Super Spice: Cinnamon

Just a few updates. I added a “Resources” page on the side for websites to check out, as well as a “Super Foods” page. I also have a new Facebook page where I post interesting articles I find, a Pinterest page for recipes and quotes, and my twitter page is here. If you have any nutrition or health questions, feel free to ask away here, and I’ll do my best to answer it!

You’ll find the jar of cinnamon in my hand several times a day. It tends to sneak into tons of foods – sweet and savory – like kefir and berries, smoothies, or even curried chicken.

Who doesn’t love the taste of cinnamon? Or the warm aroma of it from a baked apple pie at Thanksgiving?

Cinnamon actually comes from a tree, and shoots grow of its stump. The bark is stripped from the tree, and it dries into curly quills, which are sold as cinnamon sticks. The bark then is ground into the fragrant, brown  spice.

cinnamon quill

Not that I need a reason to eat it beyond its delicious taste, but it offers numerous health benefits, in small doses. No need to try out the “cinnamon challenge.”

For those with diabetes or anyone riding the blood sugar roller coaster, cinnamon helps! It signals our insulin pathways to help our cells use and take in glucose (sugar). In a study looking at people with type 2 diabetes using as little as 1 g of cinnamon daily, blood sugar levels were reduced by 20%. That’s pretty significant for less than one-half of a teaspoon!

Cinnamon, like numerous other spices, is also anti-microbial. Sprinkling some cinnamon in your coffee or yogurt seems like a pretty simple way to stave off colds or infections and keep your immune system running like a top-notch security system.

Finally, one really interesting study found the scent of cinnamon boosted brain function! Compared to other scents, including peppermint, jasmine, or no odor, cinnamon improved cognitive processes, such as memory, in various tests. It’s just one study, but I don’t mind the warming, delicious smell of cinnamon at all! I’ll probably throw some cinnamon in my  smoothie the day I take the RD (Registered Dietitian) exam in only two months.

Spices lose their flavor and potency over time, so consider buying them in smaller quantities. Take a look in your cupboard and try to remember how long you’ve had some of those jars. You can buy high-quality, flavorful spices in bulk bins in many health-food stores, and you can store them in small jars of your own. Buying in bulk also saves you money. Although cinnamon may be a more frequent spice used, spices are expensive for the very small quantities people often used. For example, you don’t need to be a full jar of garam masala or curry powder for one recipe (unless you make a lot of curries!).

cinnamon

Cinnamon is a very versatile spice. It goes well in spicy and savory dishes, like curries, as well as sweet dishes. Keep a jar of it on the counter, or in the front of your spice cabinet to remind you to use it. Some of my favorite ways to use cinnamon are:

  • Smoothies! Cinnamon adds a delicious kick to your smoothie. It works well in fall pumpkin or  banana-almond butter smoothies
  • Yogurt or kefir. I always throw a little cinnamon in bowl of plain kefir – my typical afternoon snack.
  • Fruit. Another favorite snack is an apple or banana with almond butter and cinnamon!
  • Curries. Cinnamon is usually an ingredient in curry powder, but if you like sweet curries, you can always add a little more cinnamon.
  • Chia pudding. This is another typical breakfast of mine – cinnamon chia pudding with fruit.
  • Sprinkle it in coffee or tea. This is one of my favorite ways to have it – a warm, cinnamon cup of coffee.

What’s your favorite way to use cinnamon?

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6 responses to “Super Spice: Cinnamon

  1. this isn’t exactly healthy, but one of my favorite ways to eat cinnamon is to sprinkle a mixture of it + a little bit of sugar on ice cream! reminds me of my childhood 🙂

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