Welcome to winter, the time of year where chunky sweaters, fireplaces and comfort food warm the body and nourish the soul. Time to keep your insides toasty, too, just by adding a few spices and seasonings to the menu. Not only will your meals taste even better but the heat will help the body metabolically stay warmer—and healthier—as the cold sets in.
We’ve found the most amazing spices to warm up even the most frigid winter days. How can you use them in many dishes at once? Read on. We’ll show you how to warm yourself up in one spicy dish that can then by deconstructed into at least three other dishes too! All you need are the spices, the recipes (which you’ll see below) and your apron.
7 EXOTIC SPICES THAT WILL WARM UP WINTER
1. Cinnamon This beautiful spice is known to create internal heat, improve blood circulation as well as lower blood sugar levels. Plus it’s sweet and hot at the same time.
2. Cumin Seeds Naturally high in Vitamin C, this earthy aromatic spice has been long used to help ward off colds and coughs. Cumin seeds are also high in iron so they also help to boost energy.
3. Cardamom My favourite spice of all time can be used in savoury and sweet dishes alike. Excellent as a digestive aid, it also helps to open up the respiratory channels. Add crushed pods to rice or grind the seeds and add to desserts, fruit salads and nut butters.
4. Red Chili Chili, as you might expect, raises body heat but also helps to increase your metabolism while acting as an antibacterial agent. Chilis are also naturally high in Vitamin A and C so they’re another great winter spice!
5. Cloves Cloves are known to improve blood circulation and ease digestion, too. They’re great to steep in a tea or infuse into a rice or dessert dish. Insider tip: Because the volatile oils are predominantly in the heads, make sure the heads are intact and that they float vertically in warm or hot water.
6. Nutmeg Nutmeg is extremely warming but needs to be used in small quantities. It should be tested for aflatoxin and ochratoxin at source if possible.
7. Nigella Seeds Nigella seeds (aka Kalonji seeds) are universally versatile. Add to salad dressings, yogurt dishes, rice, roasted veggies or onto lean meats and into stews and curries and dips. It has the most powerful plant-based antioxidant compound in it so it’s one to keep in your spice cupboard for sure.
Insider Tip: Grind a little bit of each of the above spices for a unique winter Garam Masala
Now for the fun part…
4 FABULOUS WINTER WARMING SPICE RECIPES
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 2 cups Butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/4 tsp Spice Sanctuary Red Chili Ground
- 1 tsp Spice Sanctuary Cumin Seeds
- 1/2 tsp Spice Sanctuary Nigella Seeds
- 1 tbsp Grapeseed or olive oil
- 2 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 8 Spice Sanctuary Cloves
- 1 Golden Delicious Apple, skin on but cut into small 1” cubes
- 1 tsp Spice Sanctuary True Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Spice Sanctuary Nutmeg Ground
- 1/2 tsp Spice Sanctuary Cardamom Seeds, Ground
- 1 Tbsp Hemp Seeds Pomegranate arils
- parsley to garnish (optional)
WHAT YOU DO:
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a bowl, coat the squash with the red chili ground, cumin seeds and nigella seeds first before adding in the oil and mixing it all well. Season with a little sea salt before transferring onto a baking sheet and roasting in the oven for about 30 minutes until you can put a skewer through them with little effort. Make sure you turn them over every 10 minutes to ensure they do not brown too much.
2. Meanwhile, in a pan, heat the coconut oil on a medium heat. Add in the cloves and allow them to simmer in the oil for a minute or so to allow the volatile oils to release. You should be able to smell the cloves at this point.
3. Then add in the apple cubes and gently cook for a couple more minutes.
4. Next, add in the remaining spices and continue to cook down until they just begin to soften, usually only another couple of minutes. There should be some residual spiced sauce left.
5. Transfer the butternut squash and cooked apples into serving bowl. Sprinkle in the hemp seeds for a protein boost and toss well so that the sweetness of the apples melds with the heat in the squash. Drizzle over any remaining spiced coconut oil and garnish with some chopped parsley and pomegranate arils and enjoy immediately.
3 DECONSTRUCTED DISHES
Now just use the yummy dish above to create three more amazing spicy dishes:
1. SWEET & SPICY SOUP To make a delicious heartwarming soup, add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup of water into a blender together with the cooked apples, squash and hemp seed and blend until smooth. Heat again prior to serving.
2. APPLE SMOOTHIE/FILLING/SAUCE Use just the cooked apples for a smoothie or breakfast dish or cook down further to make a spiced apple pie filling or reduce even further for a sugar free applesauce.
3. SQUASH CURRY Add just the cooked squash to curries or stir fries. Or serve the squash as a side to any dinner.
To learn more about warming spices, how to use and store them, or for some new recipe ideas, check out spicesanctuary.