Creative Ways to Use Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Ginger, and Cloves
I was home in Finland earlier this summer and I realized in so many places around the world, there’s something our kitchens all have in common.
That something is usually buried in the back of the pantry, or maybe displayed on the countertop. Sometimes they’re even on the fridge! Whether proudly displayed or hidden in unmarked jars, almost every kitchen has a basic set of spices.
The normal person would use these spices to flavor pastries, stir-fries, or eggnog. But we who love functional mushrooms are not normal, are we?
While spices are now used almost exclusively in recipes to flavor food, they have historically been used for much more: internal health benefits, topical first aid, cleaning supplies, and even pest management.
So let’s get back to our roots and look at new ways to use four everyday spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove.
Cinnamon: Health Benefits and New Ways to Use
Far more than just a bun flavoring, cinnamon has been eaten since at least 500 B.C in ancient Egypt, and is even mentioned in the Torah. There is an overwhelming amount of health benefits of cinnamon.
There are two types of cinnamon: ceylon and cassia. They are the inner bark of two types of cinnamon trees: Cinnamomum verum and Cinnamomum cassia. Ceylon cinnamon is native to Sri Lanka and India, while cassia is originally from China and Japan. Cassia cinnamon has a richer, spicier taste, while ceylon leans more towards vanilla. You may have heard ceylon cinnamon called “true cinnamon,” but the truth is that both types have similar benefits.
Traditional use of cinnamon: Digestive support.
Eat cinnamon for:
- Help maintaining blood sugar levels[*]
- Powerful antioxidant properties[*]
- A sweet taste without any sugar
Apply cinnamon on skin for: Pimples. Cinnamon powder may increase blood flow to the skin. If a pimple pops up, I’ve heard of making a paste with ground cinnamon and honey and applying it right to the offender for about 20 minutes.
You can even use cinnamon for: Pest control. I love cinnamon, but ants do not. If you’re having an ant infestation, apply cinnamon essential oils to their path or anywhere they might be getting in. Yes, scientists have tested this and proven it effective[*].
Nutmeg: Health Benefits and New Ways to Use
Nutmeg is a love it or hate it type of flavor. It has a reputation as an aphrodisiac in India, and is toxic in very high amounts. Small quantities of nutmeg certainly go a long way.
Native to the Band Islands or Spice Islands of Indonesia, the nutmeg powder we know comes from grinding the seed of Myristica fragrans, the nutmeg tree. It works equally well in spicy jerk or curry sauces, or in sweet baked goods. But the benefits of nutmeg go far beyond your plate.
Traditional use of nutmeg: Digestive support and sleep. In Ayurvedic medicine, this popular spice is mixed with warm milk before bed to help you sleep. It can also help reduce bad breath.
Add nutmeg to food for: Its antioxidant properties to fight free radicals.
Try nutmeg in:
Apply nutmeg on skin for: Hydration and acne-fighting. Ground nutmeg makes a hydrating mask when mixed with yogurt, or a pimple fighter when a pinch of nutmeg is mixed with honey. Yes please to skin care you can eat!
Ginger: Health Benefits and New Ways to Use
Your mother or grandmother probably had you drink ginger ale when you were sick. Indians and Chinese have been producing ginger as a tonic for over 5,000 years to treat many ailments[*]. At one point in time, the value of a pound of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep! 🐑
Western medicine is now backing that up with research. Clinically shown ginger benefits include helping to prevent nausea and vomiting with motion sickness and sea sickness[*].
Traditional use of ginger: Digestion, circulation, and respiratory aid.
Eat ginger for:
- Its antioxidant properties
- Reducing nausea on a boat
Apply ginger on skin for: Purification. As a warming spice, ginger helps with circulation and the purification of pores. Try adding ginger powder or fresh root to your next face mask.
Pro tip: If you buy a fresh root of ginger you always want to peel it. Skip the peeler and use the side of a spoon to get just the root without the skin.
Clove: Health Benefits and New Ways to Use
Clove has been used for thousands of years to support your entire body. Native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia, chewing on clove buds is a natural breath freshener. In fact, a Chinese leader in third century BCE is said to have required those who greeted him to chew on cloves first.
Unlike many root spices, cloves are actually the aromatic flower buds from a tree, Syzygium aromaticum. You can find the full bud, ground powder, or essential oil for everyday use.
Traditional use of cloves: Food preservation, digestion, pain relief, fresh breath.
Eat cloves for:
- Its antioxidant properties
You can even use cloves for: Reducing unpleasant odors. If you have a thermos, water bottle, or coffee mug that sits for a while in your cupboard, add a couple of whole cloves to reduce that pungent scent of “old.”
Find cloves with your ‘shrooms in: Mushroom Chai Latte with Turkey Tail and Reishi
How Do You Spice Things Up?
Let us know what innovative ways you use spices by joining the Shroom Club on Facebook and leaving a comment.