The other day, as I threw out yet another empty jar of cinnamon, it occurred to me that I haven’t done a Curated Kitchen on my all-time favorite spice. When it comes to must-have items in my pantry and kitchen, cinnamon is at the top of the list so it’s time to talk about why this warming and exotic spice makes my heart flutter so much.
The Curated Kitchen
WHY YOU NEED IT //
As I mentioned, it’s a sweet warming spice that has long been considered a medicinal plant. Cinnamon is one of the oldest spices on record and it comes from the inner bark of a tree from the laurel family. There are different varieties all of which are harvested from different regions in Southeast Asia and China. It is useful in treating diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, menstrual cramps, and candidiasis. It’s widely aromatic and smelling cinnamon oil can relieve tension or calm nerves.
Cinnamon has been shown to increase digestive fluid secretions and alleviate gas and bloating. It’s also known to be useful in preventing type 2 diabetes due to its potent ability to lower blood sugar levels. This is why I like to pour—errr sprinkle—it on toast with nut butter, fresh fruit, sweet potatoes, roasted squash, and even baked carrots.
It may also be useful in lowering blood lipid levels—i.e. your triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol).
WAYS TO EAT IT //
Trail Mix, Energy Globes, or Granola. Add in the cinnamon for a subtle sweet and warming flavor.
Porridge, Soaked Oats, Muesli. Go ahead and heap it into your oats friends! It will help balance your blood sugar spikes and it really does make them oh-so dreamy.
Baked Goods. Cinnamon rolls, muffins, cakes, waffles, cookies—pretty much ALL the baked goods deserve a dash don’t you think?
Fresh Fruit. The classic apple cinnamon pair is a given but have you ever tried sprinkling it on grapefruit or banana? Life changing.
Raw Cacao. Spicy cinnamon and chocolate is a match made in heaven.
Tomato Sauce. Truth. Add in a dash to a can of tomatoes and you’ll bring out the earthy, woodsy notes while enhancing the natural sweetness sans extra sugar.
Pork, Lamb, Chicken Dishes. Savory cinnamon dishes may seem odd, but I promise this staple spice in Moroccan cuisine. It works well in curries, soups, stews, and dry rubs for meats.
Sweet Potatoes. Help mitigate blood sugar spikes by adding it to a baked sweet potato with a drizzle of coconut manna (thank me later).
Winter Squash. Delicata, spaghetti, pumpkin, kombucha, butternut and so on…Cinnamon and squash WANT to be together, OK?
Smoothies. A dash or two (i.e. 1/4 teaspoon) mixed into a smoothie will ground overly fruity blended drinks.
Yogurts. Whether you can tolerate dairy or stick to non-dairy coconut and almond yogurts, add some cinnamon and make it sing.
SHOP SMART //
Most of the cinnamon sold in the U.S. is the cassia variety. Cassia cinnamon contains small amounts of a substance called coumarin that can cause liver toxicity, which is reversible, when consumed in excess.
As for what defines excess?
That’s not exactly agreed upon, but most experts feel around 1 teaspoon a day or less would offer therapeutic benefits without causing any adverse effects. That said, not everyone is sensitive to coumarin but obviously be mindful with your consumption (says the girl who goes through a jar a week, gulp).
There is, however, another type of cinnamon known as Ceylon cinnamon and this type does not contain coumarin. It’s also a bit milder in flavor, albeit more expensive. I like to keep a bunch of different cinnamon jars on hand, including Ceylon, as I’ve noticed the Ceylon works especially well in savory dishes like Moroccan chicken or a Middle Eastern stew.
Additionally, I like to stock whole cinnamon sticks for adding to a pot of tea, stirring a cup of raw cacao, or even roasting with grounding root vegetables.
TIPS + ADVICE //
My only tip is to use cinnamon as much and as often as you can. Unless you’re pregnant and then go easy on it, as it can stimulate the uterus (i.e. uterine contractions).
What are your favorite ways to use cinnamon? Are you totally addicted like me? Do you think I need help? Wait. Don’t answer that.