Cinnamon – Spice Up Your Life!

Cinnamon Varieties

Cinnamon Trees are native to South Asia, the bark of the cinnamon tree is dried and rolled into sticks, which is also called quills. The characteristic flavor and aroma of cinnamon comes from a compound in the essential oil of the bark called cinnamonaldehyde.

Cinnamon is one of the oldest known spices.  Once the outer bark of the tree is removed cinnamon sticks, or quills have many thin layers that can easily be made into powder using a coffee or spice grinder.

Indonesian Cinnamon

Unless you get your hands on Indonesian cinnamon, often sold in neat quills made up of one thick layer, capable of damaging a spice or coffee grinder.

You likely are aware of cinnamon in regards to pies, donuts, cinnamon buns and cinnamon toast.  Did you know that especially in Mexico chocolate is often prepared with cinnamon?  Cinnamon is also used for savory dishes, soups and even cinnamon curries.

Cinnamon provides a low calorie, high flavor substitute for sugar.  You probably have had cinnamon in your tea, but have you tried cinnamon in your cup of coffee?  A cup of coffee with cinnamon instead of cream and sugar could save up to 70 calories, because a whole tablespoon of cinnamon is only 19 calories vs 45 in a TBS of granulated sugar.  It can be a substitute in your coffee, yogurt, and popcorn – oh my! 

Tablespoon of Cinnamon

For diabetics and those interested in a low-sugar diet, the effects of cinnamon versus sugar should make you happy (more on that later). One study found that a half a teaspoon a day could keep the diabetes at bay, as it reduces serum glucose, triglyceride, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol.  (more on natural diabetes prevention)

Need even more reasons to love cinnamon? Excellent, because I have plenty more!

Ever had that after-meal sugar crash?  That crash leads to more cravings and decreased satiety.  Cinnamon can slow down the speed that the stomach empties after a meal, reducing the influx of blood sugar; cravings; and overeating!  Reducing caloric intake might be a stretch, but anything that helps can’t hurt, right?

It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium. Nutritious, nutritious!

Cinnamon can strengthen the immune system by enhancing the antioxidants from other foods to help the body defend itself. In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon is used for colds, flatulence, nausea, diarrhoea, and painful menstrual periods.

Cinnamon and Ginger

In a study patients given a topical cinnamon and ginger ointment treatment reduced pain and morning stiffness.  Topically, cinnamon can also promote collagen biosynthesis (read can be used as an anti-aging cream!)

It was found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.  The cinnamon aroma is also a mood booster and aphrodisiac… oooh lala love cinnamon! 

Happy Cinnamon Recipes Under 100 Calories from greatist.com

Spiced Orange: One orange— about the size of a tennis ball— sprinkled with cinnamon.

Stuffed Figs: Two small dried figs with 1 tablespoon reduced-fat ricotta stuffed inside. Sprinkle with cinnamon.

Oats n’ Berries:  ⅓ cup rolled oats (cooked with water), topped with cinnamon and ¼ cup freshberries.

Baked Apple: One tennis ball-sized apple, cored, filled with 1 teaspoon brown sugar and cinnamon, and baked until tender.

Cinnamon Graham Crackers & Peanut butter: Two graham cracker squares with 1 teaspoon peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Warm Spiced Cider: 6 ounces apple cider with sprinkles of cinnamon and nutmeg, warmed.

Sweet n’ Spicy Pecans: Five pecans roasted with 2 teaspoons maple syrup and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Check out this blog post about the Top 5 Health Benefits of Cinnamon

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