When the cooler temperatures of autumn set in, it’s a good time to treat our bodies to warming spices and foods. Here are five delicious spices with bold flavors to enhance fall and winter dishes.
Hailing from seed pods, cardamom serves a triple purpose in the spice bowl that’s near the exit of an Indian restaurant: It freshens your breath, improves digestion and helps prevent cavities. Studies suggest that cardamom may protect against Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to stomach ulcers. This spice is a wonderful addition to cookies, ice cream, chai, hot milk, breads and stews. Use preground cardamom, or crack and grind the pods to reap the full flavor—a blend of floral notes, camphor, lemon, mint and pepper—of the “queen of spices.”
This aromatic spice, with its sweet and savory flavor, is known to reduce inflammation and support healthy blood sugar and lipid levels. A study at the University of Michigan found that the chemical compound that gives cinnamon its flavor may help fat cells burn energy, making it a good addition to a weight-management program. Sprinkle it on squash, sweet potatoes, stewed apples, oatmeal and toast.
Warming, medicinal and flavorful, garlic is one of the most versatile spices, available in roasted, raw and powdered forms. Mix a garlic clove with one egg yolk, ½ cup of olive oil, and ¼ teaspoon each of salt and lemon juice to make an aioli for dipping. Add chopped cloves to sauces, soups, breads and salads. Garlic’s sulfur compounds support its use as a medicine for lowering risk of heart disease and boosting immunity and sex drive. Just remember to brush your teeth before you kiss.
Warm and spicy ginger adds zing to pastries, curries and stir-fries. Try it in smoothies, too. It’s delicious by itself as a tea for soothing an upset tummy. The root contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that ease flu symptoms, menstrual cramps and osteoarthritis. Use dry-ground or freshly grated; approximately ½ teaspoon of dry spice is equivalent to 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root.
This aromatic root, with scents of orange or ginger, is what gives curry its color. It has been used in India for thousands of years to flavor food and as an anti-inflammatory medicine. Turmeric’s active ingredient is curcumin, which is renowned for relieving arthritis pain and swelling. Add turmeric to curries, sautéed greens, soups, rice, scrambled eggs and tea. One teaspoon dried equals 1 tablespoon freshly grated root.