I love summer. The warmth, sunshine, loads of daylight and not to mention an abundance of Vitamin D production. So when the winter season comes around, I do struggle to keep my usual happy face, longing for the spring change to break.
Over the years however, I’ve learnt some important diet tips and tricks to keep me warm and allow me to appreciate the chilly change. Instead of moaning about the cold, wet and windy weather, I want to help you to embrace this seasonal change.
Introducing the winter warming spices!
Forget about bland, tasteless, boring cooking! Lets add some fire into your life, warm your heart and add some amazing flavours to your foods, with four of my favourite warming herbs and spices. You’ll see their health benefits go far beyond this…CAYENNE
Yep, I’ve started out strong. This hot spice is going to get your blood pumping and get your metabolism going!
Also known as a tropical form of chilli, and in its milder form Paprika, cayenne helps to support circulation, prevent blood clotting, normalise cholesterol and can treat chilblains when topically applied to the affected area. Cayenne also plays a role in the treatment of digestive ulcers, heartburn and has very powerful immune enhancing effects. But wait there’s more! Asthma, respiratory congestion and arthritic pains can also be alleviated with cayenne use.
Depending on your tolerance to spicy foods, add ¼- ½ tsp to your favourite meat and vegetables dishes, dressings and marinates. You can also add a pinch of cayenne to your morning lemon water drink for an extra kick!GINGER
As Ginger helps to maintain body temperature and blood circulation, it is a perfect addition to your diet on a chilly winters day.
The list of health benefits ginger has to offer is extensive! Helpful for relieving nausea and vomiting, ginger’s antiemetic properties have made it a common herb and spice used to alleviate morning and travel sickness. Ginger helps to stimulate digestive fire, through the production of saliva, bile and other important gastric secretions. If you suffer from ulcers, using ginger can assist the healing and importantly inhibits the resistance of the nasty Helicobacter Pylori (H Pylori) to its antibiotic treatment.
For the cardiovascular system, ginger helps to normalise cholesterol levels and at high doses has the ability to inhibit abnormal blood clotting. If you suffer from aches and pains (this includes period pain), gingers anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects may benefit you, or if you are feeling run down, ginger plays an important role in supporting your immune system. Other reasons to enjoy ginger are for its liver protection and natural antihistamine properties (yep, for overcoming the dreaded hay fever symptoms).
Add the fresh ginger root (1-2cm chunk) into herbal teas, fresh vegetable juices and smoothies, grate and add into curries, stir-fry and other vegetable and meat dishes. If you don’t have the fresh ginger root, you can easily source and store the ground spice in your pantry for back up.TURMERIC
From the Ginger family, turmeric (also known as Indian Saffron) is another warming spice which is jam-packed full of health properties. The active ingredient, a flavonoid called Curcumin is responsible for the yellow colouring and incredible actions of Tumeric in the body.
This antioxidant rich spice can prevent abnormal blood clotting, supports blood circulation and possesses cancer-fighting properties[i]. Turmeric is very healing for digestive and joint inflammation; therefore helping to support conditions IBS, ulcers, gallstones and arthritic aches and pains (yep, another food for overcoming period pain). The powerful liver protective and detoxification actions of this spice are enhanced due to its ability to increase Glutathione levels – the body’s master antioxidant.
Commonly used in cooking for an attractive gold colouring and spicy kick to the dish, you can add ½ -1 tsp Tumeric to any vegetables, meats, dressings and marinades. Get one of my fav winter warming drink recipes using this organic turmeric, here.CINNAMON
Introducing you to my favourite spice! Not to be confused with cassia bark, or chinese cinnamon, True Cinnamon, also known as ceylon cinnamon, is what you want to include in your meals and drinks, to gain the real healing properties.
Along with its warming action in the body, cinnamon has immune protective properties including antibacterial and anti fungal actions, particularly in the respiratory tract and orally protection against dental caries. A known carminative and anti-inflammatory, cinnamon helps to relieve any post meal digestive discomfort such as gas, bloating, fullness and diarrhoea.
This spice is best known however, for its therapeutic properties to help with blood sugar regulation & increase insulin sensitivity in the body. It is a must-have addition to diet of those with insulin resistance, diabetes and all hormone imbalance symptoms. You can learn more about the connection between insulin sensitivity and your adrenal, thyroid and sex hormones, here.
Due to its many medicinal uses, delightful aroma, taste and natural preserving properties, cinnamon (bark, oil and ground spice) has been used since ancient times in food and drink recipes. This sweet tasting spice blends well with many food and drink dishes.
It's pleasant tasting in herbal teas and is a main ingredient, along with Cloves (another warming spice), in the popular Chai Tea. Along with hot drinks, cinnamon can be added to curries, smoothies, as well as many snack and desert recipes.SPICE IT UP
So next time you can feel the chill this winter, don’t fear! Add any of these spices to your food and drink and be comforted by their aroma, taste and powerful warming properties.
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