Spice Apothecary by Bevin Clare
[I’m posting two versions of this review just to see which one people prefer.]
When we embark on a journey to improve our health, we usually do it in a big way. There’s a plan, a resolution. Multiple lists. A gym membership and throwing out all the junk food. And because it’s so big, and so foreign, and uses up so much mental energy, it rarely lasts.
What we miss are the low-hanging fruit. What if, instead of getting out the ladder and dragging it to the tree and climbing to the top to get the shiniest apple, we stand next to the tree and pull off the one dangling right in front of our face? Instead of the complete life restructuring that exhausts us and sends us running back to our former unhealthy lifestyle, we can take simple steps that, when strung together, will improve our health and start us down a path to sustainable life change.
Author Bevin Clare, a nutritionist, herbalist, and professor, advocates for one simple step in her new book, Spice Apothecary: adding more herbs and spices to our diet.
Why spices? Because many of the familiar grocery store spices/herbs have well-documented medicinal qualities, and Spice Apothecary looks at 19 of them in detail. Each spice has a profile of the health benefits, taste profile, and history, along with how to use it in cooking and any safety or dosage issues. Although the spices are generally safe in food-appropriate quantities, she does give a suggested maximum daily dose.
My favorite part of the book, though, is the spice blends that Clare created. Each blend uses six or so spices that work well together. The blends are interesting and often surprising! I would have never thought to include turmeric and black pepper in a “sweet” blend — as a matter of fact, I had no idea how important or versatile black pepper really is. And they have great names like Reminds-Me-Of-Pie Blend, Green Goodness Blend, and Mint and Chile Blend.
She gives suggestions on using each blend, along with a recipe or two for each one. An even easier way to use the blends is to sprinkle them directly onto prepared meals. Clare says she keeps a shaker of her Everyday on Everything blend right on the table. The blend is an up to 10-spice combination that is tonic and anti-inflammatory, and supports kidney, cardiovascular, and respiratory health. I’m looking forward to trying it out on a baked sweet potato.
Clare also says that you can omit any spices that you don’t like or don’t have. I’ve tried out two of the blends so far, and I ended up omitting one ingredient out of each because I didn’t have it available. Both tasted great, but I’ll try adding the missing spice once I do this week’s marketing. In the long run, I plan to try out every blend in the book, as they all have their own appeal. I’m also looking forward to trying out some of the recipes. I’ll be making Cinnamon Apple Oat Bake later this week.
I am implementing a core value of Deliberate Acquisition, so I checked this book out from the library to review before I consider purchasing it. This book has definitely passed the ownership test. The book is a wonderful crossover: it’s accessible enough for anyone to use, but it also has enough information to be valuable to a student or beginning herbalist — like me!