cells. Furthermore, a mixture of cinnamon and honey is often used to relieve arthritic pain, and many found cinnamon to be an effective natural remedy for headaches and migraines.

                Concerning food and preserving it, cinnamon is known to be antifungal, fighting things like the canida fungus. Cinnamon also fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices, saving you from some awkward health problems. Additionally, cinnamon inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it work well as a natural preservative. It is easy to see why when there was a lot less cinnamon in the world it was worth its weight in gold.

                However, despite how amazing cinnamon is, it has known to be mildly toxic in very large doses, so don’t start taking it by the spoonful, or competing in the infamous cinnamon challenge. That said, we hope you will have learned something new about cinnamon and gained a new appreciation for the good things that can come from good flavor.

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Some Sage Advice: Eat Sage for Life

The well-known softly sweet spice known to many as sage is useful in many more ways than just as a topping for omelets or pizza. Salvia officinali contains many oils and flavonoids, as well as the popular rosmarinic acid (named after rosemary). With this arsenal of health tools at its disposal, sage can help reduce inflammation, counteract free radicals with antioxidants, and increase brain function. For a very long time sage has been well known as a spectacular spice and a variety of research done on Sage serves to re-affirm that opinion.

One of the big health points for many herbs is whether it has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Sage, luckily enough, has both. The phenolic acid it contains (with rosmarinic acid being the most well-known in that group) aids many different inflammatory conditions by inhibiting the molecules that provoke the inflammation reaction.  Sage is a recommended regular addition to the diet of anyone suffering from inflammatory conditions like arthritis, asthma, or atherosclerosis (when plaque builds up inside your arteries). In concert with this, the anti-oxidants can work to help prevent a lot of oxygen-based damage to the cells of a body, providing an overall healthier system.

What truly makes Sage stands out amongst its spicy counterparts is its ability to increase brain function. Sage has long been known as an outstanding memory enhancer, now with scientifically controlled tests to prove it. Within the controlled tests, participants given sage had significantly better short term memory than participants given a placebo spice. Furthermore, Sage contains active compounds very similar to those found in medicine for Alzheimer’s disease.

Sage has been around and utilized for thousands of years and hopefully for millennia to come. Between its health benefits, sweet taste, and its extraordinary ability to help better brain function, Sage is a worthy addition to any diet. 

 

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Lemongrass: The Lone Grass Spice

                Although not one of the more popular spices like garlic or ginger root, Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon citatus/flexosu) is still a spectacular spice in its own right. Although it smells like the lemon it’s named for, its taste has more spicy, herbal, and fragrant qualities. While we at Kitchen Fusions love it for both its taste and smell, it is better known around the world for the oils it bears. Lemongrass is in fact in the top ten oil bearing crops around the world. Between the oils Lemongrass bears and the other benefits the plant provides, it’d be a worthy addition to most herb gardens or addition to a diet.

                The most unique part of Lemongrass is probably its oils. With seven different types of oils, Lemongrass can provide quite the array of benefits. Its most prominent oil, citral, contributes that strong lemon scent, the aroma used both in foods and perfumes. A few other oils are also used to infuse aromas into perfumes. Other oils, like geraniol and borneol, repel insects, making it useful to plant in a landscape or herb garden. Finally, some of the essential oils have been known to kill bacteria and have anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant properties, making it a great salve.

                The unique-ness of its oils aside, Lemongrass contains many great nutrients as well as flavonoids as is so common with many spices. A tablespoon of lemongrass provides .4 milligrams of iron (2% daily recommended value for women, 5% for men) and 1% of the daily recommended value of magnesium, potassium, folate, phosphorous, and zinc. While definitely not a concentrated vitamin pill by any means, it certainly won’t hurt to add into your diet. Different flavonoids within lemongrass act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Antioxidants can prevent damage to different cells, reducing risks of both heart disease and arthritis. The anti-inflammatory properties have been known to help hardening of tissues as well as helping lung infections or injuries. Additionally, many flavonoids are known to slow the growth of cancerous cells as well as helping to prevent cancer in general.

                Whether you use Lemongrass for its smell, taste or were just looking for some all natural health benefits, we hope you learned something new about this spectacular spice and will use it to some benefit in future!

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Dill Weed: A Dillicious and Healthy Herb

              While not a superstar in the holistic and healthy world of spice, Dill weed is one spice that lays close to our hearts for its signature flavor and the fact that it highlights some of our best spice mixes. Anything that tastes great while remaining healthy for you is a star in our book. Setting all that aside, Dill still has quite the variety of healthy benefits, and should be admired for that. Although little of the research is absolutely conclusive, multiple studies hint at Dill having quite the diverse range of health benefits.  Ranging from bone health, digestion, insomnia, and even hiccup remedies, what Dill lacks for in depth it makes up for in width.

                In ancient times, Dill was seen being utilized for a variety of tasks in home remedies. Modern research has confirmed the effectiveness of most of the uses. Starting with the basic molecular makeup, Dill contains quite a bit of calcium, helping combat weak bones. To put the exact amount in perspective, a cup of milk has about 125mg of calcium, while a tbsp. of Dill seed contains 100mg. Beyond that, Dill was often used for in teas or just as supplemental medicine to help with digestive problems, both for excess gas and constipation. Simply eating some of the herb will help stimulate digestive juices and other digestive functions, neatly avoiding the aforementioned problems altogether.

                Even with more modern problems, Dill still remains relevant.  This herb is associated in antimicrobial activity as well as known to regulate bacteria, helping strengthen our immune system. With all the different medication we take in this day and age, corticosteroid-induced diabetes/ drug induced diabetes is a much more prevalent problem that it once was. Here too, Dill manages to help. While it is nowhere near an absolute cure and doesn’t help enough to remain conclusive in any extensive studies, the reduction of fluctuation of serum lipids and insulin levels can be a nice quality of life boost for anyone suffering this illness.

                Additionally, the oil within Dill has been found to activate enzymes within our body that emit calming effects, helping aid anyone dealing with insomnia. Between this effect of a sedative and its ability to prevent gaseous buildup, Dill has often been seen to work well as a cure for hiccups whether the hiccups are from gaseous build-up or allergies, hyperactivity, or a nervous disorder. Finally, as seems extremely common with most spices the more we learn of them, Dill once again has a correlation to reducing risk of cancer due to the monoterpenes and antioxidants it contains.

                 While Dill doesn’t have a tremendous impact upon any one issue one might experience, the sheer variety of small ways Dill can help is plenty of incentive to make it a common and frequent addition to anyone’s diet. Add on top of that its memorable taste and it’s easy to see why it’s so popular, as well as one of our favorite spices.

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Turmeric; The Golden Spice

           Turmeric is often recognized in many spice cabinets by its intense golden hue. This spice is a staple for many curries both grand and bland. However, what many may not know, is the variety of other interesting uses this spice has been found for. Among these uses are dying, mixing into pastes for different health benefits, and health benefits from ingesting it.

          First and probably most obvious is Turmeric’s ability to dye stuff. Its intense golden hue works perfect for any staining that needs done. You can use it as a natural dye for Easter eggs or tie-dye shirts. If you have some bland play dough or wish to make some colored, Turmeric will provide a nice marigold color to it. It can also accentuate any henna tattoos you might get.

          On the health benefits side of things, Turmeric is often used in pastes to alleviate different ailments. Among these are a mix of olive oil turmeric to deter dandruff and a mix of salt, turmeric, and water to help ease sprains. For eating turmeric, studies indicate that it eases sick stomachs, helps arthritis pain, and minimizes Alzheimer’s symptoms. The American Cancer Society also notes that laboratory studies have shown that circumin, one of the chemicals in Turmeric, inhibits cancer growth.

         Whether you aim for that main ingredient in a curry, wish to make some artistic and natural dyes, or just want some added boosts to your health, Turmeric is a great spice. This is just one more reason we at Kitchen Fusions love spices and hope to spread this knowledge.

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The Ginger Root; Root of Many Remedies

                We here at Kitchen Fusions take a special interest in anything holistic and natural to help improve the daily lives of everyone. If that holistic remedy happens to come in the form of a spice, so much the better!  One of the more popular and distinctly healthy spices is ginger. Going far beyond a nice compliment to a platter of sushi, ginger’s health benefits range from digestive to dietary to even lessening some common ailments.  So, with no further ado, here’s a few interesting tidbits about ginger.

                Ginger has long been used in my family as a home remedy for upset stomachs. From lack of appetite to motion sickness on boat or plane to even post-surgery nausea, a bit of fresh ginger works wonders. It even helps out with some of the more inappropriate flatulence that might you might end up dealing with.

                The dietary and general health benefits from ginger are no less impressive. Regularly eating ginger will help absorb and use the essential nutrients inside your food. On the general health side, ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory, providing relief sinus problems as well as throat and nose congestion if taken as a tea, making it quite the proactive choice if there’s a cold going around the office or at school. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory properties work great to reduce joint and muscle swelling, helping alleviate many common aches for the elderly or arthritic.

                Hopefully this will provide a bit of insight into another of the common household spices we hold dear, or possibly adding to the great big list of home remedies you might treasure. Check back again next week for another featured spice!

Kitchen Fusions

Weekly Spice Blurbs Featuring Garlic

              We here at Kitchen Fusions understand just how important spices are to your health and happiness. However, we also know that there are many essential and amazing health benefits different spices provide that most people aren’t even aware of. Due to that, we are starting to create weekly blog posts featuring one of the many spices out there and its corresponding health benefits.

                For this week, we will be talking about one of the main ingredients of many of our spice blends and possibly one of the healthiest spices; garlic.    

                Garlic has been used in food for ages due to its distinct odor and flavor. Fortunately for our ancestors, that daily intake provided many cardiovascular health bonuses as well as essential dietary vitamins. Among these are reduced chances of heart attack and blood vessel inflammation. Additionally, it lowers blood clotting, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Having your fair share of garlic each day is practically health medication in itself.

                As if improving your cardiovascular system wasn’t enough, garlic also provides sulfuric compounds (necessary dietary element) and manganese, one of the less well known but no less important elements.  On the vitamin side, this spice is a healthy source of both b6 (helps prevent heart disease) and c vitamins. Beyond all that, though, there are many studies indicating that garlic lowers chances of virtually all forms of cancer.

                We hope that this little excerpt will help you to understand one of our favorite spices as well as provide some general education about what you eat. Check back in next Friday for another featured spice! And thanks again for supporting our family business. 

                                                                          Kitchen Fusions

Super Bowl Sale

With the upcfiestadipoming 48th Super Bowl, there is no better time to whip up a tasty treat for your hungry fans. Why not try the exotic flavors of our Fiesta Salsa to add something special this year.

Mix up a time honored dish of Guacamole spiced with Fiesta salsa or any of a number of other spices for entrees and appetizers. 

 

 

Fiesta Guacamole Lime
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12 calories
4 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
0 g
42 g
54 g
1 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
42g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 12
Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 0g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 54mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 4g
1%
Dietary Fiber 1g
4%
Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
17%
Calcium
1%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 4 ripe avocadoes
  2. 1 package Fusion Flavors Fiesta Salsa Dip
  3. 1/2 lime squeezed
Instructions
  1. Cut avocadoes in half with knife and use a teaspoon to remove the pit. Scoop the avocado from the peel into a bowl and mash with fork. Add package of Fusion Flavors Fiesta Salsa Dip and lime juice. Mix well and keep covered until serving to help from turning brown.
  2. Serve with chips.
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calories
12
fat
0g
protein
0g
carbs
4g
more
Kitchen Fusions Blog http://www.kitchenfusions.com/blog/
Black Bean, Corn & Tomato Salsa
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645 calories
128 g
0 g
5 g
35 g
1 g
825 g
919 g
14 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
825g
Amount Per Serving
Calories 645
Calories from Fat 41
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5g
8%
Saturated Fat 1g
4%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 919mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 128g
43%
Dietary Fiber 33g
133%
Sugars 14g
Protein 35g
Vitamin A
9%
Vitamin C
47%
Calcium
17%
Iron
56%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1 can (15-1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
  2. 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained
  3. 1 can (14-1/2 oz) diced tomatoes
  4. 1 packet Fusion Flavors Fiesta Salsa Dip
Instructions
  1. Drain corn and beans in colander and rinse well.
  2. Add diced tomatoes with juice to corn and beans in mixing bowl, stirring in the package of Fusion Flavors Fiesta Salsa Dip.
  3. Let sit for 10 minutes and serve with chips, crackers or your favorite recipe.
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calories
645
fat
5g
protein
35g
carbs
128g
more
Kitchen Fusions Blog http://www.kitchenfusions.com/blog/
Use the coupon code “super” and receive an additional 20% off any of our dips for the rest of the month. See products here: Kitchen Fusions Dips.