Cinnamon Deceptions (Angel in the Kitchen)

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On Tuesday we discussed the “11 herbs and spices” in Kentucky Fried Chicken. Remember the difference between herbs and spices?

Simon (right): “Sigh! I’m tired of performing this song about herbs. We need to try something really different.” Garfunkel (left): “Hm, let’s do one about spices.”

Herbs come from the green, leafy parts of certain plants. Basil, oregano, and mint are herbs; and the 1970s folk-rock duo Simon and Garfunkel included a few others in one of their somber songs: “…Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.” (Of course, when we were kids we thought they were crooning about breakfast sausage and the sands of TIME.)

Spices are derived from parts of the plant other than the green leafy bits. Cloves (flower buds), ginger (roots) and pepper (seed pods). And then there’s … CINNAMON. Oh yes, how can we forget cinnamon. To mention that we love it would be an understatement. In French toast, how much cinnamon is enough? Answer: More!

Are there any songs that mention cinnamon? None we know. But the Bible signifies this aromatic and flavorful spice in several passages. It was included in God’s recipe for holy anointing oil, when “…The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh … of sweet-smelling cinnamon … and of aromatic cane … and of olive oil…; and you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil….'” (Exodus 30:22-25 RSV)

Solomon wrote “I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon.” (Proverbs 7:17 NIV) Other references to cinnamon are found in Solomon’s Song of Songs 4:14; and in Revelation 18:13. We like to think that the Creator of the Universe loved cinnamon as much as we do.

But what’s so special about this particular spice? Well, in addition to tasting and smelling absolutely divine, cinnamon is loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and it contains a unique compound called cinnamaldehyde. These components make cinnamon conducive to good health. Indeed, the spice is known to produce 7 health benefits. (SEVEN!! — Hey, that’s God’s favorite number!) Cinnamon: (1) can lower bad cholesterol or LDL; (2) help treat Type 2 diabetes; (3) has antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties; (4) can reduce the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s; (5) has anti-carcinogenic properties; (6) has anti-inflammatory properties; (7) and can help manage polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.

And did we mention it’s delicious in French toast? No wonder cinnamon was once valued almost as highly as gold, and was considered a gift fit for a king … or a god. Cool, right? But times change. So does “stuff”! Not all is as it seems. And not all cinnamon is really cinnamon!

The English word cinnamon can be traced back to the Hebrew qinnamon, a spice imported to Egypt from India. This is known scientifically as Cinnamomum verum. You may recognize the Latin adjective verum, from which we derive such words as TRUTH and VERIFY (as in “Trust … but verify!”)

“True Cinnamon” is produced from the inner bark of an evergreen tree that’s native to Sri Lanka. TRUE cinnamon was rare and expensive during Biblical Times. It was delicious, aromatic, and had many health benefits. It’s what God requested be mixed into His Holy anointing oil.

But there’s another spice currently marketed under the name “cinnamon.” It’s less expensive and more readily available. It’s produced from the bark of trees originating in China and now cultivated throughout Asia. Spice manufacturers call it Cassia, to distinguish it from the real deal. Cassia looks like cinnamon, tastes like cinnamon — but contains none of the cinnamaldehyde or antioxidants that promote true health.

Heh!
Eat up! Heh-heh!

To the contrary, Cassia contains massive concentrations of a blood-thinning compound called coumarin. Consuming large amounts of this ersatz cinnamon (as a health supplement, for instance; or maniacally tossed it into French toast batter) can lead to kidney and liver damage.

Who knew that something traditionally prized and sought after, something beneficial and even Biblical, could be replaced with something TOXIC? But again, the same can be said of many things, including the evening “news” and a lot of stuff that gets posted on the internet. So we can no longer accept things at face value.

Nor can we always go by the “label.” This also applies to people — who often aren’t what they seem or proclaim to be. How many of us have learned this truth the hard way? How many of us have trusted someone only to find out too late that he or she had a hidden (and self-centered) agenda? Even the Bible warns us against “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” (Matthew 7:15)

Toast or toxic?
Toast or TOXIC!

Let’s be clear on this point: Not everyone who calls themselves a “Christian” is truly a follower of Christ. Again, labels are convenient and can ultimately be deceiving. Even Satan sports a misleading label. Many of us (thanks to pop culture) imagine him as this red dude with horns and a pitch fork, but the Bible states, “…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14 NLT) Why? Because he is “a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie!” (John 8:44 Complete Jewish Bible)

In regards to all things, ask the Lord to help you distinguish the lie from the truth. Ask Him to grant you the ability to discern truth from error. And always do a little homework. Ask yourself, “Does this or that line up with the Bible (the infallible Word of God)?”

“Is it nourishing and beneficial? Or is it something spiritually toxic in disguise. Above all, is it TRUE?”

Don’t swallow life’s “cinnamon deceptions.” Jesus said, “Take heed that no one deceives you.” (John 24:4 NKJV) The Lord also said, “Not all who sound religious are really godly people.” (Matthew 7:21 TLB) “The way to identify a tree or a person is by the kind of fruit produced.” (Matthew 7:20 TLB)

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Good Gravy or Grave Glop? (Angel in the Kitchen)

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Haha, fooled ya!

Colonel Harland Sanders always said his original fried chicken was so delicious because it was prepared from a “secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices.” Perhaps at one time the delectable batter-coating did contain 11 herbs and spices. Today, however, KFC (the company that now owns the Colonel’s name and secrets) may need to check their math. There’s a good chance the corporation has myth-calculated the number. In fact, after procuring a batch of the seasoning and having it analyzed, William Poundstone wrote in his 1983 book Big Secrets, the formula consists only of flour, salt, monosodium glutamate, and black pepper. (Hurray, at least pepper is a spice!)

“How many did you say? Dude, you may want to check your math.”

We’re not bashing KFC — we still like their chicken — but we do wish to point out a truth. “Stuff” has a way of changing, not always for the better, and we often don’t even realize it. Or, to paraphrase an oft-used sentence, “What you think you see, is not necessarily what you get.”

We trust that when Colonel Sanders began franchising his famous Kentucky Fried Chicken, way back in the 1950s, he used “11 herbs and spices” (ingredients he insisted “stand on everyone’s kitchen shelf”). But times change, and apparently so does the truth — or does it?

Regardless how many are used, herbs and spices add flavor, aroma, color, texture and, often, nutrients to many recipes. [Time out. Do you know the difference between “herbs” and “spices”? C’est simple! Herbs are produced from the green leafy parts of certain plants. Spices are produced from parts of certain plants other than the leaves. Basil (from leaves) is an herb. Ginger (from the root) is a spice.]

Grinning dude on the left: “Good, huh?”    Colonel  Sanders: “!*@$#%! I’ll be the judge of that.”

Sanders, who devised many of the recipes and cooking processes used at his outlets, once said his signature gravy was so delicious, “You’ll want to throw away the chicken and eat the gravy.” However, after the Colonel sold the food chain to a big corporation, the gravy formula quickly changed — without prior warning. Sanders, staying on as spokesperson for a time, compared the new gravy to wallpaper paste. He was known, whenever he popped in to inspect one of the restaurants, to throw the gravy against the wall, and a few choice words (“colorful metaphors,” as the original Mr. Spock once termed them) at the staff. Oh well. His name was on the product, after all; but he knew it was no longer the real deal.

Other things changed, too. For instance, Colonel Sanders always fried his chicken in pure vegetable oil, because he felt doing so yielded the best flavor. After purchasing the chain, KFC changed the cooking oil to save money. Soybean oil was substituted because it’s cheaper, albeit more fattening; but the corporation wasn’t exactly planning to publicizing their “fixes.” Again, we’re not necessarily faulting KFC. To succeed companies always have to watch their bottomline. Still, it’s nice to know when things change and exactly what you’re getting.

Ersatz Sanders!?!?!
Altered Reality? … or, The Case of the Ersatz Sanders!

In good faith, Colonel Sanders shared his recipes and sold the use of his name. He imagined that wherever the words “Kentucky Fried Chicken” were displayed, and whoever prepared his signature food, that the same quality and ingredients were assured. Imagine his dismay when he visited various KFC restaurants, sampled the menu, researched the ingredients…. Isn’t anything sacred? Perhaps not these days.

In life, things change — often subtly — whether it’s in relationships or institutions, products or services. Sometimes substitutions are made. Things may look the same, sound the same, and even be labeled the same. But, as Colonel Sanders learned the hard way, regardless of the name, “chicken and gravy” ain’t always what you think; and the same can be said of everything, including misleading things you hear on the evening news and read on the internet, which people then innocently repost on social media. Face it, there’s a lot of misinformation in the world today.

Oh no! I’m evil?

Even what’s often touted as Spiritual or Biblical truth may actually be a misrepresentation of the Word of God or, worse, outright FALSE. An obvious example of this is the frequently repeated remark that “money is the root of all evil”? Sadly, this seemingly harmless misquoting of the Bible has done its fair share of damage. “Money” is a tool. With it you can build hospitals and save lives. As one evangelist once put it, “If money is truly the root of all evil, then the Devil would be delivering it to your doors by the truck loads.” No, the true Bible verse states, “…The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV)

There are countless other instances of spiritual error, in which people have purposely altered or entirely dismissed Biblical truth to support their own agendas. Many of these people misrepresent the teachings of Christ in order to justify a particular behavior or lifestyle that is contrary to God’s Word.

The Apostle Paul warned, “…A time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. But you should keep a clear mind in every situation….” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 NLT)

So, regardless of how it’s labeled, how it’s packaged, where it’s served — always trust but verify! Don’t swallow everything you hear. Know exactly what you’re “consuming.” What seems to be the “Colonel’s gravy” (truth) may actually be nothing more than some “concocted glop”! And that’s a grave (serious) thing to contemplate. 

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