Flavor your fall
by Betsy Lynch
This fall, Nabisco is once again selling pumpkin spice Oreo cookies. No surprise, the famous cookie maker knows this tantalizing flavor combination is hard to resist.
Yet there’s a healthier way to savor a sumptuous blend of “warming spices” as we embrace cooler weather. We can make our own calorie-free pumpkin spice mix and have it on hand to instantly perk up smoothies, pancakes, hot cereal, roasted veggies, stews, and more.
Pumpkin spices—including cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, cardamom, and cloves—can add pizzazz to many everyday dishes without adding extra sugar or salt. You can also count turmeric, cayenne, and black pepper among the warming spices, identified as such because they stimulate a sensation of heat within our bodies. It’s why chili is so popular on cold days.
Such spices are not only delightfully aromatic, but they’re also potent antioxidants. Some provide anti-inflammatory, pain-reducing, and other health benefits, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine (hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/5-spices-with-healthy-benefits). Cinnamon, for example, can help stabilize blood sugar and lower cholesterol. Ginger has been found to relieve nausea. Capsaicin, the heat-producing agent in cayenne, can reduce pain signals to the brain. Capsaicin may also aid in ulcer relief by reducing harmful bacteria in the gut, decreasing stomach acid, and increasing blood flow. And a dash of cayenne pepper tastes fabulous in a cup of hot chocolate!