pumpkins, history, spices, pumpkin pie spices, dharlene marie fahl
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October 2016 Posts

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Pumpkin Spice is Everything Nice - Guest Post by Dharlene Marie Fahl

Monday, October 17th 2016 @ 10:47 AM

Yes, I'm sure you've noticed! It's Pumpkin Spice time again, and every year there seems to be more and more of it. And it's showing up in some rather unusual places!

 

We've gotten used to pumpkin spice tea and coffee lattes but this year I've seen it in goat cheese, donuts, toaster tarts, protein bars, almonds, rice cakes, baking chips, yogurt, tortilla chips, pancake batter, beer, ale, and the list goes on and on.


 

Since it's showing up almost everywhere, I was a bit curious about the history of the pumpkin itself, and the pie we created from it, along with the actual spices in the pie filling, and if the spices themselves were good for the human body. I was indeed pleasantly surprised.

North America can actually claim the pumpkin as its own. With thanks being given to our Native Americans, who poached it, roasted it, boiled it, baked it and kept it over the long winters for survival. The seeds were scooped out of the pumpkins and eaten or saved to plant for the next years' crop. As it evolved, the hollowed-out shell had many things added to it primarily based on what was at hand. Sugar, honey, molasses, eggs, spices, cream, (almost the ingredients we use today) were put into the emptied squash, the top was replaced, and then the filled-up pumpkin was buried in the ashes of campfires. It came out completely black but with the center then fully cooked, sweet, and delightful to taste. It would have been much like a custard, and quite similar to our pumpkin pie version of modern day.


 

As for the spices, that's a bit of a longer story and I will attempt to keep brief, but insightful. The traditional spices used in pumpkin pie are: cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, allspice, and clove. With cinnamon being the predominant ingredient, I'll begin there; but not all cinnamon is the same. Look for the higher-quality version grown in Sri Lanka called, Ceylon Cinnamon. Cassia Cinnamon is much more common and considerably less expensive. It contains more cinnamaldehyde oil, and therefore, more taste, but not as good for you. Yes, cinnamon has become widely known for its health benefits and here's why:

 

CINNAMON:

* powerful polyphenol antioxidants

* anti-inflammatory properties

* lowers the risk factors for heart disease

* increases sensitivity to hormone insulin

* reduces fasting blood sugar levels

* antifungal and antibacterial properties

* may help fight the HIV-1 virus

* and more is being researched

 

NUTMEG:

This curious and complicated fruit contains the seed from which the spice is derived. It comes from the kernel inside the seed. The coating of the kernel is also ground and known as "mace." Two different (but similar) spices come from the nutmeg fruit. The health benefits of nutmeg are as follows:

* helps lower blood pressure

* aids digestive health

* reduces inflammation and skin irritations

* relieves insomnia

* beneficial in maintaining brain health

* eases the digestive process

* will help dissolve kidney stones

* helps to eliminate toxins from the body

* reduces bad breath

* helps with bone health

*contains antioxidants and disease-preventing phytochemicals

* high levels of manganese

* relieves joint, muscle and tooth pain

* large dosages are not recommended

 

GROUND GINGER:

Fresh verses ground? In grinding and drying ginger it reduces the amount of Gingerol (one of the ingredients that contribute to its health properties) but it is believed the other benefiting compounds known as, Shogaols increase significantly. And these Shogaols may even be more beneficial.

* high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties

* helps with the nausea of chemotherapy, sea sickness, morning and post surgery sickness

* reduces muscle pain and soreness

* reduces the symptoms of osteoarthritis

* lowers blood sugar levels

* beneficial for indigestion and stomach upset

* reduces menstrual pain

* reduces LDL cholesterol and blood triglyceride levels  

* helps fight infections

 

ALLSPICE:

Also called, Jamaica Pepper, it is an unripe fruit that is dried and ground. It's originally from Jamaica and looks much like a peppercorn. Its health benefits:

* rich in antioxidant properties

* helps to maintain a healthy heart

* aids in digestion

* boosts immune system

* helps with dental concerns

* improves blood circulation

* relieves arthritis and gout

 

 

Lastly, we have Clove as the final spice used to make Pumpkin Spice. Many parts of the clove plant are used but people seem to be most familiar with the dried bud of the flower from the plant. Again, this is another spice that provides many health benefits:

 

CLOVE:

* protects the liver

* boost immune system

* preserves bone quality

* contains antimicrobial properties

* aids in digestion

* may help fight against cancer

* contains anti-mutagenic properties

* fights against oral diseases

* used for headaches

* used in Ayurvedic medicine for halitosis and tooth decay


 

As I stated earlier, I'd keep the information on the spices brief and to the point, but all of them are rich with old stories and have indeed shaped history. Much like the expanding desire for tea long ago, these spices were highly sought, fought over, very expensive, and used in many ways for their health benefits, taste, addition to foods and medicines, and with most of these spices in particular, they are said to have high aphrodisiac properties, too! Guess that might be another reason to have a second cup of a pumpkin-spiced black tea latte!

Pumpkin Spice is indeed made of everything nice, and everything good for you, too. T'is the season. Let's all enjoy it!

~ Dharlene Marie Fahl
- http://www.dharlenemariefahl.com

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--
DHARLENE MARIE FAHL is a Certified Tea Specialist, World Tea Traveler, Author, Poetess, Tea Goddess, Blogger, Mother of Two College Kids, and Lover of Life. Dharlene says, “Tea brings me great joy and I share that joy with as many people as I possibly can. I see tea as the bridge to other countries and cultures. While people are sipping the tea I make them -- I take them across that bridge.” - Learn more about Dharlene’s work at http://www.dharlenemariefahl.com

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