Cinnamon is one of the world’s most ancient spices, and yet still today is one of the most popular characters in the spice rack. Interest in cinnamon recently picked up when a study found that cinnamon, taken as a food, could help regulate blood sugar in people with Type 2 diabetes (the more common form of diabetes).
Cinnamon has also been shown in clinical studies to lower triglycerides and total cholesterol after about 40 days. There are also studies that suggest that eugenol, a compound in cinnamon, can kill viruses in a test tube. Killing a virus in a test tube (in vitro antiviral properties) is important, but does not necessarily mean the same substance can knock out a virus in your body. However, it has led to intensified research into cinnamon. More recently, scientists are looking at cinnamon as a potential anti-cancer agent.
Cinnamon may be a nutritional powerhouse. With all of this focus on humble cinnamon, how do we get more cinnamon in our diet? Investigators recommend that ground cinnamon or cinnamon sticks (the kind you can get in the grocery store) should be consumed as part of the diet. There is no need to take cinnamon tablets, supplements, or go to extreme measures. Even adding small amounts of cinnamon to the diet on a regular basis may have health benefits. If your only concept of cinnamon starts and ends at the Cinnabon® counter, read on.
First of all, you can start to scour some international cookbooks, since many countries regularly incorporate cinnamon in savory dishes, such as moussaka from Greece, curries from India, lamb stew from Morocco, and cinnamon rice from Mexico.
But here are 10 ideas on how to add MORE cinnamon to your life!
1. Top your morning bagel with cinnamon cream cheese.
2. Combine applesauce, walnuts, raisins and cinnamon for a terrific, healthful snack.
3. Sprinkle cinnamon on freshly popped popcorn. Go easy on the butter!
4. Mix cinnamon into plain or flavored yogurt. Kick it up by adding some fresh fruit or granola.
5. Quarter and bake butternut or acorn squash topped with cinnamon, salt and pepper.
6. Have you had cinnamon nuts? There are dozens (hundreds?!) of recipes for cinnamon nuts. Here is a great sugar-free version. Melt a tablespoon or two of butter. Add enough cinnamon to get the consistency of paste—cook over low heat. Add salt to taste. Toss with nuts to coat. Spread nuts on a cookie sheet and bake long and slow (about 250 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes). Start checking at 30 minutes. Depending on the kind and amount of nuts you use, they could be done at 30 minutes or they could take up to an hour. You can substitute canola oil for the butter, but butter tastes best!
7. Cinnamon coffee is lovely. Just add a quarter or half of a teaspoon of cinnamon to your cup and enjoy. You can also use a cinnamon stick to stir your coffee—and, yes, this stirrer is edible. In fact, some kids like nibbling on a cinnamon stick by itself! And cinnamon is also tasty in hot chocolate.
8. Cinnamon goes well with many fruits. Stew some sliced apples, peaches and/or pears, with cinnamon, a little water and your favorite sweetener. Serve hot or cold. Want a great fast dessert? Slice an apple, cook it in the microwave till soft, and serve with cinnamon and your favorite sweetener.
9. Put cinnamon in a pretty shaker and keep it on the table. Sprinkle liberally on hot or cold cereal, French toast, or pancakes. Just keeping it out in plain view will encourage you to use it more often.
10. Next time you’re wondering how to make baked chicken a little different, reach for the cinnamon. Just add cinnamon along with the spices you usually use. (I like a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, rosemary, and some cinnamon.) You can also take cinnamon aromatically, that is, you can diffuse cinnamon oil into the air. It is not clear if there are the same health benefits to sniffing cinnamon as eating it, but it can be very pleasant. Get a good-quality cinnamon essential oil (sometimes you have to get cassia oil, which smells the same but is from a different species of the Cinnamomum tree) and a diffuser. There has been a study which found that inhaling a whiff of cinnamon oil can increase alertness about the same as cup of coffee.
You can also take cinnamon aromatically, that is, you can diffuse cinnamon oil into the air. It is not clear if there are the same health benefits to sniffing cinnamon as eating it, but it can be very pleasant. Get a good-quality cinnamon essential oil (sometimes you have to get cassia oil, which smells the same but is from a different species of the Cinnamomum tree) and a diffuser. There has been a study which found that inhaling a whiff of cinnamon oil can increase alertness about the same as cup of coffee.
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