Since Pumpkin is firmly on the menu right now and pumpkin spice mix is so delicious when you make it yourself I thought I would give it a whirl.
There are also good reasons to include this mix into your daily diet- especially during a change of season. All these spices have warming and antibacterial/antimicrobial properties useful to boost the immune system. They also naturally sweeten and enhance the flavour of autumnal foods like pumpkin but also apples and berries work well too.
Cinnamon; Contains cinnamaldehyde, cinnamyl acetate, and cinnamyl alcohol in its volatile oils which have well known anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and antibiotic properties. Also known help to support balanced blood sugar levels by helping the body to use the sugar for energy and brain function. With good sources of calcium and fibre (because it is tree bark!) it may help the digestive system by relieving symptoms of constipation or diarrhea. Cinnamon can also be used to as a natural preservative.
Cloves; the eugenol in cloves is the active component responsible for its antioxident, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. Supports dental health and is a natural mild anesthetic. It is also nutrient dense in calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, K and manganese and contains some omega 3 oils. These nutrients help to support the immune system.
Nutmeg; Also traditionally used as a preservative and natural sweetener. Nutmeg contains hallucinogenic properties when used in really large doses because it contains myristicin (also not recommended for pregnant women in large doses). The smell of nutmeg is also very inviting and stimulates the taste buds. Wars over the years have been started over nutmeg and was considered very valuable. It is certainly an effective stimulant and even reported to be an aphrodisiac.
Star Anise; Native to south west China (my hood!) it is related to aniseed and is similar in taste from its anethol. It is naturally sweet and used as a natural sweetener in many dishes. Considered a herbal medicine as well as a culinary spice it is generally used in respiratory conditions as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (is actually one of the key ingredients for immune support during the recent bird flu epidemic) . It is also anti spasmodic so can work on calming gas in the digestive system and is also useful to promote breast milk in lactating mothers (much like fennel and other licorice flavoured herbs and spices).
Ginger; Its active ingredient gingerol is really useful at raising the bodies temperature. Not only to help the body to sweat to remove toxins but also to raise the temperature to aid the body in its immune response to germ fighting. As well as being a heating herb is also classified as a carminative. As well as being anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antimicrobial ginger is also used as an anti-nausea aid.
You can buy the individual spices already ground- but where is the fun in that!!
3 pieces of ginger root thinly sliced (to produce 3 tsp of ground ginger)
2-3 Rolls of cinnamon bark depending on size (to produce 4 tsp of ground cinnamon)
3 tsp whole dried cloves (to produce 3 tsp ground cloves)
1/4 Nutmeg ‘nut’ broken up a bit (to produce 4 tsp of ground nutmeg)
2-3 Dried star Anise (to produce 1-2 tsp ground star anise)
Dry your ginger either in the oven or your dehydrator for 24 hours until dry.
Throw all your ingredients into a coffee grinder or spice mill (a pestle and mortar will also work with a bit of elbow grease!) The smell is amazing. When everything is finely ground place it in an airtight container (glass is preferable).
Ready to use in baking, smoothies, coffee, tea, stocks, soups and just about anything!!!
What do you add it to?