A Very Caribbean Spice In All

ALL SPICE AND THE CARIBBEAN

The Caribbean is predominantly founded and populated by slaves from Africa and the Americas, and it was these slaves that shaped West Indian cuisine. The African slaves brought yams, cassava and cornmeal, while slaves from the Americas bought ackee, salt fish, okra and mangoes. Jerk, which is now synonymous with Jamaica and many other islands, was introduced by West Africans…but that is another story for another blog!

The arrival of the British is believed to be responsible for the development of the patty: A delicious hand held pastry snack filled with minced beef, fish or vegetables, not dissimilar to a Cornish pasty. Thyme and parsley are common herbs which is also a very British influence. Later on in the convoluted Caribbean time line, workers from China brought with them the chilli peppers that are used in almost every dish.

However, it is the arrival of the East Indian workers that have most made an impact on the dishes we know and love today. Following the emancipation of slaves in the Caribbean, the British sought cheap workers for the sugar plantations and found it in indentured labourers from East India. These poor souls brought with them a fantastic array of colourful, aromatic and delectable spices that changed the face of Caribbean cooking. 

Allspice

Allspice is also known as Jamaica pepper, pimento and sometimes new spice. It is a tree that grows predominantly in the Caribbean and South America, the berries of the tree being dried and ground to produce the spice. English settlers in the 1600s are believed to have invented the name ‘allspice’ as they believed that it smelt like a combination of cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon: Literally all the spices! If you find yourself fortunate enough to be in the kitchen of a Caribbean cook and take a look in their cupboard, there is a 99.9% chance that you will find a jar of allspice. It is synonymous with the Caribbean and can be found in almost every savoury recipe. That being said, allspice is a relatively unfamiliar spice to many Brits. So why is it so special? Let us extol its virtues.

Eugenol 

Eugenol is a compound found in certain essential oils. It is present in allspice and has some fantastic health benefits. Eugenol has local anaesthetic and antiseptic properties and as such is used in dental treatment. There have been studies carried out which show that mixing allspice oil with extracts of garlic and oregano can actually work against serious food poisoning bacteria like salmonella and E. coli. Eugenol is also what gives allspice its warm, sweet fragrance.

Digestive Aid

Like cinnamon, allspice is a great aid to digestion. The active properties in allspice are believed to promote a healthy gut by facilitating the release of certain enzymes which aid digestion. It also has anti-flatulent properties (very useful when eating a spicy curry).

Vitamin Rich
Allspice is enriched with a multitude of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It contains iron which we all know is important for the production of blood cells. Alongside vitamin A and vitamin B-6, allspice is a good source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant, helping our bodies to fight disease.

So you see, the Caribbean is fantastic blend of spices, cultures, ingredients and cooking styles; very much like us at Cinnamon Travelling Café!  
Next time you’re in the supermarket, pick up a jar of allspice and find out why so many Caribbeans swear it. Better yet, find some whole allspice berries and grind them yourself, releasing the gorgeous warmth of this king of spices.#

SUPERFOOD AND ITS' SUPERPOWERS-

CREATIVE CINNAMON

Lots of people ask us why we call ourselves Cinnamon Travelling Cafe. The idea mainly came from the fact that we use cinnamon, fresh or ground, in nearly all our dishes, including our desserts and cakes. It is an AWESOME spice. Apart from the fact that every time you use it it makes your kitchen smell like Christmas ( our favourite time of year !) Folklore says the smell of cinnamon can cure the winter blues. It can certainly give dishes a warmth, depth and body. Not only is is super versatile, it is also a superfood, a concept that we have adopted as part of our ethos here at Cinnamon Travelling Cafe. We are The Superfood Curry Company. The term superfood means nothing more than nutrient rich food, considered to be especially beneficial for health and well being. And if you cook with whole, non processed foods, with fresh spices, you too will be a superfood cook. So in our first blog post about superfoods and their benefits lets talk about cinnamon.......and its' incredible super powers.

Cinnamon is  a powerful antioxidant. In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon was the outright winner, even outranking "superfoods" like garlic and oregano. Cinnamon is known to be effective for treating indigestion, nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea and bad gas. It does so by removing excess gas from the stomach and intestines, removes acidity, and acts as a diuretic to stop diarrhea. It can relieve irritable bowel syndrome, reduces morning sickness, and is often referred to as a digestive tonic.

Cinnamon is antibacterial. It is also antifungal, antiviral, and antiparasitic. Studies suggest that it could help in the treatment or prevention of various cancers and other viruses. It can be used as a homemade toothpaste and mouthwash and prevent tooth decay. Cinnamon oil works well on skin infections. It also acts as a coagulant to stop excess bleeding, and it kills infections, facilitating the healing process.

Cinnamon is anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce clotting and aids in essential blood flow.It can help soothe and remove stiffness in muscles and joints. You can eat it or use it as a massage oil. It's been shown to help with the monthly dreadfuls in relieving stomach cramps when eaten.

Cinnamon is anti-weight gain. Cinnamon assists in controlling blood sugar which in turn can help with weight loss and the control of diabetes. It can decrease levels of bad cholesterol and increase levels of good cholesterol

Cinnamon is anti-Alzheimer's. Cinnamon is a brain food. Studies show that cinnamon can prevent, delay and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer's and can assist in the symptoms of ADHD

So why not sprinkle some cinnamon on your porridge, on your coffee, eat some curry, or relax with a cinnamon oil bath or massage. Cinnamon rocks! The most beneficial way to use cinnamon is to grind it down fresh from bark, or stick the bark directly in your food & drink whilst it's cooking or brewing. Shop bought powder tends to degrade and lose its' potency over time. Welcome to the Cinnamon fan club!







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