Archive for August, 2010

My spice cabinet feels incomplete without cinnamon in it. This warming, spicy, sensual herb has been in heavy rotation in my home for awhile. Oatmeal is half asleep without a few dashes of cinnamon in it to wake it up. Chai, sorrel, banana bread–even carrots, all benefit from generous sprinklings of cinnamon in my kitchen.

Sometimes I boil water with cinnamon in it just so that aroma can sweeten the air in the house. I call it kitchen aromatherapy. (Real estate agents actually do this sometimes in the homes they are showing to inspire feelings of comfort and warmth in prospective buyers. Come to think of it, cinnamon is also said to attract money. So next time you hang out with a real estate agent don’t be surprised at the lingering scent of cinnamon.)

But the truth is that although I know that cinnamon is great for our digestive systems and our circulation and even though I have found it useful in combating congestion and colds, I never really gave cinnamon the respect it deserves as a powerful medicine until a few months back when it got my father out of a crisis.

My parents were moving to another state. All of their stuff was in their new house and they had taken one last trip here to New York to tie up some loose ends. I was seeing them in the space I had grown up in for the last time.

“Look at your father. Something is not right,” my mother said.

I looked at my father and it was true that something seemed off but I did not know what. My father has a variety of ailments; however, his type II diabetes is the one that causes the most problems. After a little conversation, my mother and I decided that we needed to check my father’s blood sugar. Turned out that the machine was at their new house. I had a feeling that his blood sugar was elevated. My mother was beginning to panic and threatened to call 911.

I decided we should get a blood sugar monitor. Then one herb came to me: cinnamon. There was none in the house, but unlike many herbs we could get this one anywhere at anytime. I had been taught that cinnamon balances blood sugar,  so I put faith in it being able to help my father whether his blood sugar was elevated or low.

My (fabulous) husband ran to the store and returned with a blood sugar reader and a bottle of cinnamon. My father’s blood sugar was 152 at that point. My mother was still thinking of 911. I took a teaspoon of cinnamon, stirred it into an eight ounce glass of water and sang a quick prayer to Oshun. 40 minutes later my father’s blood sugar was down to 98.

That night I learned that cinnamon is more than a fabulous culinary spice. Cinnamon is indeed medicine.

Have you had any healing encounters with cinnamon?

Ekere’s Special-Tea

(This is my slight twist on masala chai)

  • Three cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons roasted dandelion root (you can either roast dried dandelion roots in an oven or get roasted dandelion root tea bags from Traditional Medicinals)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 green cardamom pods
  • a sprinkling of ground black pepper
  • 3 1/4 inch round slices of fresh ginger
  • honey
  • Whatever kind of milk you use

Prepare roasted dandelion tea and let it it sit in a pot.

Pound your fresh ginger with a mortar and pestle.

Put the cinnamon, cardamom, black pepper and pounded ginger in a skillet on low heat. Warm the herbs until the cinnamon changes color and the mixture is fragrant. Turn the heat off.

Spoon some of your tea into the skillet to pick up all the herbs.  Pour this into your pot of dandelion tea. Let the herbs and dandelion root tea simmer very gently, covered, for at least 15 minutes. Add whatever milk you use to taste. Let this simmer very gently for another 20 minutes. Add honey or agave or stevia and serve.


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