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Cooking with Health Enhancing Spices for Winter

December 8, 2016 | by Gitta Bixenspanner

Garlic, turmeric and cinnamon, oh my!

With winter on its way, we need to ward off cold and sniffles with warming spices. The right spices can enhance your health manifold and help you coast through the harsh winter months with your health intact. Whether in a hearty soup, a cut of meat, or a warm cup of tea, spices not only add flavor to your food and drinks, but they also have ample health benefits.

Feel a cold coming on? Treat it with generous amounts of garlic. Peel garlic and crush let it sit and develop a pool of the healthy illness fighting compound allycin , throw it into your soups or stews or any dish that you are preparing and that will help soothe your cold as well as lowering and regulating cholesterol levels.

Alternatively, make it into a tea. For extra taste add a little honey and lemon juice for a more palatable drink. Suffering from digestive issues, or low blood sugar for instance, cinnamon and/ or ginger can soothe your stomach and regulate your blood sugar.

Need to fight an inflammation? Try Turmeric the amazing anti- inflammatory super spice that can reduce inflammation and nurse you back to health.

Struggling with insomnia? Nutmeg can help with that.

Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate these spices into your diet.

Heart Healthy Garlic Salmon

Heart Healthy Garlic SalmonGarlic is well known for its heart healing properties as it helps to fight high cholesterol as well as colds and

Adding garlic to your meal can be a great way to destroy your breath while helping to keep your heart in check. Salmon is another heart healthy food so having the two paired together makes for an easy dish that is as good for you as it is tasty.


  • 4 salmon fillets
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbs mayonnaise
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 Tbs oil
  • 1 onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper sliced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Black pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spice your salmon fillet with salt and some sugar to give it some taste. Let it stand for 20 minutes. Heat oil in a skillet, add onions and fry until translucent about 8 minutes. Toss in the sliced peppers and halved cherry tomatoes and cook for five minutes until slightly soft. Remove from stove. Rinse salmon under running water.

In a small bowl mix mayonnaise with crushed garlic salt and pepper to taste and smear on the salmon. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, spread onion and pepper mixture over salmon and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Preparation 10 minutes
Serves 4


Turmeric is a very powerful spice. Amongst its many benefits is the fact that it contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin, which has been shown to protect the body against cancer.

Where to use it?

  • Add it to scrambled eggs and frittatas.
  • Toss it with roasted vegetables.
  • Add it to rice to add a nice color.
  • Toss some into chicken soup to enhance the color.
  • Mix with other spices and smear over fish or poultry.

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup

Creamy Curried Cauliflower SoupThis soup is delicious and it takes minutes to make with the versatile nutritious cauliflower.


  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to season
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large package frozen cauliflower
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 flat tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashew halves, for garnish (optional)


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt until onions are soft and translucent, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook for 4 additional minutes. Add cauliflower, broth or water, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until cauliflower is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.

Purée the soup with a blender stick or in a blender until smooth. If using a blender return the soup to the soup pot. Stir in the coconut milk and warm the soup. Taste and adjust spices to your taste.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of toasted cashews, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, or ground pepper to taste.

Preparation 15 minutes
Serves 6 to 8

Healthy Cauliflower Pilaf

This dish is a special dish that is often served at weddings or special occasions. It makes a very festive side dish a great accompaniment for fish, meat or poultry.


  • 2 large bags frozen cauliflower (5lbs in all)
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 Tbs oil or transfat free margarine
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)


Preheat the oven to 425°. Separate frozen cauliflower into florets. On a large, rimmed baking sheet, toss 1/2 the florets with 3 tablespoons of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden in spots and tender.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the other 1/2 of the cauliflower florets and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry.

Spread the pine nuts in a pie plate and toast until golden, about 5 minutes.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the turmeric and rice and stir to coat. Stir in the chicken broth and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until the broth is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Transfer the rice to a large bowl. Fold in the roasted cauliflower, toasted pine nuts, cranberries and cilantro. Spoon the rice into a 9x13 dish and press lightly on the top. Arrange the boiled cauliflower florets on top.

In a small bowl, combine the melted butter and paprika. Brush half of the oil mixture over the cauliflower and bake for about 15 minutes, until heated through.

Preheat the broiler. Brush the cauliflower with the remaining oil and broil, 6 inches from the heat, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Preparation 15 minutes
Serves 10-12

Brown Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas & Spinach

Brown Rice Pilaf with Chickpeas & SpinachThis recipe represents a balanced meal all in one dish. Whole grains, protein-packed chickpeas and vitamin rich spinach offer endless health benefits, while onions sauteed in cumin and paprika provide all the flavor. Rice pilaf is a great substitute for heavier pastas and absorbs any flavor of the ingredients it’s combined with. And if a box of the whole rice pilaf is hard to find, use brown rice to still keep the calories low and the whole grains high.


  • 1 box whole rice pilaf
  • 1 Tsp olive oil
  • 1¼ cups chopped white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 (15-oz.) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (10-oz.) package frozen spinach, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ¼ tsp black pepper


Begin by cooking the whole rice pilaf according to the directions on the box.

While the rice pilaf cooks, heat 1 Tbs olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped white onion.

Stir in the minced garlic, ground cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt and tomato paste. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until the tomato paste darkens in color.

Add the chickpeas and chicken stock. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked spinach and black pepper. Let simmer until spinach is warm.

Transfer the cooked rice pilaf to a bowl, using a fork to fluff it.

Fold the chickpea mixture into the rice pilaf and serve warm.

Preparation 20 minutes
Serves 4


The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, brain function decline.

Cinnamon is also known to helps lower blood sugar levels and also can improve sensitivity to the hormone insulin, which is the vital hormone needed for keeping blood sugar levels balanced.

Furthermore, cinnamon pairs well with lots of foods and delivers a delicious taste and a divine aroma to the whole house.

Light and Fluffy Buckwheat Pancakes

These delicious easy to make light and fluffy pancakes are traditionally used for a more elaborate Sunday brunch, or lunch. It is quite suitable for a dairy supper. Watch the kids devour them in minutes even before it makes it to the table.


  • 1 cup buckwheat flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk (to make butter milk mix 1 cup milk and 3 Tbs lemon juice) you can use regular milk or Coconut milk
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbs oil, or as needed


Whisk buckwheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl.

Beat buttermilk, egg, and vanilla extract together in another bowl. Pour flour mixture into buttermilk mixture; whisk until batter is thick and smooth. Let batter rest for 5 minutes until bubbles form and batter relaxes.

Heat oil on a griddle over medium heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on the other side, 2 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter.

Preparation 10 minutes
Serves 4

Puff Dough Covered Apples

Puff Dough Covered ApplesApples pair very well with cinnamon what better healthy dessert than combining apples and cinnamon. I purchase puff pastry already stretched and ready to use.

Small apples work great for this recipe but they’re not always available, so go ahead and use the regular-sized ones cut in half. They will present better on the plate and it is delightful when hot and served with a scoop of ice cream.

Refrigerated pie crust provides a shortcut to this old-fashioned favorite.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 oil, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 flat tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 rolled out puff pastry
  • 4 small or 2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled and cored


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, combine the water, white sugar, vanilla, 1 tablespoon oil, and the nutmeg over high heat. Bring to a boil for 1 minute; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil, mix well.

Unroll pastry and cut into quarters. Stuff each apple cavity with an equal amount of brown sugar mixture and place on a pastry quarter. Fold pastry up around apples and pinch ends together to completely enclose apples. Place dumplings seam-side down in an 8-inch square baking dish and pour sugar sauce over the top.

Bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until golden. Serve warm, drizzled with sugar glaze from bottom of baking dish top with a dollop of vanilla ice cream for greater effect..

Preparation 20 minutes
Serves 4

Enjoy this feast!

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