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Extracts can spice up a recipe for healthier life

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Albany/HV: Extracts can spice up a recipe for healthier life
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Spicing up your meals with different extracts can not only taste good, but can also be good for your health. Jill Urban has more.

During the holidays, we all tend to overindulge. But being naughty can also be nice thanks to the help of some simple extracts.

"These days, there are tons of extracts on the supermarket shelves. They are great for cooking, obviously, but what most people don’t know is they might have some health benefits. You are only using a tiny bit, so you might only get a small benefit, but why not? It’s the holidays, every little bit helps," explained Lauren Purcell, editor-in-chief of Every Day with Rachel Ray Magazine.

Purcell recently showed us a few extracts that carry some kick. Vanilla is a common one that we all know. But you may not know that it is packed with antioxidants, so use it freely. Same with cinnamon extract. A lesser known extract that can calm stressed nerves is lavender.

"Lavender is a soother. It's been known for anxiety relief. Now it's in an extract form that you can find," notes Purcell. "It's great in whipped cream. Lavender pairs well with almost anything sweet. You might also just put it in your pancakes. You won't taste flowers, but you'll be very calm."

If all the holiday eating is a little hard on your stomach, two extracts that can help with that are peppermint and ginger. Both are known to have stomach soothing properties, so including them in some of your recipes can help offset some of that over eating.

Clove extract can also ease discomfort. It was actually used years ago to relieve dental pain before anesthesia. Some say it has many health benefits. It's also great to use in stews and beef recipes because of its nice deep flavor.

And lastly, there's coffee extract.

"There hasn't been any research done on coffee extract, but there is tons of research about coffee itself," said Purcell. "It's good to prevent cardiovascular disease. We all know the caffeine effects are useful when you are racing for the holidays. So in extract form, I like to use it in sweets, but it's also really great in marinades for beef."

So the extract aisle of your supermarket is not so vanilla anymore. Exploring some of these new flavors can be the perfect way to spice up your holiday and your health.

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