As the days get cooler and shorter in the northern hemisphere, there’s nothing like the comfort of a warm snack or meal, especially with familiar fragrant spices we associate with the season. Though the amount of sunlight fades in colder seasons, our nutritional intake doesn’t have to! Finding creative ways to consume highly nutritional food year-round is one of the best things we can do to support our overall wellness. It’s easy to follow the flavors of the season, AND boost the nutrient-density of a meal or snack.
I love cinnamon not just for its nostalgic and seasonally appropriate flavor, but for the awesome health benefits, too.
One of the hallmark warming flavors of autumn, cinnamon is also an incredible superfood. Cinnamon comes from the dried inner bark of cinnamon trees native to Sri Lanka, and was once more valuable than gold in ancient times. Known for its impressive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, cinnamon is a botanical source of polyphenols, and terrific for circulatory and heart health. Cinnamon lowers blood sugar levels, and has been shown to significantly reduce blood triglyceride levels, total cholesterol concentrations, and fasting plasma glucose. You can get the health benefits of ground cinnamon through a wide range of culinary uses. Cinnamon is popular in baked goods, delicious when sprinkled into desserts, coffee, and oatmeal, and you can even add it to curries, squash dishes, chilis and stews! TRY THIS: WARMED APPLES WITH CINNAMON INGREDIENTS:
1 apple, chopped into ½” chunks (remove core/seeds)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp oil or plant-based butter (olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil, etc)
Pinch of sea salt
Hemp seeds or chia seeds (optional)
DIRECTIONS: In a small saucepan, warm the oil/butter on the stovetop over medium-high heat until melted. Add the chopped apples, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to combine, cover, and turn heat to medium low. Allow to simmer (turning occasionally) for 4-8 minutes or until apples are warmed throughout, to your desired consistency. The longer you simmer, the softer your apples! Serve in a small dish, topped with hemp seeds and/or chia seeds for a protein boost. Serves 1-2 for a warmed snack. Double or triple the recipe for a larger group. This could even be a healthier alternative to apple pie or pumpkin pie this week if you're attending a Thanksgiving event and want to offer a sweet treat with less guilt.
Apples are the perfect seasonal fruit for fall. Loaded with fiber, apples are also high in Vitamin C and heart healthy potassium.
...another of my favorites is NUTMEG. Pumpkin spice lovers will recognize this distinct, earthy, and woody semi-sweet aromatic flavor. Nutmeg oil has antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Most often used as a ground up spice, nutmeg contains vitamins A, C, E, and lots of minerals including copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Some even enjoy the anti-inflammatory benefits of nutmeg topically, mixed with raw honey as a face scrub! Purchase it in a shaker, or elevate your nutmeg experience with a small grinder or microplane for freshly shaved nutmeg on-demand. Nutmeg makes a perfect topping on chai and hot cocoa beverages, desserts, baked goods, creamy pasta dishes, bananas, or sprinkled on roasted winter squashes. TRY THIS: PURE HOT COCOA INGREDIENTS:
1 tablespoon cacao powder
8oz organic almond, hemp, or oat milk
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch sea salt
DIRECTIONS: Scoop cacao into a large mug. In a small saucepan, heat and gently whisk your milk of choice, just until it reaches a soft boil. Add milk to mug slowly, stirring as you add the milk to prevent clumping. Top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and salt, and enjoy on a chilly evening!
The pungent power of fresh ginger is one of the best immune boosting roots to have on hand this season! Spicy and sweet, ginger is known to be helpful for combatting inflammation. It can ease motion sickness, nausea, bloating, migraines, and may even help protect white blood cells against radiation damage. Ginger can be eaten raw, cooked, and even pickled or candied— and is fabulous in sweet dishes like pumpkin bread and cookies, as well as savory meals like curries, stir-fries, soups, and sauces. The versatility and warming properties of ginger makes it a terrific item to keep on hand in the colder months. TRY THIS: GINGER TURMERIC BROTH INGREDIENTS:
2” long “thumb” of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely sliced or diced
1” long “thumb” of fresh turmeric root, peeled and finely sliced or diced
2 cups mineral veggie broth (either homemade, or store bought)
1 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked black pepper
Pinch sea salt (optional)
YOU WILL NEED:
Fine Mesh Strainer (or sieve, colander, or nutmilk bag will work!)
DIRECTIONS: Heat a medium saucepan with olive oil over medium heat, adding the ginger, turmeric, and black pepper to season. Cook for 1 minute, then add the veggie broth. Once it reaches a soft boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 10-20 minutes to “steep” the roots. Add a dash of salt to taste, depending on your broth. Once slightly reduced and rich in color and fragrant, pour over your strainer into a mug or bowl, to strain and catch the little root pieces. Enjoy your broth as a healing tonic first thing in the morning, on a cold afternoon, or anytime you’re craving something healing. Serves two.
ADDITIONAL BENEFITS: Turmeric is a super potent anti-inflammatory food due to the high levels of curcumin it contains, and the flavor complements ginger beautifully. The bioavailability and antioxidant properties of curcumin increases in the body with the added black pepper, heat, and the addition of a healthy fat (like olive oil). You can get a lot of benefits from a recipe like this. It may seem simple, but don't underestimate the healing potential of these kinds of ingredients.
How will you use cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger in your next recipes?