Simply Cinnamon

Why you need to add this spice to your life
By Erica Tasto

Cinnamon is usually considered a winter spice: You might bust it out when it’s your turn to host the company Christmas party or you’ll see it added to your local bar’s seasonal drink menu, but this spice doesn’t have to hide when temperatures begin to rise. In fact, the fragrant, potent ingredient can play an important role in your summer dishes—and offer a ton of health benefits in the process. So, why should you seek out cinnamon?

>> Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Essential oils found in cinnamon bark help to regulate blood flow, prevent clumping of blood platelets, and lower the release of certain cell membrane acids that contribute to inflammatory diseases—particularly arthritis. Additionally, a recent study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine found that athletes who regularly ingested cinnamon powder showed a decrease in muscle soreness; so, cinnamon can encourage you to keep those activity levels up! And if that doesn’t convince you to embrace this spicy ingredient, did you know that cinnamon may help ease menstrual symptoms? Cinnamon contains the natural chemical cinnamaldehyde, which helps to balance hormones, reduce heavy bleeding, and alleviate cramps.

>> Controls Blood Sugar

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that adding cinnamon to carb-heavy meals increased the time it took to empty the stomach after eating; thus, the spice was effective in reducing the rise of blood sugar that is normally associated with those meals. The researchers also noted previous studies indicating that cinnamon lowers total cholesterol concentrations. Regulated blood sugar levels work to stabilize both energy levels and mood—adding cinnamon to your diet may not only reduce your risk for chronic diseases such as diabetes, but also prevent the onset of fatigue or depression.

>> Anti-Microbial Properties

Cinnamon has the ability to stop the growth of bacteria and fungi, making it a natural food preservative.

>> Brain-Booster

Research has shown that simply smelling cinnamon can increase cognitive functions such as memory and visual-motor speed, so even using it as a garnish for dishes or drinks can have beneficial effects. When ingested, cinnamon is metabolized into sodium benzoate—and elevated sodium benzoate levels in the brain have been linked to stimulated brain activity and a reduced risk for the development of brain disorders, according to a report published in the Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology.

>> Contains Essential Nutrients

Cinnamon provides the body with fiber, calcium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and more. These all help to improve overall body and heart health.

So, are you ready to spice up your summer? For a quick cinna-jolt, add a few pinches to your cereal, stir into oatmeal, or sprinkle over peanut butter toast. Craving more time in the kitchen? Visit my blog, “The Natural Suite,” on naturalsolutionsmag.com to discover delicious recipes that will get you to feel the heat.

 

Pear & Walnut Cake

This cake is more like a giant muffin—which means it leads a double life as either a breakfast go-to or an after-dinner, not-too-sweet treat.

1 ¾ cups flour

½ cup almond meal

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

½ cup chopped walnuts

2 large eggs

1 ½ cups sugar

½ cup buttermilk

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 or 4 Bartlett pears, medium size, halved and cored

½ cup raspberries (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly cover a round, 8-inch cake pan with spray oil and dust with flour, then line bottom of pan with parchment. Place flour, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, and walnuts in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Place eggs and sugar in a food processor (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) and pulse until well blended—the mixture will be pale and fluffy. Add buttermilk and olive oil and pulse until batter is thick. Fold dry ingredients into wet mixture and pour batter into cake pan. Place halved pears into cake. Total baking time is about 90 minutes, but begin checking for doneness around 70 minutes—a toothpick should come out clean when inserted into center of cake. Optional: Garnish with raspberries. Source: Bakers Royale