Whether you’re craving an indulgent hot drink or want to serve the adults something with a bit of a kick, incorporating some warming spices can elevate your favourite seasonal drinks into something nutritious as well as delicious. So, this Bonfire Night, why not spice things up a little?
To serve up some culinary inspiration, the holistic health experts at Pukka Herbs share some classic ingredients and fun recipes you can get creative with this autumn.
Cinnamon is the quintessential spice associated with autumn and winter, and its distinctive aroma has become a comforting presence in everything from baked goods to scented candles during the colder months. Used in cooking and natural medicine for generations, cinnamon is not only a natural sweetener, but it also has a handful of great health benefits. This is due to it being packed with sweet and stimulating essential oils which invigorate and warm the body. For instance, despite its sweet flavour — which often means you can use less sugar in your recipes — cinnamon is thought to help regulate blood sugar levels and support the normal functioning of the gut microbiome. This makes it a powerhouse spice, both for bold flavours and for healthy, holistic cooking.
Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
If you fancy a classic sweet treat but want to make it a little more wholesome, give this cinnamon hot chocolate a try. Naturally sweetened with dates and with a healthy serving of this aromatic spice, it’s the perfect drink for a chilly autumn evening.
Start by heating 300ml of your milk of choice in a saucepan with a large cinnamon stick, a generous tablespoon of cocoa powder, and if you like, a teaspoon of maple syrup. Heat this mixture until it comes to a boil and then remove it from the stove, setting it aside to infuse for around 15 minutes. Once infused, you can then pick out the cinnamon sticks and reheat the mixture when you’re ready to drink it. Whisk in a teaspoon of vanilla extract for a final flourish and pour into two mugs, making sure to add your favourite toppings!
An invigorating, spicy root that has been used in herbal medicine for centuries, ginger was at one point more expensive per gram than gold (much like saffron still is today). As well as having a distinctively fiery taste, ginger also has a host of health benefits that make it the perfect spice for both sweet and savoury dishes in the colder months.
For instance, ginger supports our digestion by helping us process food more effectively. This means it can help to reduce indigestion and bloating after eating. Not only this, but ginger is a fantastically warming plant, whose spicy root can also give our circulation a boost. This helps to warm up the inner body as well as extremities such as hands and feet. Ideal for waking up numb toes while you watch the firework display!
Dark & Stormy
However, if you want to incorporate this fiery spice into one of your favourite cocktails, try this fresh twist on a Dark & Stormy. Instead of using shop-bought ginger beer, you can make your own concentrate with fresh ginger to get the most nutritional benefits straight from the source. If you have a juicer, you can make a versatile concentrate by juicing some fresh roots and then combining 4 parts of juice with 3 parts of granulated sugar. This will stay fiery and fresh for 2 days in the fridge. Alternatively, if you don’t have a juicer or are short on time, you can always buy ginger juice in small portions from your local greengrocer’s.
To make your Dark & Stormy, shake together 2 shots of dark rum, 25ml of ginger juice, and a tablespoon of lime juice with plenty of ice. Pour this into a highball glass and fill the remaining space with soda water, garnishing with a piece of candied ginger.
If you don’t drink, you may want to stick to something classic like a three-ginger tea and add a squeeze of lemon or perhaps a dash of turmeric.
More accurately known as masala chai, this blend of black tea, milk, and spices originated in India and has become more popular across the world in recent years. The spice blend typically consists of cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and cloves, but can also contain black peppercorns, star anise and nutmeg. You can find plenty of loose chai blends, but many people prefer the taste and the convenience of using chai teabags.
Cosy Chai Tea
To make a cup of sweet and warming chai tea, simply combine a cup of milk of your choice with a black teabag, a crushed cardamom pod, a few slices of fresh ginger and a pinch of nutmeg. Simmer this mixture in a saucepan for ten minutes, then strain and pour into two mugs. Stir in a teaspoon of maple syrup if you prefer your chai a little sweeter, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon or extra nutmeg for a finishing touch. If you’re heading out to watch the fireworks further afield, you can always fill a travel flask with your homemade chai and take it along with you to enjoy.
Not only is it a sweet, warming drink that’s perfect for a chilly November evening, but a chai latte or hot chocolate can also be an excellent alternative to coffee. If you’re trying to cut down on your caffeine consumption, then even a strong chai infusion has roughly a quarter of the caffeine found in coffee, because it is typically made with black tea. Similarly, while cocoa will also have a small amount of caffeine, it is still much less than a standard cup of coffee. So, while they can still give you a little boost to overcome an afternoon slump, chai and hot chocolate are delicious, warming alternatives that won’t give you a spike and subsequent crash in energy.
“Autumn is synonymous with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg, so Bonfire Night is the perfect opportunity to have fun with classic flavours. However, these traditional spices don’t just add a seasonal touch to your drinks: from supporting better circulation to aiding digestion, they can also help support your body throughout the colder months.
“You can get cosy this November by making these nourishing recipes for the whole family, or experiment with adding some spice to seasonal tipples just for the grown-ups. Either way, you’ll be warmed from the inside out as you watch this year’s firework display.”
- Jo Webber, Herbal Education Lead at Pukka Herbs
About the brand
Established in 2001 by co-founders Sebastian Pole and Tim Westwell, Pukka Herbs aim to nurture healthier, happier lives through the power of organic plants. Specialising in teas and supplements that follow the holistic principles of Ayurveda, they foster mutually benevolent relationships with farmers, sourcing partners and herbal experts to keep sustainability a priority. As a result, Pukka Herbs provide products that support health, promote conservation, and demonstrate the true brilliance of herbs.