More appropriate fodder for dinnertime conversation with one’s extended family is the time-tested cultural wisdom of using nutmeg to spice winter’s signature foods, from pumpkin pie to eggnog. Because our digestive capacity is linked to sunlight and circadian rhythms3, we have a shorter window to absorb nutrients in wintertime. Eating dinner earlier in the evening is one way to work with our bodies’ rhythms in the season of long nights.
But it’s also a season of celebration, meaning most of us will spend some time eating and drinking late into the night with family and friends. In these instances, fresh nutmeg can help ease the consequences, including indigestion. Nutmeg is especially helpful with dairy-rich foods, hence its frequent appearance in creamy desserts, eggnog, and cheese sauces.
In addition to supporting digestion, nutmeg has a calming effect on the nervous system4. In my work as an herbalist, I’ve seen it help many people with insomnia—but even if you don’t have trouble sleeping, who wouldn’t welcome a bit more calm and relaxation?
Whether we’re talking about flavor or health benefits, the difference between using pre-powdered nutmeg and fresh-grated seed is akin to the difference between watching The Nutcracker live versus streaming it on your phone. The first is an experience; the second isn’t nearly as memorable. I hope you’ll give the real thing a try.