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Cooking with Cinnamon - For Flavor and Health

Updated on April 17, 2013

Boost Your Health with the Spice of Cinnamon

The cinnamon we use in the United States is not actually true cinnamon. We actually use cassia, a cousin of the true Ceylon cinnamon. Cassia is darker, stronger, and spicer that Ceylon cinnamon.

However, true might not mean better, so don't throw out what you have in your cupboard (unless it's old, then go buy a new jar).

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Kellogg
Photo Courtesy of Joshua Kellogg

* * * * * * 1/4 Teaspoon * * * * * *

Research shows that we should all eat 1/4 tsp. of cinnamon a day.

American recipes often call for heaping teaspoons of cinnamon, but it is often used more subtley in cuisines around the world. In fact, cinnamon can be used in small amounts to mellow sharp flavors or infuse warmth and sweetness into a dish.

In Morocco, cinnamon is used in couscous to create a richer flavor. Indian curry dishes are often perfected with cinnamon. And, cinnamon is a key ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder. The spice is also used by the Chinese in some soy and ginger braising liquids. A pinch of cinnamon to an Italian dish can create a sweetly exotic taste.

You know that famous Cincinnati chili? It wouldn't be complete without a couple pinches of our favorite spice.

Less is More: Dash, Shake, Dust, & Pinch

Use small amounts to add depth to your simple dishes.

  • Add a pinch to your quiche filling for a richer taste.
  • Sprinkle a bit into your coffee beans for a fresh flavor.
  • Shake a bit onto your carrots and squash to taste that natural sweetness.
  • Stir half a stick into your rice to create an enchanting scent.
  • Add a dash to leafy winter greens to curb bitterness.
  • Dust the flour of your pie crust for a lively boost.

Boost Your Health with a Burst of Spice

Studies have shown that cinnamon can offer you a lot of health benefits. From lowering your blood pressure to boosting your brain power, just a bit of cinnamon a day can offer bountiful benefits.

  • · Lowers blood sugar levels
  • · Lowers cholesterol
  • · Lowers blood pressure
  • · Anti-clotting qualities promote healthy blood
  • · Acts as a natural preservative for food
  • · The scent of cinnamon boosts your cognitive and memory powers
  • · A great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium (see chart below)
  • · Helps stop the growth of bacteria (has shown to aid in treating some yeast infections)
  • · Soothes the stomach while helping with nausea and indigestion
  • · Relieves congestion from colds and allergies
  • · Helps alleviate joint, muscle, and arthritic pain
  • · May prevent tooth decay and gum disease
  • · Eases menstrual cramping

Add cinnamon to your oatmeal, your orange juice, or your hot cocoa. The possibilities are endless.

Chart Courtesy of The George Mateljan Foundation
Chart Courtesy of The George Mateljan Foundation

Please check with your doctor before using cinnamon in your health regime. Be sure cinnamon won't have a reaction to any medication you are taking.

If you are pregnant, you should check with your physician about the safe amount of cinnamon consumption.


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