Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Have You Heard About the Health Benefits of This Ancient Spice?

Turmeric is finally getting the attention it deserves.

English: Turmeric root. Photo taken in Kent, O...

A member of the ginger family, this orange-colored spice is the main ingredient in curry and has been used for centuries in Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cooking.  It’s also a remedy in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicines and, along with ginger, is now being recognized as one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories available.

Turmeric powder 薑黃粉

Turmeric’s main healthful ingredient is curcumin and Western practitioners are acknowledging its possible healing properties with the following:

  • Relieves inflammatory conditions like arthritis and joint pain
  • Promotes a healthy immune system
  • Supports overall brain health and memory function, helping to remove plaque and improve oxygen flow
  • Improves digestion and stomach aches
  • Powerful antioxidant properties which fight cancer-causing free radicals, reducing or preventing some of the damage
  • Kills parasites
  • Dissolves gallstones
  • Alleviates menstrual problems
  • Helps detoxify the liver
  • Helps promote healthy skin
  • Natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent and can clear infections

For non-medicinal uses, its potent orange color makes turmeric a great all natural dye.  Try it for tie-dyeing or dyeing Easter eggs! Ironically, it’s also used to whiten teeth.

Though it comes in supplement form, (consult your doctor before consuming supplements) it’s best to use it as a spice.  I try to add it daily to my diet, which is easy now that I discovered this delicious recipe for turmeric tea from 101 Cookbooks.  You’ll be surprised how good it is.

Turmeric Tea

Turmeric tends to stain anything it comes into contact with, so be careful.

1/3 cup / 80 ml good, raw honey
2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric
lemon
lots of freshly ground black pepper (helps with absorption)

Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you’d like a cup. For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. Enjoy! Stir now and then as you drink so all the good stuff doesn’t settle to the bottom, or top off with more hot water as you drink it.

Sprinkling turmeric on vegetables or in dressings is another good way to add this versatile and healthy spice to your diet.  Make sure you buy organic turmeric free from pesticides, heavy metals, artificial colors and lead.  The USDA recently recalled the brand Pran due to high lead content

Get healthy and stay healthy with turmeric!

Information compiled from http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/the-amazing-health-benefits-of-turmeric, http://www.top10homeremedies.com/kitchen-ingredients/10-health-benefits-of-turmeric.html, http://www.101cookbooks.com/,and The Okinawa Program by Bradley J. Willcox M.D.,D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D & Makoto Suzuki, M.D.

 

 

 

 

Raw Food Diet

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish

English: A close up of a fresh raw food dish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently attended a raw food cooking class. A raw food diet is just what it says – food that is eaten raw or heated to no more than 115 degrees. According to raw food experts, the advantages are that raw food contains beneficial live enzymes that make it more digestible and that it has a higher vitamin and nutrient content.   Heating or cooking chemically alters food causing it to lose its ability to provide energy.  Cooking also destroys certain vitamins. A raw food diet can cleanse and heal. The raw food diet as a health treatment was first developed in Switzerland in 1897 by Dr. Maximillian Bircher-Benner, the inventor of muesli, after he recovered from jaundice by eating raw apples.  His health center is still in operation today.

In summer when fruits and vegetables are abundant, preparing seasonal, local, raw food is easy. A strict raw food diet year round however, is more involved and does not include any processed foods.  To make crackers, breads and other “baked” goods can be time consuming and requires advance planning.  Blenders, food processors, juicers and dehydrators are all needed equipment.  Sprouting and soaking are necessary to eat grains, legumes and nuts.  Nuts are a large part of the raw food diet and are used to make cheeses, crackers, breads and soups.

What appealed to me about the class was its emphasis on creating warming uncooked meals.  We learned simple tips like bringing all food to room temperature for a couple of hours before preparation and using lots of warming spices like cumin, curry and nutmeg.  Our meal started with a delicious raw butternut and green apple soup, followed by zucchini chive canapés, a zucchini slice smeared with chive cream cheese made from cashews – even better than “real” cream cheese! For dinner we made a Brussels sprout and pumpkin seed slaw, a wild rice and chickpea salad, kale and shallot pizzettes with 3 kinds of cheese (again, cashew based; the crust was made from flax seeds and vegetables “baked” in a dehydrator) and a fresh fig and lemon tart for dessert.  The dinner was fabulous and you never would have known it was uncooked!

I could never be an extreme “raw foodie”, but I do love experimenting with new and healthy cuisine.  I read somewhere to make 50% of your diet raw, so challenge yourself and give it a try. Below is a simple recipe for Cashew Parmesan cheese that rivals the real thing!  Email me for more recipes…

½ cup dry cashews

1 clove garlic (chopped)

¼ teaspoon sea salt (coarse)

Grind cashews and sea salt in food processor (with ‘s’ blade) until fine, almost powdery.  Add garlic and pulse food processor until texture resembles Parmesan.  Use on everything!

Information compiled from The Raw Truth, The Art of Loving Foods, by Jeremy A Safron and Renée Underkoffler,  http://en.wikipedia.org/, onesmallpatch.com.