7 Warming Spices For Winter Meals

Cold winter temperatures mean one thing: Staying warm. It’s the perfect time for cozy sweaters, extra-thick socks and mugs of cocoa. It’s also an ideal time to reach for the warming spices on your spice rack.

Spices come from the root, bark, seed or dried fruit of a plant or tree. Their flavors come from the essential oils that they contain. Interestingly, many spices have the same oils but in different amounts. This difference in proportions creates different flavor profiles.

The process of grinding, grating and crushing spices helps release the oils inside. The oils will evaporate over time, and so will the flavors of the spice. For the most flavorful taste, be sure to check the expiration date on spices and replace them as needed. Or, buy whole spices which can often stay fresh for years.

Let’s take a look at nine spices to bring added warmth to your wintertime meals.

Black peppercorns in a bowl on a table.

1. Black Pepper

Peppercorns have been around a long time. A member of the Piperaceae Family, pepper has been used to spice foods for more than 4,000 years. Hot and pungent, peppercorns come in black, white, green and pink. It is found in nearly every cuisine and pairs well with almost any other spice. Use it in practically any recipe from savory to sweet, to everything in between.

green cardamom pods in  steel bowl

2. Cardamom

Cardamom is a member of the Zingiberaceae (Ginger) Family. It’s warming and sweet, and a little goes a long way. Cardamom comes in three different forms; the whole pod like what is pictured above, the seeds from within the pods, and ground. Keep in mind that both the whole pods and the seeds would need processing before using.

Cardamom pairs well with other warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and turmeric. Use it with rice or lentil dishes, or with vegetables like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. Tryit in these delicious-lookingCardamom Snickerdoodle Cookiesor in a mug of this Chai Latte.

Red Chili Peppers

3. Cayenne

Cayenne pepper adds a big punch of heat to any dish; it’s very spicy. Often used in Mexican and Spanish cuisines, cayenne is known for creating bold flavors. This spice works well with other warming spices like paprika, cinnamon and cumin, but nearly any spice can pair with it. Add cayenne anytime you want to add heat to things like soups, dressings, marinades, seasoning blends, chili, rice dishes. But don’t stop there, cayenne works equally well in desserts.

For something sweet with a kick, try cayenne pepper in these Spicy Cinnamon Cayenne Cacao Cookies. For something savory, try this Spicy Cajun Hummus or these Spicy Baked Home Fries.

Organic Raw Brown Cinnamon

4. Cinnamon

There is so much to love about cinnamon. Earthy and sweet, it’s often used in recipes that truly evokes coziness. More than just taste, however, cinnamon offers somesurprising health benefitssuch as regulating blood sugar and reducing LDL cholesterol levels.

Try it in this easy-to-makeCinnamon-Apple Steel Cut Oatmealor a big bowl of thisNutty Cinnamon-Orange Granola. Delicious! Would you rather have something savory? This Simple Fig Barbecue Sauceis perfect on top of grilled vegetables, tofu, tempeh or even seitan.

Peeled garlic in bowl

5. Garlic

Garlic (Allium sativum) is in the onion genus, Allium. It’s ridiculously versatile. When fresh, garlic is spicy and robust. Dried garlic offers flavor and convenience, while roasted garlic is sticky and sweet. Its versatility is also in its ability to pair with virtually any spice. From dressings and marinades to pasta, stews, soups, casseroles, stir-fries and more, garlic adds another layer of warmth and flavor to dishes. Plus, garlic is good for our health.

Try using garlic in this Creamy, Five-Minute Garlic Sauceon a big batch of Roasted Carrots with Thymeor drizzled on top of this Garlicky Spinach Pepper Polenta Pie.

Ginger root and ginger powder

6. Ginger

Ginger is a powerhouse spice. It’s a member of the Zingiberceae Family and it has a spicy, warm bite with a hint of sweetness. Incredibly adaptable, it’s used in Asian, Indian, Caribbean and Middle Eastern cuisines. Ginger pairs well with a variety of spices and lends itself well to both savory and sweet recipes. Try using it in this Apricot-Ginger Granolaor this savory Ginger & Sesame Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

Alongside its great taste, ginger has considerable health benefitsas well. Ginger can treat morning sickness, nausea, muscle soreness, lower blood sugar and reduce inflammation and the pain associated with menstrual cramps, just to name a few.

 

Grated horseradish bowl

7. Horseradish

Horseradish is not for the faint of heart. A member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family, it has a warm and intense flavor that pairs well with fatty foods. Like cinnamon, horseradish has health benefits. According to the University of Illinois, horseradish contains a large number of glucosinolates, compounds that have been shown to aid in the resistance to cancer.

Sure, you can buy premade horseradish in the refrigerated section of well-stocked grocery stores, but you can also make your own. This Prepared Horseradish sauce requires just six ingredients. Horseradish goes excellent in sauces, soups (I always add a teaspoon to my tomato soup) and on top of roasted vegetables. Try it in this Creamy Cauliflower & Horseradish Soup, these hearty Horseradish Smashed Potatoesor this refreshing, but spicyRadish & Root Kimchi.

Your turn! Tell me about the winter warming spices or spice combinations you reach for again and again in the comments!

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Photos: Thinkstock

60 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Y2 months ago

thanks

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John J2 months ago

thanks for sharing

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R4 months ago

ty

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Paulo Reeson
Paulo R4 months ago

ty

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Kathy G
Kathy G4 months ago

Thank you

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara4 months ago

Had apple and cinnamon on my porridge this morning

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Tanya W
Tanya W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing... love cinnamon and cardamom.

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