During this fall season, you’re going to want to include in your kitchen the spices responsible for staple recipes and notorious flavors. Nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and (of course) cinnamon are ingredients we have to thank for some of our favorite things, like pumpkin spice and chai. Other than the flavors these spices bring us, they also have numerous health benefits. These items have been used as natural remedies for a variety of issues. With that said, it’s time to start making some delicious and healthy pumpkin pies!
Nutmeg is one of two spices grown on the evergreen tree. It’s native to Indonesia, but this spice is used worldwide. The Europeans valued nutmeg and strongly believed it could be worn to protect themselves from getting the plague. Nutmeg contains trace amounts of nutrients, including beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps fight DNA damage in the body.
Allspice is a commonly used spice in Mexico and Central America being that it grows on the pimento evergreen tropical shrub. Like nutmeg, allspice is a source of antioxidants including eugenol, which has been shown to have anti-tumor effects in lab studies. As always, further research is required to show this benefit in human subjects.
Cloves are the spice derived from the unopened flower buds of an evergreen clove tree. Clove oil is popular in dentistry because it can be used as a topical anesthetic, especially for toothaches. Cloves produce a sweet and intense flavor when used in dishes, try our apple pie for example!
One of the most popular spices is cinnamon. It can be used in a variety of food dishes, drinks, and home remedies. Cinnamon is the dried bark from trees in the cinnamon family, mainly the cassia. In 2000 BC, Egyptians used to import it from China because it was believed to be a sacred spice. Cinnamon has high antioxidant activity due to its polyphenol content, which protects the body from free radicals, therefore, protecting our cells. Cinnamon has also been shown to improve blood sugar levels. This spice enhances the flavors of fruits and vegetables in a variety of dishes and can be used all year round. Whether you crave something sweet or savory, cinnamon can add the perfect flavors to your dish!
Spices never actually go bad and spoil, however they do lose their potency. If you notice your spices have been sitting on the shelf for over a year, it’s probably time to restock. Try purchasing whole spices, they stay fresher for a longer period of time and grinding them yourself will ensure a fuller flavor. Some of the freshest spices can be purchased at a local farmers’ market. The best way to store your spices is in an airtight, cool, and dark place. The limited exposure to heat and light will maintain your spices’ potency. Lastly, these spices should be measured carefully due to their intense flavor.
Adding these spices to simple meals will not only give you flavorful dishes but an antioxidant and nutritious boost too. A delicious in-season beverage you can try is our almond milk chai tea containing cinnamon and ground cloves. If you prefer savory dishes, you can try our turkey stuffed apples. Another fall must-have is butternut squash soup and we’ve got you covered with this simple and nourishing recipe.