Mexican Spice Collection
Mexican cuisine can be traced back to Native American Aztec and Mayan traditions, as well as Spanish colonial influences, resulting in a prevalence of corn, bean and rice based dishes. The following spices are a starting point for creating succulent Mexican dishes: ancho chili, annatto, guajillo chili, chipotle, cumin seed, oregano, cinnamon and mexican chili blend.
- Ancho chili whole: The smokey dehydrated incarnation of the poblano pepper, the ancho chili is earthy yet sweet tasting, with berry undertones. The ancho is a common ingredient in chili powders, chili con carne and enchiladas. As with all chilies, it contains capsaicin which is known to have many health benefits including boosting the immune system and eliminating inflammation.
- Annatto Seed: These small, reddish-brown seeds from the annatto tree are used to impart a rich yellow color and mild, distinctive flavor to foods such as rice and sauces. Cover seeds with water and simmer for five minutes. Turn off the heat and soak in water for an hour. Cool before grinding.
- Guajillo chili whole: A larger chile with a thicker skin, medium heat, and reddish brown in color. Guajillo are one of the most popular chiles in Mexico, second only to the Ancho. Guajillo are, like most chiles, high in vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals. Capsicum, the heat ingredient in peppers, raises your metabolism and so helps you burn unwanted pounds. Hot peppers containing capsicum have been proven to help with health problems like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, gastric ulcers, vascular headaches, impotence, infections, kidney trouble, menstrual complaints, respiratory issues like asthma and pleurisy, and thyroid dysfunction and more. Hot chiles like the guajillo have been found to slow the growth of prostate cancers, and also help with pain if applied topically. More studies are needed, but the potential for health benefits are exciting. Dried guajillo chiles are usually toasted in a hot pan before adding to a recipe to release it's sweet flavor and heat.
- Chipotle whole: Chipotle chiles appeared in the Northern Mexican region when Aztecs used to smoke food as a way of preservation.
- Cumin seed: The health benefits of cumin for digestive disorders has been well known throughout history. It is a good source of iron, required in the body to make hemoglobin in the blood, for the proper functioning of enzymes and for manufacturing proteins
- Oregano: Oregano has potent anti-oxidant activity. It contains numerous phytonutrients - including thymol and rosmarinic acid - that have also been shown to function as potent antioxidants that can prevent oxygen-based damage to cell structures throughout the body.In laboratory studies, oregano has demonstrated stronger anti-oxidant capacity than either of the two synthetic anti-oxidants commonly added to processed food BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) and BHA (butylated bydroxyanisole).
- Cinnamon: A great source of fiber, cinnamon is available all-year long and as a fragrant spice it is commonly used in various foods and drinks. It has special healing abilities which come from the spice's bark. The bark contains three types of essential oils that help to inhibit clotting and control blood sugar. It is also an extremely powerful antioxidant that prevents oxidation more effectively than almost all other spices. One teaspoon of ground cinnamon has the equivalent level of antioxidants as a half cup of blueberries and one cup of pomegranate juice. Just think of all the foods to which you add cinnamon!
- Mexican Chili Blend: Blend of : ground mild peppers (New Mexican, Pasilla, Ancho) ground red pepper and sometimes dried oregano and ground cumin. Relieves achy joints. Research shows that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may help ease arthritic swelling and pain. Hot way to dish it: Sprinkle a few shakes of chili powder and salt on baked French fries.
The Chipotle word has its origin in Mexico and quickly expanded to the west area in the United States, where there was a big influence of Mexican culture. Today, this is a word known by most of the people around the world who enjoy spicy food and it usually refers to jalapeño pepper, even though other varieties can be smoked.
Cumin also aids digestion, piles, insomnia, respiratory disorders, asthma, bronchitis, common cold, lactation, anemia, skin disorders, boils, immunity, and cancer. In Indian cooking the cumin/jeera seed is exposed to heat to release its wonderful aroma and flavor. It can also used as a garnishing spice when roasted and coarsely ground to sprinkle on yogurt salads/raita. Most Indian lentil and bean dishes contain cumin as it imparts flavor and helps to digest beans and lentils. Heat Cumin and garlic in oil or ghee and add vegetables and potato, or sprinkle over cooked vegetables or potatoes. Add ground Cumin to lemon or yogurt marinades for grilling and barbecues. Cumin is also used in many Mexican dishes including chili con carne and tamales.
Additionally, on a per gram fresh weight basis, oregano has demonstrated 42 times more antioxidant activity than apples, 30 times more than potatoes, 12 times more than oranges and 4 times more than blueberries. Use oregano to add a delicate flavor to salad dressings, garlic bread, and omelets, as well as your favorite pastas
Studies have shown that 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol and may help treat Type 2 Diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels and increasing the amount of insulin production in the body.
Cinnamon has also shown an ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections and reduce the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells. At Copenhagen University, patients given ½ teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month. It has been also found to be an effective natural remedy for eliminating headaches and migraine pain
Uses: Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cinnamon to the batter of French toast or waffles. Commonly used in cakes and baked goods, milk and rice puddings, chocolate dishes and fruit desserts. It may be used to spice mulled wines, ciders, creams and syrups. Simmer cinnamon sticks with soymilk and honey for a deliciously warming beverage. Adding ground cinnamon to black beans to be used in burritos or nachos will give them a uniquely delicious taste. Add ground cinnamon when preparing curries. Ground cinnamon can also be added to coffee or tea as a mild sweetener.