On the menu – sugar and spice

Tuesday

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A whole new world of hot drinks has opened up to me, since K got me an aeroccino for my birthday and one of the drinks I thought I’d try was a turmeric latte. In case you’ve been living under a rock or maybe just possibly sensibly ignoring the endless round of latest ‘it’ foods, turmeric is meant to be a brilliant anti-inflammatory, so it’s good for stuff like arthritis (amongst other things).

I’m prone to TMJ, which I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, as it’s bloody horrible, I’ve had a lot of surgery over the past two years (for non-TMJ related things) and the pain, when recovering from those ops, is nowhere near as bad as TMJ pain. Having seen the inside of far too many hospital recovery rooms, I’m quite used to the pain scale now (you know, when they ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10), post surgery I normally say I’m about an 8, i.e it hurts a lot but not so bad the pain is overwhelming, my TMJ pain is often at a 9, where the pain is very definitely overwhelming, it’s all you can think about, as it either feels like someone is stabbing you in the face and then wiggling the knife about or you’ve just hit a moving vehicle head on (I was in an accident when I was in my 20s when I was hit in the eye by a moped and I know that the pain is exactly at the same level), so it always seems a little ironic that after surgery you get morphine, whereas long term, more painful condition, Nurofen. Not that I want my GP to hook me up with a supply of morphine, just fixing the problem would be nice. Anyway, I do know some tricks to help manage the pain; soft food only for a few weeks will help control bad attacks and even on good days, eating something chewy will turn that good day quickly bad, likewise anything where you have to bite down hard, such as McVites ginger biscuits, is a big no no but on a positive, hot drinks can really help.

So enter the turmeric latte, both hot and containing the anti-inflammatory turmeric, I thought I’d give it a go. I didn’t follow a specific recipe but I had been checking out various recipes on Pinterest, some of which I’ve pinned on my Food board, if you want to go and check them out. Because I was using the aeroccino to heat up and froth the milk, you can’t actually heat that much milk up in it, so it only makes about half a mug full. Yes I know I could use a saucepan or at least use the non-frothy option on the aeroccino, so that I can heat up more milk but, confession, I’m not the biggest fan of milky drinks, so the aeroccino was about the right size for me. I added half a teaspoon of turmeric, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of black pepper (the black pepper apparently helps the absorption of the good chemicals in the turmeric), I then let the aeroccino do its frothy thang, then after pouring the drink into the mug, stirred in about a teaspoon of honey.

The result was surprisingly nice, it tasted a lot more of cinnamon than turmeric (which is good, I love cinnamon and am not the biggest fan of turmeric) but had a pleasant warming aftertaste, which could have been the pepper more than the turmeric. And of course cinnamon is also a spice that is good for you and has anti-inflammatory properties.

The sites that I’d been reading, all seemed to recommend drinking the latte about an hour before bedtime and my TMJ pain does get worse at night. I often drink coffee about an hour (maybe two hours) before bedtime, yes I know, sensible but it doesn’t seem to affect my sleep too much and the warmth helps my jaw, so I swapped my coffee for the latte. I’m currently going through a TV watching phase, as TV over Christmas and in the post-Christmas period has been quite good, so I’ll watch it after finishing work (if I’ve been working that evening) and going to bed. I normally fix my hot drink just before sitting down in front of the telly and it’s normally by that point I’m feeling pretty brainless and sticking a nespresso capsule into the coffee machine is about as technical as I can get. So switching from that, to sticking on the aeroccino and fishing out three lots of spices plus some honey from my spice cupboard feels, sadly, like too much hard work but I did it.

Was the result worth it? Well, that night I’d already taken some Nurofen, so I was already painkillered up but I didn’t have to take any more Nurofen later on that night. I might not have needed to anyway, as although my TMJ is pretty bad at the moment, it’s not (touch wood) currently waking me up at night (thank god). So definitely inconclusive at best, however, I was never under the illusion that one turmeric latte would cure me of my TMJ, it’s definitely something I think I would have to drink more often. So, will I drink it more often? If I have the energy to do something slightly more complicated than switch on the nespresso machine in the evening, probably yes, it has definitely made me curious to see if this will help. I’m not sure though, making it in an aeroccino, that I’m getting the full benefit of all those spices, as the milk really frothed up and there was a lot of froth left in the mug after I’d finished drinking and that froth would have had a good proportion of the turmeric, pepper and cinnamon. However I am a big kid, a big fussy kid and you’re not going to get me drinking non-frothy milk drinks (unless, maybe it’s banana milk but I’m digressing) and ugh, heating it in a pan would be more washing up.

If I do make a habit of drinking this, one thing I will do is switch which cinnamon I’m using, as I used standard powdered cinnamon for this attempt, you know, the sort of cinnamon you’d put in cakes and googling the health benefits of cinnamon, I came across this site which talks about the difference between Ceylon cinnamon and cassia cinnamon. Most supermarket powdered cinnamon is cassia cinnamon, as it’s cheaper but cassia contains larger amounts of coumarin, which may be harmful in large doses. That’s not going to stop me using supermarket powdered cinnamon in baking but if I’m going to be regularly drinking the stuff, I’ll use Ceylon, which I also have in my spice cupboard, although unfortunately that will be one extra step for my tired mind, as my Ceylon cinnamon is in quills, so that will involve getting the pestle and mortar out, which will make me really popular doing that late evening.

(Disclaimer: I’m not any sort of expert on health, spices or otherwise, if you’re thinking of supplementing your diet with anything, do your own research / ask your doctor because even natural herbs and spices can have bad side effects)

Thursday

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Miranda Gore Browne’s Bake Me A Cake As Fast As You Can, is a fantastic book if you really fancy something home baked but don’t have the time or the energy to go and do something even remotely complicated. I fancy home baked stuff all the time because something would have to be pretty badly home baked for it not to be nicer than even the nicest shop bought cake or biscuit, so I should use this book a lot more often.

Her ‘simple little gingerbread cakes’ are an almost typical case in point, as you just stick all the ingredients together in a bowl, stir, stick in paper cases, bake and hey presto the nicest sugary thing you’ve eaten all week. I’ve said though, ‘almost typical’ for this recipe, as there’s an error! I’ve made quite a few of her recipes over on my old blog (you can find the posts here) and I don’t recall finding recipe errors with her stuff before. For this recipe though, it was blatant, they missed the flour out in the ingredients list! So I had to guesstimate and used 150g self raising flour which seemed to have worked out okay, as the result is absolutely delicious!

 

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