With the holidays around the corner, we all start thinking about the wonderful flavors and scents that accompany the season. One of my favorites is hot mulled cider, which fills the house with the cozy scent of apples, cinnamon, and cloves.
Who would have ever thought that in addition to their delicious fragrance, nature has packed cloves with bone-healthy nutrients? Surprisingly, these miniature nail-shaped delicacies are rich in manganese, vitamin K, and omega-3 fatty acids. If you have the Save Our Bones Program, you know that all three are Foundation Supplements.
Just two teaspoons of ground cloves contain over 60 percent of the recommended daily allowance of manganese. Amazing!
But cloves are just one of many herbs and spices that can contribute to your bone health. We tend to think of spices merely for the distinct flavors they add to our recipes, yet each herb and spice has its own set of health benefits.
A Concentrated Bone Health Package
Cloves deliver an aromatic bone health punch because they contain:
- Manganese, necessary for the synthesis of connective tissue in cartilage and bone. It’s also involved in protein synthesis and fatty acid metabolism.
- Vitamin K, which works synergistically with vitamin D to regulate the production of osteoclasts, cells that remove old bone so that new bone can be deposited in its place.
- Omega-3 fatty acids, best known for their anti-inflammatory effects. For bone health, omega-3s increase calcium absorption, help reduce bone loss, and maintain mineral density within bones. 1
- Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that is crucial for collagen production.
- And last but not least, the “old faithfuls” of bone health: calcium and magnesium.
Additionally, manganese, vitamin K, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are important bone and collagen-building nutrients that help enhance fracture healing.
Adding Cloves to the Menu
Cloves can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Here are a few tips for using cloves and adding them to your bone-healthy diet:
- For the best flavor and health benefits, purchase organic cloves when possible.
- Try adding some Chinese Five Spice to stir-fries or marinades. This unique blend combines anise, cinnamon, and ginger with cloves to create a subtly sweet and spicy tang.
- Add ground cloves to chili, stews, and bean soups.
- Pierce an onion with whole cloves and add it to soups.
- Add ground cloves to your stuffing recipe.
- The flavor of cloves intensifies the longer they sit in warmed food, so take that into account when you’re deciding how much to add. A little goes a long way.
- Sprinkle some ground cloves over applesauce or baked apples.
- Keep your jar of ground cloves tightly sealed, out of direct light, and try to use them within six months (they’ll keep a little longer if you store them in the refrigerator).
Be Creative and Adventurous in Your Kitchen
Cloves are not your everyday spice, but they certainly are a healthy addition to your bone-smart pantry. With their exotic and sweet taste reminiscent of the tropics, you’ll want to find more ways to include them in your meals.
Here’s a delicious dessert recipe using ground cloves and other fragrant spices. I’m sure you’ll love it… and feel free to share your recipes with us below.
After I posted this article, several of you requested a recipe for mulled cider, so I’ve added my favorite holiday cider recipe just below the Scent-sational Cookies. Enjoy!
Yields 24 cookies
1 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetarian butter
1/4 cup extra-light olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Use three bowls. In one bowl, blend applesauce and baking soda. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, combine butter, oil, sugar, honey, and eggs. Set aside.
In the third bowl, blend the flour, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
Pour the butter mixture into the flour and spices bowl and blend well.
Mix in applesauce mixture, and stir in walnuts and chocolate chips.
Using a teaspoon, drop the dough on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10 to 12 minutes.
Vivian’s Holiday Mulled Cider
1/2 gallon apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. nutmeg
Zest of one orange
2 whole cloves
3/4 to 1-1/2 tsp. stevia (liquid or powder) *
1. Bring all of the ingredients to a simmer over medium heat.
2. When you see little bubbles forming around the edges, reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for about 20 minutes.
3.Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer before serving. **
* Adjust the amount of stevia to your preference. If you can’t find stevia, you can use 2 Tbsp. sugar (preferably organic) instead.
** As an alternative to straining the cider, you can tie the cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest in a little cheesecloth packet and then remove the spice packet when you’re ready to serve the cider.
1 Kruger, Horrobin. “Calcium Metabolism, Osteoporosis, and Essential Fatty Acids: A Review.” Progress in Lipid Research. 1997.
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