• Cinnamon
Sweet cinnamon sits as comfortably in Indian curries and Middle Eastern meze as it does in a traditional British fruitcake. The warm flavour has been popular in Europe, Asia and the Mediterranean for several centuries.
What it is, what it does
The inner bark of the cinnamomum zeylanicum tree, a relative of bay, cinnamon's health attributes are as rewarding as its comforting flavour and aroma. It reduces inflammation, prevents growth of bacteria, normalises blood sugar levels and enhances concentration.

In the kitchen
In Morocco's tagines, Vietnam's soup noodles, and many Lebanese dishes, cinnamon is a characteristic everyday seasoning. It is also employed in Chinese five-spice powder, and was one of the first spices used to flavour chocolate - in some countries it's common to stir coffee and tea with a cinnamon stick. Try it sprinkled on toast or custard, or add to any fruit compote. It even works with spinach - the possibilities really are endless.