Spice Up Your Holiday Season…and Your Health

The holidays are just around the corner, which means it’s time to start thinking about preparing your traditional holiday meal. For many, this involves a perfectly roasted turkey, accompanied by mouth-watering side dishes of fluffy mashed potatoes, tangy cranberry sauce and warm buttery rolls. While the holidays are certainly a time to indulge and celebrate, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your health in the process.

Increased awareness of the health effects of such ingredients as gluten and sugar have created a ‘new generation’ of recipes that are modified for the health-conscious. Many of the traditional recipes that have been around for ages are now available without the harmful additives, toxins…and guilt. Common spices you use to marinate your mushrooms or perk up your peppers have more benefits than you may realize.


Did you know that turmeric, commonly known as the “Queen of Spices,” provides a range of antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties?

That means it has benefits for:

  • Cancer prevention
  • Diabetes control
  • Liver detoxification
  • Cholesterol reduction

Turmeric adds a hint of spice resembling curry and other traditional Indian food flavors, but has countless uses. Try this recipe for golden turmeric latkes with applesauce for a unique addition to your repertoire of holiday dishes.


Cinnamon is another commonly used spice in holiday recipes, and provides numerous health benefits, particularly for individuals with diabetes. According to Medical News Today, which references a study published in Diabetics Care, as little as six grams of cinnamon per day “reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol in people with type 2 diabetes.”

Cinnamon is used in a variety of dessert recipes or sprinkled atop warm holiday beverages, but this gluten-free cinnamon roll recipe is one of my favorites!


Saffron is a uniquely distinct spice that not only adds flavor and color to your recipes, but also contains profound disease-preventing and health-promoting properties. Saffron has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries, as it is most notably recognized for its benefits as an:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antidepressant
  • Anticonvulsant (Prevents seizures)

According to research presented in Eating Well Magazine, including saffron in your diet can boost your mood due to the antidepressant effects that are similar to Prozac, as it makes the neurotransmitter, serotonin, more available to the brain. This low-calorie, low-cholesterol winter squash risotto recipe is bound to warm you up and leave you smiling.

Whether you’re cooking for the holidays or simply trying to add a little spice to your life, these and several other spices will help you toward improved health and happier taste buds. Happy Holidays!

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