Is it fall yet!? Not quite, but let?s pretend it?s close enough and start diving into fall related themes on this blog!


Cinnamon with container 


Let?s talk cinnamon. I don?t know about you but every time I think about fall I think of the warm, aromatic taste and smell of cinnamon. It just pairs so nicely with all the fall produce (a blog post about that soon!) like apples, pears, pumpkin, squash?


Cinnamon is sold ground or as sticks, the ground has more concentrated flavor than cinnamon sticks, but the flavor will deteriorate more quickly. It comes from the bark of evergreen cinnamon and cassia trees throughout Asia, India and Sri Lanka (Source ? Encyclopedia of Foods).


While often associated with sweet desserts, cinnamon is also used in many savory dishes especially in Mexican (Mole anyone?) and Indian (curry and garam masala) cuisines. Saigon cinnamon, known for it?s spicy sweet flavor, is the type usually used.


I would also like to take this opportunity to debunk a few myths around cinnamon. There are a lot of health claims about cinnamon, everything from blood pressure to diabetes, none of which are supported by good quality research. In fact, in order to meet the amounts reported to improve these conditions, one runs the risk of ingesting a level associated with liver damage. Cassia cinnamon in particular contains a compound called coumarin (which is used in medication Warfarin), which could lead to many side effects at large dosages.


However, that doesn?t mean that cinnamon in the diet won?t have an effect on your health. When we eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, complex carbohydrates seasoned with herbs and spices, the compound effect will be health promoting more so than any supplement, pill or single food constituent. Adding seasonings to food can also increase pleasure and satisfaction, which I feel is an often forgotten necessity! Our bodies receive and process food so much more effectively when we derive psychological and physiological satisfaction from our meals. Below are some ideas for how to add cinnamon to your meal and snacks!


ground cinnamon 


1. Apple Pie Oatmeal ? cook ½ cup dry oatmeal in 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cinnamon and vanilla. Top with chopped apple, 1 tbsp maple syrup and 2 tbsp walnuts or pecans. For an even sweeter oatmeal, cook the chopped apples with the oatmeal! The apples will get sweeter as they cook.


2. Pumpkin Yogurt Parfait ? ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt mixed with ¼ cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling ? although that would probably be very tasty!) and 1 tbsp maple syrup. Top with chopped apple or pear, 2 tbsp walnuts or pecans, and ¼ cup Nature?s Path Pumpkin Granola.


3. Crockpot Garbanzo Bean Curry ? serves 6

1 large head of cauliflower, chopped

2 -15 ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained and rinsed

1 cup chopped celery

2 cups chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped onion

1-14 ounce can/carton low sodium vegetable broth

1 tbsp curry powder and/or 1 tbsp garam masala (spice mix)

1 – 14 ounce can coconut milk

1/4 cup shredded fresh basil leaves, optional (but highly recommended)


4. Cinnamon Chili ? add some ground cinnamon and unsweetened cocoa powder to your favorite chili! Don?t have a favorite? Here are a couple of links for recipes to try.


5. Cooked sweet potato topped with almond butter and cinnamon. Don?t knock it till you try it! It could even be as simple as sprinkling cinnamon on your chopped apples or pears.


Adding spices can take ordinary meals and snacks and make them even more enjoyable!


Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD