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Nutmeg

Did you know the traditional holiday spice nutmeg is not really a nut? It’s actually the seed of an evergreen, native to the Spice Islands of Indonesia.

The whole nutmeg is oval, brown and about an inch long. It has a nutty aroma and flavor. Like its frequent companions, clove and cinnamon, it acts as an antibiotic. In addition, small doses can help treat diarrhea, nausea, flatulence, indigestion and help lower blood pressure. Apply it topically to cold sores, toothaches and sore joints for a bit of pain relief.

But don’t overdo as large quantities of 2 tablespoons or more can be toxic.

Fortunately, it is now an affordable ingredient for holiday treats. But in the 16th century the Dutch traded the British for what is now Manhattan for the island of Run to create a nutmeg monopoly.

A bit more information: The warm spicy flavor of nutmeg is used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is a common ingredient in a variety of cakes, puddings and other desserts.

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