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Spice Up Your January

Of all the months in the year, January is arguably the most dreary and dull month of them all. The Christmas Lights have been stripped from the streets, the Easter chocolate has yet to hit the shelves, and the prospect of summer sun seems a lifetime away.  

In a time where our health is a global concern, and the excitement of summer feels so out of reach, we can turn to our kitchens for a healthy dose of heat and flavour. 

While it’s great to stock your fridge with vegetables a-plenty and fresh food galore, sometimes the magic lies where you least expect it – even in the back of your spice cupboard! These magical dried ingredients aren’t only capable of transforming your dish, but can also transform your immune system.  

So, want to beat the winter blues and stay strong this year? Then get to know our favourite spices for immunity and strength.  

(The best bit? You probably already have them at home!) 

Nutmeg

Jumping onto a January detox? Then nutmeg is an essential part of your ingredient list. This warming spice is made from the seeds of a plant which are indigenous to India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Contrary to the warm climate of its indigenous home, in the UK, we tend to use it in our hearty winter recipes. 

Nutmeg has a variety of powers, including its ability to relieve pain, soothe indigestion, strengthen cognitive function, detoxify the body, boost skin health, alleviate oral conditions, reduce insomnia, increase immune system function and improve blood circulation. 

Nutmeg is a diverse spice which can be used in a variety of ways, from acting as a wonderful addition to the base of any curry or poultry seasoning, to creating the perfect hot chocolate for a winter’s day. However you choose to incorporate it into your diet, whether it’s sweet or savoury, you’ll be doing your immune system a favour.  

Cinnamon

Got more of a sweet tooth? You can still protect your immune system while indulging in a sweet treat, from sprinkling on top of your pancakes to stirring into your coffee. Cinnamon may smell like a gingerbread house, but don’t underestimate it! Used throughout history in Chinese herbal medicine, cinnamon displays antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties which are great for healthy bodily functions.  

Furthermore, cinnamon has proven to be supportive to our gut health, blood pressure and even our brain!  

So next time you feel guilty for indulging in a plate of pancakes, don’t! Just reach for the cinnamon and your body will thank you for it. Tuck in! 

Cardamom

Onto a more savoury spice, cardamom is a spice with an intense, slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of mint. It originated in India but is available worldwide and used in both sweet and savory recipes. 

The seeds, oils and extracts of cardamom are thought to have impressive medicinal properties and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Even today, science has proven that cardamom can lower blood pressure, protect us from chronic diseases, improve digestive issues, treat infections and even help bad breath!  

 Why not swap out the Colgate for a dose of cardamom?  

Saffron

If you’re cooking to impress, and want to elevate your dish in more ways than one, then saffron is the answer. Renowned for having a labour intensive harvesting method, this spice has earned itself the title of the most expensive spice in the world. 

But beyond the usual antioxidant and medicinal properties that more accessible spices can offer, saffron has benefits that make it worth the price. From treating depressive symptoms, alleviating the effects of PMS and even acting as an aphrodisiac, this spice can do wonders for the hormones.  

So, next time it’s your turn to host date night, don’t forget the saffron! You won’t regret it.  

Cayenne Pepper

If you’re bored of your usual flavour palette, turn to cayenne pepper for an injection of excitement and spice! Not only is it a diverse ingredient that can transform any dish (if you can handle the heat), it’s an excellent source of provitamin A and vitamin C. Plus, it contains a variety of protective plant compounds, like capsaicin and flavonoids.  

Some studies have linked hot pepper consumption in general to a lower risk of mortality, and some researchers have suggested that the plant compounds found in cayenne pepper may benefit heart health. 

If you’re looking for a new way to add flavor to your food and a fan of spice, try using fresh or powdered cayenne pepper in your next recipe – you’ll see the benefits of both! 

Black Pepper

You’ve probably been incorporating this one into your diet already! Either that, or your meals are probably pretty bland.  

The best part about this spice is that it works on literally any savoury dish – from eggs, pasta, curry or soup, there’s nothing that freshly ground black pepper can’t improve.  

The benefits of black pepper may also surprise you. Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, may fight free radicals and improve digestion and the absorption of beneficial compounds. 

If you’re a cautious cook, then spicing up your diet with black pepper is an easy way to add flavor to your meals and reap some health benefits. 

WRITTEN BY

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