Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cinnamon v Ceylon Cinnamon

Which cinnamon is right for you? Here's an easy guide to the ins and outs of both options of cinnamon!

What we commonly refer to as "cinnamon" (and what is sold in the vast majority of grocery stores in the United States as cinnamon), is actually cassia bark. Cassia is a tree native primarily to China, Bangladesh, and India. It is distinguishable from "true" cinnamon by having a thicker, coarser texture and a stronger, sweeter flavor. Because it is more common in the Asian countries, it is a much less expensive alternative to true cinnamon. Cinnamon powder, sticks and chips are typically cassia bark.

Cassia bark has been tested in aiding in the regulation of blood sugar levels in type two diabetes patients. The results are still inconclusive. In many countries, cassia cinnamon is now issued with a warning, due to its high levels of coumarin. Coumarin has been proven to be toxic to the liver and kidneys in high dosages. For most people, 1 teaspoon per day exceeds the "safe" limit, if consumed habitually.

Ceylon Cinnamon
Ceylon cinnamon (also referred to as "True Cinnamon" or "Vietnamese Cinnamon") is primarily grown and exported from Sri Lanka (approximately 90% of all Ceylon cinnamon). True cinnamon has a much thinner, more fragile bark, is very fragrant, and has a much more delicate flavor. Because of this, it is preferred for sweeter dishes.

Ceylon cinnamon has no coumarin (and is therefore not toxic). It is naturally a strong antioxidant and helps with digestion problems- Ceylon cinnamon tea is very popular for these reasons. Ceylon cinnamon has also been mildy tested for regulating blood sugar levels of type two diabetes patients and insulin resistance. Testing is still in progress, but the preliminary results are very promising.

Quick Guide for Purchasing the Cinnamons in:

Powder form:
Cassia bark has a very strong scent and the texture is coarser. It will likely be labeled "cinnamon".

True Cinnamon has a sweet, more fragrant scent and a fine, powdery texture. It will be labeled "true cinnamon", "Vietnamese cinnamon" or "Ceylon cinnamon".

Cassia bark has a single curl on each side (almost resembling a heart) and is very hard.

True cinnamon has multiple curls (from one side), similar to a swiss roll, and is soft.

Food for Thought carries true cinnamon in the bulk herb room as "Vietnamese Cinnamon". The cinnamon chips, sticks and powder are Cassia cinnamon. If you have any questions, ask a Food for Thought employee!

Bulk Herbs

Did you know Food for Thought had a bulk herb room? Located in the grocery room, the herb room contains over 100 herbs and loose teas. All of the herbs are fresh and are stored in a dark room with minimal lighting (this helps preserve the flavor and quality of the herbs).

Both the herbs and teas are sold by the pound- this makes it a very affordable way to experiment with new flavors AND saves you from buying a large container of an herb that is rarely used!

Remember, if we don't have an herb or tea that you would like, talk to a Food for Thought employee! We can always check to see if it is available.

These are new to the herb room this month:
  • Agar Agar
  • Arrowroot Powder (re-introduced)
  • Carob Powder
  • Chili Seasoning Blend
  • Stevia Leaf (organic!!!)
  • Orange Spice Tea

New December Grocery Products!!!

Teese Vegan Cheese
Teese Cheese is a melting, dairy free (and gluten free!!) soy cheese made in a dedicated facility. It has a reputation of being the most advanced non-dairy cheese- it can be substituted for dairy cheese in any application!

Woodstock Farms Cheese
Organic cheeses available in a variety of flavors! Both regular and light string cheese, sharp and mild cheddar and jack-style cheese.

Gardein Vegan Products
Gardein products are vegetable based, vegan products. Gardein has perfected their products to have the texture, taste and flavor of their meaty counterparts (chicken or beef, accordingly). We are currently carrying beefless tips, buffalo wings, crispy tenders, marinara chick'n good stuff and chick'n scallopini!

Katz Gluten Free
Check out the post below!

Blosm: Uniquely Flavored Whipped Cream
These new whipped creams come in two delicious flavors: cinnamon praline and white chocolate. They are made from natural, hormone-free dairy cream and are perfect for topping any of your holiday desserts!

Bigelow Tea
Three delicious new flavors just in! Cranberry & Ginseng, Lemon & Ginger, and Pomegranate & Blueberry! All three taste wonderfully hot or cold- they're perfect year round!