Saturday, March 31, 2012

Black Rice

Black Rice

Gooseberry Gives Healthy Benefits Inside And Out

You may not find bunches of gooseberry in your local grocery market, but if you look on many of the natural carbonated juices you find on the shelf, chances are you will find gooseberry listed as one of the ingredients. From juices to wines and jams to pastries, gooseberry is a rather sweet and crisp taste and looks like you mashed together a grape and a water melon rind. If you happen to come across some fresh gooseberries, be sure to pick them up and experiment with them in your kitchen. You will be pleasantly surprised with your end results.

What is It?

Gooseberry is indigenous to many parts of Europe and Asia, growing naturally in thickets and rocky wooded areas, from France to the Himalayas. In England, gooseberry bushes are often found around old ruins, being once cultivated but long forgotten, but are difficult to distinguish from the feral ones that fit into the natural fauna and flora. Gooseberries vary in bitterness, and some varieties are far too bitter to be eaten raw. The less-bitter varieties of gooseberries work well when added to fruit salads or used to garnish dessert plates.

Health Benefits

Gooseberries are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A, calcium, iron, and phosphorus. There are also high levels of potassium in gooseberries which help break up lactic acid which is especially helpful if you like to hit the gym often. Gooseberries have been shown to help reduce the signs of aging, especially with the high levels of antioxidants in the darker red and purple varieties. Gooseberry has also been used extensively in beauty products to help tighten and even skin tone. There is also data to show the reduction of hypertension and preeclampsia, especially during pregnancy.

Fun Fact

Though this intriguing berry grows wild in many locations throughout the continental United States, it's generally cultivated in tropical zones such as Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. At first glance the cape gooseberry with its inflated, papery skin, looks somewhat like a Chinese lantern or a miniature watermelon on a stem. The bittersweet juicy berries that hide inside the skin are opaque and golden in color. Imported gooseberries are often available at fresh food markets from March to July when they are in season.

How to Eat

To use the berries, peel back the parchment-like husk and rinse. Remove the stems and tops with scissors before eating or cooking. Gooseberries may be poached and eaten cooked or added to sugar or syrup for a sauce. To retain the shape of the berry, poach slowly. They are done when the seeds have escaped and the skins collapse. Gooseberries are often used as an ingredient in desserts, and are fantastic when the juice is used to flavor sodas, water, and even milk. Gooseberries can be made into wine or tea, too. They are also used as a secondary ingredient in pickling brine to help add flavor or preserved in sugar syrups for later use out of season.

If gooseberry is new to you, start exploring the possibilities by enjoying a juice or jam. You'll get the flavor and nutrition first, then you'll be ready to go find a fresh supply.

How To Avoid Salt and Sodium

How To Avoid Salt and Sodium

Friday, March 30, 2012

Anti Aging Tip: Being a Vegan

Anti Aging Tip: Being a Vegan

Free Download "Top 10 Healthiest Foods" e-book

Nutrition expert Dr. James Pendleton just put the finishing touches on his research report "The Top 10 Healthiest Foods and Fat Burning Tips", and instead of paying $24.99, it's FREE for you today!

The e-book is packed with 43 pages of powerful information on Healthy Foods, Fat Burning foods, and tips that will get you in shape fast.

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* The Top 10 Healthiest Foods

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* 6 Healthy Foods That Will Make You FAT! .....Never eat these foods! (You will be shocked when you see the fat content of these so called healthy foods that are being served at some of the most popular restaurants in the world!)

* Discover the power of nutrient dense Superfoods and much more!

Click here to claim your free e-book

http://tinyurl.com/hcglife

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guava Surprises Us With Glorious Nectar

Guava is a fruit that many people know of, but have not tried to eat. For some reason, this tropical fruit is intimidating to shoppers because of the bright green colors and the hard exterior shell. Once you get into the fruit, you may also find the interior pretty intense. Let's take a better look at the wonderful world of guava.

What is It?

Part of the myrtle family, guavas are known for their pungent floral smells as well as their bright green foliage. This green fruit has very strong smell and taste, just like you would imagine a ripe lemon to have. The beauty of the pink inside lend itself well to decoration with other tropical foods. They are native to Central and South America as well as Mexico. Guava is now cultivated around the world and is domesticated in the United States.

History

Guava originally hailed from the tropical climate of Central and Southern America, probably Brazil. At the beginning of the 16th century the Portuguese introduced guava to the Philippines and eventually to India. There are documents from the early 1800s that show the Seminole Tribe of Northern Florida cultivating guava trees. Today guava is grown all over the world with most of the crop exported from the original cultivation in Central and Southern America.

Health Benefits

Guavas hold more health benefits than imaginable. They are an ideal food for weight loss and provide a wonderful resource for proteins, vitamins, and fiber. In addition to being incredibly high in dietary fiber and vitamins, guava does not have any cholesterol. For people watching their carbohydrate intake, guava has a lower carbohydrate count than other fruit. Guava also helps prevent scurvy, control diabetes, protect prostrate health, and even can treat hypertension.

Fun Fact

The leaves and wood of the guava tree are highly sought after. The wood is not used in the construction of homes or furniture, but rather for beautiful decorative purposes. Hand-carved knobs for drawers and accent pieces are where you will find most of the wood. The leaves are popular for their black dye which is used for fabrics and for medicinal purposes. In many countries, guava leaves can be made into herbal concoctions to provide gastrointestinal relief, heal minor wounds, ease toothaches, give relief for coughs, and even help control nausea during pregnancy.

How to Eat

Harvesting guavas can be a delicate process; the fruit is very tender and can bruise easily, so it is important to have a gentle touch and make sure they don't fall to the ground. Nets are placed around the trees, where the fruit is dropped into as the tree is shaken. Guava can be eaten raw and is a delicious addition to traditional and fruit salads. However, due to the strong fragrance and taste, guava is usually found in liquid form in nectar, juices, syrups or cooked in desserts. Guava flavored candy is also extremely popular, especially in the Latin cultures.

Most of us will probably not be shaking a guava tree to get a fresh guava. If you want to explore this fruit, you may want to start with one of the many drinks or desserts. Once you get hooked on the flavor, it may be worth your while to explore your local international grocery store for more.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Bacon Bad for Your Health?

Is Bacon Bad for Your Health?

Are Mushrooms Good For Your Health? - Dr. Weil

Are Mushrooms Good For Your Health? - Dr. Weil

The versatile grape deserves your attention

Grapes Have Many Pleasing Personalities

Frozen grapes are the perfect chilled snack on a hot summer day. Everyone remembers grapes from their childhood, almost as if they were a rite of passage. You have your favorite, either red or green and those little balls of sweet flavor can bring back memories of days long gone with one simple bite. Let's take a look at some of the fantastic reasons why you should continue consuming grapes today.

What is It?

While most grapes come from the same family and genus of plant, there are about sixty different species of this plant type with literally thousands of variables. Table grape varieties, the ones you most often eat, are larger in size, have been propagated to be seedless, and have relatively thin skins. Wine grapes, on the other hand, are usually smaller in size, contain seeds, and have relatively thick skins.

While we often think about the Mediterranean when we envision grape vines, this amazing food is actually native to many parts of the world, including regions in Asia, Africa, and North America. From a commercial standpoint, grapes from around the world have now been hybridized to produce unique blends of flavor, texture, and environmental suitability. Worldwide there are 150 trillion pounds of grapes produced each year. Grape production comes from five major countries - Italy, China, Spain, France and the U.S.

History

Grapes have a long and abundant history. While they've grown wild since prehistoric times, evidence suggests they were domesticated in Asia around 5000 BC. Grapes were also pictured in ancient Egyptian burial tomb hieroglyphics. During the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, grapes were revered for their use in the production of wine. They were planted in the Rhine Valley in Germany, a place of notable wine production, in the 2nd century AD. Today there are thousands of varietals of grapes that we know about, both cultivated and wild. In the United States, California reigns as the grape producing state. However, during the winter months, the US imports their grapes from South America and Chili.

Health Benefits

Grapes have long been classified as a low glycemic index food, with values ranging between 43-53. Better blood sugar balance, better insulin regulation, and increased insulin sensitivity have now been connected with intake of grape juices, grape extracts, and individual phytonutrients found in grapes. One cup of grapes will give you over a quarter of your daily requirement for vitamin C. The elusive vitamin K is also high in grapes. Grapes also contain the hormone and antioxidant melatonin, as well as elements that have anti-bacterial properties. Combine grapes with a complete protein amino-acid source for a very nutritious dish. Many weight conscious people swear by nibbling on grapes to satisfy the urge to snack while providing hydration and nutrients.

Fun Fact

It has been long believed that grapes have healing properties. Before scientific research backed up the disease-fighting properties of grapes, ancient China healers mixed grape wine with snakes and frogs to cure illnesses and diseases. Truth is, they probably could have left out the critters and gotten the same cures. Grapes are about 80% water, which explains why it is so satisfying as a low-calorie snack or dessert.

How to Eat

This is one fruit that you would do well to buy in the organic section of the grocery store. In 2011 a study was done that found conventionally grown grapes to be one of the most problematic fruits and vegetables in terms of pesticide residues. When you consider that it's estimated that in the United States we each eat 8 pounds of grapes a year, that's a lot of pesticides to be concerned about.

For the best tasting grapes with high concentrations of antioxidants select those that are fully ripe, which means they should be plump and free of wrinkles. Since grapes tend to spoil and ferment at room temperature, they should always be stored in the refrigerator. While freezing detracts from some of their flavor, frozen grapes are a wonderful snack and particularly intriguing to children. To freeze grapes, wash and pat them dry, then arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet and place in freezer.

Grapes are more than an easy go-to snack. We now know that grapes belong at every course of a meal. Use grapes in salads, salsas, and sandwiches. Cook them, freeze them, or eat them right off the vine. Oh, and don't forget the raisins, and the wine! The versatile grape deserves your attention.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Grapefruit Goes Way Beyond Breakfast

A breakfast favorite, the large succulent grapefruit has a yellow skin and is about three times the size of an average orange. With a powerful pucker-up quality, the grapefruit needs to be fully ripe before enjoying. Not only are grapefruits a great way to start your day at breakfast, they are versatile enough to take you all the way to dessert. Let's look at this refreshing fruit and learn more.

What is It?

Tart and tangy with a sweetness that grabs your taste buds, grapefruit rivals the popularity of the orange. Although they are generally available throughout the year, grapefruit are at their peak during the winter months. Grapefruits are typically two to three times larger than their orange cousins. The Latin scientific name for grapefruit, citrus paradisi, actually means “paradise-like.” Grapefruits are categorized as white, pink, or ruby, but their color isn't evident from the outside. The classification reflects the color of their flesh.

History

Grapefruits are one of the newer fruits to be become known outside of their native area. It wasn't until the 18th century that grapefruit was found in Barbados. Grapefruit trees came to the US in the early 19th century. Scientists believe that the grapefruit was born out of a crossbreeding between an orange and the pomelo. The name 'grapefruit' actually came from the way these delicious fruits grow – hanging in clusters, like grapes, from trees. Florida, California, Arizona, and Texas are the four top producing states in the US.

Health Benefits

Grapefruit is an incredible source of vitamin C, which helps support the immune system. Vitamin C also helps prevent free radical damage and is therefore also associated with reduced severity of inflammatory conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. The vitamins and nutrients in grapefruits also help promote cardiovascular health. Consumption of super-foods rich in vitamin C has resulted in a reduced risk of death from causes including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Grapefruit also protects against kidney stones and colon cancer.

Fun Fact

A study done in Austria suggests that fruits which are ripe, almost to the point of spoilage, actually have increased antioxidant levels. So, for the most antioxidants, choose a fully ripened grapefruit. Grapefruits are naturally juicier when they're slightly warm rather than cool, so it is important to store them at room temperature if you are planning on enjoying them within a week of purchase. If you will not be eating them within this time period, store them in the refrigerator crisper where they will keep fresh for about two to three weeks. Grapefruit is a great freshener, just like lemon. Put the peelings down the garbage disposal for deodorizing. The essential oils from grapefruit are also used in many scented products as well as beauty products.

How to Eat

Grapefruits are citrus fruit, so you eat them like other citrus fruits. They can be eaten by peeling and separating the segments. You can also slice a grapefruit around the 'equator' and eat it like a bowl, using a serrated spoon to scoop out the sections to eat. You can cut around from top to bottom and continue to cut into wedges, just like other citrus. With the grapefruit, however, you must be sure to avoid eating the white 'pith' as it is very, very bitter. Beyond breakfast and snack time, the grapefruit has seen a resurgence in popularity in everything from vinaigrette to grilled meals to desserts.

This citrus, that has been familiar as a breakfast staple, is finding all sorts of new ways to make it to the table. Get familiar with this tangy sweet and juicy fruit to expand your culinary experience way beyond the ordinary.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Food of the Week: Asparagus

Food of the Week: Asparagus

Feijoa was once described as “the world's healthiest food”

Feijoa Finds A Home In Fancy Food And Facials

A distant cousin to the guava, feijoa (pronounced \fā-ˈyō-ə, -ˈhō-ə\) is a small fruit native to the tropical regions of Brazil and even up to the southern parts of Georgia. While this tiny fruit is not known for its popularity in the United States, that doesn't give reason to overlook this intense, aromatic treat. If you have never tried feijoa, it is time to take a step into the unknown. This fruit will become one of your all-time favorites with one delectable bite.

What is It?

Maturing in late summer and early fall, the feijoa is a green, oval-shaped fruit about the size of a standard large brown chicken egg. Once you break into the feijoa, you will be greeted by the intense tropical aroma and flavor, after all, it is kin to the guava. The pulp inside has almost a gritty, yet gelatinous texture, again, much like a guava, and has small, hardly noticeable seeds similar to a strawberry or a kiwi.

History

Originally grown in South America, feijoa is a hardy fruit that can support itself in a number of different climates. Of course, fruit production will be lower in cooler climates, but the trees will flower around May and the fruit will ripen in August. Feijoas were brought to the US and eventually moved west. Today, the largest producers of feijoa, behind Brazil, are San Francisco and New Zealand.

Health Benefits

Not only is the feijoa low in cholesterol, it is a powerhouse of Vitamin C, claiming as much as 10mg. This is also a fiber rich source. You'll appreciate many of feijoa's benefits when it comes to hair, skin and nails as it contains folate, along with high levels of super antioxidants. The feijoa was once described as “the world's healthiest food” by the New York Times.

Fun Fact

Feijoa is often used in exfoliates and other skin softening and cleaning products. Much like other tropical fruits, the gritty texture and levels of acidity lend themselves nicely to skin care regimens. This fancy fruit was adopted by some of the top cosmetic companies. Feijoa was proven to help firm and tone skin while also adding color and shine. The next time you pick up a face wash, check the ingredient list for the beloved feijoa. This fruit works equally as hard inside and out to make you healthy.

How to Eat

Feijoa fruits can be enjoyed right off the tree, or in a juice, jam, ice cream and even adult beverages like sparkling wine. Since feijoa is similar to guava, the food applications are extremely similar. They are delicious in fruit salads and chutney and can often be used in smoothies.

If you are looking to try something different, but don't want to stray too far from your comfort zone, then look no further than the feijoa. With a similarity to guava, you can try out different cooking applications and food combinations without feeling lost in an unfamiliar territory.

Simple and Healthy Chicken Pizza

Eating healthy does NOT mean bland and boring food. They say the proof is in the pudding. Well, I don't have a recipe for pudding today, but how about one for pizza?!

http://rxsportz.getprograde.com/healthy-chicken-pizza.html

Yours in health,
Arthur M

PS - This mouthwatering "Healthy Chicken Pizza" is just ONE of the 197 Healthy and Delicious Recipes my partners over at Prograde Nutrition have compiled.

 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health

Mediterranean Diet and Heart Health

3 Weird Foods With Mega Nutritional Power

It's still March, so it's still National Nutrition Month. Here are a couple more killer articles from my partners over at Prograde Nutrition to enlighten you.

This first article will knock your socks off. I mean, really, who knew that coffee beans were so much more than, well, coffee? http://rxsportz.getprograde.com/best-part-of-coffee-bean.html

Next, you'll be stunned by how powerful Brussel Sprouts are. And Barley Grass, too. Bet you thought Barley was just for beer, right? ;-) http://rxsportz.getprograde.com/eating-enough-fruits-and-vegetables.html

I'll be back soon with more awesome health, fitness and nutrition info!

Yours in health,

Arthur M.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Figs have amazing health benefits

Fig Love From The Beginning Of Time

If you ever have a chance to pick a fresh fig off of a tree and bite into it, you will know why this fruit is considered a creation sent from heaven. Sure, the Fig Newtons you grew up give you a taste of figs, but there is no comparison. Figs are fun, full of health benefits and great additions to your kitchen repertoire. Let's take a closer look at these super sweet old world fruits.

What is It?

Figs are the fruit of a ficus tree. They are in season between June and September and most of the figs in the US come from California. There are some European varieties that stay fresh well into November and even the beginning of December. Figs generally have a sweet taste with an almost-silky texture. Their skin is smooth and the little seeds contained within are edible and crunchy.

History

Figs go back to the earliest of times with mentions in many ancient writings, including the Bible. They are believed to have been first cultivated in Egypt and from there, spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple in the diet. In the late 19th century figs came to the US when Spanish missionaries planted fig trees in California. It wasn't until the 20th century that further development and cross-cultivation made California one of the largest producers of figs. Since then, California figs are shipped all over the world and have become a suitable substitute for the European figs.

Health Benefits

Figs have amazing health benefits. For starters, they help lower blood pressure because of their high amounts of potassium. Many diets are too high in sodium and not enough potassium, which increase hypertension. Figs help combat this problem. Figs can also help you lose weight because of the high fiber content. Figs are also very high in calcium, so if you're lactose intolerant, you might want to consider figs as your source of calcium.

Fun Fact

Figs grow on the ficus tree, which most of us have had in our homes at one time or another. It is a member of the Mulberry family. Figs have a unique opening, called the ostiole, or "eye," which is not connected to the tree, but helps the fruit's development by giving it an opening to allow communication with the environment. Going back in time, it is believed that Plato thought the fig was the best nutritional food for athletes. According to legend, it appears that it was against the law to export figs because they wanted to make sure they had the advantage at the Olympic Games.

How to Eat

It is important to wash figs under cool water to make sure you remove any dirt or pesticides, then gently remove the stem. Once you have cleaned the fig, it is time to enjoy either as a raw fruit or stuffed with whatever your imagination desires. Dried figs can simply be eaten, used in a recipe, or simmered for several minutes in water, fruit juice, or wine to make them plump and juicy. Use poached figs in a variety of desserts, perhaps with frozen yogurt or ice cream. Finding ways to incorporate figs into your foods is easy, deciding which dish is your new favorite is probably the hardest decision you will have to make this week.

Figs will soon become your new go-to sweet treat. This heavenly fruit will win you over at the first bite. Give this a try and see what you can do to discover this sweet pleasure.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Can Less Red Meat Add up to a Longer Life?

Can Less Red Meat Add up to a Longer Life?

Emblic Is Exotic In The Kitchen But Common In The Salon

Imagine crossing a watermelon with an apple and a grapefruit. Then shrink your creation down to the size of a grape. Now you have a picture of what an emblic is like. This little fruit packs an amazing punch when it comes to flavor. The astringent taste might surprise you for such a bite-sized ball, but the health benefits and cooking applications are incredible. Let's take a further look at emblic and all the options it provides.

What is It?

Stemming from a graceful ornamental tree, emblic is a round and smooth fruit with pale lines running the diameter of the fruit which make it look like it should be segmented. This two inch diameter fruit has a small stone in the center which contains six or seven seeds. Ripe fruits are extremely acidic and turn from light green to yellow and finally brick-red as it ripens and matures.

History

The emblic tree is native to tropical southeastern Asia. It is commonly grown in home gardens as an ornamental tree, but the fruits are often picked and gathered to take to market. In the early 1900s, the USDA was given seeds to plant in Florida for public gardens and experimental tests. Shortly thereafter the fruits were abandoned in favor of other fruits which yielded better crops. At one point, the Campbell Soup Company requested some of the fruits for study, but nothing ever came of the request. Today, the fruits are not commonly used in the United States, but they do hold high value in India and much of Asia.

Health Benefits

Emblic fruits have numerous health benefits, including lowering blood sugar levels, reducing blood pressure, increasing metabolism, improving the immune system, and cancer prevention. Along with these serious health issues, the emblic has also been praised for its body slimming and anti-aging effects. Emblic fruits are also a natural remedy for people who may find themselves suffering from the unpleasantness of a long night of partying.

Fun Fact

In India there are 3 varieties of emblic grown commercially. The Banarsi is the earliest to produce in the season, but alternates years when bearing fruit. The Chakaiya is the most prolific variety and is preferred over others because of its high yield. Finally, there is the Francis variety which is smaller and generally a deep red in color which is rarely grown and mainly used for medicinal purposes. Dried emblic fruit can be used to produce ink and dye. It also has some cleansing properties making it suitable to use as a shampoo. Along with that, the oils can be processed to be used as hair conditioners, and is actually used by some manufacturers in the United States for just such a purpose.

How to Eat

The highly acidic, fresh, raw fruit, followed by cold water, produces a sweet and refreshing aftertaste. In many traditional Indian homes, they boil the fruits whole with sugar and saffron. Fresh emblics make amazing tarts and the juice can be used to flavor vinaigrette dressings. Ripe and partially-ripe fruits can be candied whole and also made into jam and other preserves, pickles, relishes, and chutney.

You may have to do some hunting for emblic, but it may worth the battle. Give this exotic new taste a try and see what you think.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Healthy Cooking is a Must for Families

When it comes to cooking healthy meals for our families, there is always some degree of dissention among the ranks. The good news is that there are recipes that are very healthy but the healthy nature of these recipes is somewhat disguised. What they do not know in these instances truly should not bring harm their way (outside of allergies, which should never be ignored).

Healthy cooking is often difficult as most of us do not want to spend time planning and preparing meals that our families refuse to eat. At the same time, we want our families to be healthy so we feel compelled to learn new and improved ways of cooking healthy foods for our family to enjoy (and unfortunately in some cases scorn).

With weight and nutrition being known as the culprit in so many health conditions it is impossible to ignore the importance of not only eating healthy ourselves but also of teaching our children the importance of eating healthy. One way to insure that your loved ones are in fact eating healthy is to make sure that you are cooking healthy and nutritious foods for them. This does not mean that you cannot enjoy the occasional calorie splurge or even that you shouldn't. The key to cooking healthy is learning to control portions and understanding the importance of moderation.

For those that are hoping to incorporate healthy cooking habits into their daily routines, there are no more resources available than ever before in order to assist you in those endeavors. You can seek the services of a professional nutritionist, your doctor can offer advice, you can find all kinds of books on healthy eating, cooking, and living at your local library, and the Internet is an outstanding source of all kinds of information when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle all around.

There are many books and magazines that are filled with recipes that encourage healthy cooking and eating habits. If you truly love to cook, then there is no shortage of recipes that you can try out along the way. The really good news is that you can incorporate healthy cooking into your cooking routine whether you are cooking for one or a household of ten.

There are many that will argue that cooking healthy food costs more than cooking the prepackaged foods that pack on the calories and additives. The truth of the matter is that when you compare the costs with the medical bills of the future for failing to do so, they seem rather slight by comparison. Yes, good food costs more money. In many cases, that is a simple fact of life. However, by learning portion control and eating the proper portions you just may discover that you are actually spending less as you adjust to the proper amounts of food you should be consuming in order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle.

Cooking healthy isn't an overnight change; it is a lifestyle change that should be implemented one step at a time. You do not have to go into your kitchen and through out every little thing that you deem 'unhealthy' only work to not buy more of these items once they've been used. Make wiser decisions when purchasing fats for food preparation and you will discover that you've made a vitally important step in the process of incorporating healthy cooking and eating habits in your home.

It's those small steps you take towards your goal of cooking healthy foods for your family that will matter far more than any giant leap. Before you know it you will find that you all have more energy and a better sense of overall health than you would have imagined before changing your cooking habits. If that isn't enough to encourage you however, you can always check out the excuse to go shopping for new clothes after you drop a size or two.

Friday, March 9, 2012

How I Got My Kid to Like Walnuts

How I Got My Kid to Like Walnuts

Edemame: A Powerhouse Of Nutrition

Edemame By Any Name Is A Powerhouse Of Nutrition

There is a lot of debate over whether edamame, also known as soybeans, are good to consume and which form gives us the most health benefits for our bodies. While this article is simply the background of the incredible green-colored legume, it is important to do your own research and consult your health professional before making huge changes to your diet. Let's take a look at what the fuss is all about.

What is It?

While, by no means, is edamame the most wildly grown legume, it is a major part of traditional diets in China, Japan and Korea. At present time, the US produces more soybeans than any other country in the world. But almost all of the soybeans grown in the US are used for the production of soy meal and soy oil, which is commonly used as an additive for animal feed.

Generally, the Eastern cultures will consume edamame in its whole bean form, usually fermented or dried, instead of the more aggressive processing methods found here in the US. We normally see dried soybeans in their light tan or pale yellow color, but mature soybeans can actually be found in a variety of different colors including black, brown, and even some shades of blue.

History

Soybeans have been cultivated in China for thousands of years, as early as the third and fourth centuries AD. Many countries in the world depend on soybeans and other legumes as key sources of dietary protein, but today more than 90 percent of the soybeans grown are used as an oilseed crop. This means the legumes are either dried, crushed and used as meal in animal feed, or pressed for their oils. Due to the recent increase in farming for oilseed crops, soybeans are becoming the ideal crop for genetic engineering with most of the agricultural patents for genetic modification coming from this crop.

Health Benefits

Edamame is incredibly rich in folate, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, iron and fiber. So much so, that a study found adults in the US who completely replaced their meat and dairy intake with edamame would show increased levels in all of the vitamins and minerals listed above. Soybeans are also an important source of copper, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin and, of course, the omega-3 fatty acids. Replacing meat and dairy with soy would also lower total cholesterol and has been known to help with obesity by suppressing the appetite while reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. And, as mentioned, edamame, or soybeans, are considered a protein staple by many.

Fun Fact

Edamame means "branch beans" in Japanese. The words edamame and soybeans are for the most part interchangeable. However, both the immature bean and the cooked dish is called edamame in Japan, whereas edamame is typically used in the US to describe only the dish. The bean, until recently, had always been called 'soy' in America. The cultivation and the use of soybeans has fascinated explorers, nutritionists, and even manufacturers, for centuries. Even Ford motor cars had a swing at using soy in their automobiles in plastic made from soybeans.

How to Eat

Dried soybeans will keep in an airtight container for up to 12 months. Cooked soybeans will generally keep fresh in the refrigerator for about three days if placed in a airtight container, while fresh should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within two days. Frozen edamame will keep fresh for three months. It is important to check any dried soybeans for pebbles, damaged beans or other small debris. A cold rinse and a presoak will finish the cleaning process and also help reduce the cooking time for the dried beans. Because soybeans don't have much water as it is, it is important not to add any seasonings that contain salt before or during the cooking process, otherwise the beans will become extremely chewy. You may add salt after the cooking process, but be careful because the natural beans soak up flavor easily.

Whether you call them edamame or soy, the health benefits are worth exploring. Certainly the taste and versatility has earned this food item a place in our life, and in the world's history.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eggplant Is Royalty In The Garden

One of the most unique looking vegetables in the produce section, eggplant is a wonder of nature and is incredibly delicious in a number of dishes. The deep purple color gives it that 'royalty' look and is difficult to miss among the reds, yellows, and greens of a typical produce market. Eggplant catches our eye first, and gives us a great reason to walk over, pick it up and take it home for dinner. But what is it and what do you do with it when you get it home? Let's take a deeper look at this versatile vegetable.

What is It?

Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables. The reason they are called nightshade is because they do not fare well in direct sunlight. Some of their family members also include tomatoes, sweet peppers, and potatoes. Eggplants grow in a manner much like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows several feet in height and has big leaves to protect the vegetable from the sun.

There are hundreds of varieties of eggplant, and while the different varieties do range slightly in taste and texture, one can generally describe the flavor as having a pleasant deep and musty taste and spongy texture. They are available in your local market year-round, but they are at their peak between August and October. Check your farmers markets for the best and freshest eggplants if you can.

History

Thomas Jefferson, who used eggplant in many of his experiments, is credited with introducing eggplant to North America. Before then, the ancient ancestors of eggplant grew wild in India and were first cultivated in China in the 5th century B.C. For centuries after its introduction into Europe, eggplant was used more as a decorative garden plant than as a food.

Although it has a long and rich history, eggplant did not always top the list of favorite veggies. Before domestication and cross-pollination, eggplant was extremely bitter and had to be cooked very well to even begin to dilute the taste. The majority of eggplant we see in stores today is grown in Florida since the weather stays mild most of the year. But New Jersey, during the summer months, is also a major supplier of fresh eggplant to produce markets.

Health Benefits

Eggplants are extremely versatile in the kitchen and they should become an integral part of our diets. Studies have been done on eggplant to find their deep purple skin contains an anthocyanin phytonutrient called nasunin. Nasunin is a water-soluble antioxidant (which means that it breaks down easiest when in water) and free radical scavenger that has been shown to protect cell membranes from damage. This becomes especially important in brain cell membranes which are mostly made up of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals and letting nutrients in and wastes out.

Fun Fact

Another name for eggplant is Aubergine, which describes the rich purple color. You may also hear eggplant referred to as a fruit, which is accurate since that is its botanical classification. Even more confusing is eggplant is also botanically classified as a berry. And, if that's not strange enough, the seeds you see when you scoop out the inner pulp are edible, but you may not want to when you hear they contain nicotinoid alkaloids. Sound familiar? Eggplant is closely related to tobacco.

How to Eat

It is important to use a stainless steel knife when cutting eggplant to avoid the nasty brown look from oxidization when using a carbon steel knife. This browning or oxidization happens fast, so only cut it when you're going to prepare it. While eggplant can be eaten with the skin on or off, it is important to “sweat” the eggplant by using salt. This will draw out some of the water and, surprisingly, a lot of the bitter taste that goes with it.

Once you have the eggplant sliced and sweated, you can add it to just about any dish you want. A classic dish of Eggplant Parmesan is always a family pleaser. A great middle eastern snack is babaganoush which is pureed roasted eggplant. Serve it with some toasted pita chips and you have one incredibly yummy snack.

If you haven't tried eggplant yet, now is the time. That gorgeous color is enough to make you fall in love at first sight. But, the versatility will keep you a fan for life.