Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices known to man. Thousands of years ago it was so highly treasured that it was considered more precious than gold. Boy how the times have changed. Cinnamon in America today has become ubiquitous with sugar laden desserts – from Cinnabon to cinnamon-sugar donuts… But without the sugar, cinnamon actually has many health and healing properties.
Among the many – small amounts of cinnamon have been said to regulate blood sugar, lower LDL (the bad one) cholesterol, and boost brain function, all while acting as an anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic agent. In other words, soothing swollen joints and keeping bacteria, infections and yeast out of your body. And would you believe cinnamon is actually high in iron, manganese, fiber and calcium. No wonder why it was used as food and medicine in ancient Egypt.
There are 2 types of generally regarded cinnamon. The spice we all grew up with is cinnamomum cassia, a darker, spicier, less-expensive version of the true Ceylon cinnamon. Ceylon has a sweeter taste, the quills (the dried bark of the cinnamon tree) are softer, and it can be easily ground in a home coffee grinder. It is most commonly found in specialty stores. Cassia, our supermarket darling, has harder quills and cannot be easily ground into a powder using a coffee grinder. If you’ve ever tried grinding a stick as I have, then you know what I’m talking about. Regardless of the difference between Cassia and Ceylon, one thing remains the same. The abovementioned benefits.
Add small amounts of cinnamon to yogurt, granola, oatmeal, smoothies, almond butter, roasted sweet potatoes or carrots, sautéed winter greens, jasmine or basmati rice, soups, stews, tagines, coffee, tea, or with a mix of other spices on chicken. Small amounts of cinnamon will mellow sharp flavors or bitterness in a dish and infuse depth, warmth, and a delicate sweetness.