Whether it’s a crystallized snickerdoodle or a sticky cinnamon bun, it’s likely you’ve got a personal affinity for a sweet cinnamon treat or two.
While the healthfulness of sweet treats is of course sparse, cinnamon itself is an extraordinarily healthy spice, with antioxidant properties that can help reduce inflammation and prevent disease. Inflammation plays a role in a multitude of diseases, including but not limited to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Although consuming cinnamon alone is not enough to prevent any of these conditions, eating a balanced, healthy diet that includes cinnamon may help provide additional protection.
Of course, that brings us back to the super-sweet, sinful dishes cinnamon is most commonly associated with. However, while cinnamon is indeed associated with desserts and other high-sugar, high-Calorie fare, cinnamon is traditionally used in both sweet and savory cooking applications throughout the world.
If you’ve only eaten cinnamon in sweet applications, the prospect of cinnamon in a savory recipe may sound off-putting. However, many cuisines- including Greek, Indian, and even Chinese- use cinnamon in savory applications, creating a warm depth of flavor that offers a different, more wholesome side of cinnamon.
Not sure where to get started? We’ve got three easy, healthy recipes to get you off on the right foot (if you’re wondering, that’d be the opposite direction of the cinnamon roll stand at the mall).
Apple Cinnamon Yogurt Bowl
½ cup nonfat vanilla greek yogurt
1 apple, diced
2 tbsp diced walnuts, almonds, or pecans
Cinnamon, to taste
Mix together all ingredients to serve.
Quick Moroccan Chicken
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup cubed peeled butternut squash
1 cup cubed zucchini
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Spray nonstick pan with PAM and heat over medium-high. Add onion and butternut squash to pan, cooking until crisp-tender. Add small amounts of water, 1-2 tbsp at a time to prevent sticking if necessary. When onion and squash reach crisp-tender, add zucchini, chicken, and spices, and cook until veggies are complete and chicken is opaque. Add tomato paste + 2 tbsp water to pan and stir until mixture is incorporated.
Morgan Medeiros is a certified nutritionist, holding a both a Bachelor and Master’s Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Morgan completed her undergraduate education at Central Washington University, and her graduate education at Northeastern University. During her time as a graduate student, Morgan focused her area of expertise in health education, weight management, and behavioral change. Morgan has experience working in areas of nutritional neuroscience and disease prevention, obesity prevention, and weight loss. Morgan also works in areas of nutritional analysis and menu labeling for restaurants, where she is able to creatively bridge her interest in food culture and health education. In her free time, Morgan enjoys traveling, reading, writing, running, and spending time with her family and friends (including- most importantly- her dog, Clyde).