Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Spice Remedies Part 1: Cardamom Cures and Recipes

Most of us are well aware of the benefits of ginger for GP and nausea but how many know about one of my favorite spices, cardamom?
I was first introduced to this exotic aromatic spice when my dear friend Alan would serve a small cup of coffee with a pinch of cardamom after a delicious GP friendly lunch of well cooked local vegetables and soft melt in your mouth white fish drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil.  Only if I could hire him to be my personal chef, everyday I would be swimming in waves of tasty adventures!
When I was in acupuncture school this past year I picked up a little bit of an addiction to coffee (hey, it's Seattle, whats a girl gonna do?!).  I know, absolutely NOT a friend to a sensitive stomach but between living in denial and the hours of studying it was my weak spot.  My favorite day of the week was Thursday when my friend Marlee and I would head down to our favorite coffee shop in Freemont.  We would find the largest table available, spread out our piles of books and note cards then anxiously order our hot java (aka liquid crack).  However, with me and my secret spice stash it was never just a normal cup of coffee.  Oh no, this was special coffee because hidden in my purse was a magical bag of ground cardamom.  Before diving into the hours of quizzing (and distracting) each other we eagerly scooped the spice into our coffee, took the first sip and for a moment melted into cardamom coffee heaven before the marathon began.
Now, a few months and fewer coffee's later, this spice is nothing but nice in so many countless ways.

A soothing and comforting food, cardamom is the perfect tummy tamer and should be at the top of the list of pantry staples for anyone with GP.  Known as the queen of spices, it has been around and used medicinally for 5,000 years.   Stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, it helps to control digestion and saliva production. It is an anti-spasmodic and is recommended for nausea, chronic indigestion with bloating, belching, flatulence and hiccups. It is also an effective remedy for heartburn as it relieves pressure in the chest caused by swollen stomach pressing on the diaphragm.

The list goes on and on!  Just to review some additional benefits:
  • Just 1 tablespoon contains 80% of the daily value of manganese which is an important mineral for bone health and increasing bone density, helping to prevent issues such as osteoporosis.  Also a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamin C.
  • Improves circulation of blood flow to the heart and organs.  This includes the lungs and has been shown useful for pulmonary disorders such as asthma and bronchitis.  
  • Has a natural anti-bacterial quality and can be used for dental bacteria, treating bad breath and other oral health issues.
Cardamom Tea
This beneficial tea is wonderful to help digest starches and sugars as well as to stabilize blood sugar.
 - Steep 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom in a cup of boiled water for 10-15 minutes and sip before, during or after meals.

Turkish Coffee
*If you can tolerate coffee.  On good days my favorite morning treat is a 1/4 -1/2 cup of this with warm homemade vanilla almond milk.  I actually believe this digestive spice helps offset the acidity of the coffee.
 - In a french press add desired amount of ground coffee with 4-5 whole cardamom pods, let sit for 1 minute, stir and then steep for 4-5 additional minutes.
 - Quick version!  Add a few pinches of ground cardamom to brewed coffee with warm milk of choice.

Banana Coconut Cardamom Smoothie
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup lite coconut milk
1/2 ripe or frozen banana
1 fresh date, soaked in warm water for a minute then remove skin
(Sounds like work but so worth it!)
1 T almond butter 
1/8 teaspoon each of cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg
*Vanilla protein powder of choice optional

"C" Spice Blend
Coriander, Cumin, Cardamom and Cinnamon make a great blend for spicing up a dish such as poultry and especially white basmati rice.  Cook rice in chicken/vegetable stock with spices and you will be in for a treat!

Get creative and add in throughout the day such as hot cereal in the morning or warm milk at night, a wonderful way to bring in some comfort to the tummy and soothing for the mind.  Enjoy : )


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  2. I do agree with you and love your blog! I found cardamom several months prior to being hospitalized for most of July and a chunk of August, thereby working my back to liquids of more substance. It is great in smoothies and soups! Thank you for sharing and all you do as an advocate for our community it is greatly appreciated!