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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 j.kellogg@gmail.com
Photo Courtesy of Joshua Kellogg j.kellogg@gmail.com

* * * * * * 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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    • profile image

      nathan lee 6 years ago

      Ceylon Cinnamon is great in coffees and deserts. Cassia cinnamon ruins coffee and food. Get it away from me.

      Cassia is good for chasing away ants though.

    • profile image

      Nathan Lee 6 years ago

      THROW OUT CASSIA. I've been duped for YEARS. Fake cinnamon makes evevrything taste worst. I never understood it. I used to put it in coffee and it ruined my coffee.

      TRUE CEYLON cinnamon compliments other things. Its like a sweet nutmeg. It should be a crime that Cassia is listed as Cinnamon in this country. Cassia is not a good spice for anything except hearty broths and to chase away ants.

    • tamanna123 profile image

      tamanna123 6 years ago from Ontario

      cinnamon truly is a wonderful herb ! i love baking with it for that extra zing! lovely article

    • theherbivorehippi profile image

      theherbivorehippi 7 years ago from Holly, MI

      I always forget that I even have cinnamon! The only thing I ever put it on is applesauce..lol. I never really thought to put it on so many other things and I had no idea it had healthy benefits to it. Thanks!

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image
      Author

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      Rapidwriter, thanks for the tip about crushing the bark. I love to try cooking Indian cuisine, but it never turns out how I expect.

    • Rapidwriter profile image

      Rapidwriter 9 years ago from UK

      Great list for easy use of cinnamon. I know it's good for diabetes but hadn't thought of all these uses. Dustings and dashes on greens and squash et all, sounds just the trick to get a regular dose. Thank you so much, Stacie. In Middle Eastern and Indian dishes we tend to slightly crush the cinnamon bark before adding it to the pot. Release maximum flavour and fragrance.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image
      Author

      Stacie Naczelnik 9 years ago from Seattle

      I've added cinnamon powder to rice, but a cinnamon stick works too. It really depends on how strong of a flavor you want and when you want to add the spice.

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      I use Cinnamon for coffee for everyday and when I eat breakfast there are enough sugars in the items no need to add sugar for coffee. I also used to cook cinnamon stick and Basil leaves and make a Potato curry with some mustard seeds, I have to try that again, it adds excellent flavor. In the rice can we add cinnamon powder or stick will be better? I can get them from Indian Stores.

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

      I only knew about its aphrodisiac effects... didn't know that it was so good for many other things too. Good hub!

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Yes my dear you are so right...and need to be better at this myself...thanks for the reminder..your hubs are great. Love you G-Ma :O)

    • Dottie1 profile image

      Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

      Wow, lots of great tips here. So much to love about cinnamon; brain, cognitive, and memory power! I'm printing this hub to keep by my side. Thanks.

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 9 years ago

      Huh, I didn't know it lowers cholesterol.. good hub and good info!

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      Gee never too old to learn, Good hub. I love cinnamon and didn't know it was good for our health. Love cinnamon buns . Icing not so good though.

    • Veronica profile image

      Veronica 9 years ago from NY

      I'm guilty of the over using. I should try the more subtle into some new things .

    • Maddie Ruud profile image

      Maddie Ruud 9 years ago from Oakland, CA

      I love when things that taste good are good FOR you, too.

      Nice hub.