Spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg are an essential part of what makes the holidays taste and smell so delicious! Spicy treats like gingerbread, hot apple cider, or a frothy mug of chai tea are all clearly related to the winter season due to their warm and comforting qualities. However, craving these spices at wintertime appears to be no accident!
According to Ayurvedic wisdom, eating “warming” or “heating” spices during the colder months is vital for staying healthy and balanced. It is suggested that the metabolism works harder to keep us warm during the colder months, and therefore the “digestive fire” must be adequately fueled with foods that are inherently warming.
Consuming warming spices helps to heat the body by stimulating blood circulation, bringing blood to the surface of the skin, thus promoting a warm, healthy glow throughout the body. These spices are also know to soothe the stomach, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar, boost immunity and protect against wintertime colds and sniffles!
Join with me as I delve into some of my favorite warming spices that are exceelent for keeping you cosy during the chillier months!
One of the most delicious warming spices, cinnamon frequently plays the lead role in many seasonal dish favorites. Cinnamon is known to help lower cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels and is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It also enhances the mood and stimulates the brain.
Super-hot ginger does it all! It has been shown to boost the immune system, fight allergies, lower cholesterol, relieve arthritis pain, stimulate digestion, fight nausea and morning sickness, as well as warm the body by increasing circulation to all parts of the body. Use fresh ginger to make a picante, healing tea for an upset stomach or relieving inflammation.
Sweet and pungent, cardamom is a member of the ginger family, sharing the same warming and stimulating effects. Cardamom is known to open the respiratory passages and help clear mucus associated with colds and flu. It is also believed to promote digestion, heart health, and sweeten the breath.
Pungent and aromatic, black pepper is a powerful bioavailability enhancer, boosting the health benefits of other herbs or spices, such as turmeric. This spice has cleansing and antioxidant properties, and is known to enhance digestion and circulation, stimulate the appetite, and help maintain respiratory health and the health of the joints.
Renowned for providing their uniquely warm, sweet and aromatic taste to gingerbread and pumpkin pie, cloves are giants when it comes to natural health. Cloves are jam-packed with antioxidants and are anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic.
Nothing says holidays like nutmeg! Eggnog wouldn’t be eggnog without it! This super-spice is packed with health benefits and is good for preventing flatulence, treating diarrhea, nausea and stomach pain, as well as breaking up chest congestion. Nutmeg also has antiviral properties.
Homemade Chai Tea (dairy-free)
Chai tea blends black tea with exotic spices and coconut milk for winter warming drink that is like a blanket in a mug! What’s more, making this creamy spiced tea from scratch is easier than you might think, and I guarantee that you’ll love how the spicy fragrances fill your kitchen!
3 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
5 whole cloves
1 star anise
1 inch pice fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 black tea bags or 1 tbsp loose black tea (use rooibos tea for a caffeine-free alternative)
1 cup coconut milk
Honey to taste
Place the water, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, ginger and peppercorns in a small pot, bring to a boil
Cover, and reduce the heat, simmering for about 5 minutes
Remove from the heat, add the tea, recover and allow for steep for 7 to 10 minutes
Strain tea through a fine mesh sieve, discarding the solids
Return the tea to the pot and add the coconut milk and honey