Monday, 24. November 2014

Typical Christmas Spices - Exotic, Delicious and Very Healthy!

Anise, cloves, ginger, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla and cinnamon ... our typical Christmas spices are often used in cookies and cakes, punch or mulled wine beverages. They all have one thing in common: they taste wonderfully spicy and also contribute our health. 

Anise can be used ground or whole and is also called sweet cumin. It comes from the Mediterranean and grows on a bush - although the slightly spicy star anise comes from Southeast Asia and grows on an evergreen tree. Anise is used as a Christmas spice in gingerbread, cookies, honey cake and aniseed cookies. These treats are not only delicious, they are also easier to digest because they help soothe the stomach and intestines. Anise contains anethole, which is also good for respiration.

Cloves are used crushed or as a dried flower bud. They are often found in gingerbread, mulled wine and punch. Wonderfully fragrant, they strengthen the stomach, reduce flatulence and diarrhea. Thanks to the slightly numbing ingredient eugenol - cloves can even reduce a toothache when chewed.

Ginger - was originally found in Asia but is now grown in Europe as well. It is spicy and warming. Simply put, it acts like aspirin - a ginger cookie could therefore help to relieve pain or to inhibit inflammation. Cardamom, a close relative of ginger, is responsible for the spicy, sweet and savoury taste of gingerbread. The ancient Romans used ginger to cure their binges - it aids digestion and is also generally effective against a garlic or bad breath. It's a wonderful Christmas spice!

Coriander also spices gingerbread. The essential oil helps to relieve stomach cramps and improve digestion. Nutmeg, ground and baked into gingerbread, calms and harmonizes. Nutmeg is a beautiful Christmas spice that should be used sparingly due to its strong flavor.

Allspice - used as a powder or berry - is not only a fine Christmas spice for baked apples or cookies. It also gives many other dishes additional a tasty flavor. Allspice also contains essential oils that help digestion and relieve flatulence. For stress and nervousness, allspice may provide relaxing rest.

Vanilla puts us in a sweet mood, and is, after saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. Vanilla could therefore help you relax when you're stressed.

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without cinnamon. Cinnamon cookies, cinnamon waffles, mulled wine, punch...these are all refined with cinnamon. Cinnamon is obtained from the inner layer of the bark of evergreen cinnamon tree. Its warming scent positively affects our serotonin levels- that's why we feel so good at Christmas!