Category Archives: Healing Spices

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes ~ Rachel

I’ve made this Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes dish a few times now and love it. It’s tasty, it’s quick, it’s easy and it’s relatively low in points (9 points plus per serving). I will say this though…it usually needs salt at the end. Dave thought it was a little bland this time around so I am going to do a few things different next time I make it:

  • Substitute ground lamb for the ground turkey
  • Substitute another curry powder for the garam masala just to experiment
  • Substitute sweet potatoes for the Yukon Gold potatoes
  • Add chopped apple (probably Granny Smith)
The points will likely increase but not by much and since we eat this alone, rather than over pita or rice, a couple extra points won’t hurt.

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes Recipe (Adapted from Simply Recipes)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey (the kind with 7% fat)
  • 1 chopped onion (I used onion powder instead since Dave can’t eat raw onion)
  • 3 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 chopped fresh red chiles
  • A 1-inch piece of peeled ginger, grated fine (I used a spoonful of jarred pureed ginger)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala (you can really use any kind of curry powder)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 24 oz Yukon Gold potatoes cut into small chunks
  • 2-4 Roma or other plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup (loosely packed) chopped cilantro or parsley

METHOD

1 Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large pot with a lid. When the oil is hot, add the ground meat, spreading it out over the pan. Cook the meat without stirring, until it begins to brown.

2 Add the chopped onion and chiles. Stir and sauté for 4-5 minutes, or until the onion begins to color a bit. Sprinkle salt over everything.

3 Add the grated ginger and garlic, mix well and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

4 Mix in the spices, water, and the potatoes. Stir to combine and cover. Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

5 When the potatoes are tender, add the diced tomatoes and peas. Mix well and cover the pot. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add salt, if needed, to taste.

Right before you serve, mix in the chopped cilantro. Serve alone or with flatbread or white rice.

Yield: Serves 4.

BonAppetit
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Healing Spices: Curry ~Rachel

"Borrowed' from Savory Spice Shop Raleigh's FB page

A few weeks ago (yeah, I’m a bit behind), I attended a curry class at my favorite store in Raleigh…Savory Spice Shop! Lindsay Rogers is the niece of owners Cindy and Bob and has accomplished A LOT in the restaurant/food world in her young years (she is only in her 20’s) so it was lovely to hear her speak about curry. We got some info on types of curry, components of curry and Lindsay demoed Cindy’s Curry Chicken Salad (which was awesome) and a Moroccan Chicken Skewer (with Tan-Tan Curry Seasoning) and herbed dipping sauce (also awesome).

Here are some of the random things I learned about curry and its components:

Also "borrowed" from the Savory Spice Shop Raleigh FB page

  • Curry is not a spice in an of itself…it’s a collection of spices (Ok, I already knew that but wasn’t sure if you all did).
  • Almost all curries contain cumin, turmeric and coriander.
  • Indian curries typically contain cardamom (a pod from the rainforests & Africa that has a eucalyptus/floral flavor)…cardamom is also heavily used in chai tea.
  • Turmeric often always leaves behind a yellow stain….lemon juice will get it out!
  • Curry leaves, which have earthy and citrus flavors, can be treated like a bay leaf but only add it to your dish in the last 5 minutes as they are delicate.
  • There are lots of different “regional” curry styles…For example, Thai curry is known for its heat because of the use of chiles .
  • Perhaps the best known curry is Tikka Masala, which is most popular in the UK. Masala simply means mixture…I learned that from Alton Brown.
And most importantly…
  • To make a curry paste out of a curry powder, use equal parts of water, olive oil and curry powder! You can make a paste out of any curry powder, rub it on some chicken or lamb (or whatever protein you choose) and let it marinate in the fridge overnight. It’s fantastic!
I didn’t escape class without buying some spices (Dave yelled at me when I got home). I bought some whole cardamom pods that I have yet to use. Apparently it is fabulous in coffee (mimics a Turkish coffee) but since I can’t drink coffee right now, that will have to wait. I also bought:
  • Garam Masala: This is an all-purpose curry powder!
  • Tikka Masala: This is AMAZING in Savory Spice’s own recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala…very creamy!
  • Rogan Josh: I haven’t used this yet but it’s good with lamb. If I ever find lamb stew meat, I will be set. I don’t think it will work with the ground lamb in my freezer!
  • Tan-Tan Moroccan Seasoning: I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t starve if I was in Africa…I haven’t met a meal inspired by North African (or Kenyan) cuisine that I didn’t like. This was a fabulous marinade for chicken.
  • Zanzibar Curry Powder: This is Lindsay’s favorite curry powder and I now know why. It’s a fabulous mix of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, yellow mustard seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric, brown sugar, paprika and cayenne…and lots of cinnamon. I made a paste out of this and marinated some chicken with it. It turned out wonderful just sauteing the chicken in a pan….it was very moist. Since there is brown sugar in it, you have to be careful not to burn it so you need to cook a little lower and slower.
The Healing Spices book devotes a whole chapter to “currying” and explains that curry is a cooking style, not a particular spice. It also explains that every curry is savory and every curry is spiced. I think that probably goes without saying, right? Most of the chapter is devoted to the different curries around the world, so I figured I would take you on a tour of the world.
India
  • Basic spices: black pepper, coriander, cumin, red chile, turmeric
  • North Indian curry (Punjabi): Mild & creamy, sometimes nutty, accented with yogurt
  • South Indian curry (Tamil): Hot & fiery with a lot of coconut
  • East Indian curry: Tangy…Often contains things like fenugreek seed, tamarind and cilantro
  • West Indian curry: Hot and sour…Often contains vinegar
Sri Lanka
  • Curries are often called black curries because the spices are roasted very dark
  • Almost always include cloves and cinnamon which are native to Sri Lanka
Thailand
  • FIRE!!! They pound chilis into their curry paste!
  • Lemongrass is pretty common
  • Fish sauce and shrimp paste are often used (Anyone else surprised by this? No? Me neither!)
Malaysia
  • Very delicate but also heavily influenced by Indian curries
Vietnam
  • Influenced by Chinese, Indian and French cuisines
  • Milder curry than Thai or Indian with a sweet & sour flavor
  • Sugar is on the list of the common ingredients
Indonesia
  • Often contains exotic ingredients like manioc (cassava), salam leaf, trassi (dried shrimp paste)
  • Often served with crispy fried shallots (yum) and hard-boiled eggs (double yum)
Caribbean
  • Slightly sour, fruity and hot
My curried turkey and potatoes recipe is coming up next. Experiment with different curry powders and pastes and I guarantee you will like at least one of them! My next Healing Spices post will be about turmeric, one of the main ingredients in almost every curry. It’s probably one of the best spices you could be eating.

Spicy Cinnamon Pork ~ Rachel

Since moving down South from Pittsburgh, I’ve discovered pulled pork. In NC, that usually means vinegar-based BBQ sauce (which I love). In SC, the BBQ sauce is usually mustard-based (which I also love). In other places, they do a BBQ sauce which is more akin to what people generally think BBQ sauce is..tomato/ketchup based (which I will eat but no longer prefer if I have a choice).

This pulled pork, which you make in the crock pot, is none of those. I got this recipe from the blog Fresh Slowcooking which is a great place for crock pot recipes that use fresh ingredients! Anyways, this pulled pork is fabulous over jasmine rice but you could also just serve it with some veggies.  I also like it on a bun topped with some cole slaw.

Spicy Cinnamon Pork (Crockpot)

Taken from Fresh Slowcooking website

Ingredients
  • 4lb pork butt or shoulder…I buy boneless “Boston Butt” (strange name for a cut of meat but whatever)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut or vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves unless you are me and double or triple that)
  • 2 Tbsp peeled and minced ginger (I buy the stuff in a jar now)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne (adjust to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon (I may have used a little more)
  • 1 6cm cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
Instructions
  • Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat.
  • Trim excess fat from the pork and pat it dry (this is important for the browning).
  • Combine garlic and ginger in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the pork and reserve any remaining rub.
  • Brown all sides of the pork in the hot skillet…about 4 minutes per side. This step is optional so if you don’t have time for it, just throw everything into the crock pot and run. However, the browning adds a nice flavor so only skip if necessary.
  • Place inside the crock pot and pour rice wine vinegar over it.
  • Sprinkle the remaining spices on top.
  • Wedge the cinnamon stick where it will get moistened by the juices as the pork cooks.
  • Cook on low for 8 hours (or on high for 4 hours).
  • Remove the cinnamon stick.
  • Using two forks, pull the pork.
This is one of my favorite recipes and is great if you are having friends over. It also contains ample amounts of cinnamon, my Healing Spice of the week (more on cinnamon in another post later this week). There is also coriander and mustard seeds and ginger and cardamom and cloves and cayenne pepper. Those could probably be their own Healing Spice blog entry (maybe one day).
For now, enjoy this pork recipe and come back later this week for the skinny on cinnamon.

Rosemary ~ Rachel

Only one of my readers suggested any spices (thanks, Jaclyn) and luckily enough, I was thinking about starting with rosemary even before she left a comment!

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Rosemary Clooney is in one of my all time favorite movies, White Christmas.

My very first cassette tape was Simon & Garfunkel’s Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.

The Aveda body wash I use is Rosemary & Mint.

My florist is including some rosemary in my bridal bouquet.

Rosemary is pretty awesome…and I haven’t even started talking about food 🙂

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Before I get into the benefits of rosemary, I want to put forth my disclaimer. I am not a medical doctor and this is not medical advice. I’m getting most of my information from the book Healing Spices that was written by a renowned biochemist who has done a lot of cancer research. He cites research studies in the book but does not give the actual article citation. If he did, I would be more inclined to read the actual medical literature and critique it because as an epidemiologist, that’s what I do….you know, in all my spare time. Anyways, I figured that even if the research is flawed and the benefits of rosemary (and other spices) are exaggerated, there is no harm here in the use of these spices. What’s the worst that can happen…you enjoy a meal that’s more flavorful than what you normally consume?

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History of Rosemary: The story of rosemary is apparently a holy one. In an old Christian story, the Virgin Mary threw her robe over a bush with white flowers when she was fleeing Egypt with the baby Jesus. When she went back to get the robe, the flowers had turned the same color of her robe (the same blue color of the flowers on rosemary plants today). “Robe of Mary” became rosemary.  In ancient Greece and Rome, rosemary was used in bridal bouquets as a sign of fidelity (Must be a good sign I picked it for my bouquet before knowing this!) and was placed in the hands of corpses (and on graves) as a symbol of remembrance.  In Europe, rosemary was burned in hospitals to purify the air and burned as incense in English courtrooms to protect people from catching disease from the prisoners.

The blue flowers of the rosemary plant

Buying/Growing Rosemary:  Most of the rosemary we import is from Spain but rosemary is very easy to grow in your backyard or in containers. This is one of the two plants I’ve actually been successful in keeping alive!  You can buy fresh rosemary or dried…there isn’t a huge difference between them…it actually retains its flavor and oils when it is ground. It is important to dry your rosemary immediately after harvesting it , however, to preserve those oils. Hang the fresh branches upside down in a warm and dark space for a few days.

Cooking with Rosemary: Rosemary is very strong so take care not to over do it or your meal will be dominated by the rosemary. Rosemary is so strong that it doesn’t lose its flavor in long, slow cooking. It dissolves quickly in fatty liquids like olive oil because it actually contains its own fair share of oil. It seems like the best way to use rosemary is to throw it into the dish at the end. Because rosemary is a powerhouse, it goes really well with poultry, pork, lamb, tomato sauce and pizza.

Health Benefits of Rosemary: Rosemary has several antioxidants that have carcinogen-killing powers: rosmarinic acid, carnosic acid and carnosol. Apparently, the combination of those antioxidants make rosemary quite powerful. Here is a list of the potential health benefits of rosemary:

  • Can decrease the amount of heterocyclic amines (HCAs) that are produced when cooking/grilling/frying/broiling/smoking certain foods. HCAs have been linked to some cancers (colon, breast, prostate) so it’s not a bad idea to get rid of them! You can have your meat and eat it too…just throw some rosemary on it
  • Sniffing rosemary essential oil can reduce levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and thereby decrease levels of oxidative stress in your body
  • Can reduce the effects of radiation sickness
  • Is great for your skin: may act as a shield against UV radiation, may guard against skin tumors and may reduce the growth of melanomas
  • The smell of rosemary may enhance cognition and aid in memory recall
  • May improve blood flow in the carotid artery to the brain and inhibit the clumping of blood platelets (which then helps avoid blood clots)
  • May decrease the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis
  • May help lower blood sugars…one study showed the drop in blood sugar in both “normal” and diabetic rats.
  • May help treat depression….rosemary extract worked as effectively as Prozac in treating depression-like symptoms in animals
I think that list is sufficient for now. Because of the antioxidants in rosemary, it really is a powerhouse spice/herb. Don’t be afraid to make it a staple in your cooking…it probably is most comfortable in autumn/winter dishes more so than summer ones but check out my next post for a dinner that will please the palate any time of the year!