This Christmas my husband bought me a Joyce-Chen-carbon-steel-14inch-flat-bottomed-wok-with-wooden-handles-and-utensils. When he asked what was on my Christmas wish-list, this rattled off my tongue almost as fast as Ralphie and his “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot, range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time”.
Of course, being the thorough researcher that my husband is, he also presented me with the ultimate guide and cookbook to go along: The Breath of a Wok by Grace Young and Alan Richardson. Simply WOW. Gifts to make a dietitian swoon.
Thus, we are spending our 12 days of Christmas carefully seasoning and slowly unlocking the secrets to wok cuisine. It has been a delight, as well as a great start to the 2023 year, filled with lots of fresh vegetables and new adventures in cooking. We wish you your own culinary adventures this coming year! Here are a few ideas for your inspiration. ~ Megan
For tips on various seasoning methods and some wok history, I highly recommend the book mentioned above. Here we are doing a first seasoning with high-temperature oil and green onions (that get thrown away) for flavoring. Our first couple dishes were a take on kung pao chicken (using tofu) and lemony scallops and noodles. Yum!
SEASONing’s greetings! Winter is coming, and the holiday spices are here. Chai lattes are a favorite during this time of the year and are often made with spices like cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, clove, black pepper, and, yes – cardamom! Cardamom is a spice used in many recipes and often goes unrecognized; however, it has many health benefits. Want to learn how to make the best chai spice blend for your holiday teas and lattes? Keep on reading!
Cardamom is mainly grown and harvested in India, China, and Sri Lanka but can also be found in many other countries in the Middle East and Asia. Did you know it can grow up to 16 feet tall? It is an herby plant with leafy greens, tall root stalks, and white flowers with purple tips that is known for its fruit and aromatic seeds. When these seeds are dried and ground, they give us the spice used in many foods and baked goods. It’s also used for its scent in perfumes, soaps, and lotions. Some common uses of cardamom are found in recipes for:
Cardamom is rich in micronutrients like fiber, iron, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Potassium, magnesium, and calcium help keep muscles and nerves functioning well and maintain the heart’s rhythm. Magnesium also helps with managing stress levels and giving us enough energy throughout the day, and calcium is excellent for maintaining strong bone health.
The spice also contains phytochemicals like phytosterols which help with heart health. Studies have found that 2g of cardamom daily can reduce LDL (bad)-cholesterol and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease! This spice has also been used in ancient traditional medicine and has many health benefits, including:
With cold and flu season already here, are you ready to make that chai? Check out the recipe below and experience all of cardamom’s benefits:
Homemade Chai Spice Blend:
Makes 32 servings, store up to 3 months at room temperature.
Chai Latte Recipe:
Makes 1 serving
Nutrition per serving: Calories: 101, Carbohydrates: 16.2g, Protein: 0.6g, Fat: 4.6g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 5mg, Fiber: 1.7 g, Sugar: 12.5
Overall, cardamom is a unique addition to many dishes with its sweet and floral flavor and aromas. It is a spice full of antioxidants that help to protect against oxidative damage to your cells, similar to cinnamon and nutmeg. In combination with its health benefits, that chai recipe sounds great right about now, don’t you think?
Erin McMahon, Dietetic Intern
Food Data Central. (Accessed on 11/9/2022). Spices, cardamom. US Department of Agriculture [Webpage]. Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170919/nutrients
Anandaraj, M. & Sudharsham, M. R. (2010). Cardomom, Ginger and Turmeric. In Verheye, W. H. (ed) Soils, Plant Growth and Crop Production. Eolss Publishers Company Limited. Chapter available at: http://www.eolss.net/Sample-Chapters/C10/E1-05A-49-00.pdf
Spices Board India. (2009). Cultivation Practices for Cardamom. Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India. Available at: http://www.indianspices.com/pdf/Book_Cultivation_Cardamom.pdf
Opara, E.I., & Chohan, M. (2021). Culinary Herbs and Spices: A Global Guide. Royal Society of Chemistry, 99-122. Available at: https://web-s-ebscohost-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/ZTcwMHhuYV9fMjk4ODEzNF9fQU41?sid=7ec4c595-7271-4fce-9a16-0203be69a699@redis&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Peter, K.V. (2012). Handbook of Herbs and Spices: Vol. 2nd ed. Woodhead Publishing. Available at: https://web-s-ebscohost-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/ehost/ebookviewer/ebook/ZTAwMHhuYV9fNjgwNjQxX19BTg2?sid=a79fa0a8-5d60-4397-a0e3-63938e4e21ee@redis&vid=0&format=EB&rid=1
Charles, D.J. (2013). Antioxidant Properties of Spices, Herbs and Other Sources. New York, NY : Springer New York : Imprint: Springer. Available at: https://link-springer-com.proxy.lib.umich.edu/content/pdf/10.1007/978-1-4614-4310-0.pdf
A place for our consultant Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to share nutrition science, yummy and healthy recipes, tips on seasonal ingredients, and other nutritional musings. Enjoy!