Practical food tips for parents from a RD and mom of three

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Kid Superfoods: Cocoa and Cinnamon

I want to hug the researcher who discovered the health benefits of chocolate! I also love that warm, yummy cinnamon is another super-spice! In fact, while writing this I am sipping the scrumptious mug of hot cocoa that I made for this blog's photograph, topped off with a sprinkle of cinnamon for a healthy, Mexican-style hot cocoa drink. Two superfoods for the price of one!

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder (provided it is not “Dutch Processed”) are high in flavenoids, the strong antioxidants also found in red wine, tea, cranberries, and other fruits and veggies. Research has found that flavenoids can prevent heart disease and high blood pressure. This is not an excuse to feed your family brownies three times a day, but it's nice to know that a dusting of cocoa powder on your kids' pancakes is healthful!
Cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar in people with diabetes, preventing rapid highs and lows. This theory could mean that adding cinnamon to your family's diet may prevent blood sugar crashes during the day.

Since reading this article, I made up a small container of a “cinnamon/cocoa sprinkle” with two parts sugar and one part each of cocoa powder and cinnamon. I have used this superfood fairy dust on toast with a bit of margarine (soooo much better than cinnamon toast!) and mixed with Ned's antibiotics and applesauce when he refused to take his medicine the usual way. It's a winner.

I make my own hot cocoa mix using a recipe I got from the Food Network a couple of years ago. I leave out the cayenne pepper from the batch, and add a tiny bit to my own cup when I make it for myself. Deacon is a huge hot cocoa fan, and I will often make him some by mixing the powdered mix with a small amount of hot water, then topping it off with cold skim milk until it is barely warm.

Substitute chopped dark chocolate or dark chocolate chips for milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips in your favorite recipes for added antioxidant power.

I often add cinnamon to many of the kids' foods:
  • cinnamon-sugar sprinkled over apples or applesauce,
  • dashes of cinnamon added to baby purees like squash or sweet potatoes,
  • a pinch of cinnamon added to couscous mixed with dried cranberries and a handful of chopped nuts,
  • carrots glazed with a bit of margarine and brown sugar and dusted with cinnamon, and
  • cinnamon added to oatmeal and baked goods
Today's tip: Add nutritious spice to your family's life with cinnamon and cocoa.

1 comment:

  1. I'm inspired to make a cinnamon/cocoa sprinkle to keep in my kitchen! Maybe that'd make a healthy dessert with some ricotta? Thanks for the tip.

    Rome, Italy