Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

When I think about cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, the first thing that comes to mind is always holiday baking! Of course, these aromatic spices are used for much more than just delicious cakes and cookies. And the health benefits from each of them are a great addition to those not-so-healthy winter desserts.


Cinnamon

Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

Health Benefits

When I think of cinnamon, I think of Fall and Winter and the delicious baked goods that come with those seasons. But around the world, cinnamon is used daily for its many health benefits and is ranked highest in antioxidant levels among medicinal spices.

  • Allergy Fighter
  • Anti-Fungal
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Antibiotic
  • Antimicrobial
  • Antioxidant
  • Anxiety Reducer
  • Blood Sugar Reduction
  • Cognitive Function Improvement
  • Dental Health/Freshens Breath
  • Digestion Health
  • Heart Health
  • Skin Health

Cooking with Cinnamon


Cinnamon can also be used to sweeten recipes with the added sugar. I’ve used cinnamon in a concoction with warm milk for a sore throat in the winter and it helped that, too. Overall, cinnamon is one of the best seasonings to work into your diet, and now after doing this research, I am going to find more ways to get it in our meals.

Growing Cinnamon

Although I haven’t tried it, cinnamon is a fairly easy plant to grow. It needs dry soil and can live for years. The bark is the part of the plant that is harvested, but it also produces inedible berries and flowers, so still looks nice in a pot. Cinnamon would do best inside because it can’t handle temperatures lower than 60F and will die with any frost.

Cinnamon can grow up to 8 feet tall if it isn’t regularly pruned. If your cinnamon plant produces seeds, they have to be picked when they turn black and planted immediately to survive.

Purchasing & Storing Tips

Cinnamon can be purchased either as sticks or as ground cinnamon and can be found with all other seasonings at the store. The only problem with store-bought is not knowing how fresh it is, which means it may be losing flavor and potency as it sits on the sheld.

If you can find freshly grown cinnamon and grind it yourself, that will always be the best option. But since that isn’t always possible, it’s still better to buy it as cinnamon sticks and grind your own if you can.

Either way, cinnamon needs to be stored in an airtight container.


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Ginger

Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

Health Benefits

The uses of ginger in medicine can be traced back to ancient Chinese, Roman, Greek, Arabic, and Sanskrit documentation. And it’s still used today for its health benefits which tells me it must work well if it’s lasted that long. It was a life-saver for me when I had morning sickness during my pregnancy with Ryan!

  • Anti-Fungal
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Antibiotic
  • Blood Sugar Reduction
  • Cholesterol Reduction
  • Cognitive Function Improvement
  • Digestion Health
  • Menstrual Pain Reduction
  • Nausea Treatment
  • Stomach Ulcers Protection

Cooking with Ginger

Ginger is great to use either fresh from the root or in a ground powder form. I typically find it in Asian recipes, but it can be used in so much more than that. I haven’t cooked with it often, but plan to start adding it into more of our meals. Fresh will always have a stronger flavor, and if you want it minced I have found that a garlic press will also peel and mince ginger, too!

Growing Ginger

Ginger can easily be grown indoors if you have the right starter roots. You need a root that has eye buds on it (similar to the eyes on a potato). It helps to soak this overnight, then plant it in a shallow but wide pot. Ginger grows horizontally, so it needs room to grow. The plant does not require a lot of water, so make sure the pot drains well and is placed in an area that gets indirect sunlight. 

Ginger grows slowly, so you have to be patient. It takes about 2-3 weeks to see shoots start to grow, and you won’t be able to harvest ginger for a few months. To harvest, gently move the soil to find the piece that’s furthest from the center and cut just a small amount from there to use as needed, then cover with the soil again. 

Purchasing & Storing Tips

As with many of the seasonings, ginger is best when you buy a piece of it and mince or grind it yourself. This may not work for some recipes when you need it powdered and dry, but if you are adding it to things such as a teriyaki meal, then fresh will taste much better. 

Fresh ginger root can be bought by weight, similar to onions and tomatoes, and kept in the refrigerator. If you are purchasing fresh, look for pieces that are firm and don’t have any growth.


Nutmeg

Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

Health Benefits

Nutmeg is the seed from a large evergreen tree that has been used as early as the 1100s for its medicinal purposes and it’s aromatic flavors. Most nutmeg is grown in the Polynesian Islands and in Grenada after many battles and bloodshed over the spice in the mid-1400s.

  • Antibacterial
  • Anxiety Reducer
  • Blood Pressure Reduction
  • Diarrhea Reliever
  • Digestion Health
  • Pain Reduction
  • Sleep Improvement

Cooking with Nutmeg

Nutmeg is most often used in holiday cooking, although it is common in Asian cuisines because of its location. While it’s easy to grab a bottle of ground nutmeg off the shelf, that isn’t what you want if you are looking for the health benefits. Once ground, the nutmeg loses most of its potency other than the flavor. If you can buy it as a seed, then you can grate it yourself with a cheese grater to have the most effect.

Growing Nutmeg

Nutmeg is grown on a large evergreen tree in tropical regions of the world. It’s not something that can easily be grown in most gardens or homes because they can get up to 60 feet tall.

Purchasing & Storing Tips

Nutmeg is usually bought as a ground spice, although you can find it as a whole seed and grind it yourself if you have the right equipment. 


Sources:

  1. https://draxe.com/
  2. https://www.motherearthliving.com/gardening/growing-tropical-cinnamon-ze0z1101zdeb
  3. https://www.foodrenegade.com/your-cinnamon-real/
  4. https://newengland.com/today/living/gardening/how-to-grow-ginger-indoors/
  5. https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/trees/nutmeg/nutmeg-plant-information.htm
Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

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12 thoughts on “Essential Herbs & Spices for a Healthy Kitchen, Part 5: Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg

  1. Mmmm These spices = FALLLLL!!!! THANK YOU for getting me even more excited about the upcoming season! 😉 And making me want to use these babies so much more because they’re so dang HEALTHY!

  2. I have just recently learned of the many benefits of these three spices. I have always loved the “comfort” factor of these spices but I am incorporating them more to reap the health benefits as well.

  3. This has been such a fun series, and I’m so glad you’re wrapping up with three of my favorite spices for fall (really, for anytime!). I use these a lot but had no idea of half the health properties of each – learned a lot! Thanks for the great post!

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