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The Herbalist's kitchen: 5 AUTUMN SPICES



Although I like autumn, I also feel it to be a bittersweet season because it heralds the arrival of the gloomy, icy winter. Whether you enjoy the change from the heat of summer to the cool of autumn and winter or not, eating foods, spices, and herbs according to the season is an important way to get more in tune with the cycles of nature. I've discovered that by immersing myself in the tastes, hues, and customs of each season, I'm better able to deal with the changes in temperature and light that autumn and winter bring. The abundance of delectable, soothing food options available during the fall harvest allows you to indulge in seasonal fare flavored with autumnal flavors.



Things to Think About With Autumn Spices

It was challenging to limit this article's list of featured spices to just five. You don't have to limit yourself to using only five spices for the fall, to start! Here, I want to give you a flavor profile to ponder about and get you to consider the energies of autumn. What aspects should be taken into account when selecting spices for this season?


Vata dosha, according to Ayurveda, governs the fall season. Vata characteristics, such as lightness, dryness, movement, and subtlety, are particularly noticeable at this time of year. It is crucial to be aware of the vata qualities becoming excessive at this time of year, especially for people with a vata constitution or vata imbalance. What then is the answer? Concentrate on nourishing, grounding, moist, warming meals, herbs, and spices. A delicious and fragrant approach to introduce vata-pacification into your daily routines is through your cooking with autumnal spices. Here are five autumnal spices you should use in your herbal kitchen this year.




Cinnamon Bark (Cinnamomum spp.

What would spring to mind for you if someone asked you to think of some autumnal spices? Naturally, cinnamon was at the top of my list! In fact, every spice in masala chai and pumpkin pie, including cinnamon, makes me think of fall. I wanted to go beyond those spices, though, as I've already written about masala chai in prior Herbal Academy pieces. In light of this, you might want to check out this masala chai recipe or give the apple and pumpkin pie spice blends in Build Your Own Apple and Pumpkin Pie Spice Blends a try if autumn colors and chilly mornings have you feeling snug and desiring comforting spices. An excellent way to appreciate the spices of autumn is to make your own masala chai or other spice mixes.


What is it about cinnamon that makes it the ideal fall food? We should start by looking at its energetics. Cinnamon is cleansing overall and has a sweet flavor, according to Ayurveda (Lad & Lad, 1994). With its warm energy, it also balances the dryness of vata and is thought to be slightly greasy, which calms both the vata and kapha doshas (Lad & Lad, 1994).



Cinnamon is a healthy spice all year round because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which help to maintain blood sugar control, circulation, and digestion (Groves, 2016).


The fact that cinnamon pairs nicely with apples and other fall fruits is another enticing feature of this spice. A classic dessert is apple pie with cinnamon. Instead, you may only use a dash of black pepper and cinnamon. Also, adding a dash of cinnamon to baked or stewed apples and pears is a fantastic way to liven up a basic meal, dessert, or snack. In a pinch, I may occasionally just sprinkle a little cinnamon on a raw apple to warm it up and help with digestion. Raw apples are naturally cool and light.




Seeds of cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum)

Cardamom tops my list of comforting autumn spices despite being somewhat less common in Western cuisine. Although cardamom is an expensive spice, a little bit of this fragrant seed goes a long way.


Cardamom has a warming energy, a sweet and sour flavor, and a general purifying effect (Dass, 2013). Its lovely perfume clears the mind and provides a sattvic (purifying) effect. Cardamom is a well-known digestive herb that also balances the heaviness of dairy dishes (Dass, 2013). For these reasons, it is a great addition to vanilla ice cream and a vital component of masala chai with milk and a number of Indian desserts. Try sprinkling cardamom powder on ice cream, hot chocolate, pumpkin pie, or even a bit in your morning brew.



Myristica fragrans Seed, nutmeg

The popular spice nutmeg is used in eggnog, pies, and many other cold-weather sweets. Nutmeg is a warming spice with a strong flavor that balances the vata and kapha doshas, making it a useful addition to the kitchen herbalist's collection of fall spices. Nutmeg is utilized to relieve vata problems in the digestive system, such as excess gas, in addition to being a wonderful culinary spice (Dass, 2013).


Add a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg to a cup of warm milk or golden milk to promote restful sleep. Just a little bit is sufficient! Nutmeg and sweetened milk together have an eggnog-like flavor that makes me feel cozy and festive. According to Ayurveda, using nutmeg on a regular basis or for an extended period of time can cause it to become dull or tamasic. Nutmeg is also harmful during pregnancy (Dass, 2013).



Cumin Seed (Cuminum cyminum)

When it comes to autumnal spices, cumin might be a slightly less obvious choice. Nonetheless, cumin is adaptable and frequently used in a wide range of foods, and because of its uses and advantages, it is an excellent choice for an autumn spice. Ayurveda views cumin as having a pungent (hot) and bitter flavor and an overall purifying impact, despite its mild cooling properties (Dass, 2013). It is a fantastic choice as a digestive spice and cooking ingredient for all three doshas due to its capacity to gently calm digestion and stimulate agni (digestive fire) without overheating pitta dosha.


Keep in mind that vata dosha, which rules autumn, can sometimes make vata problems, like excessive gas, bloating, and indigestion, worse in the fall. Consequently, it makes sense to add more digestive spices to support and balance digestion, especially in the fall. Yet, during the first few weeks of fall, the weather may still be warm and pitta dosha may still be present. Because of this, spices with a modest cooling effect, like cumin, can assist complete the kitchen herbalist's spice collection.


Generally speaking, cumin complements a wide range of other culinary spices. For a bit more heat, you can add black pepper (Piper nigrum) fruit or turmeric (Curcuma longa) rhizome. Instead, to enhance the cooling benefits of cumin, use coriander (Coriandrum sativum). You can use cumin powder, but I prefer to use cumin seeds when I cook. Simply add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds to an oiled skillet and heat it slowly until the cumin seeds begin to pop when you are sautéing your vegetables. Then, add your preferred chopped and thoroughly cleaned vegetables as well as any additional powdered spices, and cook until the vegetables soften and a delicious aroma is created.



Rosemary (Salvia rosmarinus) (Salvia rosmarinus)

Another fantastically adaptable herb that works well in savory dishes is rosemary. It pairs perfectly with roasted potatoes and roasted root vegetables and is very durable and hardy in sunny, dry settings (think the Mediterranean and California). Alternately, be daring and try adding rosemary to desserts! I put it to the test using this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Pumpkin Pie. Also equally lovely is rosemary ice cream.


Ayurveda claims that rosemary has a warming energy, a sweet and astringent flavor, and a generally purifying impact on the body (Lad & Lad, 1994). It balances the vata and kapha doshas, but excessive or frequent consumption of it may lead to an increase in the pitta dosha (Lad & Lad, 1994). Another well-known benefit of rosemary is that it aids memory (Groves, 2016). You can use it to make food for this purpose, or you can simply breathe in its energizing perfume in the form of an essential oil, hydrosol, or freshly plucked sprig from your garden.


You don't have to be creative with just just five spices to enjoy the flavors of autumn. But I do hope that this piece will act as a springboard for tasty recipes in your herbal kitchen this autumn. The transition from the sweltering heat of summer to the cooler months is the ideal time to cozy up with comforting, aromatic, health-giving autumn spices, whether it be in roasted vegetables, pumpkin pie, fried apples, or sweet and spicy drinks.

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