By Laura Bollinger, RDN
In many areas of the country, the changing colors of the leaves signal the coming change of seasons. Outside temperatures are beginning to cool off and the holidays are approaching. The chill in the air and holiday traditions bring thoughts of warm winter soups and cozy fall spices.
I'm not just talking about pumpkin spice lattes! Fall is full of flavors! From cinnamon and cloves to ginger and nutmeg, there is a combination to delight anyone's palate.
Spices are used to make all sorts of delicious treats, especially this time of year. Appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even beverages benefit from the addition of spices.
Use the following list to get creative in your kitchen with spices at every meal:
SPICE | PAIRS WELL WITH
Allspice | stews, carrots, pork or poultry, squash, cakes, and cookies
Cardamom | cinnamon, cloves, and chocolate
Cinnamon | stews, curries, fruit, squash, oatmeal, baked goods, pork, and beef
Clove | sweetbreads, carrots, onions, potatoes, chocolate, and fruit
Ginger | baked goods, stir-fry, curries, hot tea, and seafood
Nutmeg | pies, custards, white sauces, spinach, and squash
Star Anise | soups, stews, braised meats, sauces, and some baked goods
Turmeric | curries, soups, stews, rubs, marinades, and vegetable and rice dishes
You can even make your own spice blends. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of apple or pumpkin pie spice, use the following recipes to substitute for the store-bought combinations.
- Apple Pie Spice: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pumpkin Pie Spice: 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger + 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg + 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
Of course, if you need more than 1 teaspoon simply double or triple the above recipes.
Spices add more than just flavor. They bring a variety of health benefits as well. Spices are a good source of a variety of antioxidants. Dried spices are a particularly good source of antioxidants as these anti-inflammatory compounds are concentrated, so just a small amount can be beneficial. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine:
- Cinnamon helps lower blood sugar levels
- Turmeric fights inflammation in the body
- Ginger relieves nausea
As reported earlier this year by researcher TA Jiang, "There is now ample evidence that spices and herbs possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antitumorigenic, anticarcinogenic, and glucose- and cholesterol-lowering activities, as well as properties that affect cognition and mood."
Adding these and other spices to your foods on a regular basis can support overall health. *Always talk to your doctor before making any dietary or medication changes.
As mentioned, there are a variety of ways you can add Fall spices to your plate. National Pumpkin Day is October 26th making it the perfect time to pair pumpkin with these spices for a delicious treat!
Whole Food Plant-Based Pumpkin Pie
- 1 1/2 cups oats
- 3/4 cup pepitas, walnuts, or almonds (your choice)
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted
- 2-4 Tablespoons water, or more as needed
- 1 (15oz) can of pumpkin
- 1/4 cup pepitas or cashews (your choice)
- 1/2 cup dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup flaxseed, ground
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon cinnamon, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine oats and nuts/seeds of choice. Pulse until fine flour texture forms. Add in the dates and 2 Tablespoons of water. Continue to pulse, adding an additional 1-2 Tablespoons of water as needed to help the mixture stick together. Continue to pulse until a thick dough texture forms.
In a 9-12 inch pie pan, spread the crust out evenly using the back of a spoon. Bake the crust for 10 minutes
Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the filling ingredients and blend until smooth. (If the blender is not heavy-duty or high powered you may want to soak the nuts/seeds in warm water for ~30 minutes, then drain, prior to blending.)
Spread the pie filling in the crust. Bake for another 10-15 minutes. Once finished, allow the pie to cool and enjoy!
Spice up the season by filling your plate and your home with the cozy aromas of Fall spices!