Cinnamon: The spice that adds soothing warmth to food, body and soul
Besides warming our senses and making us happy, cinnamon does our body a whole lot of good.
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What does the scent of cinnamon (dalchini) mean to you? To someone in Norway it might be the breakfast buns. In other parts of the world, it could signify apple pie, cinnamon rolls or any number of other desserts. To us, in India, it most definitely means a cup of chai.
Whatever memories it kindles, this divine unmistakable scent — aromatic and slightly pungent — has an aroma that stimulates the senses, yet soothes the nerves. I personally find it warm, and very uplifting. Plus, it has a unique flavour — sweet and savoury at the same time.
That’s not all — besides warming our senses and making us happy, cinnamon does our body a lot of good too. It is no wonder that its use dates back nearly 4,000 years — it was a popular herb in traditional Chinese medicine.
It is time to sprinkle this spice far more in our everyday meals than we presently do.
Balanced sugar benefits
It is one of the best ways to balance blood sugar levels, and may help delay or even prevent Type II diabetes. Sprinkling just a pinch of cinnamon in your morning cuppa can work wonders — this spice activates essential enzymes in the body, which stimulate the cells to respond better to insulin. This helps prevent diabetes.
The double bonus here is that controlling diabetes helps lessen the risk of heart problems too. When blood sugar levels are balanced, the hormones can function towards allowing better sleep.
A pinch a day keeps diabetes at bay. (Image: India Today)
Cinnamon is brilliant fatigue cutter too — if your blood sugar levels are off, then you may feel tired through the day.
It can help combat common cold, flu and digestive problems. The healing abilities offered by this simple spice are courtesy of its phytochemical compounds and terpenoids — substances found in its essential oil. And not many people know that cinnamon is a good source of the powerful antioxidant — manganese — crucial for both, our brain and body. Cinnamon also effectively combats Helicobacter pylori — the bacteria that cause most ulcers, and it is loaded with polyphenols that are anti-inflammatory in nature.
Further, both the taste and smell of this spice significantly improves scores on memory tests. The compounds — proanthocyanidins and cinnamaldehyde — lead to greater cerebral blood flow and better processing of information and thus a sharper more efficient brain.
Cinnamon tea — ¼ tsp of powdered cinnamon per cup of boiling water. Steep for 10 to 20 minutes
It is a pleasant way to add cinnamon to your diet. I suggest, have it early in the day to score the benefits big time.
The little stick of goodness for a healthy mind, body and soul. (Image: Reuters)
Want something more substantial?
Make your own tea latte — let a tea bag (green gives a bigger antioxidant boost than black) steep for 3-4 minutes. Add heated and frothed soya milk, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and honey. The tea is therapeutic after a long day.
You can even make your own cinnamon flavoured apple butter. Here is how:
Wash two apples, but do not peel. Cut into small chunks and simmer in 1 cup of water until soft and press them through a sieve. Now heat the apple pulp in a large pan, adding ¼ to ½ cup sugar (depending on how sweet you’d like it to be), ¼ tsp cinnamon and a pinch of clove (laung) powder. Cook slowly and keep stirring till you have a thick puree that sticks to a wooden spoon without dripping. Seal in a sterilized jar. Eat with crackers or whole wheat bread.
Or try this French toast with a twist for breakfast:
Blend bananas with vanilla essence, eggs and milk. Dip bread into this ‘batter’ in batches. Cook in a non-stick pan until lightly browned on both sides. Dust with cinnamon and eat up.
The little stick of goodness will do you wonders.