Cinnamon is made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, and, like many of its spicy cousins, it's been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years. It's also one of the better smelling spices around; it's often been used in perfumes, and one study actually found that cinnamon was the scent most associated with Christmastime.

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Study participants also found the smell of cinnamon more pleasing in the winter, so now's the time! On a less pleasant note, the scent of cinnamon is so powerful that it can even help mask the smell of dead bodies, leading ancient Egyptians to use it in their embalming fluid and Romans to incorporate it into their funeral pyres. So, umm... Merry Christmas?

Cinnamon's distinct flavor and odor comes from the compound cinnamaldehyde, the chemical that makes up the largest percentage of cinnamon and is responsible for its metabolism-boosting and fat-burning effects!

In a teaspoon of cinnamon, you'll find only about six calories, but you'll also get traces of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins like C, A, B, and K.

Additionally, in a study that compared the nutritional qualities of several different spices, cinnamon had the most antioxidant activity of all! Cinnamon has also has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties.

cinnamon2

Studies also show that cinnamon can fight bad breath, reduce cancer risk, promote wound-healing,, and even help fight the HIV virus! It's also been known to address digestive imbalances, repel insects, and improve eye health.

Cinnamon has been found to improve glucose tolerance and lowered levels of bad cholesterol and triglycerides in a study done on a group of patients with type 2 diabetes. Other research associated cinnamon with lower fasting blood sugar levels and reduced insulin resistance as well.

Cinnamon may also increase good cholesterol and reduce blood pressure, theoretically improving the health of the circulatory system by preventing blood platelets from clumping together. The spice is also currently being studied as a potential treatment for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Cinnamon can also inhibit the buildup of dementia-causing protein in the brain, potentially reducing Alzheimer's risk. Plus, it may protect us from the brain damage usually caused by a poor diet and help mitigate the neurolgical effects of Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis.

However, what a lot of casual snicker-doodle eaters don't know about cinnamon is that it comes in two distinct types: ceylon and cassia cinnamon. Though health benefits can be obtained from both types of cinnamon, there is one big reason to be wary of the cassia type.

Cassia is the cheaper and lower quality sort of cinnamon, and thus the kind most commonly used. Unfortunately, it consists of about one percent by weight of a compound called coumarin, which has documented toxic effects like liver damage and increases one's risk of certain cancers if too much of it is consumed.

If you're only consuming a teaspoon or less of cinnamon every once and a while, you probably don't have to worry, but if you're consuming cinnamon on a daily basis or even a few times per week, you'd best invest in the more expensive but far safer ceylon variety.

Diabetics also ought to be wary of cinnamon causing their blood sugar to drop too low. You should also stick to eating your cinnamon in food rather than trying to eat it on it's own as was briefly the rage in 2012's viral "cinnamon challenge." Doing so could lead you to inhale the spice, potentially irritating the respiratory system and causing serious lung damage!

cinnamon

There are plenty of easy ways to incorporate cinnamon into your diet. Throw it into a curry, onto a salad, into your coffee or tea, even just sprinkle it onto your favorite fruit to level-up your breakfast!

Though the recipes that follow are for meals, there's no reason you have to feel left out if you do want a cinnamon-y dessert if you're on the 123Diet this holiday season. Our cinnamon-flavored melba toast combined with a dash of homemade jam or yogurt could certainly do the trick!

Then, as illustrated by our Baked Apple Chicken and Crunchy Sweet Apple Salad, apples and cinnamon are a match made in heaven. Feel free to further explore the pairing with these recipes for apple cookies, apple chips, and caramel apple pie!

Cinnamon Chicken

cinnamon chicken

Why relegate cinnamon to dessert when it can spice up your main course instead? Estimated nutritional value of 237 calories, 4.1g fat, 64mg cholesterol, 20.9g carbohydrate, 2.2g fiber, 26.8g protein, and .8g sugar.

Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook time
20 minutes
Yield
1 serving

Ingredients

  • 100 grams of chicken
  • 1 serving Melba toast crumbs
  • ½ cup chicken broth or water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon curry powder
  • Dash of garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia to taste

Directions
Mix Melba toast crumbs with ½ of the dry spices in a small bowl. Dip chicken in broth and coat with Melba spice mixture. Lay out 100 gram servings in shallow baking dish. Add broth and mix in the rest of the spices. Top the chicken with the rest of the Melba spice mixture. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked.

Recipe provided by

Crunchy Sweet Apple Chicken Salad

sweet apple chicken salad

Who says salads can't be sweet and delicious? Not us! Estimated nutritional value of 254 calories, 3.5 g fat, 64m g cholesterol, 34.5 g carbohydrates, 6.9 g fiber, 22.7 g protein, and 25.1 g sugar.

Prep Time
30 minutes
Cook time
N/A
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 vegetable, 1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • 100 grams chicken cooked and diced
  • 1 apple diced
  • 3 stalks celery diced
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Dash of cardamom
  • Dash of salt
  • Stevia to taste
  • Wedge of lemon

Directions
Mix ingredients together, sprinkle with stevia and cinnamon. Chill for 20 minutes. Serve with a wedge of lemon and enjoy.

Phase 3 Modifications
Add chopped walnuts or raw almonds. Mix in low-sugar Greek yogurt or 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise for a creamier texture.

Recipe provided by

Baked Apple Chicken

baked apple chicken

Enjoy this healthy dinner as a cinnamony treat! Estimated nutritional value of 184 calories, 3g fat, 64 mg cholesterol, 16.6 g carbohydrates, 3.1g fiber, 21.8g protein, and 12.3 g.

Prep Time
15 minutes
Cook time
20 mintutes
Yield
Makes 1 serving (1 protein, 1 fruit)

Ingredients

  • 100 grams cubed chicken
  • ½ finely chopped apple
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Stevia to taste
  • Dash of cayenne

Directions
Lightly brown the chicken in lemon juice. Add chopped apple and evenly coat with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, stevia, cinnamon, cayenne and pinch of salt. Put in small baking dish and add additional vinegar and lemon juice. Serve with the rest of the apple in thin slices on the side.

Recipe provided by

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