Monday, May 7, 2012

Packing a Vitamin Punch With Herbs & Spices

Chances are you have at least one, if not more, picky eater in your family. Sound familiar? I feel your pain. I used to be one of those annoying moms who everyone hated because her children ate everything. Oh and I mean everything. Serve me right for being so vain because now my children will, at best, turn their nose up at everything. Well everything apart from Mac 'n' Cheese. Yuck! If I never have to make MnC again, it will be too soon! For those of you who are at wits' end because your children aren't getting enough vitamins & minerals, herbs & spices are a *great* way of sneaking some nutrition into your fussy eaters. This is going to be one of those posts I guarantee will make you stop and think, "Wow, I didn't know that!" - that was my exact reaction when I first Googled "the nutritional value of Thyme". Intrigued? Read on...

I have mentioned Thyme a lot in my previous posts, namely in relation to coughs, as it is such a great expectorant. What I didn't know was just how much nutritional 'punch' it actually had. Did you know that just 100g of fresh Thyme leaves contain large amounts of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Vitamin A, C, B-6 & even dietary fibre? You can add Thyme to soups, pasta/pizza sauces and chicken marinades. If your children are like mine and are fond of tea, you can boil the leaves in some fresh, filtered water and add honey to sweeten. For those parents with anaemic kids that are desperate to get some Iron into their kids, this is a fantastic way to bridge some of the gap. 

Let's move on to Nettle. You may have had Nettle tea during your pregnancy if you had a midwife that tended to you as Nettle has a high percentage of Calcium and Vitamin K (Vitamin K is known for its blood clotting properties and in fact, babies in the US are routinely and controversially given a K shot at birth). Nettle is also a great source of protein oddly enough and I read somewhere that 1 serving of Nettle provides as much protein as a sink full of Kale! Add in the fact that Nettle is great for asthma and allergies and you've got yourself a super food! 

Having fun yet?! (Okay so I'm a little crazy, I'll admit it. It's also kinda late and I'm sleepy so don't be too harsh when judging)

Next stop and one of my faves, Fennel Seed. Fennel is a carminative as I've said before and is wonderful for tummy ailments. My usual use for it is in my Tummylicious Tea recipe but was pleasantly surprised to find out that it has high concentrations of Calcium, Iron & Vitamin C! I love the taste of Fennel and can have it by itself but the easiest way to give it to a smaller child is in the form of a tea.

You may have heard of Turmeric, another spice that is known for its antioxidant & antiseptic properties. Turmeric is great at fighting infection and people in the subcontinent use it for a variety of different  ailments ranging from arthritis to coughs. It has a high proportion of the mineral Manganese which activates enzymes needed to absorb several key nutrients in the body e.g. biotin which is needed for healthy hair and skin. It also has large amounts of Iron and also Potassium. In Pakistan, we add Turmeric powder to our curries so it is part of everyday cooking. You can make a tea out of it or add a few shakes to honey to give to your child. 

Parsley is a good herb to have at hand for both taste buds and nutrition alike! It is an excellent source of Vitamin A, C & K and also has good amounts of Iron, Folate & Potassium. Use fresh leaves on pizza or add it to sandwiches. I use it often as a topping for Garlic Bread and salads. It is rich in flavonoids which are antioxidants that help fight infections.

This is just a sampling of herbs & spices that you can use to enhance your child's vitamin and mineral intake. Other common herbs include Basil, Peppermint, Coriander & Dandelion and spices such as Black Pepper, Cloves & Cinnamon all of which have something to offer when it comes to fighting disease and strengthening the body overall. 

Spice up your life!



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