It’s hard to imagine an apple or pumpkin pie without cinnamon. This sweet spice comes from the inner bark of cinnamon trees found in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, India and Burma. It is mentioned throughout antiquity and was even imported to ancient Egypt. Nowadays, cinnamon can be purchased in stick form or ground for convenience.
Cinnamon has many health benefits. It is said to help with muscle spasms, infections, loss of appetite and the common cold. Studies have also shown that cinnamon can help Type 2 diabetics control their blood glucose levels.
After you use your cinnamon in your favorite apple pie recipe, you can use any leftover sticks to make a great-smelling stovetop potpourri. Try this: cut one lemon, one apple and one orange into fourths. Place in pot with two to three cinnamon sticks, and cover with water. Simmer and enjoy the wonderful aroma.
Clove is a strong spice that is popular in many fall recipes, from clove-studded hams to pumpkin pies. They are the dried flower buds of the Syzygium aromaticum tree, which is native to Indonesia. This potent spice has been known to numb the mouth, and a little bit goes a long way when it comes to seasoning.
Cloves are said to act as an ant repellant, and can also be brewed and drank as a tea. They are also good at combating morning sickness and other forms of digestive distress.
You can use whole cloves to make a pomander ball, a fun and easy Christmas craft. Simply tie a red or green ribbon around an orange, poke holes into the fruit and insert cloves. The orange will dry and continue to emit a wonderful scent for years. They make great decorations or drawer sachets.
This popular spice, a mainstay of gingerbread and gingerbread cookies, hails from Central America. It comes from the dried, unripe fruit of a canopy tree. When dried they resemble peppercorns, and they are typically ground into a powder for convenience.
Allspice is common in many Caribbean recipes, and used in jerk seasoning and in barbecue sauces. It is also in Middle Eastern cuisine and is used to flavor many meat and stew dishes.
Whole allspice makes a great addition to dried potpourri. Mix together dried, sliced fruits, dried herbs and flowers, and spices to create your own, one-of-a-kind allspice potpourri creation. This makes a great gift idea.
A stuffing staple, sage has its roots in the Mediterranean region, although nowadays it can be found in many places throughout the world. This herb has a long history of culinary and medicinal use, and in ancient times was thought to ward off evil and aid with fertility.
Sage is a mainstay in many European recipes, especially in traditional bread stuffing prepared during the holidays. It’s one of the herbs mentioned in the Old English song “Scarborough Fair.”
Sage is a wonderful-smelling and attractive herb, and it makes a beautiful edible Christmas wreath. Combined with oregano, rosemary and bay leaves, this stunning wreath is a perfect gift for friends.
Use these popular herbs and spices to add a kick to your recipes, your home and your gift-giving this holiday season.
BIO: Alicia is a content coordinator for a tech company. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, cooking healthy meals, and blogging about health, tech and communication on MarCom Land.