Posts Tagged ‘nuts’

Benefits of Buying in Bulk

Bulk food buying is the hallmark of eco-conscious consumers.  Buying in bulk doesn’t just mean buying huge quantities of items to save money, which makes sense for staples like toilet paper and paper towels if you have the space.  It also means buying from those bulk bins you see in the grocery store.  There are several advantages to doing so.

Bulk items are usually cheaper.  With no packaging, companies are able to keep costs down. According to the Bulk is Green Council, “organic bulk foods on average cost 89% less than their packaged counterparts”.  Wow!

You can buy only what you need.  If a new recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of a specialty item that you don’t have on hand, you simply buy what is called for.  Buying this way also allows you to experiment with certain spices, grains or flours that you don’t usually buy without committing to a whole bag or box.  You significantly reduce food waste and save space in your pantry by buying only what you need. How many unused spices are in your spice drawer that have been there for years?  To insure freshness and for peak flavor, spices and most food items are better bought in smaller quantities anyway.

Bulk buying also keeps tons of packaging out of the landfills. A study from Portland State University found that if Americans switched to bulk bin buying for common items, it would “it would save tens of millions of pounds of trash from entering landfills each year.”  Specifically, the Bulk is Green Council states, “If all Americans purchased coffee beans from bulk food bins, 260 millions pounds of foil packaging would be diverted from the landfills per year.”  Or, “If all American families bought peanut butter from bulk food bins, about 749 million pounds of waste would be diverted from landfills per year.”

When buying from the bulk bin, you can either bring your own glass container or use the plastic or paper bags provided. Calculate the price per ounce, pound, etc. A scale is usually right there beside the bins.  If you bring your own container, make sure to weigh the container first before adding the item, then subtract that weight to determine the cost of the item you are buying.  If you are concerned about bin freshness or cleanliness, feel free to ask the store manager.  And, don’t forget to recycle or reuse the plastic bag after transferring your bulk items to a glass container at home.  Store them in the pantry or dark place.  I love the way the pantry looks with attractive glass containers or reused mason jars, which is all the rage today.

Items You Can Find In Bulk Bins:

  • Dry beans
  • Flours (including GF options)
  • Seeds (including flax and chia)
  • Nuts
  • Grains
  • Spices and herbs
  • Ground and whole bean coffee
  • Powders (such as baking powder)
  • Cereal and granola
  • Trail mix and dried fruits
  • Dry pasta
  • Nutritional yeast and other odds and ends

During the holiday season when we are baking, cooking and trying new recipes more than usual, buying from bulk bins makes even more sense.  Try it and enjoy saving money and waste!

Information compiled from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-15918/the-benefits-of-buying-in-bulk.html and http://www.bulkisgreen.org/.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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.

Food, Glorious Food!

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” ― Hippocrates

Unfortunately the typical American diet – factory farmed meats, saturated fats, too much sugar, processed foods, hidden GMOs, artificial preservatives and pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables – is hardly thy medicine.  An organic, whole foods diet however, can be.  Below are two common and often interrelated conditions, which with the right foods can be helped.

Insomnia:

“They” say that sleep is the new water; experts are talking about the negative effects on our bodies from lack of sleep and are recommending we get 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night for optimal health.  Many Americans are chronically sleep deprived however.  Consuming the right food is part of the answer. Eating a small snack – not a heavy meal – at least an hour before bedtime can help you fall asleep.  Tryptophan and carbohydrates, often found in comfort foods, maximize the release of serotonin, the feel good hormone, which helps you sleep.  Foods containing these two things are sleep inducing.  For example, bananas contain tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin, the hormone that controls the sleep and wake cycles; oatmeal is a complex carbohydrate; yogurt, warm milk, and other dairy products contain tryptophan; humus, turkey (You know how tired you feel after Thanksgiving dinner!) nuts and seeds, honey, and eggs also contain tryptophan. Try it and see if it works – don’t you like having permission for (a not too) late night snack?

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See ...

Main health effects of sleep deprivation (See Wikipedia:Sleep deprivation). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stress:

In today’s complex, fast-faced, high-tech, and often-uncertain world, we all fall prey to stress from time to time.  A certain amount of adrenalin and cortisol, the stress hormones, are motivating, but too much is a problem and actually can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure and even cancer.  Avoiding or minimizing your intake of certain foods like caffeine, alcohol and sugar, which produce highs and lows, is key.  Incorporating foods high in folic acid, B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, zinc, iron, magnesium, potassium, anti-oxidants and omega 3 into your diet on regular basis will stabilize your mood and fight free radicals associated with stress.  Good examples are asparagus, blueberries, avocados, oranges, papayas, red peppers, cottage cheese, milk, almonds, salmon, spinach, whole grain cereals and breads, and black tea.  Crunching raw vegetables is not only nutritious, but helps release your clenched jaw and curb tension.  Of course alleviating stress also helps with sleep.

Another benefit of healthy eating?  The same foods prevent and treat a variety of ailments, as well as ward off premature aging.  It’s kind of like one stop shopping.  Now that’s a powerful medicine!

Information compiled from: http://www.webmd.com/, www.oprah.com/oprahradio, www.thedailymeal.com, http://www.sheknows.com/

 

A QUOTE ABOUT EATING

“To lengthen thy Life, lessen thy Meals.”

Benjamin Franklin

The holiday season doesn’t have to be a time of overindulging on fattening, processed, nutrient-poor foods.  You can serve healthy, organic, delicious and satisfying holiday treats instead.  Here are a few recipes for foods that are actually good for you.

Spicy Carmelized Pecans

From Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet

Use this healthful and easy to prepare treat in a salad, as an hors d’oeuvres, for a snack, or a homemade holiday gift.

  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • Water to cover
  • 2 tablespoons butter (or coconut oil)
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon or more cayenne, to taste

1.  Place the pecans in a large skillet or saucepan with water to cover.  Bring the ingredients just to a simmer over high heat.  Drain the nuts immediately, and set them aside.

2.  Melt the butter in a large skillet.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sugar, salt and cayenne.  Then add the nuts.

3.  Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook the nuts, tossing them constantly with a spatula, until they are a caramel color.  Remove from the pan to a platter, and let them cool in a single layer.  Store the nuts in layers separated  by wax paper.


Swiss Chard, Hummus and Avocado Hors d’oeuvre

I sampled this creative and oh so healthy hors d’oeuvre at Whole Foods the other day, and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty it was.

Smear fresh swiss chard with hummus and add slices of ripe avocado.  Roll us and slice into bite-sized pieces. Simple!

 

Cranberry-Banana Bread

From The Wilson Farm Country Cookbook

Quick breads are just that, as well as nutritious, and make a perfect holiday gift or a delightful addition to a holiday brunch, luncheon or dinner.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.

  • ¼ cup butter or coconut oil, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup organic sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  •  1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup mashed banana (one)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped organic cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup water
  •  ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  •   ½ cup chopped nuts

Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  Beat in the eggs with an electric mixer.  Stir in the banana, cranberries, water and vanilla.  Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon together and stir them into the batter.  Add the chopped nuts.  Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 55 minutes.

Dark Chocolate

Fill your  Christmas stockings or your bon bon dish with dark chocolates – the health benefits  are becoming well known.  Click here to read more.

You can indulge this season with the right foods!  Enjoy!!!

NUTS, SO MUCH MORE THAN A TASTY TREAT!

Brazil nuts come from a South American tree

Image via Wikipedia

Nuts are another amazing food that are not only good for snacking and baking, but actually help prevent many of the lifestyle diseases today that affect so many people.  Researchers are convinced that nuts – almonds, walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pecans, pine nuts, peanuts – are extremely beneficial to our health!  Ancient civilizations valued nuts as a source of energy; they were also available all year-long since they stored easily.  Nuts are a source of the  “good” fats in the much-touted healthy Mediterranean diet as well.  They are loaded with protein, fiber,  essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.  Nuts are portable, filling and keep you from eating more fattening and less healthy food.

Nuts contain compounds that help prevent heart disease by keeping the arteries open and blood flowing. They help improve the health of the artery lining as well.  They contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that can help lower total cholesterol (as opposed to saturated fats which have the opposite effect).   They are high in Vitamin E, which also helps to prevent cholesterol from sticking to the artery walls and some nuts contain plant sterols, a cholesterol lowering substance.  These same compounds can help prevent gallstones too.

Nuts are beneficial in cancer prevention.  They are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight free radicals.  Studies from Purdue University have also shown that the Vitamin E in walnuts and pecans kills certain cancer cells. The omega-3 in nuts also helps with memory loss and developing neuron-transmitters for brain function. Interesting how a walnut even looks like a brain!

Despite all the health benefits of nuts, recent studies have shown that only 5.5% of adults from age 19 – 50 consume them.  Perhaps it’s because nuts have a reputation for being fattening, which they can be, but not if you limit your intake to one ounce, or about a handful a day.  And some people do have nut allergies.

In a “nutshell” (I couldn’t resist), however, these nutritious treats are an invaluable part of your daily diet.

 

Information compiled from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nuts/HB00085,http://whfoods.org/ and The Doctor’s Book of Food Remedies, by Selene Yeager and the Editors of Prevention.