Hy-Vee at Midday: Sweet Spice of the Season

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9)- Spices add natural antioxidants and sodium-free flavors to foods. The flavor and aroma of cinnamon pairs well with seasonal foods & can add a health boost to your holiday fare. Today your Hy-Vee registered dietitian shares a few health benefits of cinnamon and three unique recipes that feature this sweet spice.

Cinnamon comes from the dried bark of trees in the cinnamomun family. You can find it as curled bark sticks or in powdered form. Cinnamon is a versatile spice that can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.

Cinnamon has anti-microbial properties as well as high natural antioxidant activity to protect cells in the body from damage. Additionally, some studies suggest adding cinnamon to food—up to a teaspoon a day —might help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar by lowering post-meal blood-sugar spikes. Including cinnamon in smoothies, cereals, beverages and savory dishes is smart way to add depth of flavor and mild sweetness to foods with less added sugars.

Winter Citrus Salad with Cinnamon Vinaigrette
All you need:
5 oz. pkg. Hy-Vee HealthMarket organic baby romaine
5 oz. Hy-Vee HealthMarket organic baby kale
2 navel oranges, peeled and sliced cross-wise
5 oz. pkg. fresh raspberries
¼ cup finely chopped red onion
½ c. walnut halves, toasted, if desired
For the dressing:
¼ c raspberry vinegar
1 tbsp Hy-Vee Select olive oil
3 tbsp Hy-Vee sugar
¼ tsp Hy-Vee salt
¼ tsp Hy-Vee ground cinnamon
¼ tsp hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
All you do:
1. In large bowl combine baby romaine, baby kale, sliced oranges, raspberries and onion. Set aside.
2. In jar with tight-fitting lid, combine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, cinnamon and hot pepper sauce. Shake well.
3. Drizzle vinaigrette over salad-kale mixture and toss gently. Top with walnut halves, if desired. Serve.
Serves 4. Adapted from: Hy-Vee Seasons Healthy Living Recipes Cookbook
Nutrition Facts per serving: Calories 170, 4.5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 trans-fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 140 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 10 g sugar, 18 g protein. Daily values: Vitamin A 80%, Vitamin C 90%, Calcium 4%, Iron 8 %.

Cinnamon Mascarpone Stuffed Dates
All you need:
1 pound Medjool Dates with pits
8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
Approx. ¼ cup chopped pecans
All you do:
1. Remove pits from dates and create a cavity for the filling.
2. Mix mascarpone cheese with vanilla and cinnamon until combined.
3. Place cheese mixture in piping bag with large tip (or use a storage bag; cut the end off to create piping bag). Squeeze the cheese into each date.
4. Finish each date with chopped pecans.
Serves 12 (2 stuffed dates per serving.)
Source: Kristina LaRue, RD for Food and Nutrition Magazine

Apple Cinnamon Infused Water
All you need:
1 medium apple
2 cinnamon sticks
½ gallon filtered water
All you do:
1. Cut apple into thin slices.
2. Muddle, or slightly mash the apple slices with the back of a spoon or a potato masher to break the cell walls of the apple flesh and release more flavor. Then, place the apple in an empty glass pitcher or other beverage container.
3. Next, add cinnamon sticks. Start with two or three sticks, adding more for a stronger flavor.
4. Add filtered water to the apple/cinnamon stick mixture and refrigerate several hours to allow the flavors to meld.
Source: Kimberly Proctor, RD, LD, Mt. Vernon Road Hy-Vee Registered Dietitian

Cinnamon Coffee
Cinnamon compliments the rich flavor of coffee by adding a pleasant sweetness & mild spiciness. Simply add ground cinnamon to your coffee grounds and brew as usual. You’ll notice the need for less sweetener in cinnamon-infused coffee compared with plain coffee.

Linda Ashley represents Hy-Vee as a nutrition expert working throughout the community to promote healthy eating and nutrition. Linda is a Registered Dietitian and member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.