‘Tis the season of cheer and laughter! It’s also the season of good eating and lovely holiday treats!
But where would these foods be without their flavors that give them the oh so familiar taste.
I’m not sure about you but for me, the holidays came running in this year! The days came so quickly, it feels like soon as I blinked the holiday season was here! I typically come up with a whole menu for the big days as I love to cook. So using spices and creating memorable flavors is one of the things I love most during the holidays! But what I love more is knowing that not only am I creating flavorful foods, I'm also tossing in some healing herbs at the same time.
Did you know that some of the most commonly used spices during the holiday season have healing abilities? That's right! That cup of eggnog with a dash of nutmeg is more than a tasty drink!
I talk a lot about the healing properties in food and nutrition. However, most people aren't aware of the magical punch some of the herbs and spices they are using when preparing the holiday dishes.
Let's take a look at a some of them that give us more than just flavor.
Cinnamon is a commonly known spice to be added to different dishes. From oatmeal and French toast to butternut squash and sweet potatoes. It definitely adds a little something warm and sweet to the meal. However, that isn't all it does.
Cinnamon's warm, sweet, astringent flavor adds to the temperature of the interior body can ease digestion such as bloating, gas, cramping, and improves the intestinal movement. It is also great to tone tissues, meaning keeping it healthy, mainly the intestinal lining and maintaining healthy gums and teeth. It has also been used to relieve fevers due to its gentle warmth by thinning the blood and increase circulation. With that said, individuals who take blood thinning medication should take caution when using or wanting to increase cinnamon. It would be best to limit and check with their health care provider.
Sadly, this once valued and treasured nutmeg now takes the back seat when it comes to its cousin spices. Mostly known for when adding to eggnog or desserts, but this spice comes with a bit of a punch. It has been used in the ancient days as a remedy for insomnia. Used with some warm milk to bring on the lovely dreams. It is also used for bloating, gas, assists with absorption of nutrients in the small intestine, and helps to relieve diarrhea in children. Nutmeg has also been known for its healing ability to lower blood pressure. However, when working with nutmeg in larger amounts than would be used in normal amounts for cooking, it is best to work with a trained herbalist.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in medicinal and culinary forms. Its warm and drying properties bring to the table a number of healing traits. It is commonly known to relieve nausea and digestive issues. It is great for individuals who present with signs of coldness and have a tendency to being lethargic and more slow. It does this by being a stimulant, meaning it increases the blood flow. It is also a known pain reliever. When blood circulation increases, pain and inflammation are also reduced.
Ginger also has the healing effects to treat migraines if used at the first sign of one approaching. It is also great for colds and flus due to its warming affects.
You don't hear too much about cardamon. It's like that hidden spice that is only added to chai lattes or spice blends.
It has its own healing abilities such as increasing blood circulation, relieving digestive issues, provides antioxidants, and even improves respiratory health by fighting bronchitis and cough. It also helps with insomnia and anxiety. When mixed with warm milk, this spice adds a nice touch to the evening time to reduce the tensions of the day and get you ready for the night.
Clove is known for its pungent aroma. I actually love clove for its healing properties. Its fragrance actually is well known in the kitchen. But not many are familiar with how it actually helps us heal.
It has a number of benefits such as providing antioxidants, increasing blood circulation, lowering blood pressure, and maintaining dental health by fighting off bad bacteria in the mouth. It can even assist with toothaches due to its antibacterial defense.
Similar to its other friendly spices, this one is recognized for its licorice-like flavor but not really known for its healing attributes. Its sweet, warming flavors that are added to pastries and desserts, definitely adds more than that when it comes to how it helps us.
Anise has been known to reduce flatulence and bloating, increase digestion motility, help improve mood and energy, provides antibacterial properties, and help balance sugar levels. It has also been known to improve menopausal symptoms by reducing hot flashes and irritability. Just be advised, if you have allergies towards fennel, dill or parsley, this might not work for you as this spice falls in the same plant family.
If planning to use any of these spices more medicinally rather than just culinary, it is always advised to speak with your health care provider and/or a trained herbalist before using.
There you have it! These commonly heard of and commonly used spices during the holidays really pack more than just adding some sweetness to the season. They each come with some awesome healing properties that can go a long way if used outside of their seasonal reputation.