A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cloves help make things spicy in food and the bedroom....

Do you ever find yourself with a cup of coffee or glass of milk wishing for some ginger cookies to dunk in your drink?  If you've never tried, ginger snaps dipped in coffee are amazing!  But, one ingredient is often overlooked in the cookies because, well, they're "ginger" cookies.....what else is in there? 

Enter the clove.  I know cinnamon and nutmeg are also in the cookies/snaps, but today is about the under appreciated clove.  It's usually the last thing to add and only very little is used (because it's so strong).  Outside of the clove's use in baked treats, it adds spice to dry rubs for meat and poultry (especially baked ham), complements teas, used in sauerkraut, a common ingredient in curry powders, and many other applications.  So what, it's a clove you say?  Well, let's take a look at some of the benefits of cloves.

These little flower buds are sold whole (as seen above), ground into powder, and as an oil.  Cloves have been used since the 1700's and were once one of the most valuable spices.  Some notable uses of cloves are:

·         Anasthetic - Eugenol is the principal chemical component of clove oil and is used in dentistry due to its analgesic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial effects. It is used in the form of a paste or mixture as dental cement, filler, and restorative material.  Cloves can be used in relieving a toothache by placing a single clove on the aching tooth. Clove oil can also be used by soaking in some cotton wool and then placing the cotton wool on the aching tooth.
·         Anti Fungal - Eugenol has been shown to be an effective natural anti fungal against the T. mentagrophytes and M. canis dermatophytes (tinia or ringworm), and although tea tree oil is a more effective anti fungal, a combination of tea tree oil and eugenol was found to be more effective.The fungicidal potency of clove oil is a less toxic, safe, and inexpensive alternative to commercial drugs without the risk of ever-increasing resistance shown by the target pathogens, toxicity problems at the increasing required doses, and problematic side-effects.
·         Useful for Patients with Diabetes - USDA’s Richard Anderson reports that bayleaf, cinnamon, cloves, and turmeric all can treble insulin activity. As little as 500 mg might be enough to have some effect, possibly helping in late-onset diabetes.
·         Aphrodisiac - Extract of clove has been shown to enhance the sexual behavior of male mice. The results of the study resulted in a significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats, without any adverse effects. The results seem to support the claims for its traditional usage as an aphrodisiac.
·         Mosquito Repellant – Clove oil is a natural mosquito repellant and can give protection against mosquitoes for 4-5 hours.
·         Cancer Prevention - Preliminary studies have suggested the chemopreventive potential of clove for lung cancer, and to delay and reduce the formation of skin cancer.
·         Cardiovascular Health - The compound eugenol from cloves has been found to be a potent platelet inhibitor (prevents blood clots).
Source:  http://www.elements4health.com/health-benefits-cloves.html

So, whether you get in the form of oil to use it for it's many health benefits, or ground to use in recipes (and still benefit from its healthful properties), just give a try and try it often! 

A quick way to incorporate cloves in your diet it with tea.  I love to make Chia Tea and the clove is a common ingredient.  A great recipe can be found here.  Remember, recipes don't have to be followed to the "T"; use Stevia instead of sugar, or less milk to help make it a little healthier. Sometimes I just mix ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and cinnamon into hot (but not boiling) water and drink before or after a meal as it helps with digestion.

Hope you found this info useful and inspiring to use clove in a new recipe.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I will go make some strong clove infused tea for Kelley.  *See "Aphrodisiac" benefit above.  : )

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