Good Food – Just Got Better

Cinnamon

The aromatic spice of cinnamon is a culinary delight. Not only does it add a natural sweetness to food without any sugar, it is also rich in active compounds with numerous health benefits.

Cinnamaldehyde is one such active ingredient found in the essential oil of the bark of the cinnamon tree. It has been implicated in improving cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and it can slow “gastric emptying”. This means cinnamon helps to slow down the rate at which food leaves the stomach after eating. Why is this a good thing? Well, firstly, it keeps you fuller for longer so you end up eating less. Secondly, it reduces the body’s blood sugar response to the meal and has been shown to increase one’s sensitivity to insulin.

This is important as insulin resistance, a metabolic disorder associated with obesity, pre-diabetes and heart disease, continues to rise. While everyone can benefit from adding cinnamon into their diet, it is particularly helpful for those suffering from or at risk of these conditions.

Finally, a third benefit of cinnamon is that it has anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties making it a natural preservative.

Try this experiment (& clever recipe) yourself.

Cinnamon ApplesIMG_1105

Cut an apple into sections and place in a bowl. Shake ground cinnamon over the apples and gently toss to ensure an even coating. You can enjoy them right away or seal in a Ziplock bag and place in fridge until needed.

The cinnamon greatly reduces the oxidation of the apples preventing them from going brown (of course they look brown from the cinnamon) and keeps them fresher for longer. The cinnamon adds its natural sweetness and warmth to the crisp sugars of the apple, making this healthy snack taste like homemade apple pie. A great treat for kids and adults alike.

Tomatoes & Olive OilIMG_1088

Mmm-mm, what could be better on a summer’s day? Well this great taste sensation is not only delicious, but also the best way to increase your lycopene levels.

What is lycopene?

Lycopene is the plant pigment that gives tomatoes their bright red hue. It possesses powerful antioxidant capabilities that can help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) which is particularly deleterious to the heart.  Lycopene has also been associated with reducing the risk of epithelial cancers or carcinomas.

The trick of the trade:

To maximize lycopene absorption lightly cook the tomatoes in olive oil.  The heat liberates the lycopene from the tissue walls increasing its levels 3-fold.  Olive oil, a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory in itself, increases the absorptive capacity of the lycopene and works synergistically with the tomatoes to maximize your antioxidant punch.

The best part – it tastes great.

Recipe: Roasted Tomatoes with Olive Oilroasted toms

Fresh, bright red tomatoes of your choice.

Large drizzle of EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Basil leaves

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Slice or quarter the tomatoes and put on baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil on top and add salt and pepper.

Roast in oven for between 20-30 minutes depending upon size of tomates and desired “doneness”. Remove from oven and tear fresh basil on top.

You can serve the tomatoes on top of a spinach or baby kale salad with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, add it to your spaghetti squash pasta or simply spread on top of crunchy bread for a Mediterranean treat.

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