CINNAMON IS ANTIVIRAL
I never had a cold or flu until I was about 20 years old. Everyone in our family was healthy.
I always thought it was just all the milk we drank and the great meals my parents prepared. Could it be attributed to all the cinnamon we consumed?
Many mornings our toast had butter sprinkled with a sugar-cinnamon mix. Kept in a shake, like salt, we sprinkled cinnamon on hot cereals. If food tasted better with cinnamon, we added that spice. I use it almost daily in my coffee. The cinnamon shake bottle sits in the cupboard alongside my coffee.
I never thought much about cinnamon being a health supplement until a few years ago. I read a news article about citizens working in a cinnamon factory in Indonesia. Although Indonesia had a horrible killing flu that year, NOT ONE OF 278 EMPLOYEES IN THE CINNAMON FACTORY CONTRACTED THE FLU. That opened my eyes.
So, what is cinnamon anyway?
Cinnamon, from the bark of plants in the Laurel family, has been used for thousands of years and was once a gift for kings.
My first source of food information is in the back of my dog-eared “Spice Islands Cook Book; How to cook with Spices, Herbs and Seasonings” written by the Spice Islands Home Economics Staff. The book discusses cinnamon beginning with the Middle Ages when it was a treasured spice. Check out their website at www.spiceislands.com.
My favorite cinnamon recipe in that book is the “Baked Spiced Pork Chops” (page 61). I serve it with mashed sweet potatoes or rice. Easy to make and put in the oven, it’s great for dinner parties.
I visited the Spice Islands when I lived in SE Asia. Before that time I had never handled raw spices like the mace apple-type fruit. In appearance like a small green apple, the outside flesh of the apple-like fruit is dried, ground up and sold as mace. The core is what you buy as the nutmeg. I use store-bought ground nutmeg most of the time. However, my egg custard always has the richer, freshly ground nutmeg heavily sprinkled on top before baking in the microwave. Yum! Recipe at the end of this blog.
Cinnamon contains ‘cinnamaldehyde’ which may be responsible for the health benefits.
Joe Leech, MS, included in a HEALTHLINE ARTICLE some properties of cinnamon as a health spice. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section6 Some of his information is included below:
Decreases blood pressure in animals
Decreases blood sugar levels
Decreases insulin resistance
Increases “good” HDL cholesterol levels
Inhibits buildup of tau protein in brain (hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease)
In mice helped protect neurons & improved motor function
In mice reduced growth of cancer cells, formation of blood vessels in tumors,
In mice, appears to be toxic to cancer cells, causing cell death
Used to treat circulation (may lower risk of heart disease)
Used to treat coughs
Used to treat digestion
Used to treat exhaustion
In a study of 26 spices, “…cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano. In fact, it is so powerful that cinnamon can be used as a natural food preservative.” https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section2
Cinnamons I use in cooking are Batavia Cassia, Ceylon Cinnamon and Saigon Cassia.
The picture to the left has some of the cinnamon bottles from my kitchen cupboard.
The Batavia Cassia is grown in Indonesia. These are the ones usually sold as Cinnamon sticks you find in the stores.
Ceylon Cinnamon, grown in Ceylon and India, is from a fir tree that grows over 50-feet tall. The cultivated ones have many shoots coming up from the base of a short trunk pruned to 8-feet tall. The bark is removed from the shoots during the monsoon season. The rain keeps the bark pliable and easy to work with. If you cannot find the higher quality Ceylon cinnamon in the grocery, it can be purchased online.
Saigon Cassia, originally found in China, has what the Spice Islands cookbook calls a “warm, bitter-sweet and aromatic taste.” Cassia has been found to cause health problems in large doses due to the coumarin content. Being cheaper, it is often sold in groceries.
Selective uses of Cinnamon include it in baked cookies and sweets, puddings, cooked fruit, fish, honey, meats, mulled red wine, pickling liquids and punch drinks. Seeds are used in potpourri and seed oils in perfumes.
Dangers of cinnamon use
NOTE: Like many spices, INHALED DRY CINNAMON CAN BE DANGEROUS. If inhaled, dry cinnamon can cause choking or gagging, irritate your throat, and can permanently damage your lungs. Lungs cannot break down spice fibers. Keep all spices safe from children.
Dangers of cinnamon use are discussed by Ryan Raman, MS, RD in his article, “6 Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon,” found in the online Healthline. He states it is safe to eat, but too much of the spice can damage your liver, cause mouth sores or cancer and lower blood sugar. As mentioned earlier, Raman states if inhaled, it can cause damage to your lungs and breathing problems. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/side-effects-of-cinnamon#1
Bremness. Lesley. The Complete Book of HERBS; A practical guide to growing & using herbs. Viking Studio Books. Penguin Books. Hudson Street. New York. 1988.
Leech.Joe.MS. 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Cinnamon. HEALTHLINE. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-cinnamon#section6. 5 July 2018. Used 13 March 2020.
Raman.Ryan.MS.RD. 5 Side Effects of Too Much Cinnamon. HEALTHLINE. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/side-effects-of-cinnamon#1. 26 September 2019. Accessed 13 March 2020.
Spice Islands Home Economics Staff, The Spice Islands Cook Book: How to cook with Spices, Herbs and Seasoning., Lane Books. Menlo Park. CA.1965.
Additional links for information:
KFOR TV: https://kfor.com/health/fda-cooking-spices-could-be-making-you-sick/amp/
Coffee Cake w/Cinnamon Strudel
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" square pan.
Bake 50-60 minutes.
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose lour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup salted butter, room temperature
1/2 to 1 cups pecans or walnuts, chopped
In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Stir together. Use fingers or a fork to cut the flour evenly into the mixture. Stir in the nuts and set aside.
1 cup butter, room temperature/softened
2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and mix in. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. The flour mixture and sour cream should be added alternately to the creamed mixture a small amount at a time until combined.
Spoon half the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle half the strudel mixture evenly over the batter. Top with the remaining batter. Evenly sprinkle the rest of the strudel mixture over the batter.
Bake 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the coffee cake should be slightly rounded. A depression in the center usually means it is not finished cooking.
Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before removing to a plate or wire rack.
If desired, the cake may be decorated with a white glaze icing design. A half cup of white glaze is made in a small bowl by mixing 1 cup of sifted confectioners (powdered) sugar with 1 tablespoon of milk. It should be a drizzling consistency. To make it thinner, add a few drops of milk at a time. To make it thicker, add powdered sugar. If you desire chocolate drizzle, add 2 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the powdered sugar. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled coffee cake in a decorative pattern.
Microwave Egg Custard
A family recipe from Irene Baron
1 ¾ C. milk
4-5 large eggs
1/3 C sugar (or less)
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
Heat milk 4-5 minutes in the microwave. Do NOT boil. In a 1-1/2 quart casserole, beat eggs. Stir into eggs the sugar, salt and vanilla. Add hot milk and stir to mix. Over the custard surface, sprinkle ground nutmeg or grind fresh nutmeg. Cover the casserole dish. Place in a microwave oven on low for 12-14 minutes. The time will vary depending upon the size of your eggs and the power of your microwave. Check for doneness by inserting a clean knife. If the knife is removed with no custard residue on it, the custard is cooked. Cool.
I often double the recipe for dinner guests who always love fresh egg custard. If you double the recipe, you may have to cook it 17-20 minutes.