What is the first thing you do when you go into your kitchen?

What is the first thing you do when you go into your kitchen?

Turn on the stove? – right, but much before that, maybe before you really step into the kitchen or start cooking, the first thing is meal planning.

Most of us cook anything available in the fridge or pantry. Giving in to our convenience, we often overlook the real value of the food we put on our plates.

Food has a purpose. It is not just a filler at the end of the day but the chief nourisher for our body, the prevention, the cure and the reward.

Just as they say: “We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.(Anna Thomas). Eating bad food is like missing the opportunity to live longer, healthy and full.

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Busting Food Myths

What really stops us from eating good food? It is mostly our perception that good, healthy food is expensive or difficult to cook. But let me bust a few myths here.

Eating healthy food must not necessarily be:

  • Expensive
  • Difficult
  • Time-consuming

It could be as simple as sprinkling a pinch of oregano to your recipe or garnishing your dishes with cilantro or parsley. These small additions to your everyday meals can greatly impact your overall dietary value.

Making things even simpler for you, I am listing below the 5 most common ingredients that most of us have in our kitchens as part of our weekly groceries. If not, they are not too big investments to be added to your grocery list today! I’d highly recommend buying a few of these next time you visit the grocery store and reap the benefits of these immensely valuable ingredients.

Useful Resource: Here is a useful link to see the Dietary Recommendations for Americans Issued by dietaryguidelines.gov to review how an ideal diet should be according to every age group.

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5 Things to Consume Weekly

Here are the 5 simplest things that are a must-have in every pantry, and if consumed weekly or daily, they:
  • Impart immense health benefits
  • Boost immunity
  • Source of essential nutrients
  • Fight parasites in our bodies and much more

1. Garlic

Garlic, the smelly perennial herb, is highly valued globally for its medicinal and culinary uses. Since times unknown, it has been a part of recipes, tonics and botanical amalgamations.

Garlic is rich in sulfur compounds which convert into Allicin. Allicin further breaks into many different compounds that start a cascade of biological activities in our bodies. The plethora of proven benefits of garlic include:

  • Boosts immune system
  • Prevents common cold and flu
  • Eating raw garlic protects against cough, fever, and cold illnesses. In some cultures, people string garlic around infants to prevent them from congestion.
  • Garlic reduces high blood pressure
  • Reduces bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and risks of developing cardiovascular diseases
  • It also reduced the risk of prostate cancer and colon cancer
  • Studies also show that garlic protects against the ravages of stress
  • Garlic also confers phytoestrogenic effects to counter bone loss and osteoporosis
  • Garlic also has antibiotic properties
  • It has high antioxidants that may prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia
  • Garlic reduces the length of illness and speeds up recovery
  • It improves athletic performance due to its antioxidant properties and other health benefits
  • Garlic helps fight parasites, toxins and radiations from nuclear plants from your body and detoxifies the liver.
  • Garlic also helps repel mosquitoes by making a garlic spray.

Use: The recommended dosage of garlic roughly translates into 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic. It can be chopped, crushed or sliced. Garlic powder or tincture may also be used. Fresh garlic has more benefits than powdered garlic.

Cost: Small culinary garlic costs about $12.50/lb. Each lb contains about 10 to 12 garlic bulbs that are enough to last several weeks.

Recipes: Garlic is used in Soups, vegetables, kids’ meals and many other scrumptious dishes. It has a strong flavor that gives a distinct character to the entire recipe. Here is one of the great garlic recipes to try.

The garlic bulb can also be planted in a pot easily to grow your own fresh garlic at home.

2. Lemon

Lemon, the sour, yellow, staple citrus fruit, is commonly used in making drinks, recipes, marinades, household cleaners and medicines. It has an

Lemon contains many essential vitamins (niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, choline, pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin  C,  vitamin  B6)  and minerals  (calcium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc). Lemon has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. The several evidence-based benefits of lemon include:

  • Improves digestion, bloating, burping and heartburn
  • Enhances immune system
  • Boosts energy
  • Alkalizes and hydrates the body
  • Reduces mucus and phlegm
  • Promotes healthy and rejuvenated skin. It soothes the itching and alleviates the rash. Also, reduces the spots and cleanses the face
  • Boosts brain power
  • Lemongrass tea and lemon drinks help in weight loss
  • Reduces inflammation of joints by removing uric acid from joints.
  • It increases the absorption of iron
  • Prevents kidney stones
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Lemon water helps in the enzyme functions in our body, helping the liver to detoxify the body
  • It can reduce the effects of nausea, dizziness
  • It is beneficial in chills, fever, headache, respiratory problems, arthritis, diphtheria, rheumatism, depression, stress, diabetes, cholera, sore throat and internal bleeding
  • Potassium in lemon helps prevent high blood pressure and heart diseases
  • A lemon drink also protects from the scorching heat during summers
  • Lemon juice protects oral health. It stops bleeding from gums, mitigates toothaches, and gives fresh breaths.
  • It is a powerful antiseptic and can be used for vaginal hygiene

Uses: A lemon can be used in plenty of ways. It can be made into drinks and tonics, added to other herbs to make pastes for skin and can be eaten cooked or raw. According to Bengaluru-based nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood and consultant nutritionist Dr. Rupali Datta, 2 lemons per day is enough to keep you hydrated in the summers, and lemon water can be had every day.

Cost: The lemon price starts from $2.00/lb in the USA. About 4, 1.5 inches diameter lemons would make a pound which can last the entire week.

Recipes: Lemon is used in various salad dressings, kid’s lunchbox recipes, side dishes and main course dishes. It is also used in special diets like healthy bone diets and low-histamine diet plans.

3. Ginger

Ginger, one of the most celebrated spices known for its medicinal and culinary uses since times unknown, is a common pantry item that must be on your plate often. Its advanced gut-cleansing properties make it a healthy ingredient to add to teas and other recipes.

Ginger contains gingerol, a bioactive compound in ginger that is responsible for all its medicinal uses. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. It is used in Chinese medicine, alternative medicine and Ayurveda. Ginger tea is known to have many benefits. The many proven benefits of ginger are:

  • Antioxidants in ginger help fight free radicals and oxidative stress in the body
  • Reduces nausea and vomiting. Pregnant women may also use ginger to alleviate their nausea
  • Ginger may help with weight loss
  • Reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Improves heart disease risk factors by lowering cholesterol levels
  • Helps treat chronic indigestion
  • Alleviates menstrual pain
  • Helps prevent cancer of the ovaries, breast, pancreas, gastrointestinal, liver and colorectal cancer
  • Improves brain function and protects against Alzheimer’s
  • Helps fight common cough, cold and flu
  • Helps fight infections
  • Helps reduce bloating, gas and constipation

Uses: Ginger can be used crushed, sliced or powdered. Fresh ginger has a strong flavor; however, the powder is equally beneficial and has a longer shelf life. Health experts recommend limiting ginger to 3 to 4 grams per day. Pregnant women are urged to stick to only 1 gram per day. Consuming over 6 grams of ginger is related to heartburn and gastrointestinal issues. Ginger can also be consumed in the form of supplements.

Cost: Organic ginger root powder is about $12.99 per pound only, and it can last for several months. However, the fresh ginger root is much lesser in price.

Recipes: Ginger finds its way into plenty of cuisines and recipes. From soups to pies, it adds flavor and aroma to everything it is added to.

My Balance-Micro Bio-Force supplement combines the potent benefits of ginger with other similar natural ingredients to improve GI health, boost immune function and increase antioxidant protection.

4. Turmeric

Turmeric is a potent spice traditionally used in many cuisines and medicines. It is known for its beautiful yellow color and strong flavor that gives curries their specific color.

Turmeric has been a component of traditional medicine for centuries. Recent researchers also found that turmeric and its bio compounds are beneficial in many ways. It has a bioactive compound of curcuminoid polyphenols that can affect various chronic diseases. Turmeric is not only known for its physical benefits but it is also proven to improve brain function.

Other proven benefits of turmeric include:

    • Reduces the symptoms of arthritis
    • Has anti-inflammatory properties
    • Curcumin in turmeric is a natural antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body
    • It can also increase the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) that is responsible for the growth of neurons and plays a role in memory, learning, brain functions of eating, drinking, and body weight. It also helps treat Alzheimer’s diseases
    • Lowers the risk of heart diseases
    • It may help prevent cancer as curcumin reduces cancer spread, killing cancerous cells. It also supports new blood vessels from growing in the tumor
    • Turmeric has many skin benefits as well. It is used in many organic skin products
    • It may delay aging and age-related chronic diseases
    • Fights against depression

    Use: Using 1 to 6 grams of turmeric per day is recommended. Curcumin in turmeric is hard to absorb by the body. That is why it is better to consume it with black pepper. Black pepper has a compound that helps the absorption of curcumin in the body. Adding turmeric to your recipes may not fully provide medicinal benefits. For full benefits, turmeric supplements are a great way to add to your daily routine.

    Cost: Organic turmeric root powder costs $11.99 per pound(lb). It can last several months as turmeric is only used in small quantities.

    Recipes: Turmeric is popularly added to milk to make golden milk, a pain-relieving and healing drink used for centuries. It is also used in various dishes such as this cauliflower and lentil recipe.

    Balance- Power Turmeric is a Turmeric-based supplement for those who wish to have a complete boost of turmeric.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is basically fermented apple juice. The acidic properties in this vinegar are responsible for its sour taste and pungent smell.

Historically it has been a part of home remedies, ancient medicine and alternative medicine. Organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains “mother” strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria. These act as gut-healthy probiotics and give the liquid a murky appearance. Many recent pieces of research have proved the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. These include:

  • Helps in weight loss and reduces belly weight
  • Helps lower blood sugar and fights type-2 diabetes
  • Improves heart health by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels
  • Treats dandruff
  • It kills bacteria and is therefore used for cleaning and disinfecting wounds. Also used in treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections
  • Reduces blood pressure, is a risk for heart and kidney diseases
  • May protect against cancer

However, there are some unwanted effects of apple cider vinegar, which is why it is recommended to use it only in controlled amounts.

Use: It is recommended that 15-30 ml of apple cider vinegar is diluted in a cup of water to be safe. This is about 1-2 tablespoons per day. For specific results, consistent intake is necessary. Still, for general well-being, I would suggest using it weekly at least, if not daily, to gain its full benefits while avoiding the negative effects.

Cost:  The raw Apple Cider Vinegar is about $6.34 for a 32 fl. Oz. bottle that may last for months. Prices may vary for different brands, but it’s still a very affordable yet beneficial kitchen essential.

Recipes: Apple Cider Vinegar is used in baking, cooking, marinating and salad dressings. For health benefits, 1 to 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar can be added to water or tea. Here is a great recipe to add this potent liquid to your recipes

Final Thoughts

We have been feeding our bodies with processed, under-nutritious, junk food for too long. This has already turned our natural gut flora upside down.

Adding simple but naturally beneficial ingredients to your recipes is easy on your pocket and also easy on your stomach. They can help restore the natural balance of your gut and reduce the symptoms of many modern-day diseases, including obesity, heart diseases, inflammation and hormonal imbalances.

Don’t forget to add these 5 kitchen items to your grocery list next time you go shopping. Thank me later. J

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