What you need to know: What flavor captures the spirit of the winter season better than gingerbread? We love gingerbread cookies, breakfast pastries and morning lattes – it’s a reminder that Christmas is fast approaching. That distinctive gingerbread taste comes from the heat of ginger combined with the sweeter notes of time-honored ingredients such as cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, honey and molasses. And while we associate these flavors with our favorite desserts, this medley of spices can offer therapeutic value as well. The combination of ginger and cinnamon help to balance blood sugar, slowing down the absorption of sugar. Ginger is also known to be effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, bringing relief from motion sickness, nausea, flatulence, indigestion and morning sickness.
Why you should try it: Gingerbread spices can be a natural way to not only soothe digestion, but to lower inflammation and improve blood flow and mood. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols, which have shown in studies to reduce pain and swelling and to improve mobility in joints. It does this by suppressing pro-inflammatory compounds while protecting cells against pro-oxidant damage. As for cinnamon, it is made of cinnamaldehyde, a well-researched compound known for its effects on blood. It helps prevent unwanted clumping of blood platelets, improving the movement of blood throughout the body. In turn, gingerbread spices can improve cardiovascular health, and prevent metabolic disease. Finally, fresh vanilla bean contains B vitamins and antioxidants, which have a relaxing and calming effect on the brain and the nerves. This can provide relief from anxiety, stress and restlessness.
Let’s get together: To reap the therapeutic rewards of gingerbread, think beyond cookies and cake. Instead, consider making a large batch of homemade spiced tea. The process of steeping tea extracts the medicinal qualities from the herbs, roots and spices, leaving you with a healing tonic. Choose loose cinnamon sticks, and freshly cut and peeled ginger root. Add to hot water and steep for 10-15 minutes. Then add a natural sweetener such as raw honey or molasses, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, to further boost the nutrition of the tea. From there, add frothed almond milk and top with freshly grated nutmeg and vanilla bean to create a gingerbread latte. Now that’s the Chalkboard way to do the holidays!