Considering it's the shortest month of the year, February is a long month.
At times it feels like winter will never end.
Then glimpses of bulbs and buds emerge, the lighter nights gradually encroach and an odd burst of sunshine remind us that Spring is on the way.
If you're struggling with the last weeks of winter then here are 6 spices that will warm your soul and see you through the dying embers of our colder months.
Some of your favourite winter spices are packed with health benefits. Here's a list of our favourites to give your mood a lift, boost your energy, help with aches and pains and even help you drift off a little easier!
1. Drift off with cardamom & nutmeg
Exhaustion is common in the winter months. Our body clocks want us to sleep until it's light and retire early but modern life doesn't allow for that. If you don't want to be reaching for conventional medicine then cardamom can help! Add two cardamom pods to a mug full of warmed (just below boiling) oat or almond milk, then grate a little nutmeg on the top and sip an hour before bed and feel yourself drift off with a little more ease.
2. Lift your mood with a dose of saffron
Did you know that sipping tea with saffron and other mood soothers could be the perfect way to help ease winter blues? Studies show that saffron can be used as a treatment for mild depression, this novel spice is also an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium.
If you fancy making your own mood lifting tea, here's how!
- 1 tsp green tea leaves (which contain L-theanine to balance mood)
- 3-4 strands of saffron (to calm the nerves)
- 3-4 cardamom pods (to clear the mind)
- A dash of liquorice powder (to help ease stress and naturally sweeten)
- Infuse all the ingredients with freshly boiled water in a teapot for 5-10 minutes, strain and enjoy.
3. Combat a sweet tooth with cinnamon
Forever trying to curb that sweet tooth of yours? We all know that sugar spikes can play havoc with blood sugar levels, setting off a cycle of eating, sugar surges and then drops, which lead to sweet cravings. However cinnamon is here to help! Cinnamon can help keep blood sugar on an even keel. We're a big fan here of cinnamon tea and like it hot and cold for that perfect sweet hit without the come down after or the horrible sugar spike!
4. Say bye bye to headaches with cayenne
Tension headaches are never welcome, life is busy and no-one of us has time for them. Let us introduce you to the power of cayenne, it's a natural painkiller and you can add it to your diet to help prevent headaches even getting going - add a 4cm piece of fresh ginger root and ¼ tsp of cayenne to a daily meal or drink – it could be a stir-fry or a smoothie and it can help to stop headaches dead. If you already have a headache worry not, cayenne can help then too! Add a few drops of chilli oil to a body cream or 1 tbsp of sunflower oil. Then massage into the back of your neck to relieve any tension. (Do a little patch test first to make sure your skin isn't sensitive!)
5. Drink ginger tea for a cold
This is an oldie but a goodie, ginger is the best defence when it comes to colds! Let's face it no one wants to suffer from the sniffles, ease any symptoms with regular cups of ginger and spice tea. Grate a nub of ginger root into a small saucepan with 1 tsp of cinnamon, cover with water and simmer for 5 minutes. Flavour with lemon (which is also rich in immune-supportive vitamin C) and 1 tsp of honey (it has antimicrobial properties and soothes a sore throat).
6. Turmeric tummy soother
Traditionally, turmeric was used to strengthen the digestion and relieve bloating. A fantastic and super tasty way to add turmeric into your diet is to add it into a smoothie or lassi and here is our favourite recipe that we found on Neal's Yard website and we LOVE it!
Tummy Tonic Lassi:
- One handful of pineapple (which contains bromelain to calm irritable tummies)
- 125g unsweetened natural or plant yogurt (to support gut flora)
- ½ tsp turmeric powder (for natural liver support)
- ¼ tsp cardamom powder (to help ease wind and bloating)
- 300ml water
- Blitz in a blender until smooth
So there you have it, spices that pack a punch not only when it comes to taste but health too! We would love to know your favourite feel good spices...