I learned about cardamom when a new Indian restaurant opened up in the neighborhood, and we had to check it out. Prior to that, I had not had Indian food (“I had been deprived of many cuisines growing up in an Italian household” she said, tongue-in-cheek).
When I first bit into my food, I tasted a burst of perfume on my tongue; I wasn’t loving it. After a few visits, the flavor of cardamom started to intrigue me but I wasn’t yet ready to experiment with it in any of my dishes I prepared at home.
I loved its fragrance in my nose but not on my tongue, so I experimented with perfume making and massage oils. After awhile, I was ready to try it in my own foods. The key to keeping from biting into the enormous burst of perfume taste in your mouth is to use very few pods at a time (unless you are a cardamom pro and have developed a taste already.) This is not a spice that requires several pods.
I recently learned that cardamom was more than just a fragrant spice. It has some nutritional benefits, quite a few in fact.
So, what is it? Cardamom is a spice that is in the Zingiberacaea family (the same family as ginger), and is found in hard-shelled pods. It is often called The Queen of Spices, and ranks as the third most expensive spice in the world, following saffron and vanilla pods. However, you can buy it in small quantities and use just a little at a time.
Cardamom, as previously stated, is a burst of perfume in your mouth, however, in small doses, the taste is hardly noticed. It is the aroma in the nose that compliments, but it is more than a fragrant spice used in Indian dishes. Its health benefits include preventing colorectal cancer, improvement of cardiovascular health, prevention of gastrointestinal disorders, as an anti-depressant, and has antispasmodic and antibacterial properties as well.
For all its benefits, including its wonderful aroma, I wanted to experiment on my own with this intriguing herb.Because I am on the keto diet (High fat – moderate protein – low carb), I often experiment with various good Omega-3 or 6 fats in various dishes. This morning, I made
Keto Chocolate Cardamom Fudge
2 Tablespoons Unrefined, Extra Virgin Cold-pressed Coconut Oil (left at room temperature so it mixes well but you can pop in microwave for 10 seconds if you like)
2 Tablespoons Almond Butter (without added sugar or salt)
2 Tablespoons Almond Flour (meal is okay)
2 Tablespoons Vegan Cream Cheese (I used this brand).
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Scoop Vanilla Whey Protein Powder
2 Packets of Pure Stevia (or erythritol)
4 Cardamom pods
Blend first seven ingredients by hand, using a fork or spoon. Stir until well-blended. Break open the 4 pods and sprinkle in your mixture. Stir throughout.
Scoop out 1 teaspoon of the mixture at a time, roll into balls and put on a dish. Flatten with two fingers if you like, or just leave in a ball. Or, if you want to get fancy, you can put in a candy mold. (I didn’t get fancy this morning).
This mixture should give you about 10 balls/bars.
Add about 2 chopped walnuts to each bar (or you can grind your walnuts and sprinkle on top).
Pop in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Enjoy. (This is not a low-calorie food, however, because of its high fat content, one or two should satisfy you.)
While this looks like dessert, on a keto diet, you actually eat these first. One should fill you so you don’t overdo your regular meal. I can eat 2-3 for breakfast alone.
I love what the cardamom adds to this. If you are not sure about cardamom just yet, no worries, it isn’t essential to making keto fudge. You can leave it out but I’m an herbalist! I need herbs and love what they add to my creations.
Play around with it. Instead of chocolate powder, add a teaspoon of Golden Milk powder if you have it. Or you can add unsweetened coconut flakes instead of walnuts.
But if you do use cardamom, I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave a comment.