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Spice Up Your Spa

By: Cathy Christensen
Posted: September 25, 2009, from the October 2009 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

My husband and I are complete opposites when it comes to preferences—he likes 2% milk, I prefer skim; he likes to go with the flow, and I like to plan ahead; he likes cinnamon and I like mint. This may seem like a small detail, and admittedly it was, until cinnamon became a popular flavor for dental floss and toothpaste. Until recently, I could rest comfortably in the knowledge that our toothpaste and floss would be mint-flavored, and there would be no debate.

Nowadays, though, the choice of cinnamon or mint depends on which one of us goes to the store on the trip that calls for new toothpaste. Luckily, each of us can stand the other’s preference—after all, compromise is one of those skills that comes easier after years of marriage. But truthfully, cinnamon is a flavor I would prefer to enjoy in desserts and smell as an invigorating essential oil, not taste in my toothpaste.

In the kitchen

Of course, cinnamon’s flavor and aroma are instantly recognizable, and have been around for centuries. Cinnamon sticks, known as quills, are actually the brown bark of the cinnamon tree, which, when dried, rolls into the familiar tubular form.1 The other preferred way of enjoying cinnamon is ground.

There are approximately 100 different varieties of cinnamon, but the most popular are Cinnamomum zeylanicum, otherwise known as Ceylon cinnamon or “true cinnamon,” and Cinnamomum aromaticum, known as Chinese cinnamon or cassia. Both have similar characteristics, but the Ceylon variety is more refined, subtle and rare in North America. Cassia is the less expensive variety that is most popular in the United States. Ceylon is mainly produced in Sri Lanka, India, Madagascar, Brazil and the Caribbean, while cassia is found mainly in China, Vietnam and Indonesia.1 Both varieties are commonly used in dessert dishes, as well as to flavor meats, syrups, creams, spiced mulled wines, teas and soups.2

Cinnamon often lends its fragrant, sweet, warm taste to a variety of dishes, making it as versatile as it is delicious. The Heartland Spa in Gilman, Illinois, offers Pumpkin Pancakes flavored with cinnamon for a tasty breakfast; which is also provided courtesy of the Wholewheat and Cinnamon French Toast With Warm Orange Sauce at The Hills Health Ranch in 108 Mile Ranch, British Columbia, Canada. The Regency Health Spa in Hallandale Beach, Florida, provides a delicious Sweet Potato Souffle made with mashed sweet potatoes, rice milk, organic cinnamon and nutmeg; and for a tasty lunch, Bamboo Spa Café at Red Door Lifestyle Spa, Elizabeth Arden at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center & Spa in Weston, Florida, offers a Cinnamon Scented Chicken Wrap with quinoa and rice vinegar vinaigrette. The refreshing Tropical Fruit Plate With a Cinnamon and Yogurt Dip can be enjoyed at L’Aqua Day Spa at the Watermark Hotel & Spa in Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia; and Mohonk Mountain House offers its Vintage Cinnamon Raisin Bread Pudding recipe to help celebrate its 140th anniversary. (Editor’s note: For this recipe, log on to