A Pound of Vietnamese Cinnamon

This is my second attempt at a blog. My first was in 2003 and that lasted about a week. With this first post to my new blog, let’s see how long I can keep contributing.

Last month I purchased a pound of Vietnamese Cinnamon after reading about the health benefits of cinnamon as an additive to coffee and other foods. Vietnamese Cinnamon, I had read, was the best to consume because of its various properties from being an anti-inflammatory agent to one that increases insulin sensitivity. Plus, it’s supposed to taste really good, and stronger than the other cinnamon varieties.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/500834-saigon-cinnamon-health-benefits/

When the package arrived, I was eager to try it out because I really liked cinnamon flavor in general. What I did not imagine was just how large a pound of cinnamon truly was. Cinnamon is not very heavy, so it takes quite a lot of volume for it to weigh one pound. I stored it in the largest jar in my house, but had to skim off a bit and give away.

I liberally consumed Vietnamese cinnamon over one weekend, and later researched cinnamon varieties in depth. The amount of information out there on cinnamon is outstanding. Here is just one site.

Unfortunately, I discovered that Vietnamese cinnamon is not healthy to consume in large quantities, and apparently can contribute to a level of liver and kidney toxicity because of a substance in it called coumarin. The high levels of coumarin in Vietnamese cinnamon is what gives its strong flavor (similar to red hot candies), and its coumarin content can be 400x greater than other types of cinnamon (in particular, Ceylon Cinnamon). That said, I really enjoyed this cinnamon, and especially in coffee with heavy cream. Because coumarin is fat solulable, you can easily mix into black coffee and spoon a bit of it out, leaving residual cinnamon flavor with less coumarin. Subsequently adding cream will mostly dissolve the remaining amounts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coumarin#Toxicity_and_use_in_foods.2C_beverages.2C_cosmetics.2C_and_tobacco

Researching appropriate consumption levels, I discovered I shouldn’t actually eat more than about a half teaspoon of Vietnamese cinnamon daily.

The problem was, I had nearly a pound of it at home. How long will it take me to (safely) consume this much cinnamon before I could replace it with a more mild version? Of course, the pound cost me less than $10, and I could always just throw it away (but would prefer not to).

Just for kicks, according to this calculator, a pound of cinnamon is about 175 teaspoons, or 350 half teaspoons — it’s almost a ridiculous number to think about within the unit of measurement. It’s kind of like measuring a mile in inches, or half inches— it’s not wrong, just not terribly useful.

I took the perspective of putting the volume in the context of days — this jar of cinnamon, consisting of 350 half teaspoons, will take me about a year to get through. I just hope it doesn’t go bad.

I didn’t really think about it much more beyond this. But after a month or so of daily half teaspoons in morning coffee, I noticed I was starting to make a serious dent in the total volume. After a month I would have consumed about 1/12 of the total volume. It’s not a lot, but it’s definitely noticeable.

It was at this point I had a mini-realization that getting through this mountain of cinnamon, one half-teaspoon at a time, was kind of like getting through any goal that feels insurmountable because it is so large. Consistent daily progress has led me to finish a decent amount of this jar, and now there is no reason to buy a new batch unless it goes bad. Somehow, “350 servings” feels much larger than a “year of cinnamon,” despite being less. Contextualizing “inches in a mile” makes achieving a goal that much harder, but changing the frame to daily use makes it more identifiable and obtainable.

This sort of framing, so long as it can measured with reasonable accuracy, creates a good deal of motivation and commitment. For the cinnamon, measuring is as easy as seeing it disappear from the jar over time. By being able to enjoy the “journey, not only the destination,” achieving a hard goal can not only be possible, but easy.

To me at least, this is incredible motivation when playing the “long game” with respect to so many different areas of life that I would want to enhance; including personal health, relationships, work, learning, raising kids, hobbies, etc. Results for these activities are typically measured in multiple months or years, and the tiny steps along the way are often microscopic. This requires long term thinking, which our reptilian brain isn’t really set up for (but it can be trained). But with proper framing, consistency and measurement, those insurmountable mountains in life can be moved.

This is the theme I want to use for this blog, and maybe even various aspects of my life generally. Hopefully I don’t spend too much time on it, but through consistent activity I hope to make this blog much more meaningful and useful than my prior one.


Purpose

Some people use blogging as a way to tell the world about something they have to say. Maybe it’s developing a social media presence for their product or career, or discussing various life passions.

For me, it’s more about getting things off my chest, almost as a personal diary of preoccupations. It’s fun and somewhat therapeutic. Hopefully it’ll also help me become a better writer and communicator, despite my stream of consciousness on display. Also, I am trying to learn more about the things I read, and if I can explain what I learn in a simple enough way to someone else, I believe that will enhance my learning ability.

I don’t expect a lot readers; perhaps less than 10. And if so happens someone finds something interesting on here, then great! But be warned — this is about me, not you — read at your own risk.

That said, I would love to hear from you.

rohit1130@gmail.com