Healthy Herbs You Should Be Using

When it comes to healthy cooking, using a good range of herbs and spices is really important. Most people are totally unaware of the health benefits that herbs and spices can provide, thinking that adding them to food is just about the flavor. While, yes, there’s no better way of adding a delicious taste to your food to make it more exciting and varied, adding herbs and spices to your meals can help to lower your blood pressure, fight infections and combat a range of diseases.

People have been using herbs and spices for years in cooking, however, it is only quite recently that scientists have discovered the benefits and power that they can provide in the fight for better health. So here are some of the healthiest spices to cook with – I try to include them in as many meals as possible.

Chili peppers – these boost the metabolism helping people to burn calories faster and lose weight more quickly. It can also help to make us feel less hungry and therefore eat less food during the day. Chili peppers can also reduce the chance of getting a stomach ulcer since the capsaicin content helps the cells in the stomach to resist infection. Chili peppers may also help to protect the heart since it can stop LDL cholesterol from transforming into the artery-clogging type of type of cholesterol.

Bright red, yellow and green chili peppers on a white background

Ginger – soothes upset stomachs and fights the pain of arthritis. Capable of fighting all types of inflammation ginger can reduce morning sickness and help with the nausea experienced in chemotherapy patients.

Cinnamon – this stabilizing blood sugar levels in people who had type II diabetes

Turmeric – turmeric may inhibit tumor growth and quells inflammation. It can be used to heal wounds if used as a paste, but if it is made into a type of tea it can help to relieve respiratory problems. It can also help to reduce the pain involved in dental surgery and arthritis and it may even work against Alzheimer’s Disease, diabetes and heart disease.

Saffron – this spice lifts mood and helps to relieve PMS and depression.

Parsley – parsley may stop the growth of cancer cells in the breast.

Sage – this herb soothes the pain of a sore throat and may help to improve memory function.

Patients who have Alzheimer’s may also find that their symptoms are improved in the early stages by eating parsley.

Rosemary – this herb can improve mental focus and may combat bacteria which is in contaminated food. People can do better in memory tests if they eat rosemary

Rosemary herb

These are just some of the herbs and spices that I try to include in everyday meals. While they may not all offer amazing health benefits to everyone, it is certainly worth trying, and they make my food taste so much better! I’d advise everyone to try adding a little extra spice to their life!

My Morning Starter

While most people are aware that they don’t drink enough water, they don’t really do anything about it. I used to be one of those people. However, recently I decided that it was time to get healthy, and one of the steps that I decided to take was to include more water in my daily regime. At first, I wasn’t too keen I have to admit. Tap water really doesn’t taste great and I was worried about all the contaminants that might be in it. However, I really didn’t want to invest in bottled water every week and that doesn’t seem like a good idea, either for my bank balance or for the environment in general.

Luckily, I discovered the perfect solution. Cold, filtered water! Super easy, all I needed to do was pour some tap water into a filter pitcher jug, pop it into the fridge overnight and by the next morning it was lovely and cold, all ready for me to have a big refreshing glass with breakfast and then plenty left for me to pour into a bottle to take to work with me. Brilliant!

However, the pitcher than I’ve got has definitely seen better days, so I’m thinking of getting another one. Obviously, it needs to be a filter jug since I don’t want the contaminants from my faucet getting into my healthy morning drink!

I need a pitcher that fits easily into my fridge, that filters water thoroughly and quickly, just in case I need a quick drink, and which gets rid of all the unwanted contaminants.

I decided to go online and read some reviews. After all, that was what I did when I was looking for the best bread maker for me. At first, I  found it quite difficult to find reviews of pitcher jugs since most of the reviews I found were for the best countertop water filters, however eventually, I found the information I was looking for and narrowed down my options.

ZeroWater

ZeroWater

The ZeroWater filter has been extremely highly rated by users and experts alike on all counts. This clever jug uses a different type of filter to deionize the water instead of just using activated carbon. That means that everything is effectively removed for zero solids left in the jug when filtering has been completed. This would give me real peace of mind in my healthy water while also ensuring the water tastes great. Not only that, but this is a seriously attractive pitcher. It has a dual spout option, so I can either use it in the traditional way or I can leave it inside my fridge and just pour a glass directly from the spout at the bottom. Total convenience! The pitcher is made from really durable plastic for a longer lifespan than the one I have now, and it feels comfortable in my hand when I’m pouring.

While the filters are quite big, they’re easy to replace with no pre soaking required and the meter shows when the filter needs to be replaced. Even better, the company pays $5 for all the filters returned to the manufacturer for recycling! Amazing! Of course, on the downside, this is an expensive jug which could be quite prohibitive.

Brita 10 Cup Everyday Pitcher

Brita 10 Cup Everyday Pitcher

Brita is probably the most famous water filter pitcher brand and is the main player in the market. Their products are well known to be durable and high quality, however, this one doesn’t remove all of the contaminants like the ZeroWater since it only uses a carbon filter rather than a deionizing one. It does have a practical and stylish design and would fit well in my fridge and it’s an extremely affordable choice.

I’ve been weighing up the pros and cons of both these jugs. Do I go with an affordable choice from a big name brand or take a risk on a more expensive model from a brand I don’t know but which has been very highly rated? I think I put a high enough value on my health to make it worth my while to invest in the ZeroWater model. After all, what could be bad about removing all the contaminants in my water!

Dinner Party Planning

I do love a good dinner party! That may make me sound old or boring, but some of my happiest times have been planning dinner parties for my friends. I love the idea of getting together to talk and have fun over a delicious, well-prepared meal.

long table with dinner plates

If you’ve never prepared for a dinner party before, but think you might like to try, I thought I’d share some of my top tips that I’ve learned from preparing for dinner parties with my family and friends for years.

Designing A Menu

The idea of putting a menu together can be quite daunting. I suggest that you come up with a main dish and then work everything else around it. You could try theming by country or cuisine type or just prepare your favorite recipe.

Type Of Meal

Will you be serving as a sit-down meal or as a buffet? Will you eat inside or outside? Will you be dressing up or will it be casual? Are you preparing a number of courses or serving everything together?

Timing

If you can, minimize your last minute work as this will distract you from your guests and will be stressful. A roast such as a chicken or meat joint is useful since you can allow it to rest before carving.

Avoid Repetition

Avoid using similar types of food in all courses. Cheese, for example, can often be overdone during a dinner party.

Color

Try to consider how the food will look when it is served and how you can use color to your advantage. You don’t want an all-white dinner of chicken with cauliflower and mashed potato, for example. Think about incorporating different vegetables for shade.

Temperature

It’s good to mix it up a bit with cold and hot elements in your meal. You can even mix it up in the same course. One way to do this, for example, is to serve a salad with some warm homemade bread. Homemade bread is really the highlight of every meal, and there’s no more wonderful smell than of fresh bread baking. If you aren’t comfortable with baking it yourself, investing in a bread maker is a great way to get the benefit of homemade bread without any effort.

Tried And Tested

Young woman tasting tomato sauce

Don’t make life harder by trying a recipe for the first time for your dinner party. If you’re lacking in confidence have a few trial runs first, or just prepare something that you know you can do well.

Cost

While preparing a dinner party menu may be fun, it’s important to keep control of the budget, especially if you have limited funds. Keep an eye on how many expensive items you’re using and try to keep to a single expensive ingredient.

Stay Seasonal

Using fresh, seasonal produce will ensure your meal tastes better.

Don’t Forget Water

Putting water on the table for guests to help themselves will ensure they stay well hydrated and can enjoy your food more. A fresh drink of water will cleanse the palate between courses.