I grew up in the north of England. Stew and dumplings. Meat and two veg. Bangers and mash. Beans on toast. I have to admit, I salivate just thinking about them. Thankfully, my mum is a classy lady and was always cooking up a storm, so she could turn a dull-as-dishwater meat and two veg into something really quite spectacular. Her secret weapons? Butter, cream and lard.
While my taste buds shall forever thank her, my gallbladder does not (and hers was sacrificed to the god of duck fat long ago). But she gave me a love of food and creating wonderful tastes. My secret weapon? Spices.
Apart from my dodgy gallbladder, I have also been broke and so my choice of amazing ingredients is somewhat reduced. Spices make a cheap cut of meat taste amazing. Spices lift a vegetarian dish from “rabbit food” to gourmet New York-hip-new-thing.
Some of my fave spices are Middle Eastern. It’s one of my favourite cuisines and is so thick with taste and variety. I came across a recipe that included a Moroccan Spice Blend. Instead of heading out to buy it, I googled what was in it and it turns out I had all the spices in my cupboard. 5 minutes later I gots me a jar of Moroccan spice blend and I’m good to go!
The thing I love about these most is all the health benefits of cooking with these. But first the recipe (slightly amended from the one I saw to account for my taste preferences):
Moroccan Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3/4 tablespoon black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/4 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon allspice
- 1/4 tablespoon ground cloves
You can use this as a meat rub or add it to lentil stews or whatever you fancy. Check this out though. Any of these spices has enormous health benefits.
- Aid to digestion – Cumin, ginger, black pepper, cayenne, allspice
- Anti inflammatory – ginger, cinnamon, allspice, ground cloves
- Boost to the immune system – cumin
- Source of iron – cumin
- Heart health – ginger, salt, cinnamon
- Aid to skin health – cumin, black pepper
- Prevents/helps fight diabetes – cumin, black pepper, cinnamon
- Protects brain function – cinnamon
- Decreases blood pressure – coriander
- Improves cholesterol levels – coriander
- Boosts metabolism – cayenne
Please don’t take this as medical advice – it isn’t! This is me google-ating things as I use them more. The list above appears to be the general vibe of things on the interwebs. The main point here is that spices are good for you. They do things that our bodies clearly need them to do. Not only do they make my cooking taste more expensive than it actually is, it is making my body thank me.
I am gradually introducing all these flavours and blends to my kids. For me, cooking with spices adds so much depth and so much enjoyment to meals. I cooked with this Spice Blend tonight. It was so amazing I had to message My Mate Jessie to tell her that even the memory of eating it was making me happy.
Guess who’s coming round to dinner next? Because thats the point of food isn’t it? It’s to be enjoyed, and it’s to be shared.