If you have ever used clove oil for a toothache, you are no stranger to the medicinal properties of cloves. When I was in college I had an impacted wisdom tooth that caused pain to permeate throughout my entire body and encompass my every waking movement and thought. I couldn’t afford to get my tooth pulled, so I relied on a small vial of clove oil that I dabbed on my gums until I could save up enough money to get to the dentist. That clove oil actually worked better than orajel in numbing my pain.
Cloves aren’t only known for their antiseptic and anesthetic properties, but they are also known to promote circulation and increase the metabolic rate. Dr. Gary Elmer, Ph.D., associate professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Washington School of Pharmacy in Seattle also found that “The clove herb keeps food fresh because the main active component of cloves is eugenol, which has long been known to help kill bacteria and viruses.”
A recent study has even shown that a clove solution had an anticarcinogenic effect to skin cancer. Cloves also have vitamins and nutrients, one tablespoon providing the full daily recommended value of manganese, for women (and just below the daily requirement for men.) Cloves are also full of calcium, potassium, phytosterols and fiber.
So how can you take advantage of the health benefits of cloves? I’m not sure if this is what the health experts had in mind when recommending cloves as a health food, but I made gingerbread cookies today. In August! When it is 100 degrees! I didn’t just make gingerbread cookies, I made gingerbreadmen cookies! I asked my daughter what she wanted to do during “Mommy & Daughter Time” while big brother was at a Cub Scout meeting and this is what she chose. I can’t say I blame her, I can eat gingerbread cookies all year! So, not only did we enjoy an early Christmas tradition, but we got the health benefits of cloves, ginger and cinnamon! Do you like the flavor of cloves or do you find them too strong? What is your favorite recipe with cloves?
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup molasses
- In a medium-sized bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda. Set aside dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then the molasses. Slowly add the flour mixture to the molasses mixture, stirring after each addition with the wooden spoon or mixer (the dough should be stiff).
- Divide the dough in half, flatten into a thick pancake (a fun step for kids set up with a rolling pin) and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or until the dough is firm enough to roll (if it becomes too stiff, soften for 10 minutes at room temperature).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. On a floured counter, roll out the dough to a 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out gingerbread men and a spatula to transfer them to a greased cookie sheet, spacing them 1 inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until light brown.