As outside temperatures drop (they will!), home cooks everywhere crank up their ovens and dust off their pot holders. Unlike summertime, where ease is key, fall and winter are the seasons of heavy oven use and baked goods galore. If you haven’t checked your spice rack in awhile, please do so — there are plenty of spices that get most of their use from November to March, and you won’t want to be caught without them when its time to make pumpkin bread or savory stuffing.
Used since at least 2000 B.C, this ancient and exotic spice remains a kitchen staple — sprinkled in everything from applesauce to baked goods. And it’s a good thing — cinnamon has been linked to a host of health benefits. It can help regulate blood sugar levels, prevent inflammation and maintain healthy skin and bone formation, according to NPR. We like to sprinkle it on coffee in the morning for a little extra zing.
These seeds hailing from Indonesian evergreen trees have become inextricably linked with the holiday season — whether you’re adding a dash to a glass of eggnog or making a perfect pumpkin pie. Nutmeg also contains some surprising healthful properties. In addition to serving as a pain reliever, it offers antianxiety and antidepressant benefits. Some even consider it an aphrodisiac, according to Shape — as if we needed further convincing to use it in the kitchen.
Ground from dried, unripened berries, allspice is easily recognized by its pungent scent and sharp flavor. Also known as newspice, it’s a fairly common ingredient in desserts and baked goods, as well as various savory dishes such as sausages. Often used as a digestive remedy, allspice also offers pain relief and masks unpleasant odors, according to Livestrong.
Most recognized for its role in Thanksgiving stuffing or dressing, sage is also sometimes added to sausage or other meat dishes. Traditionally used as a topical pain reliever, sage is also commonly employed during aromatherapy to help reduce feelings of stress. In addition to helping treat gastrointestinal issues, eating sage regularly has been shown to boost memory and cognitive function.
One of the more divisive spices out there, most people either love or hate cloves. These little unopened flower buds are positively loaded with manganese, which plays a role in bone production and maintains skin health, among other things. A recognized pain reliever, cloves have long been prescribed as a home remedy following oral surgery or a painful trip to the dentist’s office.
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