Spice it Up: Teach Children about Beneficial Spices this Holiday Season

These spices of the holiday season are great for families.Spices aren’t just for eating! There are many fun ways you can share their beneficial properties with your children this holiday season.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the seasonal spices—flavorful and warming, they can transform many of your recipes into a festive treat. I have not been shy about adding spices to my children’s foods and we use them together in baking, crafts, and educational activities.

Here are a few holiday beneficial spices and related activities worth sharing:

Ginger:

Ginger can be quite spicy for the little ones, so I use it in small doses. I’ve taught my oldest son how ginger can be soothing to an upset tummy and that it has a special warming energy whenever he might be feeling cold or have the chills.

Learning opportunities:

  • Grow Your Own: Unless you live in a tropical region, you will want to grow your ginger indoors. All you need is fresh ginger root you have purchased, potting soil (possibly mixed with compost), and a pot that allows for drainage. Soak your ginger root in warm water overnight and then cut into pieces making sure there are a few nodes on each. Place the ginger at least 3 inches into your soil, cover lightly, and place near a window that will get some sunlight.  Your children can check on the root’s growth daily and be given the task of keeping the soil moist (not soaked or it might rot!).
  • Draw a Foot Bath: After spending time outside in the chilly weather it is soothing and fun to draw a foot bath with powdered ginger (2 tbsp powder per 2 quarts of water). Soak your tootsies for at least 10 minutes and add more hot water as needed. Chat about how the ginger boosts the warmth to your feet.
  • Prepare a Treat Together: Some of my favorites are gingerbread oatmeal (with molasses, cinnamon, and ginger), ginger snaps, candied ginger, and old-fashioned ginger ale (with fresh ginger root, carbonated water, and sugar).

Cinnamon:

This classic fall spice is actually an all-star for reducing inflammation and keeping indigestion and nausea at bay. Use extends beyond what one may typically think (oatmeal for example!) and the cinnamon sticks are a lot of fun for crafting.

Learning opportunities: 

  • Tooth Powder: Try brushing your teeth with finely ground cinnamon powder. It can freshen your breath and, apparently has been used as a teeth whitener. While lots of fun I would not recommend this one for daily use!
  • Sip on Mulled Cider: Let the kiddos add cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, allspice berries, freshly ground nutmeg, and dried orange peel to apple cider. Heat and simmer, cool slightly, and enjoy with a cinnamon stick in your mug!
  • Get Crafty: Make ornaments or other seasonal decorations using cinnamon sticks, dried orange slices, and ribbon. Pinterest has an abundance of ideas to choose from!

Related: 6 Fun Ways to Teach Children about Herbs and Plants

Cardamom:

Cardamom is an absolute must in our home as it quite soothing for the gut, especially for those prone to anxiety-related digestive issues. When my son is feeling nervous about something I suggest we add the spice at breakfast.

Learning Opportunities: 

  • Try Chai: In a pint of filtered water add freshly grated ginger (per preference), a few peppercorns, 1-2 cinnamon sticks, freshly ground nutmeg, a few cloves, 15 cardamom seeds, and a fresh orange peel. Cover the pot and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 cup of whole milk (or “mylk” of choice) and simmer a few minutes longer. Strain and add a touch of honey or pure maple syrup to sweeten.
  • Give the Gift of Potpourri: This is a lot of fun to make with the kiddos! Assemble your ingredients and encourage them to mix and match into their own special bedroom blends or as a gift. You can simply keep the blend in a bowl or place in a muslin satchel for gifting. Potpourri ingredient ideas: cardamom pods, star anise, whole cinnamon sticks, tiny pine cones, rose hips, dried apple and/or orange slices.

Related: Mindfulness and Essential Oils: Natural Ways To Battle Anxiety

Cloves:

This sweet spice is a great remedy for toothaches and is also a wonderful digestive aid.

Learning Opportunities:

  • Chew it up! In a pinch, a whole clove can be a great substitute for chewing gum (and as I mentioned, can soothe tooth pain). I let my son experiment with chewing a clove for fun, and so for keeping this remedy in mind should he need it later on.
  • Prepare Orange Clove Pomander Balls: You will want to look this one up to see what they look like! This fun craft idea makes a lovely table centerpiece or gift. Pomanders are believed to bring good fortune too! Find a few firm oranges and use a toothpick to poke holes in a design or pattern. Let the kids stud the oranges with whole cloves. The cloves help preserve the oranges for a longer-lasting decoration.

 

Photo: Viktory Panchenko/Shutterstock


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