On February 5, 2013 Ball State university published, “Sprinkling a spoonful of cinnamon on breakfast foods not only adds a burst of flavor but also dramatically lowers an individual’s blood sugar levels, potentially reducing the chance of developing diabetes.” This came from a study the university had completed focused on the benefits of cinnamon in helping to combat diabetes, which to ancient medicine is only one of the many benefits of the herb. Many of us already know that taking cinnamon by itself has some inhalation risks that can cause breathing problems, so the best way to administer this remedy is with food.
Last week I offered a few recipes that used cinnamon. That was deliberate, since cinnamon is part of my daily regimen, and since I come from a family with a history of diabetes, I cannot stress enough the benefit of this spice. In folk medicine, cinnamon is also suggested in treating digestive conditions, purifying the blood, and combating pain conditions, such as arthritis and even fibromyalgia. More studies are needed to bring around the western medical community, but in my personal experience, I can attest that the addition of a daily dose of cinnamon has reduced the inflammation that I’ve experienced from tendonitis, improved the regularity of my digestive functions, and pleased my palate every time, I eat breakfast.
Cinnamon is great spice to combine with starchy foods to trick the taste buds into satiation. Some people season beans with cinnamon and pepper, and many Indian dishes include cinnamon in their seasoning blends. In the European-based cooking traditions, cinnamon has been relegated to mostly desserts, but with the modernization of the global palate, we find that cinnamon is showing up in more and more dishes, whether sweet or savory. The only thing I don’t like about cinnamon is that I cannot grow the tree in my climate.
Yes, I said tree. Unlike many of the seeds, leaves, and roots which we are accustomed to growing in our herb gardens, cinnamon is actually the inner bark of the Cinnamomum verum tree. It is stripped from the branches of the tree when they’ve grown approximately two years. It is grown commercially in Sri Lanka, Madagascar and other tropical nations. Amongst modern herbalists. Cinnamomum verum is considered to be the only true cinnamon. Cinnamomum cassia, which are other species in this unique family of trees have been reported to have fewer of the alkaloids targeted for health benefits.
Cinnamon sticks should be stored away from light in an airtight container. Like nutmeg, cinnamon hold more of its flavor and nutritional benefits when stored this way. You can grate cinnamon using a micro-plane like nutmeg, but you’ll find it far easier to powder it in a coffee/spice-grinder. Just don’t breath the cloud of cinnamon dust you make. Let it settle before removing the lid. Cinnamon can cause acute bronchial distress when inhaled.
Personally, my favorite way to eat cinnamon is how I eat it every morning with my morning oatmeal. With that in mind, this week, I’ll share recipes for my morning oatmeal and a vegan breakfast roll reminiscent of the classic cinnamon roll. So now, on to the recipes.
The Macrobiotic Magician’s Morning Oatmeal
Serves 1, easy to scale
½ cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
1 Tablespoon organic peanut butter
1 cup almond or soy milk
In a small saucepan, combine ingredient and stir on high until the liquids begin to boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave uncovered to cook to desired consistency (approximately 5-10 minutes). You may need to add a little water (up to 1 cup, if you like a more porridge-like consistency) Serve warm with fresh fruit.
Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, leaving 1/3 of the volume for expansion and microwave on high setting for 90-180 seconds, depending on your microwave’s wattage. I use 120 minutes for my 800 watt microwave.
Magic Cinnamon Breakfast rolls
Makes 1 dozen
For the bread:
1 packet active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
2 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour (you may substitute gluten-free flour)
½ cup organic cane sugar
1 cup extra-virgin coconut oil, melted
For the filling:
1 cup organic plain apple sauce
2 Tablespoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon freshly-ground clove
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup organic peanut butter
1 cup natural maple syrup
In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in water. Add flour slowly, and mix until well-combined. Cover and chill 4-24 hours. After dough has chilled, turn half of it out onto a floured surface and roll ½ inch (1.25 centimeters) thick. Set that to the side and repeat with other half of the dough, trying to make the two pieces as close to the same dimensions as possible. Brush both pieces with melted coconut oil and stack them with oiled-side up. Fold the dough pieces over once, so that the bottom of the bottom piece forms the new top and bottom for the dough and roll it out to ½ inch, again. Again brush the top of the dough, fold it in half, and roll it out to ½ inch. Repeat this three more times. This will create 32 layers of dough and coconut oil. After the last rolling, allow the dough to rest in a warm spot away from sunlight for a half hour while you prepare the filling. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (200 Celsius) while the dough is resting.
For the filling, in a small saucepan, combine ingredients and bring to a simmer, then reduce heat and stir until the mixture is well-combined. Turn off the heat and allow to cool. It shouldn’t take more than fifteen minutes to incorporate the filling ingredients if you start on medium-high heat, then reduce to low. After cooling for 15 minutes, your dough should be starting to proof and ready to receive the filling.
Spread the cooled filling (it should still be warm, but not steaming hot) over the top of the dough evenly, allowing ½ inch of uncovered dough around the edges. Then gently lift one side of the dough and begin to roll the dough as you would for a sweet-roll. With the seam facing you, gently pinch the end of the dough to seal the filling inside. Grease a muffin tin with a bit of oil, and slice the dough log into 1 ½ inch pieces exposing the swirl of filling within. Carefully place each piece into a cup in the muffin tin. Allow this to rise briefly. When the rolls have nearly doubled in bulk, bake them for approximately 30-45 minutes (depending on your altitude and darkness preference for the crust), rotating half-way during baking time for even browning. When the rolls have achieved a golden brown, cool on a cooling rack for an hour before removing the rolls from the muffin tin.
**Special tip** When making cinnamon rolls or these breakfast rolls, it is good to lightly coat your knife with oil before slicing the pieces for baking. Flour will stick to the filling, but oil will not stick to either the dough, nor the filling.
Here is the link to the article I quoted this issue: