Friday, February 12, 2010

Nothing Says Love....

When the sweet aroma of cinnamon wafts through the house, you know something tasty is in the oven. In times past, cinnamon was considered an expensive luxury and has even been used as an aphrodisiac. Today, it is a common spice in everyday cooking which adds minimal calories and much flavor to foods. One teaspoon contains just 6 calories and 1.4 grams of fiber. You will also find manganese and calcium in it's nutrient mix, and a myriad of flavinoids such as proanthocyanidins, which exhibit antioxidant effects. Cinnamon also contains the essential oils cinnamaldehyde and eugenol, which inhibit bacterial growth that play a role in food preservation. The jury is still out however, on it's health benefits in lowering fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C and lipid levels in people with diabetes. Doses of ground cinnamon used in the studies were 2 to 3 teaspoons - much more than what you would sprinkle on your morning latte.
As with other spices, cinnamon should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place in a tightly closed container to prevent clumping. Exposure to heat will denature the aromatic essential oils and diminish the flavor. Shelf life is about 2-3 years for ground cinnamon; 4 years for sticks.

Cinnamon and Raisin Bread Pudding

6 slices (1/2 inch) Hawaiian Sweet Bread or buttermilk bread, cut into small squares
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1 & 1/4 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/4 cup Half-and-Half
Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 6 - 4oz. ramekins or custard bowls on a baking sheet and lightly coat with nonstick spray. In a bowl, toss bread with cinnamon and raisins. In another medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugars, vanilla, salt, milk and Half & Half. Add cubes, gently fold to evenly soak bread and spoon into ramekins. Bake about 40 minutes.
*Calories: 240, Total fat: 5 G. Cholesterol: 80 mg. Sodium: 340 mg. Carbohydrates: 39 G. Fiber: 1 G. Sugar: 23 G. Protein: 8 G.

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