Spice Up Your Holidays – and Your Health!

whole-spicesYou may consider this week as the home stretch for the holidays, or are you may just be getting warmed up with Christmas, New Years and then the buildup for Mardi Gras? How are you faring thus far? Remembering to care for yourself?

One way that you can care for yourself is to incorporate spices into your food, or even a cup of tea, to support your body with the benefits they offer. My list of possibilities is pretty long, but let me offer a few options to get you started.

Cardamom – you may not have heard of this one before. I’m familiar with it because my Mom used to make a Norwegian Sour Cream Cake with this spice every Christmas. It has a scent that’s hard to describe – woodsy, lemony, peppery, spicy, sweet, or a combination. If you are familiar with Chai tea, you’ve smelled and tasted cardamom.

The medicinal qualities of cardamom are recognized in traditional Chinese medicine, where it is known to help combat nausea, heartburn, and bloating. Historically, cardamom has been used to fight infection from food poisoning, viruses and bacteria; and is also known to be anti-inflammatory, reducing pain and swelling in mucus membranes and the throat.

Cinnamon – I’m sure that you know this one well. Perhaps you grew up eating cinnamon toast or cinnamon rolls, and maybe you made cut-out ornaments with an applesauce and cinnamon blend. Did you realize that that aromatic ingredient is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-microbial, immunity-boosting spice? It packs a wonderful punch!

Just to clarify, using cinnamon in your food and beverages balances the effect of blood sugar spikes, boosts your body’s production of collagen, and helps to reduce your sugar cravings. Fighting brain fog? Pick up a cinnamon stick and breathe deeply, or diffuse cinnamon essential oil – it will make you sharper and more alert.

Fennel – do you recognize this one? You may have seen the seeds in your pizza sauce. Some like it, some don’t. Why would this one be of interest? If you frequent Indian restaurants, you may have noticed a bowl of small, oblong seeds at the counter. Chewing them after a meal helps to freshen breath and stimulate digestion.

Herbalists recommend that women use fennel to decrease PMS symptoms, as well as ease the birth process and increase the flow of breast milk. Fennel also helps to stimulate bile flow, soothe stomach cramps, and relax the colon. For the benefit of those around you, fennel is considered one of the best remedies for bloating, burps and flatulence. In this season of added social events, this might be a valuable tool for you!

No matter how many more weeks are in your holiday season, you can spice up your foods to explore the benefits for your body. Team this approach with the survival tips I shared in my last newsletter, and you will sail through.

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