Spices aren’t just good flavour-makers, they’re healthy too. From keeping your heart healthy and your arteries clear to reducing pain and warding off cancer, each spice has its own mood lifting health benefits.
Autumn is an ideal time to spice things up in your kitchen! Some fantastic indulgences for this season are nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger. These aren’t just good flavour-makers, they’re healthy too. We crave comfort food at this time of year because as temperatures drop, our bodies need more calories to warm up. Warming, autumn spices can easily give a boost to both savoury and sweet dishes and are perfect to fight that autumn chill. From keeping your heart healthy and your arteries clear to reducing pain and warding off cancer, each spice has its own mood-lifting health benefits.
A fantastic spice is ginger! Not only does it add a fiery kick to meals but it is versatile and works wonderfully fresh, dried and ground to a powder.
- Sweet: Make a classic gingerbread; the ginger will contrast the sweetness of the bread, whilst enhancing its nutty flavours giving it a little more body.
- Savoury: Cook up a hearty soup or grilled fish infused with ginger. It is packed with the stuff your body loves and needs to get you through the day.
Not only is this classic spice a very powerful antioxidant to help you get immunised for the cold months to come, it is also packed with anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger works wonders when you’re feeling nauseous so chew on a little when you’re feeling travel sick.
Just like ginger, cinnamon is a punchy spice with some serious health benefits. It contains a huge amount of calcium, magnesium and potassium, stabilising blood sugar and helping to lower cholesterol. This makes it a great choice for diabetics. I’ve also found it is a great way to give your seemingly ordinary meals a hit of flavour.
Tip: Sprinkle a little on your morning porridge or over a sliced apple as a snack. It’s one of those spices that just taste fantastic and can be used in the kitchen all year round!
Nutmeg, however, is definitely a spice for this time of year. It’s beautiful, warm aroma fills your house right through autumn and into winter and has longed been used as a remedy for various ailments. If you suffer from digestion-related problems like diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or flatulence, nutmeg can offer you relief by removing the excess gas from your intestines.
Tip: Mix it into tea or cocoa. Better yet, use it to add a touch of spice to homemade smoothies.
Don’t forget to smell your spices, doing so can increase alertness and brain function. Try mixing spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom with apple juice and orange zest. You simply boil the liquid and leave it to simmer. The smell instantly transports you to those wonderful memories of cosy, autumnal evenings and the mulled juice makes a delicious, caffeine-free alternative to tea or coffee. You could also add ginger essential oil in your bath, it’s anti-inflammatory properties will help relieve aching joints and muscles. This is my perfect, relaxing end to a long walk in the park collecting conkers with my girls!
5 ways to add more spices to your diet:
• Morning rituals! Wake yourself up in the morning with a brew that’s packed with hot water, ginger, lemon and honey. This kick-start will help your digestion process for the rest of the day.
• Although it is typically thought of as a sweet spice, try adding a stick of cinnamon to a stew to bring out the richness and flavour of the meat.
• The next time you’re baking something sweet, use ¼ – ½ a teaspoon of nutmeg to bring ordinary cakes and biscuits alive.
• Sprinkle some cumin onto root vegetables like butternut squash and carrots before roasting them to give a boost to your metabolism and immune system.
• Drinking a cup of milk (warm or cold) with some nutmeg powder will help you to relax – ideal if you have difficulty sleeping at night.