Before I came to Thailand, my home-cooking had become quite bland. I was so busy and tired that I cooked purely as a means of creating something edible that I could chew and swallow. My food was both whole and healthy, but the experience was robotic and boring. Somehow, even with my knowledge in nutrition, my spice cabinet had become sad and neglected. Spices normally make me cry, not the other way around.
I have found that what we put on our plate is often connected to many aspects of our lives. Not only had I neglected my spices, but I had also neglected other things – like my dance shoes. It’s amazing what a little curry and some salsa dancing can do for your health. We are each multi-faceted, complex beings, so it would only make sense that we treat ourselves as such. Flavors matter. It’s like getting dressed in the morning; if you wear the same color every single day, you get bored. We need a variety of colors, fabrics, and styles to choose from. We need variety in our activities, hobbies, relationships, and food. Variety keeps us interested, excited about life, and healthy.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, each taste and flavor we eat has specific medicinal properties associated with it. Food is sustenance for life, but it is also medicine. Lately, I have been eating spices everyday in an array of different dishes here in Thailand. When the Thai say something like “not spicy,” prepare for a machine gun in your mouth. I have quickly realized that their spectrum of “spicy” is different than mine. The good news is that my sinus issues have pretty much dissipated and the chronic inflammation in my knee has gone on vacation, hopefully indefinitely. Spices like curry, which I have been eating a lot of, can have positive affects on digestion, inflammation, and metabolism.
Curry isn’t the only one though – there are many spices to choose from. It’s like shopping for shoes; one pair cannot be used for everything. You have to take things like weather, climate, mood, purpose, and intuition into account. Here are a few of my favorite spices: Turmeric, ginger, paprika, cumin, cloves, cayenne, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Anywhere from ‘a pinch’ to 1/2 a teaspoon will usually do the trick. Generally, if the recipe is raw then I use less and if it’s cooked then I use more. Spices are wonderful in soups, smoothies, hot cereal, salad dressing, sautéed veggies, and even desserts. No need to eat like a robot – get creative and experiment!