Cinnamon: Not Your Average Tree Bark

Some foods have been around forever. Cinnamon is one of those foods. From Egypt to China to Greece, it’s been around for thousands of years and has been used for everything from embalming mummies to baking cookies.

The original source of the spice – cinnamon trees in Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar – was a guarded secret for much of its existence and its secret eluded explorers like Columbus and Pizarro who traveled all over the world in search of it. Many civilizations valued it more highly than gold or silver.

As such, we should feel lucky to have access to a shaker of cinnamon at a moment’s notice (and for just a few dollars) in our modern kitchens.

Made from the dried inner bark of several tree species, cinnamon is sold in ground or stick form. Its sweet and spicy flavor is perfect for desserts but can complement savory dishes as well.

The health benefits of cinnamon have been hotly debated in the nutrition community for years. Although it may slightly blunt blood sugar response from a meal, any reasonable amount of cinnamon we’d consume in a day (up to a few tablespoons) is unlikely to have a meaningful impact on weight status or metabolism.

You may first think of cinnamon as a dessert ingredient, but it works great in savory dishes as well. Vegetables like squash and carrots work great with cinnamon, as does chicken. Soups and stews are always a great way to incorporate spices, and cinnamon is no exception. Even a salad might feature a bit of cinnamon occasionally.

Of course, you can never go wrong pairing cinnamon with brown sugar or with fruit in a dessert. A few shakes of cinnamon can also add a lot of flavor to a basic breakfast idea like oatmeal or unsweetened cereal.

You really can’t go wrong with cinnamon. Unless you’re trying to eat a spoonful of it all at once – please don’t do that. Otherwise, appreciate all that you can do with this versatile and historically significant spice!

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