Spices are the delightfully aromatic plants whose warming scents are a characteristic element of the winter season. Many spices contain similar essential oils but in different proportions. These oils are released through the physical process of grinding, grating or crushing. Here are some spices to try at home.
1.) Allspice: Allspice (Pimenta dioica) comes from the dried berries of a tree native to Jamaica, Mexico and Central America. Allspice is a digestive and carminative due to the volatile oil, eugenol. Similar to other spices containing the oil, allspice also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
2.) Cinnamon: is harvested from the inner bark of several trees of the genus Cinnamomum, native to India. Cinnamon’s characteristic taste and smell is due to its primary constituent, cinnamaldehyde, an essential oil. Rich in antioxidants, cinnamon helps reduce free radicals, exhibits anti-inflammatory properties, aids in stabilizing lipids and blood sugar, and may have beneficial effects on neurogenerative diseases.
3.) Cloves: Commonly used in traditional Indian dishes, clove’s strong, pungent flavor can sometimes overpower other flavors and should be used sparingly. The spice has been used in respiratory conditions, as an expectorant for coughs and to sooth sore throats. Clove is also a rich source of antioxidants supporting the immune system.
4.) Ginger: Ginger is a good source of vitamin C and minerals including magnesium, copper and manganese. Medicinally, ginger was used for digestive ailments and is known for its calming, carminative effect. Due to its ability to stimulate saliva flow, ginger has been studied as an antiemetic, alleviating motion sickness and morning sickness, and reducing the side effects associated with chemotherapy. Ginger is a plant whose root or rhizome is commonly used cooking as well as in medicine.
5.) Nutmeg: has a special affinity for use in dairy dishes such as custard or pudding, but also in soups and other desserts. Historically this seed was used for stomach ailments, headaches and fevers. A high-mineral spice, nutmeg is a source of manganese, copper and magnesium in beneficial amounts.
From adding a little nutmeg into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or spicing up your dinner with ginger, these spices will keep you warm all winter long.