24 Mar 2007

Cinnamon, the Spice from the East

Cinnamon's popularity dates back thousands of years. In ancient times cinnamon was held in such high regard that it was more precious than gold. The spice was used in the embalming process and to flavor drinks by the Ancient Egyptians and Emperor Nero was said to have burned a years supply of it on his wife's funeral pyre to show his grief at her loss.

The Zeylancium tree from which the cinnamon bark is taken comes from Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Ancient Dutch sailors called the island Zeilan after the Zeylancium tree and Zeilan later became known as Ceylon.

Strips of the parchment thin bark are rolled into quills. The best cinnamon (true cinnamon) is light tan in color and should not be confused with the darker cassia which is often called cinnamon. The quills are difficult to grind so the powder is generally preferred. The powder does not have the long shelf life of the quills so should be purchased in small quantities.

Cinnamon is an excellent source of manganese and is also a good supply of iron and calcium. The essential oils in cinnamon have excellent healing properties. The active components in the oils cause cinnamon to be anti-clotting, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial (excellent against candida) and beneficial in blood sugar control. The powder taken daily is said to reduce cholesterol and arthritis pain.

Apart from the quills and powder cinnamon is now easily available as an essential oil. An excellent breath freshener.

Cinnamon lends itself to sweet dishes and drinks. Who doesn't remember how we enjoyed cinnamon toast as children ?


Vegan Cinnamon Raisin Rolls
From Vegan Action

In a bowl combine the following:
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 pkt active dry yeast
In another bowl mix the following-then add above:
3/4 cup water
3 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp oil
(Add a bit more oil and water if dough it too dry)

Clean your counter. Lightly sprinkle flour on it and plop the dough down on it. Knead well for 5-7 minutes. Put dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean towel. Let rise for 35 minutes or until dough has doubled in size. After dough has risen, punch it down and let it rise another 30 minutes. Split dough ball in half and put one ball on counter and one back into the bowl.

For rolls you will need: 1 stick marg (we use willow run), raisins, lots of cinnamon, lots of brown sugar.
Roll dough on counter out to 1/4 inch thickness. Melt margarine then brush lots onto the dough. Sprinkle generous gobs of brown sugar, cinnamon, and raisins all over the top of the dough. Gently roll the dough up and cut into 1/2 inch sections. Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Let rolls rise some more in a warm place then bake at 375 degrees until golden brown (10-15 minutes).

You can make frosting by mixing a bunch of powdered sugar with a bit of margarine.This is easier then it sounds- just lots of waiting, but the taste is worth it.

Cinnamon Apple Crisp
From Post Punk Kitchen
Submitted by Isa
A perfect, basic apple crisp recipe. Add raisins or cranberries if you like. I use Granny Smith apples but you can use whatever kind you've got.

Two Mixing Bowls, 9 x 13 Baking Dish (glass is best), Aluminum Foil
Filling ingredients:
4 pounds (about 8) apples, peeled, cored, quartered and cut in
1/4 inch slices
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbsp arrowroot powder (corn or potato starch would be an ok substitution)
2 tsps cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp allspice
tiny pinch cloves (about 1/16 teaspoon)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
Topping Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup all purpouse flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tspsalt
2 tbsps canola oil
2 tbsps pure maple syrup
1 tsps vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl squeeze lemon juice over sliced apples. Add the arrow root and spices making sure all apples are coated. Move apple mixture to the baking dish and drizzle the maple syrup over it. Cover with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. Meanwhile prepare the topping. Sift dry ingredients together, and in a seperate bowl, mix wet ingredients well. Fold wet into dry mixing with a fork as you go along, until well coated and crumbly. When apples are done baking, remove from oven and toss, then flatten them evenly with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apple mixture and bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until top feels crispy. Serve warm with vanilla soy ice cream.

Cinnamon Apple Tea
From All-Creatures

1/2 cup apple Juice or cider
1/2 cup Water
1/8 - 1/4 tsp cinnamon, ground (adjust to your own taste)

Place all the ingredients in a "Pyrex" measuring cup and heat in the microwave oven on "high" for 2-1/2 to 3 minutes until the contents just begins to boil. Pour into a coffee to tea cup and serve.

Apple Cinnamon Couscous
From FoodDownUnder

2 cups apple juice
4 tbsps dried apples, diced
4 tbsps raisins
2 tsps cinnamon, or to taste
1 cup couscous

Put apple juice, dried apple, raisins and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and serve.
NOTES : Other juices and/or dried fruit could be used instead of apples and raisins.

Baked Bananas with Cinnamon
From FoodDownUnder

3 bananas quartered
1/2 tsp orange zest
1/4 tsp lime zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup raisins or currants
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange the bananas in a single layer in a shallow baking dish. Combine all the other ingredients and pour over the bananas. Bake,uncovered, for 15 - 20 minutes or until the bananas are lightly browned and bubbling. Put 3 banana pieces in the center of each dessert plate and spoon sauce over
them. NOTES : Great topping for soy frozen yogurt, too.

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Anonymous said...

I soooo adore cinnamon. If I could add it to everything, I would...actually, I DO add it to a lot of things.

Lately I've been making the grain-coffee cafe con leche recipe from Kathy Cooks; the water's cooked with a cinnamon stick, and then for the "milk" part, I add macadamia creme to my cup--so yummy for my tummy.

Cinnamon's one of my favorite foods/herbs; having to live without it would make life very depressing. I only hope the bark's sustainably harvested.

bazu said...

Mmmm, your post comes at a perfect time for me- I just bought some bulk cinnamon and it tastes gorgeous! I'm dying to try those cinnamon buns- we made them once last year and oohed and aahed over them, but then never made them again! Cinnamon is so good for you... can you tell I'm loving this post??

laura jesser said...

I throw cinnamon in almost everything--it's such a versatile spice. Thank you for posting these recipes!

jeena said...

You have great recipe idea's, I really like this blog! :)

visit jeena's kitchen healthy recipe blog

Alisa said...

Hi Jackie,

Awesome recipes! I love that the cinnamon rolls are low in sugar, they might be good on their own without icing. I will give these a try.

I actually just wrote an article on low-fat breakfasts for energy with a highlight on cinnamon (I put it in all things breakfast). It is here - - I thought you might be interested. All the recipes are vegan, and my staples for breakfast.

Thanks for adding a couple more to my list!

Asha said...

Great info Jackie! Indian cinnamon is called Dalchini( cassia bark) and are used in all Indian spicy dishes.

For sweets, I use western Cinnamon which are sweet tasting and these two are totally different.

Great recipes with sweet cinnamon.Thanks.

Naomi said...

This was a really interesting post Jackie. I've always loved cinnamon although I always tend to have it with apples. I always think the two go well together. The recipes you posted sound good. I'll have to try those

Anonymous said...

I love cinnamon -- in fact, my favorite breakfast treat is cinnamon toast. Simple, but oh so tasty.

Anonymous said...

i love cinnamon so much!
thanks for this post!

Karin said...

Eating "pepparkakor" (ginger cookies) is an old Christmas tradition in Sweden. The brown color comes from the cinnamon and ginger. Another tradition lives on in Sweden. If you are invited to someone’s home for coffee, you always get a cinnamon bun. I myself have homemade granola for breakfast. A mixture of 1 tablespoon cinnamon powder + cereals and dried fruit....

Urban Vegan said...

Who doesn't love cinnamon? I'll tell you. My husband! It's so confounding b/c I adore it and could sprinkle it on most anything.

KleoPatra said...

Jackie, i am a big cinnamon fan! I use it all the time in so many things. It's one of those spices that can go sweet or savory! Not too many have that ability... This was such a cool post. Thank you for all the great information. I had no idea it was so "good for you."

As for cinnamon toast... i loved it as a kid and i STILL love it as a big kid!!

Vicki said...

What an awesome post! I wouldn't have guessed that cinnamon was a good source for iron & calcium -- just another reason to shake some on. Thanks for putting up all the great recipes featuring cinnamon. :o)

Peter Chen said...

Hi Jackie,

Just dropping by to thank you for leaving a comment in my post New Blogger (formerly Blogger Beta): How to add AdSense ads, searchbox, "sticky post", etc. at the top of the main column and for taking time and trouble to express your appreciation. Glad to see you got AdBrite ad at the top of the main column.

Food as Medicine

Marion said...

Just recently, I've read that cinnamon is good for diabetes, arthritis and cholesterol, and thought I would check with you!

And here you are writing about it! Thank you.