Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Blast Pandemic Pounds! It's the Season(ings) to Slim Down

 Season Up! Say Goodbye to That Muffin Top!

By Cal Orey

The word is, we packed on one to two pounds per month since the pandemic hit in March 2020. Why?...

One fall day during a doctor’s check-up, after booking a trip to Alaska, I asked the question. “Should I lose weight?” My skinny jeans didn’t make me look skinny. My physician took a pause. “Maybe five pounds.” I felt my face turn red, blushing. I was in between a time of squishing my now size 5 body into size 4 jeans. The doc blamed unwanted pounds on age-related slow-down of metabolism. I criticized the office scale. I vowed to do intermittent fasting (a diet cycle between a time of eating and fasting, which is healthy for some people).

At home, I agonized, “If I am going to eat less calories, I’ll do it with more flavor!” Enter herbs and spices to my gourmet rabbit food regimen of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. It worked. I dumped those five pesky pounds in one month.

Fast forward to April 2021. The word is, we packed on one to two pounds per month since the pandemic hit in March 2020. Why? Blame it on more comfort foods and less exercise. Go ahead -- take a look at some of Mother Nature’s herbal weight loss wonders -- and put them to work before summer hits.


1 Cayenne:

This hot spice can hike body temperature, which can spike metabolism. That means it is “thermogenic” meaning it ups body heat, which in turn can boost the metabolic rate. Some nutritionists believe it is calorie-burning. Read: After consuming it in food, you can burn dozens of calories at resting state. Past research shows the ingredient capsaicin in cayenne is what gives the spice flavor and heat. If you’re trying to burn calories, go ahead and savor a serving of salsa or put it in a soup or even on a southwestern omelet. 

2 Cardamom: Welcome to another thermogenic spice. Mix it up with other earthy flavored spices, including cloves and nutmeg. The spice coffee I fell in love with contains the latter spices, and paired with a dash of cardamom it makes an aromatic and zesty brew. Plus, some studies believe the metabolism-boosting cardamom can give you energy to expend more calories. Caveat: It could also be the caffeine that provides that extra boost to get a move on.

3 Parsley: This herb is a known diuretic. That means it can help you lose excess water weight. You may get that needed boost if starting a diet even if you gain the pounds back. Since it helps detox your body, it will provide that mental and temporary jump start needed to give you the incentive to lose unwanted weight.

Spicy Skinny Green Smoothie

Here is a detox savory and sweet parsley smoothie I whipped up that can be used year-round. It’s a quick and easy, super seasoned healthy treat for breakfast, lunch or an afternoon pick me up.

 In a blender, combine ½ cup fresh parsley (leaves and stems), 4 baby spinach leaves (pre-washed, packaged), ¾ cup fresh raspberries or strawberries (fresh or frozen), 1 banana, sliced, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon nutmeg, ½ teaspoon cardamom, 1 teaspoon honey, and ¾ cup ice, crushed. Blend until smooth. Serves 2.

Adapted from The Healing Powers of Herbs & Spices: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Timeless Treasures published by Kensington

-- Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods, Essential Oils, Herbs and Spices) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is 

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