01 Dec A Spiced Up Winter
In the spirit of the holiday season, we treat ourselves to mulled wine and traditional Christmas cakes such as Lebkuchen. This isn’t a coincidence, as these winter treats contain a mother lode of spices that are celebrated for their strengthening virtues. With the threat of colds and viruses, and onslaught of microbes of all kinds, our immune systems need a good reboot, one that can be provided by all the spices and compounds that are found in these highly craved flavours.
To start off with, here’s a list of our favourite winter spices that will leave your body with a healthy and warming glow!
Ginger: The Best Remedy Against Colds and Nausea
If you are to beginning to feel the first signs of a flu or cold (a runny nose or sore throat), treat yourself to some ginger tea, as the spice contains some of the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory substances known. Simply cut some thin slices of ginger root and add them into 1/2 a litre of water, before bringing it to boil – as this will help to release its essential oils. Add some honey and there you have it! But besides colds, ginger is also an excellent remedy against nausea, indigestion as well as hangovers! Interesting, ginger has been the go to spice and has been advised to patients following chemotherapy sessions, as a 2009 study from the University of Rochester proved that it was effective against nausea, reducing symptoms by 40%.
Clove: The Anaesthetic Spice
Were you aware that the essential oils contained in the clove are anaesthetic? Well, dentists have advised it in cases of tooth pain, advising patients to apply a clove onto the gum near the painful tooth. Cloves are also antibacterial and decrease the risk of infection and inflammation, and when added to hot wine or Christmas biscuits, cloves will go a long way in helping to soothe sore throats!
Cardamom & Black Pepper: The New Digestive Tonics
Cardamom belongs to the ginger family and helps with digestion as it stimulates the stomach. Middle-eastern cultures always place them in their coffee in order to reap the benefits of its stimulating effects! Black pepper, on the other hand, stimulates the production of gastric acid and bile – for the digestion of fats – and is reason enough as to why it should be added to any recipe for mulled wine!
Anise: No More Bloating
Anise – which taste similar to liquorice – is an annual herb native to the Mediterranean and Middle East. It has also been long recommended to alleviate indigestion, bloating and gas. If you happen to be suffering from bloating, simply place 1/2 a teaspoon of powdered anise seeds into a cup and fill it with boiling water. Let it infuse for 15 minutes and there you go!
Cinnamon: A Force Against Diabetes
Christmas and New Year’s Eve may be one of the few occasions when you can get away with consuming a lot of chocolate, sweets, alcohol and rich meals. But just remember to have some cinnamon too, as it helps to stabilise blood sugar and limit the effect of excess sugar. Do not expect miracles, of course, but it’s still helps to consume it!
Nutmeg: Say Goodbye to Constipation
As a powerful homeopathic remedy, nutmeg is an effective spice against constipation and the inflammation of the intestine. You should take 3 homeopathic granules of nutmeg in C30 dilution.
And just before we end this post, here’s our favourite recipe for mulled wine!
First off, take a litre of red wine; say for instance, Pinot Noir. Pour it into a saucepan over a medium heat and begin to add in:
- The zest of a whole lemon and half an orange
- 1 cinnamon stick (Ceylon cinnamon, which is of a lighter colour, is the best for this recipe – Cassia cinnamon on the other hand is darker)
- 5 cl of Crème de Cassis (a sweet, dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants)
- 40 grams of brown sugar
- 30 grams of honey
Heat the mixture for about 3 to 5 minutes (be sure not to bring to boil!), and then proceed to add:
- 2 pieces of star anise (Illicium verum)
- 2 cloves
- 1 pinch of nutmeg
- 2 cardamom capsules
- 4 grains of black pepper
- Small slices of orange and lemon bark.
Heat the mixture for another 10 minutes (once again without bringing to boil) before removing it from heat and leaving it to rest and infuse for 2 hours.
After the 2 hours is up, strain the hot wine through a filter. You can keep it in a bottle in the refrigerator and re-use it for 3 days, after having it warmed of course! Hot wine should always be drunk hot!