Spices: Cooking With Spices for Better Health (cont.)

MEMBER QUESTION: What about garlic?

SIMONDS: One of the greatest things is that it is an antibiotic, so it fights and prevents colds and flu. I've resorted to chewing garlic cloves. Before my book tour, everybody had a cold. I ate a huge fresh garlic, made a chili pepper tea and sucked on ginger. Low and behold, I did prevent catching that cold.

We know that garlic improves cardiovascular health. They are doing studies, funded by the National Institute of Health, and it is believed that garlic strengthens the body's immune system. With most of these herbs and spices, as well as good food, they strengthen the body's immune system. They help the body to really fight and prevent disease, maintain good health and give us pleasure as well. A number of herbs and spices have antioxidant effects, so they help with aging to help prevent some of the difficult side effects of aging.

MEMBER QUESTION: I understand that ginger is good for digestion. Aside from gingerbread or gingersnaps, do you have some good suggestions for adding ginger to my diet?

SIMONDS: I use ginger as a simple marinade for seafood. You smash ginger slices, a little bit of rice wine or a dry white wine and salt, and maybe a little olive oil. It's wonderful for seafood.

You can chop ginger and put it in all kinds of stir fried dishes. It's a staple in my Asian kitchen.

I love to roast vegetables that have been sprinkled with chopped ginger and olive oil. It really brings out the flavor of sweet potatoes and all kinds of squash.

Candied ginger is superb. I suck on it. I take dried and candied ginger and make a tea that will soothe the throat and kill bacteria to help prevent sore throats and colds. I also love to add candied ginger to apple crisps. I have a peach berry cobbler in the book and have added candied ginger.

I poach fruit with ginger and sugar. You can add wine, and reduce the poaching mixture to a syrup and serve it with poached foods. You can also serve it over vanilla ice cream.

There are many dishes -- sweet and savory -- that you can add ginger to. I would also suggest taking a family recipe and adding some chopped ginger to it. A teaspoon to a tablespoon adds new life to the recipe. There have been studies that people have certain dishes that they make for dinner, about six to eight, and they repeat them. You can add herbs and spices to your normal repertoire of family dishes and give them new meaning and new life. So, while these herbs and spices increase flavor, they are also increasing the health-giving properties of the dishes. What's so great is that they are now available everywhere.

MODERATOR: Nina, we are almost out of time. Before we wrap things up for today, do you have any final words for us?

SIMONDS: As I said, I think that people think of health and sacrifice in the same sentence. What I hope to do is introduce people to the idea of health and pleasure with herbs and spices.

MODERATOR: Our thanks to Nina Simonds for joining us today. And thank you, members, for your great questions. I'm sorry we couldn't get to all of them. For more information, please read Spices of Life . For more discussion on this topic, be sure to visit the WebMD message boards to ask questions of our online health professionals and to share questions, comments, and support with other WebMD members.

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