It snowed 5-6 inches this morning in north Denver, I love the silence during and after a snowfall– so peaceful. Well, that minus the snow shoves, ha! Here are a few shots from my front door, look how pretty:
Just another reminder that it’s November and winter is soon approaching!
I came across an article regarding fall spices that I wanted to share with you. As the weather cools down, our bodies crave warm foods and comforting meals to help us stay warm in the chilly months. It’s no surprise that the seasonal flavors for these increasingly colder months include warm spices such as cinnamon, cayenne or chili pepper, clove and ginger. These alongside other spices have a long history of reported health benefits and comforting attributes.
Most commonly recognized as a traditional ingredient in many fall favorites, such as pumpkin pie and apple pie, cinnamon has many purported health properties. Historically it has been used for the relief of some gastrointestinal complaints. Scientific evidence has also shown cinnamon to have potential anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. However, regardless of these attributes, there is no denying the warmth that this spice adds to both sweet and savory dishes. Try sprinkling ½ teaspoon into your hot cocoa, soups, steamed squash, baked sweet potato or even on your pieces of butternut squash fries before baking.
Historically, chili peppers have been purportedly used in treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, cardiovascular disorders, pain, skin conditions and respiratory conditions. Widely used as the feature flavor for a hearty, cold weather soup, cayenne or chili pepper earns its merits for its warmth inducing properties. After a cold day on the slopes or sledding with the children, a bowl of turkey chili will help your cold body thaw from the harsh winter elements. While traditionally used in savory meals, ½ teaspoon added to homemade chocolate or truffles or even hot cococa will excite the senses and give a kick to your sweet tooth. Used as a condiment, ½ teaspoon added to soups or onto sweet potato fries will also turn up the heat!
Often paired with other spices such as cinnamon, clove adds an intense flavor punch to sweet and savory dishes. Clove has reportedly been utilized to stimulate digestion and improve circulation. Often recognized as a feature flavor in Chai, clove is used in many culinary creations to add warmth. Adding cloves as a seasoning to chicken vindaloo curry, 1/2 tsp to overnight oats or traditionally cooked oatmeal, or a pumpkin pie smoothie will help transform dishes into an exciting new fall favorite.
Historically, ginger has been used to treat upset stomach, nausea, and diarrhea, as well as an aid for digestion. For years people have been giving their loved ones ginger ale to quell upset stomachs and nausea related to the common flu and other gastrointestinal issues. Aside from its reported health attributes, ginger adds an infusion of flavor to everything from pudding to shrimp. Using 2 tsp of ginger root or ½ tsp of ground ginger as a condiment option can lead to endless culinary possibilities. For an especially delicious treat, add ½ tsp of ground ginger to oatmeal or use in easy baked tofu, bombay sloppy joes or for a sweet treat, pumpkin pudding pie in a jar !
Speaking of warms spices, three out of the four listed above are used in this creamy pumpkin dip. This is a cinch to whip up for a crowd and was a bit hit amongst the Halloween party this past weekend. Literally it took me five minutes to throw together – easy, quick, crowd-pleaser and you get to sneak in a little bit of nutrition from the cooked pumpkin and warm spices 🙂
Adapted from Lindsay’s beautiful blog Pinch of Yum, I tweaked the recipe to become refined sugar free, less sweet (since we were serving with cookies) and doubled it for a large group. It makes a ton! I brought along some vanilla wafers and gingersnaps for dipping (I saved myself some on the side and brought gluten free Pamela’s ginger cookies for me).
If you don’t want to use for dipping, this “dip” would also be delicious drizzled over pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, blondies, pumpkin bars etc or for a healthier twist, serve with sliced apples, celery sticks or drizzled over cooked winter squash for a double-squash punch!
Creamy Spiced Pumpkin Dip (inspired by Pinch of Yum)
1/2 to 2/3 cup coconut/palm sugar or sucanat
1 1/2 cups cooked winter squash puree (I used pumpkin but butternut or kabocha work too)
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature or slightly warmed for smoother texture (use Tofutti cream cheese for vegan)
1/2 cup cottage cheese (coconut cream for vegan or whipping cream for more decadent dip)
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup, honey or agave (more if you want a sweeter dip)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
cookies (gingersnaps, vanilla wafers, graham crackers) or sliced apples
1. In a blender (I used an “S” blade on my Magic Bullet), add sugar and process until a fine powder (like powdered sugar).
2. Add powdered sweetener and remaining ingredients to bowl of food processor and blend for several minutes until well combined and smooth.
3. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour and serve!
http://www.imakenews.com/medifast/e_article002252359_13.cfm?x=bkccHwr,bpwcdgJn – my friend is a Medifast coach and I find the monthly articles interesting. Nope, I don’t use Medifast products myself.
For more information related to spices and herbs, check out http://www.mccormickscienceinstitute.com