Kay van Beersum - Nutrition & Lifestyle
The warming & healing power of Spices
Spices are so underestimated in their ability to keep us warm as well as provide us with numerous health benefits. So if you are the type that finds it hard to get warm and stay warm, if you carry two hot water bottles to bed and still scare your partner with your icy cold feet, if you want to know how to heat yourself up from the inside out and keep your body healthy at the same time, then read on.
In winter, we often try to keep ourselves warm with teas, coffees, hot chocolates or the odd glass of mulled wine. But why not try this healthy alternative which you can easily make at home. It is almost guaranteed to make you feel all cosy and warm inside and is full of unexpected health benefits. Unlike coffee, tea or chocolate this drink contains no caffeine, so you can even drink it late at night. It is much more satisfying than a cup of tea, helps to curb cravings for sweet snacks and makes for a great warming afternoon cuppa or an alcohol free night cap.
Below are the ingredients with all their health benefits. The recipe may sound simple (and it is!) but sometimes it is the simple things in life that we forget about and that can make us feel happy, cosy and warm inside. So com'on, add a bit of spice to your life and enjoy this natural winter heater!
I like to make my spiced milk with a dairy free alternative using either coconut milk or almond milk, found in the dairy free section of your supermarket).
1 large cup of almond or coconut milk
¼ teaspoon of ginger powder (or several slices of fresh ginger)
¼ teaspoon of cinnamon (or a piece of fresh cinnamon bark)
Freshly ground black pepper (approx 3 grinds)
3 cardamom pods, slightly crushes with your fingers
2 dried cloves
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of turmeric powder
Stevia or raw honey to sweeten.
Add the milk and all the spices to a pan and bring to the boil, simmer gently for 1 minute and pour in a large mug. Add the stevia or honey. Honey should never be heated to high temperatures as it destroys the beneficial enzymes within the honey, so make sure your milk has cooled down a little (no longer boiling) before adding the honey. Drink and enjoy!
WHAT'S IN IT FOR MY HEALTH?
GINGER is great for digestion. It stimulates your digestive juices and helps to combat nausea. It also is great for blood circulation and has anti inflammatory properties, helping to alleviate joint aches and pains. It contains compounds which may be beneficial for those with asthmatic conditions, supporting bronchodilation (increasing airflow to the lungs). But most of all, ginger is incredibly warming in winter! It is of course best to use freshly sliced ginger. But ginger powder can be a quick and easy alternative to add to your warming winter drink.
CINNAMON has long been known for it’s ability to help regulate blood sugar. So if you often suffer from energy slumps, sweet cravings and blood sugar highs and lows, try adding a few pinches of cinnamon daily to drinks, porridge or smoothies. Cinnamon is also a powerful antibacterial and antifungal and may benefit those with a stomach bug or candida infection.
BLACK PEPPER, there is a reason why people like to add this to their main meals. Not only does it enhance the flavour of many dishes, it also works as a digestive aid, reducing gas build up and stimulating digestive juices. It is mostly used in savoury dishes, but don’t let that stop you from using it in sweet dishes. I love using a pinch or two of fresh black pepper in spiced cakes and muffins or in hot drinks such as the spiced milk Black pepper also helps to stimulate sweating, which kind of proves that it has great warming potential!
CARDAMOM, just like ginger and pepper, this spice helps with digestion. It can help to clean the breath, heal mouth ulcers and, according to Ayurveda, cardamom even has the ability to combat depression. So if you are feeling a bit low throughout the long and dark winter season, all the more reason to add a few cardamom pods to your drink.
CLOVE, just like cardamom, is very beneficial for oral health with its antibacterial properties and ability to reduce tooth ache. It is a warming and soothing digestive aid, has anti inflammatory properties and it packs a punch of nutrients such as potassium, manganese, iron, selenium and magnesium, vitamin A and C. A little everyday goes a long way!
NUTMEG shares all the beneficial properties of all the spices above and is a fantastic digestive aid. But not only that, it can also help to clear the liver and kidneys of toxins and is said to aid restful sleep. You just need a small pinch as its properties are quite strong.