Hello October! It is FALL already, can you believe it? Time goes by too fast! This is the month when most of us starting looking for comfort food to warm our souls.
When it is fall season, you will definitely know it without being tell. Seems like everywhere we go these days, the air is covering with the warm cozy scent of blended spices. So what is the spices we talking about here? It is absolutely no-doubt the PUMPKIN SPICE. I don’t know about you, but to me the food (mainly dessert/drink) that flavor with a touch of pumpkin spice tends to have its magical effect of calming my nerves. This effect does not appear to be coming from nowhere, there are actual reasons help to explain these make-you-feel-good effects of the pumpkin spice. Alright, in order to understand the potential health benefits of the blended spices, I thought you might want to know what are in the mix. Pumpkin spice is made from a blend of 5 spices, which consists of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Generally, most spices are well known by its disease-fighting antioxidant properties, which it helps to boost our immune system. But again, the bioavailability of antioxidants is still a myth, which means there are still ongoing studies investigating how well our bodies able to absorb these antioxidants from spices. Here are the breakdown of health benefits of individual spices:
Cinnamon contains an active compound named cinnamaldehyde, which has antimicrobial properties to fight off bacteria in the mouth. Some studies also found it may have benefit on blood glucose control.
Ginger has an active compound, gingerol, that possesses antimicrobial properties, to help protect our mouth from bacteria and virus infection. Ginger is also widely used to treat nausea and motion sickness, pain and inflammation, and is used during cold and flu season. Ginger helps to keep you warm by stimulating circulation.
Clove is reportedly ranked by researchers in Spain the best natural antioxidant.
Nutmeg thought to have the benefit of improving blood circulation to the brain and enhancing sleep.
Allspice found to have several active compounds such as quercetin, gallic acid, and ericifolin, which shown to have antitumor properties in laboratory studies in animals. In many natural remedies, we been using allspice to treat everything from colds to menstrual cramps.
(Danahy, 2014), (Tempest, 2012), (Webb, 2016)
So now you know why are we desperately needing pumpkin spice for everything!
I know most of us are busy with our lives these days, we tend to look for shortcut (easy way) to make our meals, by purchasing the ready-mix ingredients. And later in life, we tend to forget the way to make a simple thing out from scratch. If only you know how easy to prepare your own pumpkin spice at home, you will be asking yourself REPEATEDLY why are you spending money on food item like this at the grocery store. If you interested in DIY (do it yourself) pumpkin spice, it literally just take you a few minutes to prepare this spice. What you need are measuring spoons, a small container (or may a snack bag), and 5 ground spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice). Please see the picture above for the pumpkin spice recipe.
After searching of ton of recipes related to pumpkin spice, I decided to make myself a snack to enjoy. I made pumpkin spice no-bake energy balls, they are packed with fiber and protein, which is perfect to help me get through those afternoon slump.
I adapted the recipe from Clean Food Crush. The recipe indicates it could yields 24-32 balls, but I was able to make 39 energy balls from the dough.
Pumpkin Chocolate Chips Energy Balls
3 cups dry, uncooked oatmeal (I used rolled oat, and lightly tossed them before mixing)
4-6 Tbsp ground flax seeds (amount adjusted by your dough consistency. Add more when dough is too runny. Lightly tossed before mixing)
1 cup Pumpkin Puree
1 cup Peanut Butter
⅔ cup maple syrup (You sure can substitute it with honey, please note honey has thicker consistency, so you might want to cut back on the amount of honey)
½ tsp cinnamon, ground
½ tsp pumpkin spice
½ Tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup small chopped mixed nuts (I used almond and walnut)
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips (optional)
Heat pan on the stove. Lightly toss oatmeal and ground flax seeds. Do it separately.
Combine all ingredients in medium size mixing bowl until well mixed.
Roll into balls about ½-1” in diameter, depending on your preference. The bigger you make, the lesser amount of energy balls you will be able to get it from the dough.
Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper & freeze an hour or maybe longer.
Store in an airtight container and keep refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Danahy, A. (2014). Spices for winter wellness. Food & Nutrition. Retrieved from https://foodandnutrition.org/blogs/stone-soup/spices-winter-wellness/
Odyssey (2017). Picture of fall season [Digital Image]. Retrieved from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/an-actual-fall-season-yes-please
Primally Inspired. Picture of homemade pumpkin pie spice recipe [Digital Image]. Retrieved from http://www.primallyinspired.com/homemade-pumpkin-pie-spice/#
Rachel (2015). Pumpkin chocolate chip energy balls. Clean food crush. Retrieved from https://cleanfoodcrush.com/pumpkin-energy-balls/#more-'
Tempest, M. (2012). Adding spice for a healthier life: Evidence shows antioxidant-rich herbs and spices may cut chronic disease risk . Today’s Dietitian, 14(3), 40. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030612p40.shtml
Webb, D. (2016). Herbs and spices: Holiday spices. Today’s Dietitian, 18(11), 14. https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/1116p14.shtml