A Spicy Approach to Staying Healthy

SpicesAs we continue during a time of pandemic, our concern about not being infected by the COVID-19 virus persists and grows. We know the actions that will decrease our chances of that happening from our public health officials.

Generally boosting our immune system is critical even more than usual to ensure our general health and wellness. We need to keep our bodies strong, address deficiencies and be able to ward off other illnesses and conditions while living in this strange reality. Summer is a great time to focus on summer superfoods – fruits and vegetables that provide great nutritional value. I wrote about them here: https://carolbrusegar.com/great-superfood-choices-for-summer/  These can also help us drop the extra weight many of us have added during the past few months – the “quarantine fifteen” or so!

SPICES – Another Tool  for General Wellness and Strong Immune Systems

Used in holistic medicine, healing spices have numerous awesome properties which can be used as useful preventatives and to treat everything from the common cold to inflammation. The majority of spices on the market boast at least some healing properties and different spices offer different healing properties. But generally speaking they all contain a high level of antioxidants.

These antioxidants can help fight off free radicals, protect against heart disease and other serious conditions, and keep you looking and feeling younger for longer. They also contain great anti-inflammatory properties which can help with allergies and even help to ward off more serious health conditions.

Due to the strength of many spices, they can also be used to boost the metabolism. This really aids in weight loss, while also helping to provide a delicious kick when added to your meals.

To get the full benefits, you will want to purchase quality spices – a well-known brand and organic versions if possible. Organic spices often also stay fresher for longer due to their production and cultivation method. You may be suspecting that healing spices are exotic varieties which are expensive and perhaps hard to find. Fortunately, that’s not true! Some of the best healing spices to boost our immune systems are common ones that may be in your cupboard, even if you don’t use them in all of the ways that can be beneficial. Here are five:  Turmeric, Cinnamon, Cayenne Pepper, Cumin and Cloves.

Top 5 Healing Spices to Boost the Immune System

  • Turmeric

Turmeric is one of the best healing spices you can use, particularly in terms of boosting the immune system. It’s closely related to ginger and has been used for its medicinal benefits for more than 4000 years.

It is the active ingredient, Curcumin, which helps to boost the immune system. It contains a high level of anti-inflammatory properties, required to ensure the immune system is functioning correctly.

  • Cinnamon

Cinnamon is one of the more versatile spices and it’s great for the immune system.

This is because of its impressive mix of antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties. All work together to protect the immune system, as well as fight off numerous illnesses.

  • Cayenne

It doesn’t matter whether you use the supplement capsules or the real thing, cayenne will help significantly boost the immune system.

It contains a lot of Vitamin A and antioxidants. These don’t just protect the immune system, but they also ensure the body is better able to fight off any illnesses which may develop.

  • Cumin

Cumin seeds are often used as a spice to help boost the immune system. In fact, they’ve even been used in traditional medicine to improve a weakened immune system. When consumed daily, you’ll start to see a difference in how you feel within weeks.

It’s largely the spice’s Vitamin C content which makes it so efficient at fighting off illness and protecting the immune system.

  • Cloves

While largely used to improve oral health and ease toothache, cloves can also be used to boost the immune system. They contain an exceptional level of antioxidants which help the immune system fight off free radicals, as well as oxidative stress.

They’re also good for reducing the symptoms of infections and fighting off disease. Or, use them to fight off the common cold and aid digestion.

 Check your cupboard for these spices, and if any are outdated, replace them and start using them intentionally and regularly. In an upcoming post, I will share a variety of ways to use these spices and a few recipes.

 

 

 

 

Apple Cider – Fall’s Delicious, Variable, Healthy Beverage!

cider & spices

Warm Apple Cider a favorite fall beverage for many of us. The natural apple flavor is often seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and other fall-type seasonings to make a cozy treat.

First, let’s answer this question: What is the difference between apple cider and apple juice? Basically, apple cider is unfiltered and contains some pulp or sediment, leaving it appear cloudy rather than clear. It also has a shelf life of 7-10 days. Beyond that, it begins to ferment and eventually would become hard cider. Outside the United States and Canada, cider generally refers to that alcoholic beverage.

Health Benefits of Cider

In addition to the taste, apple cider also can be very good for you. Apples themselves are an excellent source of antioxidants, plus have important nutrients like fiber that your body needs. They are good for battling heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The spices like cinnamon and cloves provide additional benefits, from more antioxidants to being anti-inflammatory and helping with your heart health.

Here are some variations of the traditional apple cider, with added ingredients that you can adjust according to your taste. You can use dry/powdered spices or other forms like cinnamon sticks, star anise, sliced fresh ginger, whole or grated nutmeg, whole cloves, etc. Part of the fun is experimenting with the flavors!

Cranberry Apple Cider

Cranberries are a great addition for color, taste and nutritional benefit. Add them as you warm the cider, either as whole or sliced fruit, along with your choice of spices. For another flavor variety, add cranberry juice with the balance between the two according to your taste.

Spiced Apple Cider

To make your apple cider spicier, you can add turmeric in addition to the traditional spices (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger). Slices of orange will add sweetness.

Dessert Apple Cider

You can also make more of a dessert apple cider by going with the same basic ingredients, but adding some brown sugar, caramel sauce, and vanilla extract to the mix. A spritz of whipped cream can be added to the top.

Creamy Hot Cider

Here’s a twist on cider: Heat your cider with the seasonings you choose (cinnamon, cloves, pumpkin or apple pie spice, etc.) Add caramel syrup to taste – about 1 tablespoon per cup – and 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream per cup. Pour into your blender and blend until it’s all combined. Enjoy with whipped cream topping if you choose.

Apple Cider Syrup

A simple apple cider syrup can bring those great flavors into your breakfast over pancakes, waffles and more.

Combine ¾ cup apple cider with ½ cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoons of butter, ½ teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg in a saucepan.
After bringing it to a boil, simmer uncovered on low heat until it is slightly thickened – about 25 minutes. NOTE: Cool for at least ½ hour before serving and refrigerate any unused portions.

During fall and winter, warm beverages really hit the spot. Apple cider can be enjoyed in these and other variations throughout this time of year. There are also “spiked” versions to explore if you wish!

Fall Spices: Tasty and Good For Us Too!

Tea & Spices

Fall and certain spices just seem to go together – we use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves in many favorite fall drinks and foods. But they offer more than great flavor – they have health benefits as well.

Spices have been used for centuries; in recent years we are rediscovering their health/healing aspects in addition to the taste enhancements.

Here are some ways to use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and the health benefits they each offer.

Cinnamon

Who doesn’t love some cinnamon? Cinnamon is probably one of the more popular spices, often combined with sweet flavors for a nice treat. During the fall, it is frequently used to top lattes, made into cookies like gingerbread or snickerdoodle, and is a frequent spice to use in baked goods with pumpkin, nutmeg, and other fall flavors. Its health benefits include protecting your heart and helping to prevent diabetes. Cinnamon has a lot of antioxidants, which is always important for general wellness, and can help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Nutmeg

Nutmeg has a taste similar to cinnamon, so there is a lot of versatility when using it. It has been linked to various health benefits, including improving your cognitive function, helping to provide natural pain relief, and reducing indigestion. Some people have also noted its ability to help with insomnia.

Ginger

Ginger can be used as the actual ginger root, which you can shave or grind yourself, or you can get ground ginger to make it a little easier. Ginger is often used for cooking -add it to your Chinese food for a little spice, or add it to soup or chili. You can also make ginger tea, which is amazing for nausea and digestion. Aside from helping with your digestive system, ginger is also great for pain and loss of appetite.

Cloves

Cloves can be found in many forms, from ground cloves in the spice section of your grocery store, to using clove oil. Cloves are also anti-inflammatory, similar to cinnamon, so they help with conditions like arthritis. Ground cloves are good in many baked items. Clove oil also works as a natural antiseptic and can even provide mild numbing. Many people use clove oil on a toothache.

FALL TEAS TO USE AS NATURAL REMEDIES –  These spices can make some unique fall teas. Here are three; use your creativity to come up with more.

Fall Fruity Spice Tea

Start with any flavor tea you like, though white and black teas are ideal for this variety. Then combine the brewed tea with your flavors, like cranberry juice, apple juice, and maybe a bit of lemon or orange juice. Add to that your fall spices like cinnamon, clove, and pumpkin pie spice. Mix it all together into a delicious fall tea.

Simple Pumpkin Spice Tea

For a cup of tea that tastes even more like a pumpkin spice latte, start with a spiced tea like rooiobos, then add pumpkin pie spice, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. You can also add some vanilla extract and maple syrup if you want to add in more sweetness to it. When you’re done blending your tea, you can choose to add something to make it creamy, like heavy whipping cream, along with a cinnamon stick at the very end.

Spiced Chai Tea

Chai tea naturally has all those spices you have grown to love during this time of year, and you can give it a boost by adding some of your own flavors. Get chai tea bags, brew, and then add a little extra spice, such as cinnamon and some nutmeg on top. If you like a sweeter chai tea, a bit of maple syrup or a little sugar can also be added into your spiced chai tea.

With these teas, you are getting the fall spices you crave and also the health benefits associated with the many fall spices along with the tea leaves themselves.

If you are interested in more on spices and health, check out this book.  “For each of the ten spices you’ll learn the spice’s medical and therapeutic benefits, side effects to watch out for, easy recipes for making the most of flavor and health and additional uses of spices for everything from baths to mouthwashes to insect repellent. You can have your health and eat well too!”  http://carolbrusegar.com/Ten Spices for Health and Longevity

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