Know Your Ingredient – Borage

Borage

General Description

A type of herb with edible leaves that is native to the Mediterranean region. Its seed is also cultivated commercially for extraction of borage seed oil. It grows up to 60-100 cm tall. This is also known as “starflower”.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Borage is the highest plant-source of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) which is a type of fatty acid. Its seed oil contains stearic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid and nervonic acid, which are vital supplements for our body.

Medical Use

This herb is used to treat hyperactive gastrointestinal (cramps, colic, diarrhea), cardiovascular (hypertension) and respiratory (bronchitis and asthma) disorders. It can also help in correcting urinary problems.

Culinary Use

Borage can be used a fresh vegetable. It has a cucumber-like taste which makes it fit for making salads or garnish. The flowers are also edible which are often used as cake toppers or decorations. They can also be made into sweet syrups.

Know Your Ingredient – Nutmeg

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Description

This is a brown-colored hard seed from the nutmeg tree that gives a spicy sweet taste. This originates from Indonesia but can also be found in the Caribbean (Grenada).

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Nutmeg has anti-oxidant, health promoting and disease preventing properties. It’s a good source of minerals like copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron and zinc. It has also B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, and folic acid, niacin, riboflavin and vitamin A.

Medical Use

In traditional medicine, it is used as anti-depressant, anti-fungal, aphrodisiac and carminative agent. It also aids digestion and prevents constipation.

Culinary Use

Nutmeg is a popular spice. It can be used in preparing many dishes and recipes. It can be used in making cakes and pastries, and can also be added in making smoothies. Nutmeg is considered a natural flavoring in baked goods, syrups, sweets and beverages.

Know Your Ingredient – Cardamom

cardamom

Description

Cardamom is native to the evergreen rain forest of southern Indian Kerala state and grown in only a few tropical countries. The spice features three-sided pods with a thin, yet tough papery outer cover. Inside, tiny, deep-brown to black, aromatic seeds are arranged in vertical rows with each grain unsheathed again inside a very thin membrane. There are two types of cardamom pods: the green cardamom pod and the black cardamom pod. Generally, the plant can grow up to four meters in length.

Nutrients 

Cardamom is a good source of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of iron and manganese. In addition to that, it is rich in many vital vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health. It as well contains many essential volatile oils that include pinene, sabinene, myrcene, phellandrene, limonene, 1, 8-cineole, terpinene, p-cymene, terpinolene, linalool, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-oil, a-terpineol, a-terpineol acetate, citronellol, nerol, geraniol, methyl eugenol, and trans-nerolidol.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use

Cardamom has antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, digestive, diuretic, expectorant, stimulant, stomachic and tonic properties. It also helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It is a good source of manganese which is a very powerful free-radical scavenger. It helps in red blood cell formation and cellular metabolism.

Culinary Use

Cardamom is being used as flavoring agent in both soups, foods, and revitalizing drinks. Many sweet dishes in Asian countries use cardamom.

Know Your Ingredients – Cumin

 Description
Cumin is an aromatic spice with a unique bitter flavor and strong, warm tang due to its abundant oil content. Cumin looks like caraway, which is oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color. However, cumin is hotter to the taste, lighter in color, and larger. Its seeds come in three colors: amber, black and white.

Nutrients
Per 2 teaspoon serving, cumin has 16% iron, 7% manganese, 4% copper, 4% calcium, 4% magnesium, 3% Vitamin B1 and 3% phosphorus.

Health Benefits and Medical Use
Aside from giving flavor to food, cumin has also many uses when it comes to health and disease prevention. It is a good source of iron for energy and immune function. Cumin seeds have also been noted to have good effects to the digestive system. It stimulates the production of pancreatic enzymes which are necessary for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Furthermore, cumin seeds have anti-carcinogenic properties that help in the prevention of cancer.

Culinary Uses
Cumin matches well with beans, chicken, couscous, curry, eggplant, fish, lamb, lentils, peas, pork, potatoes, rice, sausages, soups, stews, and eggs.

Know Your Ingredient – Dill

Description
Dill is a green herb with feathery leaves. The flat tan dill seed is the dried fruit of the herb. Dill’s green leaves are flimsy and fernlike and have a soft, sweet taste. Dried dill seeds are light brown in color and oval in shape, featuring one flat side and one convex corrugated side. The seeds are aromatic, sweet and citrusy, but also slightly bitter. The fresh dill is available during summer and early fall while the dried dill is available all year-round.

Nutrients
Dill has several nutritional contents like carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more. It has other mineral components like dietary fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese, too.

Medical Uses
Dill has monoterpene components that can help neutralize particular types of carcinogens coming from cigarette smoke, charcoal grill smoke, and the smoke produced by trash incinerators. It is used as protection against free radicals and carcinogens. Dill has also antibacterial properties that prevent the growth of bacteria. In addition to that, it is also considered as a good source of calcium which helps prevent bone damage.

Culinary Uses
Dill is commonly used in soups, stews, and for making pickles. It is also used in making salad dressing and fish dressing. It matches well with beets, breads, cabbage, carrots, chicken cucumbers, cream sauces, eggs, fish, pickles, potatoes, salmon, scallops, seafood, sour cream, tomatoes, and veal.

Know Your Ingredient – Chamomile

Description
Chamomile (also spelled as camomile) is a plant from the Asteraceae family. It resembles the daisy plant. The two most commonly used species are the Matricaria chamomilia and the Chamaemelum nobile.

Nutrients and Health Benefits
Chamomile is composed of apigenin which is known to have chemopreventive effects against cancer cells. It also contains alpha-bisabolol that is used to treat infection and inflammation.

Medical Use
This herb has a lot of use in the medical field. It has anti-inflammatory, anseptic, antihyperglycemic and antigenotoxic properties. It is also used for the treatment of insomnia, ulcers, menstrual disorders, muscle spasm, haemorrhoids, and gastrointestinal disorders.

Culinary Use
Chamomile is commonly used in making tea. The Chamemelum nobile’s leaves are chopped and can be mixed with butter and sour cream, and served with baked potatoes. Its flowers can be also used in salads or as a garnish.

Know Your Ingredient – Coriander

coriander

Description
Coriander is also known as cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania. It is from the family Apiaceae that grows annually. It’s a soft plant that can grow up to 50 cm tall. The leaves have different shapes, largely lobed at the base of the plant, and small and downy higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in tiny umbels, uneven, white or very pale pink in color, with the petals pointing away from the center of the umbel longer than those pointing toward it. The fruit is globular in shape and about 3-5 mm in diameter. Coriander has different description of its taste. Those who like it say it has a refreshing, lemony or lime-like flavor, while those who dislike it says it’s like soap and bugs.

Nutrients
In a 100g amount, coriander leaves are mainly rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, with reasonable content of dietary minerals. Even though seeds generally have lower content of vitamins, they have considerable amounts of dietary fiber, calcium, selenium, iron, magnesium and manganese per 100 g.

Health Benefits
Coriander has linoleic acid and known to have components of essential oils that are used to treat skin inflammation. It has detoxifying and antiseptic properties used to cure skin disorders. They also reduce the level of bad cholesterol (LDL) deposition along the inner walls of the arteries and veins, which can lead to serious cardiovascular issues like artherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes. It is also helpful in curing diarrhea caused by microbial and fungal action, since components like Cineole, Borneol, Limonene, Alpha-pinene & beta-phelandrene have antibacterial effects. Coriander is also known to treat many disorders like diabetes, hypertension, mouth ulcers, conjunctivitis, menstrual problems, and small pox. It has also components that aids in digestion, bone development and eye care.

Culinary Uses
Coriander leaves and seeds are both used in culinary arts. The seeds are used as spices while the leaves are used as herbs. It is also used in all sorts of cuisines, from Latin American to Asian. In Mexico and the United States, fresh coriander leaves are frequently used as a garnish for salsas and spicy soups.

Know Your Ingredient – Sage

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General Description

Sage is a grayish green colored herb that has a soft, sweet flavor. It is grown and available anytime of the year. It had been declared as the “Herb of the Year” in 2001.

Nutrients and Health Benefits

Sage contains volatile oils and flavonoids that help maintain stability of oxygen-related metabolism. It also promotes better brain functioning and increases I.Q. It is ads, and also a rich source of carbohydrates, fiber, sugar, sodium, vitamins and minerals, fatty acids and amino acids.

Medical Use

Sage is found effective in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also lower bad cholesterol and increase mental performance. Diarrhea, heartburn, stomach pain and other gastrointestinal problems can be corrected by sage. Asthmatic people also use it as inhaler and some found it effective for dysmenorrhea, and reduction of hot flashes during menopause.

Culinary Use

Sage is used as a seasoning or a spice. It can be added in tomato sauce, or to omelets and frittatas. Pizzas are also sprinkled with sage. It can also be found in salads and in baked chicken.

Know Your Ingredient – ALLSPICE

allspice

Description
The dried, unripe berry of an evergreen tree in the myrtle family known as Pimenta dioica, is called allspice. These are small, dark brown balls, just a little larger than peppercorns. Allspice is spicy and fragrant. It has a taste and aroma of a mixture of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg. It is also known as Jamaican pepper or pimiento.

Nutrients

Allspice is enriched with good amount of minerals like manganese, iron, potassium, copper, selenium, and magnesium. It also carries a very good amount of vitamin A, B-6, C, riboflavin and niacin. Furthermore, it is a good source of Eugenol, an essential oil that has local anesthetic and antiseptic properties.

Health Benefits/ Medical Use
Allspice has been found to have anti-inflammatory, carminative, rubefacient, and anti-flatulent properties. Since it’s a good source of Vitamin C, it helps the body develop resistance against infection. The decoction obtained from this spice sometimes used in treating flatulence and indigestion in traditional medicine. The essential oil, eugenol has been used in dentistry as a local-anesthetic and antiseptic for teeth and gum. Its oil is a popular home remedy for arthritis and sore muscles.

Culinary Use
Allspice should be ground first before being added to dishes to keep its flavor and fragrance intact. It’s been widely used in Caribbean cuisines. Some Indian vegetarian and chicken curries also contain this spice. Some of the recipes that use this spice include Spiced Butternut Squash Soup, Carrot Cake, and Allspice Cream Cheese Frosting.

Know Your Ingredient – BAY LEAF

bay leaves

General Description
An herb from the evergreen bay laurel tree that has aromatic leaves. This is considered one of the well-recognized leaf-spices used since the earliest times. It has dark green leaves and flower buds.

Nutrients and Health Benefits
Bay leaves have several compounds, vitamins and minerals which are essential for optimum health. They are rich sources of vitamin C which is known to boost our immune system. Its fresh leaves are also good sources of folic acid which are necessary in DNA synthesis. Furthermore, bay leaves are very good in vitamin A that maintains our skin health.

Medical Use
Medically, bay leaves have astringent, appetite-stimulant, and diuretic effects. They are also known to soothe stomach ulcers and are used to treat colic pain and flatulence. Aside from that, its leaf has also an insect repellent property, and can also aid in the treatment of arthritis, bronchitis, and muscle pain.

Culinary Use
Bay leaves are commonly used as spices along with sage, savory, celery and basil. The leaves can be dried and be made into an herbal tea. It’s also a main ingredient in making sauces like bread sauce, béchamel, and tomato sauce. It’s also used to flavor sweets like custards, creams, and sweet breads.