Even though I’m not a fan of the word detox generally, the use of herbs and spices in naturopathic medicine goes back thousands of years, so this definitely isn’t part of some faddy and unsustainable quick-fix plan.
For example, in Ayurveda, a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of coriander leaves is added to food after cooking to give it pizzazz. It’s the traditional Indian equivalent of salt and pepper. But in addition to the tastiness of coriander and lemon, this condiment combo is designed to detoxify and aid with digestion. It’s a great way to give your cooking a boost of flavour and nutrition just before serving. (I learnt this tip from Carolina Daza, who runs excellent cooking workshops at Sol Semilla, by the way).
I have a wonderful reflexologist (feel free to get in contact if you want her number) who recently noticed that my liver needed a bit of help. Yes, she can tell that from my feet! The liver is the foundation of good health, but it is also the organ that needs the most help with staying spick and span, since we tend to overload it with pollutants and stress.
So, in the spirit of teaching what one needs to learn, here are my favourite spices for detox and liver health:
Turmeric is a powerful detoxer. It helps with liver function by boosting bile production, and it’s filled with health-giving antioxidants. It’s also anti-inflammatory, so will ease any aches and pains. Did you know that turmeric can heal a migraine? It also gives you beautiful skin because of the high antioxidant content – and who doesn’t want beautiful skin? FYI, you can use it inside and out as a skin beautifier.
How to use it:
Make golden milk, by adding a teaspoon of turmeric powder to a cup of nut milk, homemade or otherwise. Or, if your blender is powerful enough, you can blend up some turmeric root in the milk. A dash of black pepper will help with assimilation. You can also add turmeric to casseroles, soups, smoothies, juices and salad dressings for zingy flavour and nutrition boost. Your kitchen utensils, and hands, will probably end up bright yellow though, just a warning!
For more ideas about how to use turmeric as part of your daily diet and beauty regime, check out the Food Babe’s article on the wonders of turmeric.
When I felt a cold coming on this winter, I tried chewing on raw ginger root. And guess what happened? Total, almost instant healing! Ginger is powerful. It heats the body, and helps with digestion and blood circulation. It just generally gets your system moving, meaning that nasties can’t hang around forever in your digestive tract. It also helps release stored toxins from the liver.
How to use it:
Chew on a slice of fresh ginger root just before meals. This will help rev up your digestive system. After eating, you can use ginger again as a tummy soother – ginger tea is perfect in this instance. Just steep some slices in hot water, and hey presto! Ginger can also be added to green juice or smoothies for an extra detoxifying kick.
Warming cayenne helps the body to sweat it out, and sweating is a fantastic way to rid the body of impurities and toxins. Cayenne pepper also helps to purify the blood, boost liver function and promote digestion, all of which help maintain balance in the body on a daily basis.
How to use it:
Try our morning secret – before breakfast, drink a warm glass of water with fresh lemon juice and add a pinch of cayenne. Wait about 20 mins before eating your first meal of the day, to really let it do its cleansing work. You can also sprinkle cayenne into veggie stews, on brown rice or quinoa, or on top of avocado on toast.
So, are you inspired to stock up on spices? If you are in Paris, pay a visit to to Izrael, in the Marais. It’s an Aladdin’s cave of herbs and spices and a real adventure for the senses. Also, try the Indian shops in Passage Brady in the 10th arrondissment. I challenge you to resist settling down for dal and naan in one of those yummy-smelling Indian restaurants though!
Also, if you’re looking for more tips and tricks on how to spice up your life, Ann and I will be holding a spice workshop next month. The theme is ‘Ayurvedic Spices for Detox’, and we’ll be sharing our favourite healthy recipes featuring a wealth of detoxifying spices.
When: 19th March, 6.30pm
Where: My Kitch’n, 82, rue Lemercier, 75017 (métro Brochant)
The workshop costs €35 euros and all proceeds will go to Haiti Hands On, to help build a school for young people in Haiti.
Hope you have fun with these pungent and powerful spices!