Nutmeg should not be just something that you sprinkle onto eggnog during the Holidays. It is a rich and robust spice that adds a dash of excitement to any dish, savory or sweet. And it also happens to be one of the most fascinating spices that has left an indelible impression on history and commence.
So, in honor of nutmeg, I’ve concocted a super easy dessert recipe that only calls for four ingredients (including nutmeg, of course), and is made without any processed sugar. Before we get to the recipe, though, I’ve included some fascinating facts on myristica fragans for your reading enjoyment.
Nutmeg (Myristica Fragrans) originated from the Spice Islands of Indonesia. It was introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages via the Venetians, by way of the Arabs who traded on the Spice Route. Nutmeg was so expensive that it was considered a sign of opulence and immense wealth to be able to spice your food and bed with nutmeg. During the 17th century, the Dutch gained control of the Banda Islands (where nutmeg was grown) and, sad to say, decimated its inhabitants in order to monopolize the cultivation and distribution of nutmeg. Eventually, however, the British did usurp the Dutch by planting nutmeg trees in Asia and Africa. As a result, nutmeg became wildly available, and we no longer need to pay a king’s ransom for this exotic spice.
Nutmeg and Health
Nutmeg has been used as a healing agent for ailments ranging from rheumatism, to digestive disorders, to enhancing memory. During medieval times it was highly coveted as protection against the plague. (Perhaps it did confer some benefit, as nutmeg oil does contain compounds which are antimicrobial.)
On a more sensual note, nutmeg as an aphrodisiac is well documented throughout the Middle East, India, and China. It is often added to love potions, and was prescribed by physicians to increase circulation and heat in frigid patients.
Nutmeg & Yogurt Dessert Recipe
- 1 cup yogurt, full fat and organic
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated ( a Microplane is perfect for grating nutmeg)
- 5 -6 dates, pitted and chopped
- 3 Tablespoons Organic maple syrup, Grade B
plus more to drizzle onto the dessert just before serving
Makes 8 – 9 cubes, or enough to serve 2.
1) Mix the yogurt, grated nutmeg, and maple syrup in a bowl.
2) Then pour into an ice cube tray.
(I like to use the Tovolo trays for perfectly square cubes.)
3) Place in the freezer and allow the cubes to set. About 5 hours.
4) When they are firmly set, pop them out and grate a little more nutmeg over them, then drizzle additional maple syrup to taste. Serve immediately.
You can also add nutmeg to meat dishes for extra richness. I love to add about 1 teaspoon of grated nutmeg to a meatloaf.
Caution: Nutmeg contains a chemical called myristicin, which is a mild monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). Ingesting large quantities of nutmeg can cause unpleasant physical reactions, such as nausea, circulatory problems, and anxiety attacks. Small amounts used in cooking is just fine and delicious, but refrain from using large quantities. (Ingesting more than 2 tablespoons is too much! That is approximately the amount of one whole kernel, grated.) Women who are pregnant are also cautioned not to use nutmeg.
If you want to learn more about exotic spices and how they influenced history and commerce, read this great book:
For Love of Food & Friends,
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