Food for Thought – The Power of Spices and Seasonings

Food for Thought

February marks the start of Black History Month!

Food for Thought

February not only marks the observance of Black History Month but also provides an opportunity to delve into the rich history of cultural heritage, resilience, and contributions of the African American community.

One of the distinguishing features of African and African American cuisine is the masterful use of spices and seasonings. Beyond their ability to enhance flavors, these culinary elements often come with a plethora of health benefits.

Let’s delve into the nutritional advantages of some commonly used spices and seasonings in Black cuisine, along with a couple of recipes that showcase their versatility:

Recipe: Turmeric-Spiced Sweet Potato Soup

Nutritional Benefits: Known for its vibrant yellow color, turmeric contains curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory compound. It is believed to have antioxidant properties that contribute to overall health.

Instructions: In a large pot, sauté the onion and garlic until softened. Add turmeric and cumin, stirring to coat the onions and garlic. Add sweet potatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a swirl of coconut milk if desired.

Food for Thought

Recipe: Cinnamon-Spiced Plantain Chips

Nutritional Benefits: Cinnamon is not just a delightful spice; it also offers potential benefits for heart health and blood sugar regulation.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). In a bowl, toss the plantain slices with melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Arrange the plantain slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chips are golden and crispy. Allow to cool before serving.

Food for Thought

Recipe: Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Nutritional Benefits: Allspice is a versatile spice with potential digestive benefits and contains antioxidants that may contribute to overall health.

Instructions: In a bowl, mix ground allspice, thyme, garlic powder, onion powder, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper. Rub the spice mixture evenly over the chicken thighs.  Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight. Preheat the grill or oven to medium-high heat. Grill or bake the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Food for Thought

Recipe: Smoky Paprika Chicken

Nutritional Benefits: Paprika, made from ground red peppers, is rich in antioxidants, particularly vitamin C. It may contribute to immune system support and has anti-inflammatory properties.

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). In a small bowl, mix smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Rub the spice mixture evenly over both sides of each chicken breast. Heat olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes on each side. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Food for Thought

Recipe: Ginger-Lemon Iced Tea

Nutritional Benefit: Consuming ginger helps reduce intestinal gas and bloating as well as fermentation, constipation, and other related issues.

Instructions: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-sized pot. Add the tea bags and ginger slices to the boiling water, then remove the pot from heat. Allow the tea to steep for about 5-7 minutes, depending on your desired strength. Remove the tea bags and strain out the ginger slices. Stir in honey or maple syrup while the tea is still warm, adjusting sweetness to your liking. Let the tea cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. Serve the ginger-lemon iced tea over ice, garnished with lemon slices and fresh mint leaves if desired.

Food for Thought

– Jasmine Price, GatorCare Wellness Intern

Want more?

Check out our previous edition of Food for Thought!

As winter blankets us in its cozy embrace, there's nothing quite like curling up with a mug of steaming hot chocolate to add warmth to our days. Celebrate Hot Chocolate Day and learn more about its history and health benefits with our previous edition of Food for Thought!

Food for Thought


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