With Winter here, we want to find as many ways as possible to take care of our health and be preventative. Sure, it’s fun to spend your days indoors, cuddled up by the fire, drinking your gingerbread latte and watching movies with your family, but you also want to make sure you’re keeping your health in check.
One way to do this is by using spices in your everyday cooking. Here are four of my most favorite warming spices that contain nutritional advantages and many health benefits…
Let’s start with ginger. It’s becoming more popular year-round as people discover its many healing powers. It’s most advantageous when you use the actual ginger root (which you can shave or grind yourself), but ground ginger is good too. Ginger is used in a variety of ways in the kitchen from adding it to your meals for a little spice, to cooking soups and many Asian foods. You can also make ginger tea, which is amazing for nausea and digestion. Aside from helping with your digestive system, ginger is also great for pain and loss of appetite as it has many anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also great for brain function because it increases your serotonin and dopamine levels, so eating foods with ginger in them will not only make you happier, it will improve productivity!
Next up is cloves. They too can be found in a variety of forms – ground, whole or as an essential oil. Cloves are anti-inflammatory, similar to ginger, so they help with conditions like arthritis. Clove also works as a natural antiseptic and can even provide mild numbing. Many people use clove oil on a toothache. Cloves are a great spice to add to apple cider, baking pumpkin pie, and of course making any variation of chili or soups.
Who doesn’t love cinnamon? Cinnamon is probably one of the more popular spices, often combined with sweet flavors for a nice treat. It’s frequently used to top lattes or smoothies, made into cookies like gingerbread or snickerdoodles, and is frequently used in baked goods with pumpkin, nutmeg, and other warming flavors. It also happens to have health benefits, including protecting your heart and helping to prevent diabetes. Cinnamon has a lot of antioxidants, which is always important for general wellness, and can help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Nutmeg is versatile and delicious! This popular spice has a variety of uses in the kitchen. You can use it alone or pair it with other spices such as cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. It has a warm, sweet flavor, which is why it’s commonly added to desserts, including pies, cakes, cookies, breads, fruit salads, and custards. It also works well in savory, meat-based dishes, such as pork chops and lamb curry. Nutmeg can be sprinkled onto starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pumpkin to create a deep, interesting flavor. What’s more, you can add it to warm or cold beverages, including apple cider, hot chocolate, chai tea, turmeric lattes, and smoothies. If you’re using whole nutmeg, grate it with a microplane or grater with smaller holes. Freshly grated nutmeg is delicious on fresh fruit, oatmeal, or yogurt. It has various health benefits such as improving your cognitive function, helping to provide natural pain relief, and reducing indigestion. Some people have also noted its ability to help with insomnia.
One of my most favorite ways to use all the spices this winter is in drinks for both mornings or cold evenings. These spices are wonderful when added to your coffee or tea, chai latte, and even your spiced hot chocolate.
Give them ALL a try and let me know what you think in the comments.