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Holiday Spices – How to use them and their health benefits

It’s the season of snow, comfort food, and family gatherings! I don’t know about you, but this time of year is one of my favorites. It’s the second month in a row that they serve delicious food and delicious desserts. The holidays look different for everyone, but for me, it’s the perfect excuse to dig out your warm holiday spice and explore different creations. When I mention “holiday spices,” I’m referring to things like allspice, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, sage, and rosemary. Not only do they lend your kitchen unforgettable aromas, some of them also offer many health benefits when consumed.

cinnamon It is a versatile spice. It can be used in sweet and savory foods as well as herbal teas. This spice is rich in antioxidants that can help support blood sugar levels, protect against heart disease, and may even reduce general inflammation in the body. Cinnamon has been used and known for its medicinal ingredients for thousands of years. One of my favorite ways to use cinnamon during the holidays is with fresh cinnamon rolls with cream cheese frosting on Christmas morning. Although this is not the healthiest use of cinnamon, it is the perfect holiday treat. Perhaps a lighter way to enjoy cinnamon is to simply add a cinnamon stick to your favorite hot tea or even sprinkle some on top of yogurt or oatmeal. The possibilities are endless!

ginger It also has great nutritional benefits and many uses. Like cinnamon, this spice is widely known for its medicinal properties. It is often used to calm an upset stomach, relieve nausea, and fight the flu. Additionally, it has been said to help with osteoporosis and menstrual cramps and may help lower cholesterol levels. Ginger is available at nearly every grocery store and can be purchased whole, ground, or dried. This spice is powerful and can easily overpower other spices, so be careful when making recipes!

wise It originates from the herb family. This herb is best consumed in a savory dish and has many benefits due to its high levels of nutrients and antioxidants such as vitamin K, magnesium, and zinc. It may relieve symptoms of menopause, reduce blood sugar levels, support memory and brain health, and can even help lower LDL cholesterol, which is the cholesterol we don’t want much of in our bodies. Working with sage can be a little intimidating, so I’ve included one of my favorite ways to use sage in the recipe at the end of this page.

Rosemary It also comes from the herb family and is commonly found in savory dishes. Although rosemary is a vibrant herb, it can also be used to help bring out the flavors of other spices in your dish. This herb is known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties that help the body’s immune system fight infection when ingested. According to the national library of medicine, rosemary leaves contain carnosol, carnosic acid, rosmadial, caffeic acid, and many other antioxidants that are essential for the formation of antiviral antibodies. Rosemary is usually purchased as dried leaves but can also be found fresh in the produce section of your grocery store. The most popular ways to use this herb is to sprinkle it over roasted vegetables, and add fresh leaves as a garnish to mashed potatoes or a chicken dish.

I hope this makes you as excited to get into the kitchen and use these spices as you do me! Check out some of my favorite ways to use some of these spices during the holiday season below.

Homemade Cinnamon Rolls: (Servings: 9)

To prepare the dough:

¾ c. Warm whole milk

2 ¼ tsp. yeast (rapid rising or active)

¼ c. granulated sugar

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (room temperature)

¼ c. Melted unsalted butter

3 c. bread flour, plus more for dusting*

¾ tsp. salt

¼ c. Soft unsalted butter

To fill:

2/3 c. Light brown sugar, packed

1 ½ tbsp. ground cinnamon

To decorate the cream cheese:

4 oz. Soft cream cheese

3 tbsp. Soft unsalted butter

¾ c. soft sugar

½ tsp. vanilla extract


To prepare the dough:

1) Place the milk in a microwave safe bowl, heat about 40-45 seconds depending on your microwave or until it reaches about 110°F. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk, and add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup of the melted butter. beat until well blended.

2) Add the flour and salt with a sturdy wooden spoon until a dough forms.

3) Place the dough on the hand mixer and knead at medium speed for 8 minutes until a ball is formed and the mixture becomes slightly sticky. If dough sticks to bottom of mixer, add 2 Tbsp. bread flour). If you don’t have a mixer, use your hands to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes on a floured surface.

4) Transfer the dough to a well-greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel. Let the dough ferment for 1-1.5 hours or until it doubles in size.

5) Transfer the dough to a floured surface, and roll it into a 14×9-inch rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving half of the margin at the far end.

To fill:

1) In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon. Drizzle over the dough with butter, then rub with the butter.

2) Roll dough tightly starting at the 9-inch side, seam side down.

3) Cut into 9 1-inch sections with a knife or dental floss.

4) Place the cinnamon rolls on a greased 9″ x 9″ baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and a warm towel, leave to swell for 30-45 minutes.

5) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove plastic wrap and towel and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Cool for 5-10 minutes before decorating.


1) In a bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy.

2) Spread the frosting over the cinnamon rolls and serve immediately. Enjoy!

* Bread flour is made from spring wheat which has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. This stiffens the dough and allows the bread to rise.

Roasted Vegetables with Butter and Sage: (Servings: 4)

For vegetables:

2 c. Broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)*

2 c. Cauliflower florets (fresh or frozen)*

2 c. baby carrots (fresh) (carrot coins if using frozen)*

olive oil

To prepare the sauce:

3 tbsp. Unsalted butter

10 fresh sage leaves (½ teaspoon ground)

¼ tsp. salt


For vegetables:

1) Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

2) Line a 9×13-inch baking sheet with foil. Lay the broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in a single layer on the griddle, drizzle with olive oil to coat evenly, and toss to combine.

3) Bake for 12-15 minutes or until set.

To prepare the sauce:

1) Place the butter in a small skillet over medium heat, and stir-fry until the butter begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

2) Add the sage leaves and sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3) Add salt until it dissolves.

4) Sprinkle the sauce and sage leaves over the roasted vegetables. Enjoy!

* If using frozen vegetables, thaw well before roasting.

Holiday Spices – How to Use Them and Their Health Benefits appeared first on Total Gym Pulse.

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