Cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and allspice always seem to make a fresh appearance in the kitchen as the weather turns cold. These are the “warm” spices. Not peppery, but the kind of seasoning that heats your tongue.
Maybe a long long time ago everyone realized how good these spices tasted with other seasonal ingredients like pumpkin and squash, or with cold weather drinks like mulled wine or cider.
Or maybe it’s because in medieval times most families only ate these spices near Hanukkah and Christmas because seasonings were expensive and people saved them for holiday celebrations.
But now there are new reasons to use “warm” spices. They may actually be healthy. Here’s one article that sums up the benefits of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. There are several new studies with similar findings.
Among the claimed benefits:
Cinnamon helps prevent inflammation and also helps regulate blood sugar.
Cloves contain antioxidants.
Ginger boosts the immune system and reduces motion sickness.
Nutmeg can stimulate your brain and reduce fatigue and stress.
But really, healthy or not, spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger make food taste good. And that’s the best reason to use them. So try this yummy Gingerbread, a seasonal favorite, made with several warm, fragrant, tasty and healthy spices.
Sugar and Spice Gingerbread
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
5 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour an 8-inch square baking pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, black pepper and cloves and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer set at medium speed, cream the butter and sugar for 1-2 minutes or until well blended. Beat in the molasses and egg, scraping the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, alternating with the buttermilk, until all the ingredients have been added and the batter is smooth and uniform. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cake rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a cake rack to cool completely. Makes one cake