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Spice It Up!

by Elise Museles

It’s cold outside, and I’m feeling chilled to the bone.  What is a California native living on the east coast to do? I started to play around with some simple spicy solutions to warm me up and keep those cravings for heartier comfort foods at bay.  So, not only am I feeling hot, but I am also getting an extra dose of disease prevention with the addition of some natural remedies.  Check out my spice selection that is most likely hidden in your kitchen cabinet and sprinkle away to ward off that winter chill!  And, don’t forget to warm up and fill your mug with this Healthy, Hot & Spicy Cocoa (see the recipe below).

Spice It Up to Warm Your Winter

Chilies
Dynamite comes in small packages! Studies have found that capsaicin, found in chili peppers, has an anti-inflammatory effect and may also temporarily boost your metabolism. Add some kick to my Vegetable and Lentil Soup by dropping in a chopped chili to fight off those winter aches and winter weight!

Ginger
Ginger is known as a stomach calmer, but did you also know that ginger has been shown to have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties?  Several studies have found that ginger reduces pain and swelling in people with arthritis. Since ginger reduces inflammation, it can play a role in preventing and slowing the growth of cancer. Give your body a boost this winter by adding some energizing fresh ginger root to your morning tea. Or try a little grated ginger in your stir-fries, soups, or smoothies.

Turmeric
This mild Indian spice has been studied for its protective effects against inflammation and cancer. Turmeric’s health benefits and warm yellow color are due to a group of flavonoids called curcuminoids. This is a great spice you can use to color your plate and brighten up winter dishes! Add a few shakes to quinoa, soups or sprinkle on veggies.

Cinnamon
This sumptuous spice warms the heart by lowering blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels.  Cinnamon is a powerful anti-microbial agent that can help in fighting off harmful bacteria that can wreck havoc on our bodies.  Add half a teaspoon of cinnamon to your winter squash, morning oatmeal or baked apples for a heart happy, cleansing, and blood sugar stabilizing treat.

Nutmeg
During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of mental tonic since this spice is known to powerfully stimulate the brain. What better time to give ourselves an extra spring in our step than in the cold winter months when we are prone to feeling a little down? Nutmeg is an excellent compliment to baked goods, hot drinks, and squash dishes. But be warned, if you overdo it, this sneaky spice can cause hallucinations!

Healthy Hot & Spicy Cocoa

Take a moment to enjoy a cup of this decadently delicious drink and let the warmth radiate from inside out.
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond, hemp or rice milk
1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
splash vanilla extract
sprinkle cinnamon
sprinkle chili powder
sprinkle ground nutmeg
sprinkle ground cloves
Raw honey or liquid stevia to taste

METHOD
Heat the plant-based milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat until lukewarm.  Stir the cocoa powder and honey (or stevia) into the warmed liquid until dissolved.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon, chili powder, nutmeg, and cloves.  Heat another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Smell, savor then sip!

How do you spice it up in the winter?  I would love to know your tricks for staying warm all season long.

 

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