Spices are in my DNA and this book is very much the story of my personal food journey which had led to my understanding about the remarkable multiple benefits of spices. I was brought up eating Indian spices and good, wholesome home-cooked food. However, when I moved away from home, I moved away from my ‘food roots’ too and was tempted by the growing proliferation of fast and pre-prepared foods. Instant (no cook, no mess) food availability and the addictive effect of high fat, high salt, sugars and colours. Result – I soon began to feel and look tired and horrifyingly, for someone who had always been thin, began to put on weight. Even though I cut down on calories and felt I was eating less … I was always hungry and still not managing my weight well or feeling good.
Over the years I began to learn more about food and the effects of what we eat has on our health, energy levels and of course, our weight. I realised that I wanted to eat healthily and feel full, to enjoy my food and to have a healthy relationship with food, but I didn’t want to eat bland, flavourless (and often insipid looking) food or ‘diet’ foods. I discovered that when I balanced spices with healthy foods my weight reduced and then stayed the same.
I have been fortunate to meet and become friends with people from around the world, through my TV career to go to fantastic places and explore foods from around the world. Time and again I found that the food I loved in most countries included scrumptious spices from their ancestors and families in recipes still being made today.
My journey takes me from my Indian roots, to traditional British cooking, to university where I was studying Russian and went to Soviet Russia, and then travelling myself to experience cuisines first hand in Iran, China and Italy and to enjoying foods from Thailand, Morocco, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the far East and West Africa.
I use spices every day – I love the tastes, flavours and the good feeling I get from just cooking a meal with them. A sprinkle of freshly roasted and ground cumin makes a dull plate of vegetables sing. When I add turmeric to a dish, I feel energised as I know it is doing me good and of course, the anecdotes about spices giving health are now being corroborated by numerous scientific studies. So, Spice Yourself Slim is the story of the food journey I have travelled.