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Food should be seasoned with herbs

A variety of spices and herbs that include cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger and rosemary

April 27, 2021 3 min read

3 min read

SPICES and herbs have always been an integral part of cooking since ancient times and they still play a vital role in preparation of modern food.

They do not only add unique flavours to our food, but they contribute colour and quality as well. Certain spices and herbs when used alone, or in blends, can replace or reduce salt and sugar in food.
According to Arabang Mokokoane of Nat'Effect, a prominent local spice business, the quality, colour and flavour of the herbs and spices he produces are outstandingly healthy and tasty because of the topography of Lesotho.
A lot of Japanese are interested in his spices, most of which he produces with stinging nettles (bobatsi).

This, he says was after his visit to Japan in 2016 during an exhibition tour at the FOODEX JAPAN.

He inspires many local cooks and chefs to consider the use of a wide range of spices, including indigenous ones.

Metro also spoke to one of Mokokoane’s enthusiasts - 'Makoloi Montši who is a professional cook and a culinary artist from Mazenod in Maseru.

Montši, 34, says herbs also have several other uses in the kitchen, besides cooking.
“Herbs are the most frequently used ingredient for flavouring food. Apart from adding aroma and nutritional value to food, herbs are put to several other uses. Many were celebrated for their medicinal properties, well before their culinary use.”

In addition to that, she says: “Modern science has now shown that many of them carry remarkable health benefits.”
Supported by research, Montši outlines some of the healthiest herbs and spices recommended to be used with food, in order to attain a healthy lifestyle.

She lists herbs like cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, ginger, rosemary and garlic among others as some of the most important.
She recommends cinnamon for its ability to lower blood sugar levels and for having a powerful anti-diabetic effect.
“Cinnamon is a popular spice found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods.
“It contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal properties.
Cinnamon has potent antioxidants that help fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood,” she says.
“Turmeric is a spice that gives curry its yellow color. It contains several compounds with medicinal properties, the most important of which is curcumin. It is a remarkably powerful antioxidant that helps fight oxidative damage and boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.


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Super healthy foods including fruits and vegetables

“This is important because oxidative damage is believed to be one of the key mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.”
The other spice she recommends is cayenne pepper, which is a type of chili pepper used to prepare spicy dishes.
“The active ingredient in it is called capsaicin, which has been shown to reduce appetite and increase fat burning in many studies. For this reason, it is a common ingredient in many commercial weight loss supplements.
“One study found that adding 1 gram of red pepper to a meal reduces appetite and increases fat burning in people who do not regularly eat peppers.”
Montši says food should not only taste good but must also boost the health of its consumer. She encourages people to develop the habit of planting herbs in their vegetable gardens so that they could use them as healthy spices in their foods.
Last but not least, she recommends the use of rosemary that can help prevent allergies and nasal congestion.
“The active ingredient in rosemary is called rosmarinic acid. This substance has been shown to suppress allergic responses and nasal congestion.”

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