Adding spice to the holiday health plan

Pumpkin pie spice. It’s just reminiscent of this season, isn’t it? As soon as Starbucks comes out with their pumpkin spice latte I feel like fall is in the air. The combination of cinnamon, ginger, and cloves isn’t just tasty, it’s also great for you! Here’s the rundown on this spice lineup:

cinnamon – this popular spice has been in the scientific news recently for it’s ability to help regulate blood sugar. This is great news in a sugary holiday season, especially for this with diabetes or just high blood sugar. It also has mild antimicrobial properties and warming properties according to traditional medicine – great during cold and flu season.

ginger – best known for it’s benefits in treating gastrointestinal distress, ginger may be just the thing to reach for if you suffer from heartburn or nausea this season. It also may be beneficial as an anti-inflammatory if you have arthritis, or for heading off colds and flu as well. Fresh ginger root tends to have the most health benefits. I keep one in the freezer and just add the zest to stir-fries or tea.

cloves – ever see clove oil in the alternative medicine aisle? It is a mild antiseptic, sometimes used for sore gums due to teething or a throat spray. Cloves also are rich in omega-3 fats and have such a pleasant, warm flavor.

Pumpkin pie spice is often a combination of 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon cloves. I like to add a dash of allspice as well. Besides the obvious pumpkin pies and breads, try using it to flavor your next latte, or as a substitute for the chai flavoring in black tea and milk. Adding a dash to rice krispie treats makes for a festive treat as well.

If you have an extra can of pumpkin, how about a pumpkin pie smoothie? Blend 1/2 can pumpkin, 1 banana, 1 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup powdered skim milk, 1/2 cup ice cubes, 1-2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, 1/2 tsp vanilla, and sweetener to taste. Happy healthy holidays!

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