Spice Health Heroes, a review

Friday, 23 December 2016

Have you got time to look at just one more book before Christmas?  Of course you do, and even if you can't pick it up in time for a Christmas present , you just might want to consider it for the new year when you are back on track and paying for all of your "Holiday Ingulgences" by bring your diet back into line with healthy options.  Enter "Spice Health Heros,Unlock the power of spice for flavour and wellbeing, a new book by author Natasha MacAller.

Spices are celebrated the world over for the depth of flavor that they bring to the dishes to which they are added. The alchemy of roasting and blending the perfect spice mix is a careful balance of sweet, sour, bitter and spicy that can elevate a dish to something truly special. But beyond their remarkable taste, many spices have huge benefits to health and nutrition that are only now beginning to be recognized in the Western world.

Many spices have huge benefits to health and nutrition that are only now beginning to be recognized in the Western world. Backed by an impressive team of international medical professionals and institutions, Spice Health Heroes explores the nutritional and medical applications of 30 commonly available but nevertheless extraordinary spice ‘health heroes’.

This beautiful cook book includes a detailed study of the history, myths and traditional uses of spices. Spice Health Heroes examines the culinary, nutritional and medical applications of the everyday and more exotic spices found in your pantry. Medical and nutritional claims are backed by contributions from an impressive team of international medical professionals and institutions.

In addition to being good for you, spices are universally celebrated for the depth of flavour that they bring to dishes. The alchemy of roasting and blending the perfect spice mix is a careful balance of sweet, sour, bitter and spicy that elevates a dish to something truly special.  Over 90 recipes, including contributions from more than 20 internationally renowned chefs,  such as Yotam Ottolenghi, April Bloomfield and 2016 James Beard winners Lidia Bastianich and Ragahavan Iyer, Spice Health Heroes takes you on a journey through the spice cabinet and will inspire you to add a fragrant spice to every meal, including  such mouth-watering dishes as Hibiscus and Citrus-crusted Prawns with Tart Tuscan Melon, Tamarind and Tahitian Lime Roasted Duck, and Toasted Pepper, Lemon and Strawberry Swirl Ice Cream to name but a few.

Spices Health Heroes goes much further than just cooking with spices. Natasha explores the culinary, nutritional and medicinal uses of more than 30 spices, from everyday citrus zest to the more unusual hibiscus. The spices are grouped into sections highlighting their dominant enlivening characteristics, whether it be immune and cleansing spices or restorative and calming spices.

Each section of the book focuses on a specific set of spices, setting out their taste and health profile.  Well researched and peppered with quotes from a wide range of medical professionals, this book appeals to the whys and wherefores of food cookery.  I have always been fascinated by how ancient knowledge and uses of ingredients are often now backed up by science.   Yes, I am the also the person who wonders about who it was the first decided that an egg would be something delicious to eat, or how it came to be that someone decided that mixing ingredients together in a certain way would come up with bread or cake, or . . . . well whatever really.  Ultimately, however, I am keenly interested in how  ingredients, such as spices, work together to make our food more delicious . . .  to the eye, to the nose, and to the taste.

This is a book of naturally healthy recipes, without needing to apply any ‘clean eating’ labels. Distinctly "un-fadish" it incorporates whole foods and low levels of refined sugar in many of the sweet dishes, and yet is still filled to the brim with flavour, and delicious spices. If you’re not sure about where to start with spices and are sometimes a bit scared about how to get them to work together, Spice Health Heroes should help point you in the right direction.

Also included is very helpful advice in choosing and storing spices.


NATASHA MACALLER spent 30 years as a professional ballerina performing with New York’s prestigious Joffrey Ballet and Boston Ballet, finishing her exhilarating career in the Broadway and Los Angeles productions of The Phantom of The Opera. Turning her artistic spirit to the kitchen, she now channels the same passion, diligence and precision that made her a successful dancer into her love of creative cooking. She divides her time between Los Angeles, London and New Zealand, where she teaches cookery courses and writes. She’s also a highly sought-after restaurant consultant.

Spice Health Heroes, her second cookbook, blossomed from her passion for the distinctive, varied spices she cooks with while travelling and consulting. Her first book, Vanilla Table (Jacqui Small, UK), was published in 2015. Some 33 widely applauded international chefs contributed recipes. The book attracted great acclaim, resulting in television appearances and dazzling reviews in blogs, newspapers and magazines. dancingchef.net / Instagram: @dancingchefnatasha

       Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller
       Photography by Manja Wachsmuth
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Jacqui Small (October 20, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910254770
  • ISBN-13: 978-1910254776
    Many thanks to the Quarto Publishing Group for sending me  a copy of this lovely book for review.  Although I was sent a copy free of charge, any and all opinions are entirely my own.

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