Cooking Tips | 10 October 2016Spice up your life with Spice Health Heroes Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Out this month, Natasha MacAller’s new book Spice Health Heroes, an “exciting link between food and medicine” – 100 recipes that are simple, wholesome, full of flavour with health-giving properties thanks to the use of spice. Exploring the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of more than 30 spices found in one’s kitchen cupboard, the book also contains recipes from some 22 internationally acclaimed chefs, including April Bloomfield, Peter Gordon, Mette Helbak, Judy Joo and Cyrus Todiwala, whose spice stories and recipes began from their very first taste of a spice then developing over years of cooking, creating and tasting into their own individual spice signature. We find out more from Natasha: how easy it was deciding what recipes to include, what she’s currently reading and how it’s her mission to inspire readers to toast, sprinkle and stir more flavour into their meals. Tell us what Spice Health Heroes is all about? It’s about adding spice to our lives in new, old and inspiring ways not only suggesting how to use spices but including pertinent and promising health information for each and every one. My intent in writing this book is to add spice to our lives by harmoniously blending two cutting edge worlds together: good food and good medicine. How is it different from any other cookbook? Spice Health Heroes includes not only 100 mouth-watering spice inspired recipes; it is a celebration of flavour, exploring the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of some 30 ‘Spice Heroes” readily found on one’s kitchen cupboard and includes practical advice on the storage, preparation and uses of all the featured spices. The cutting edge addition of a team of international medical doctors and nutritionists from all over the world who have contributed their own vetted quotes for each and every spice’s health giving properties! At a time when culinary medicine, the exciting link between food and medicine (and food as medicine), has become one of the hottest and enduring health topics, Spice Health Heroes will stimulate all your senses and show you how to create dishes for every occasion that not only taste fantastic but may help you feel fantastic too. In the introduction I explain that these two professions, culinary and medical, have come together and are working as a team to bring attention to the simple fact that good food equals good health. Culinary medicine is not about following a diet, nor is it about removing entire food groups from your life, but rather it consists in eating fresh food that is free from a long list of artificial ingredients: just simple, wholesome, fresh food, full of flavour, health-giving properties – and spice. I believe by adding spice to our lives, we can bring a wealth of flavour and balance to our daily routines! When collecting the recipes and medical information about the spices was there anything that surprised you about any of them? I was surprised by the flavour characteristics and active qualities I discovered whilst researching most of the 30 plus spice heroes. For example: the sweet tasting spices such as cinnamon and fenugreek show promise in lowering blood sugar a win-win for so many who suffer from type 2 diabetes. The addition of rosemary leaves added to marinades or sprinkled on meats adds an inviting flavour whilst helping to reduce damage caused by cancer causing chemicals that appear when meat is flame or fire grilled or overcooked. Simply astonishing! Spices have been part of life, food and medicine for thousands and thousands of years. The many secrets of spices were revealed whilst I was pouring over the captivating and inspiring history, myths, medical journals and scientific studies of this most alluring subject. Kuli kuli peanut cakes Was it difficult in choosing which recipes to include? It was a challenge sending detailed and numerous emails back and forth in nearly every time zone with my extremely busy team of contributing star chefs to choose their spice hero, but also one of the most fun and creative aspects of this book. Simultaneously, there was brainstorming, creating and organising my dining table full of printed recipes to ponder whilst anticipating what the contributing chefs might send through. In Spice Heroes, as the chef dishes and spice hero choices came in, it was my job to modify and in a few instances reinvent my recipes to fill in the blanks to balance chapters plus the starters to mains and desserts. As you see I do enjoy a challenging puzzle! Would you say educating people about spices is your aim for the book? My intention is to inspire and pique the curiosity of readers to toast, sprinkle and stir more flavour into their meals with this international collection of recipes. Each individual spice is defined and includes the history, myths and science and also reveals exciting and encouraging research studies that spices may help add good for you active nutrients to assist one’s health and well being. What inspired you to write the book? It blossomed from a passion for the flavour of these distinctive, varied spices I cook with while traveling and consulting. What are your future plans, any events coming up or another book idea in the pipeline? I have a food and beverage book in the pipeline and a few other book ideas in my hand-written journals. I would also like to finally at last finish my University degree in Literature one of these days! I am currently dashing around London talking about, toasting, cooking, grinding and celebrating spices. Next, I’m onto the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia to continue my Spice Heroes Tour to be often joined with contributing chefs and doctors. What are you reading right now? I often read 2-3 books at a time and at the moment includes a re-read of SHH, Bee Wilson’s “How We Learn to Eat” and ”Hotel du Lac” by Anita Brookner. Spice Health Heroes is out 20th October – order your copy here Photo credit to Manja Wachsmuth Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.