Title: Are Spices Good For You?

  1. Introduction:  “Are spices good for you?” In this podcast, we’ll explore the world of spicy food and its potential health benefits. Many cultures around the world incorporate spicy ingredients into their cuisine, and while some people can’t handle the heat, others swear by the therapeutic effects of spicy food in cooking and wellness. But what’s the truth? Is spicy food actually good for you, or is it just a myth?

Bio: With over 13 years of professional cooking experience with her meal delivery and catering business and restaurant, Chef Laura founded Bonicelli Cooking Club in 2018. She brings professional cooking techniques and knowledge, great recipes, and inspiration to home cooks and food lovers everywhere. She is known for her love, support, and advocacy for local, organic, and well-sourced food, as well as her expertise in navigating dietary preferences and issues.


  • [00:00] – Intro
  • [01:23] – Historical background of spices
  • [04:07] – Featured ingredient – turmeric
  • [05:02] – Are spices good for you
  • [06:35] – Tip of the week
  • [010:01] – Measuring heat – understanding how to combine spices
  • [12:01] – Top Tool
  • [12:52] – Storage, cost, buying, and wrap-up

Key Takeaways

  • the history of spices and their value
  • featured ingredient
  • health benefits of spices
  • how to buy and store spices
  • how heat is measured and how to manage it in your food
  • how to incorporate them into your cooking
  • why you should incorporate them into your diet
  • Top Tool

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Links mentioned in the episode:

Bonicelli Cooking Club

Bonicelli YouTube

Mortar and Pestle with a base

Mortar and Pestle – modern


Spice Storage and Organization Resources

Online Spice Resources

In the next episode of Bending the Spoon, “Tips for Running a Sustainable Kitchen?” Chef Laura discusses what “sustainable” means in the kitchen and gives tips on how to make your kitchen more sustainable.


Hello and welcome to our podcast. Are Spices Good for You? In this podcast, we'll explore the world's spicy food and its potential health benefits. Now, many cultures around the world incorporate spicy ingredients into their cuisine, and while some people can't handle the heat, others swear by the therapeutic effects of spicy food. But what's the truth? Is spicy food actually good for you, or is it just a myth? We'll talk about that and much, much more today on bending the spoon. But before we get to that, I'd like to remind you that if you like recipes, go to bonicelli cooking club.com and sign up for my email list and check out all of the options for participating in the club, including our new $5 recipe only membership.. A great way to say you like our work and make some great food at the same time. And if you like what you hear today, hop over to pod chaser.com and leave Bending The Spoon, a positive review. Also, for the video version of this podcast, subscribe to Bonicelli Cooking Club on YouTube. So sit back, grab a glass of milk, and get ready to spice up your knowledge on this very hot topic. Spices have been used for thousands of years dating back to ancient civilizations. Archeological evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians use spices for cooking and embalming as early as 3000 bc. The ancient Greeks and Romans also used a variety of spices in their cuisine, as did the Chinese and Indian cultures. The use of spices in cooking became more widespread during the Middle Ages when trade routes between Europe and the Middle East and Asia opened up. Spices were highly valued and very expensive, and were often used as a form of currency. The spice trade played a significant role in the economy of many, many cultures at that time, and spurred exploration and colonization. Today's spices are widely used in cuisines around the world and are readily available in most grocery stores. They are an important part of many culinary traditions and are valued for their unique flavors and health benefits. And if you're trying to cut down on salt and fat in your cooking and diet, spices are the best place to turn. They have practically no calories and no negative effects on your health unless of course, you really get excessive with them. No doubt that learning to cook with spices can be enjoyable and rewarding. So here are a few tips for getting started. Start with a few basic spices. So if you're new to cooking with spices, it's best to start with a few basic ones like Black pepper, cumin. Paprika. As you become more familiar, you can experiment with more complex flavors and add more spices. Learn about flavor profiles. Different spices have different flavor profiles and some pair better with certain ingredients than others. We'll talk more about that later. So learning about flavor profiles can help you create delicious and well-balanced dishes. Experiment with different cuisines, and this is a big one. Different cultures have their own unique spice blends and flavor combinations. Trying out recipes from different cuisines can expose you to new spices and flavor combinations, and it's super fun. Taste as you go when cooking with spices and with everything, it's important to taste as you go to ensure that the flavors are balanced and not overpowering. Use fresh spices. Fresh spices can have a much stronger flavor than older or pre-ground spices, so it's best to use them whenever possible. Cooking with spices is a skill, and it takes time to develop. Don't be afraid to make mistakes or experiment with new flavors, learn from others. There are many, many resources available to help you learn about cooking with spices, such as cookbooks and online tutorials. Bonicelli Cooking Club. By following these tips and staying open to new flavors and techniques, you can become more confident and skilled in cooking with spices. It's time for our featured ingredient, and our featured ingredient is turmeric. As a spice turmeric is known for its beautiful, bright orange color, and it is gorgeous in Curry's stews, soups, and rice flavor is mild and earthy and slightly bitter. Turmeric is versatile. It can be used in a variety of dishes from sweet to savory, and it pairs well with other spices like cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin. But what's really exciting about turmeric is its medicinal qualities and health benefits. It's anti-inflammatory and it's antioxidant. Turmeric can be helpful with pain relief, skin issues, and digestive health, and a long, long list of other diseases and ailments. Turmeric is our featured ingredient. Spices are good for you for several reasons. As I said, they can add flavor to your meals without adding extra calories, salt or sugar isn't that great? Sun spices, such as cinnamon and turmeric have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. They can help you fight against chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Other spices, such as ginger and peppermint, can aid in digestion and help alleviate nausea. Additionally, some spices have antimicrobial properties that may help prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in food. Peppers are good for you because they are low in calories, but high in nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, K, and A, and also contain fiber, potassium, and antioxidants. Peppers, particularly the hot ones, contain capsaicin, a compound that may have anti-inflammatory pain, relieving and metabolism boosting effects. Eating peppers may also help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and promote healthy digestion. No, sadly, spicy food is not a cure for allergies. While some people believe that the spiciness in certain foods can help to clear congestion or relieve allergy symptoms, there is no scientific evidence to support that claim, although I kind of do believe it. Allergies are caused by the body's immune system overreacting to a specific substance such as pollen, pet dander, or certain foods. Spicy foods do not address the underlying causes of allergies, which is an immune response. And here's the tip of the week. Different spices have different flavor profiles, and understanding these profiles can help you use them more effectively in cooking. So here are some common flavor profiles, and this is gonna get a little listy, but it will really help you. Warm and sweet. These spices have a sweet, warm flavor and are often used in baking and desserts. Examples include cinnamon nutmeg and ginger. Pungent and Savory. Spices with a strong pungent flavor are often used in savory dishes. Examples include garlic, onion, and mustard. Citrusy and Bright. These spices have a bright tangy flavor and are often used to add freshness to dishes. Examples include dried lemon and orange, lemon pepper, and coriander. Earthy and Aromatic. Earthy flavor, and are often used in stews and soups and curries. Examples include cumin, turmeric, and cardamom. Floral and fragrant. These spices have a floral, fragrant flavor and are often used in sweet and savory dishes. Examples include my favorite saffron, rosemary and thyme. Fiery and hot. These spices have a hot, spicy flavor and are used in Mexican Indian and other spicy cuisines. Examples include chili, pepper, cayenne, and black pepper. Now by understanding these flavor profiles, you can use spices to create well-balanced and delicious dishes. Pairing spices with other ingredients can help to enhance overall flavor and aroma of a dish. Here are some typical spice pairings. These are just a few. There are many, many, many. Cumin and coriander are often used together in Indian, Mexican, and Middle Eastern cuisines. They compliment each other's flavors and can add depth and warmth to stews, curries, and roasted. And chilies, ginger and garlic often used together in Asian and Indian cuisine. They add a pungent spicy flavor to stir fries, marinades and soups, paprika and smoked paprika. Typical in Spanish and Mediterranean cuisines. They add a sweet, smokey flavor, so distinctive to meats and stews and roasted vegetables. Cinnamon and nutmeg, of course, used in baking and desserts. They add a warm sweet flavor to pies, cakes and cookies. Rosemary and thyme. Now, these herbs are often used in European and Mediterranean cuisines and American. They add earthy, fragrant flavor to roasted meats and. Turmeric and black pepper. You'll find in Indian and Southeast Asian cuisines, the black pepper enhances the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric, making it a very popular combination in curries and soups. Now, by understanding typical spice pairings, you can use them to create well-balanced and flavorful dishes, and that is our tip of the week. You are listening to Bending the Spoon, the podcast dedicated to making you a better cook. I'm Chef Laura Bonelli and I want to remind you that if you like recipes, go to bonicelli cooking club.com and sign up for my email list and check out all of the options of participating in the club. And if you like what you hear today, hop over to pod chaser.com and leave bending the spoon of positive. Also for the video version of this podcast, subscribe to Bonicelli Cooking Club on YouTube. Now, back to our episode. The Scoville scale is a measure of spiciness or heat of chili, peppers, or other spicy foods. It was developed by American pharmacist Wilber Scoville in 1912 and measures the concentration of capsaicin, the compound responsible for the heat sensation in a sample of food. The scale is based on a subjective sensory test where a panel of tasters sample a diluted extract of the food and assign it a Scoville heat unit SHU value, which indicates the concentration of capsaicin in the food. Now the scale ranges from zero SHU for a sweet bell pepper to over 2 million SHU for the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper. The Scoville scale is commonly used to compare the heat level of different peppers and to categorize them into different heat ranges from mild to extremely hot. Some of the Spiciest cuisines in the world include Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine is known for its use of a wide variety of spices and chili peppers, which gives the dishes a complex and fiery. Thai cuisine. Thai cuisine is also known for its bold use of spices and chili peppers, especially in dishes like Tom Yum soup and Green Curry. Mexican cuisine. Mexican cuisine is famous for its use of chili peppers, which is a key ingredient in many dishes like salsa and molé and enchiladas. Schezwan Cuisine. Schezwan cuisine. A type of Chinese cuisine is known for its use of peppercorns and spicy chili bean paste, which gives its dishes a distinctive, numbing, spicy flavor. Korean cuisine. Korean cuisine is known for its use of spicy chili paste and chili flakes, which are used in many dishes like Kimchi. It's worth noting that not all dishes in these cuisines are spicy, and the level of spiciness can vary greatly depending on the individual dish and the cook's preference. So let's take a peek at our top tool. Our top tool is the mortar and pestle, and I'm gonna make a case for using one of these. First of all, it's old school, which is comforting. It is nice to have a hand tool that's been around for probably centuries. Second of all, you have complete control over how you grind things because you're doing it by hand, so you can achieve that perfect texture that you really want for your pesto or your ground spices. You will get better flavor As you're grinding, you're releasing essential oils, and that is more intense and it's nuanced mortar and pestle is easy to clean, much easier than a blender or a spice grinder. And finally, you're not using any electricity, so it's completely sustainable. The mortar and pestle is our top tool. The cost of spices can vary depending on the type of spice, the quality, the brand, and where it's sold in general, some spices can be expensive, while others can be more affordable. Spices that are more expensive include those that are rare, difficult to cultivate or produce, or have a high demand. Examples include saffron, vanilla, and cardamon. On the other hand, common spices like black peppers, cinnamon, and cumin are generally more affordable. Buying spices in bulk or whole form and grinding them yourself can be a cost effective way to enjoy flavorful and fresh spices. Overall, the cost of spices should be considered in the context of the value they provide to your cooking and enjoyment of food, and it's possible to use a wide range of spices in your cooking without breaking the. There are many, many sources for buying spices both online and offline. Here are some of the best options. Specialty spice shops. They offer a wide variety of high quality spices, often sourced from around the world. These shops may be found online or in person, so I put a link in my show notes with all sorts of sources. You will love. Ethnic markets. They are a great source of authentic spices used in specific cuisines. For example, an Indian market may have a whole wide variety of Indian spices that can be difficult to find anywhere else. Farmers' markets. Many farmers' markets have vendors who sell fresh herbs and spices, often grown locally. Health food stores. Health food stores often have a good selection of organic and high quality spices. So when you buy your spices, it's important to look for fresh, high quality products, smell the spices. If they will let you smell them if you can, to ensure they are fragrant and potent, and check the expiration date to make sure they haven't been sitting on the shelf for a year. It's also a good idea to buy in small quantities, as I said, and you can use the spices before they lose their flavor. The general rule of thumb for storing dried spices is in a clean, well sealed. Away from heat and light, I put a link in the show notes to all sorts of sources for spice storage, jars, labels, racks, everything you need. Now, spicy or hot food can be considered comfort food by some people, but it's not a universal opinion. The concept of comfort food usually refers to foods that are familiar, satisfying, and often associated. Positive emotions or memories. For some people, spicy food can be comforting because it provides a sense of warmth, stimulates the senses, and can trigger endorphins that make us feel good. In cultures where spicy food is common, it can be a source of cultural pride and identity, and for some people, being able to tolerate extreme heat and food is really a badge of honor Now for me. I didn't grow up with spicy foods, so it's an acquired taste. I like spice and heat, but I tend to stop before the heat overtakes flavor. We're getting close to wrapping it up here, but I wanted to give you a little advice about spicy food. If you find that your food is too spicy, there are several things you can do to help tone that heat down at a dairy product is my favorite one. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, or sour cream can help to neutralize the spiciness in a dish. So a dollop of yogurt to sour cream or a glass of milk can help cool down that. Adding acid. Acidic ingredients such as lemon or lime juice, vinegar, or tomatoes, can help to balance out the spiciness in a dish. So a squeeze of lemon or lime, or a splash of vinegar to the dish can help tone down that heat, adding sweetness, sweet ingredients, honey, sugar or fruit, can help to balance out the spiciness in a dish, add a teaspoon of honey or sugar, and tone down that heat, or serve it with a slice of fruit to help cool down the spiciness. Serve it with bland food. I do this all the time. Serving a spicy dish like a chili with bland food like rice or bread or potatoes, can help to balance out the spiciness. The bland food will absorb some of the heat and help cool down your mouth, dilute the dish. If a dish is too spicy, you can dilute it by adding more of the non-spicy ingredients. Such as vegetables, rice, or broth, or coconut cream if it's a curry, remember, if you're cooking a spicy dish, you can always start with less spice and gradually build up the spice until you reach your desired level of heat. This will help you avoid making it a dish that is too spicy and you're gonna have to try and fix it later. Okay, I'm ready to wrap it up now. Suffice it to say spices are generally healthy as they contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and other beneficial nutrients. So spices are good for you. We should all use more of them. There's a lot to know and that's fun. Spices make our life better. Thank you so very much for listening to this episode of Bending the Spoon. If you like this episode or if you think someone else would find it useful, please leave a review on pod chaser.com, and if you have any questions for me, find me on Instagram or YouTube or go to bonicelli cooking club.com and leave me a message. Thank you, and go and make some magic in your kitchen.

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