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Dried Cinnamon Leaves and nutmeg

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Nothing puts me in the¬†holiday spirit¬†like the smell of¬†fresh baked goods¬†swirling with the aroma of holiday-favorite spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The good news is that these spices not only provide great flavor to your holiday treats, they also have health benefits and can be used year-round in all sorts of dishes‚ÄĒfrom sweet to savory. Here's¬† some of holiday‚Äôs most popular spices and flavorings.

Cinnamon This warm, bittersweet spice obtained from the inner bark of several trees from the genus cinnamomum, is often used in Indian and Moroccan dishes.

Health Benefits: Research suggests that cinnamon may play a role in keeping blood sugar levels stable, reducing inflammation, and fighting off bacteria, although more research is needed.

Nutmeg¬†This warm, delicate spice, also known as ‚Äúpala‚Ä̬†

Health Benefits: Nutmeg has traditionally been used as an antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent. Some believe that topically applying nutmeg will help soothe sore muscles. A word of caution though, a little goes a long way. In extremely large amounts, nutmeg can cause psychoactivity leading to heart palpitations and delirium, but a teaspoon here or there is just right for adding flavor to many dishes.

Uses: Use in baked goods such as cookies or cakes, for a sweet-spice characteristic. Nutmeg is particularly good as a seasoning for winter produce such as acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin. It can even add complexity to simple veggie dishes, such as sautéed spinach.