Results matching “cinnamon” from alphabitesnyc

Cinnamon Spice and Everything Nice

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As I was adding some cinnamon to my morning coffee, the delicious aroma that wafted from the cup reminded me of the holidays and winter. But then I realized that I've been drinking my coffee like this for years; from the time when a family friend, who since has passed away, made a pot of coffee more interesting by just adding a stick of cinnamon to the brew. I've gotten so used to the taste; it's second nature for me to use it on a daily basis. Luckily for me, it also has amazing health benefits.

Cinnamon comes from trees native to India, Sri Lanka and Asia. One of the oldest known spices, it has been used for centuries by Eastern and Western cultures as both a spice for cooking and for medicinal purposes. The healing abilities come from the essential oil components found in the bark. Aside from the taste, of the many beneficial uses of cinnamon, there is one in particular that makes it especially promising to those with Type 2 diabetes. Many studies suggest that using cinnamon in your daily diet may have a great impact on lowering blood sugar levels as well as the "bad" fats (like cholesterol and triglycerides). It is believed that the addition of cinnamon may slow down the process by which the stomach empties food and as a result lower the body's insulin response (the process by which sugar is cleared from the blood). Other studies have also shown positive outcomes involving cinnamon and its anti-clotting effects, anti-inflammatory properties and as an anti-bacterial agent (making it a great natural preservative). It has even been suggested that by just smelling the wonderful aroma, cinnamon can boost brain activity!

Cinnamon is available in stick or powder form. If stored properly (a tightly sealed glass container in a dark, cool, dry place) ground cinnamon will stay fresh for about six months, while the sticks have a longer shelf life of about one year, which can be extended even longer by storing them in the refrigerator. A quick way to check to see if it's still fresh is to simply smell it. If it doesn't smell sweet...do not eat!

In Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines cinnamon is a staple, used frequently in lamb and chicken dishes. But if you're looking for something simpler try adding it to oatmeal*, fruit and yogurt, baked apples, cider, coffee/tea, vegetables (like butternut squash), or make your own cinnamon toast. But stick with the original to get the real health benefits and stay away from processed foods flavored with cinnamon, which is more than likely also added with extra sugar, fat and calories. Although further studies need to be conducted, it appears that this is one spice that really adds to your life. Even using as little as 1/4 teaspoon daily may go a long way to better health.

1 tsp= 6 calories. Cinnamon is good source of vitamin K and iron, and is a very good source of fiber, calcium and manganese (an essential nutrient because of its role that it plays as an enzyme activator throughout the body).

*If you do choose oatmeal flavored with cinnamon make sure it has at least 3grams of fiber, low in sugar and no more than 150 calories per serving.

It's Snack Time

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It's 4pm and you're sitting at your desk, but your mind starts to wander. You hear a rumbling sound coming from your stomach and you're a little light-headed. You're thinking, "I can't be hungry I just ate lunch!," but in reality that was over 3-1/2 hours ago. What is happening is that your blood sugar is starting to drop so you are feeling the effects of hypoglycemia. What's the solution? Adding a healthy mid-afternoon snack to your daily diet.

However, not all snacks are created equal. Grabbing a handful of candy may taste good in the moment, but in the long run it won't give you the satisfaction you desire. Skip the high sugar snacks that metabolize quickly and will only make your blood sugar spike again in an hour. Instead, choose a snack that is nutrient packed.

Think of your snack as a small bite; one that will help you through the afternoon slump and keep you from becoming ravenous at dinner. You don't want your snack to be so calorically dense that you are essentially adding another meal to the day. I recommend keeping your snacks between 100-200 calories, depending upon your current weight, dietary needs or weight loss goals. It's also a great way to include fruit into your day.

Try one of these snack ideas next time you feel that hunger pang coming on, easy for the office or one the go:

  • 6 oz non-fat/low fat yogurt with 1 tbsp chopped almonds or 1 tbsp raisins
  • Sliced apple with 1 level tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/4 cantaloupe with 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese (sprinkle some cinnamon, for extra flavor)
  • 1 cup edamame (boiled soybeans, in the pod)
  • Having a salt craving? Try 3 cups air popped popcorn or 1 oz (~18 chips) low fat baked tortilla chips with 1/4 cup salsa
  • Carry a baggie of cut up of fresh vegetables (broccoli, celery, carrots, etc), and if you are in the office add 2 tbsp of hummus as a dip.

You might be wondering about energy/protein or granola bars as a mid-afternoon snack. I think they are great, but you have to read the labels carefully, especially if you are trying to watch your caloric intake. Many bars are 200+ calories, contain saturated fat and are high in sugar. You have to be a bit of a detective, but look for bars that have ~150 calories, and at least of 5g Fiber (i.e, Kashi or Luna Sunrise brands). Not only will this contribute to meeting your daily fiber needs, but will make you feel fuller too.

Enjoy!