Energetics of Basil: A World of Flavor

Sweet Basil

 

Basil has been used historically as a token of love, an icon of hospitality and as a passport for the deceased to enter paradise. In the Hindu culture, basil is seen as sacred because it is thought to be a favorite food of the Gods.

 

 

 

 

Varieties

Cinnamon Basil

Basil is in the mint family. There are several varieties of basil.

Sweet Basil: The Italian classic for making pesto and for making Caprese salads.

Sweet Thai Basil: Intensely rich aroma and is great with curries, fish, and salad.

Holy Basil: This basil has a hint of mint and is often served on top of noodles.

Cinnamon Basil: Used for making tea and potpourris.

Lime Basil: Has a tangy citrus taste and is favorited in Asian cuisine.

Best Way to Store and Choose

Thai Basil

When shopping for fresh basil or picking from your own garden, look for vibrantly colored leaves.  Avoid leaves with dark spots or yellowing.

For storing fresh basil, wrap the basil in a damp paper towel and place it in the warmest spot in the fridge (top shelf or the door).  It will keep like this for up to 5 days. If you want to store for a longer time, place basil in an ice cube tray and fill with water or stock, then put it in your freezer.  These cubes can then be easily added to any dish, especially soups and stews.

For dried basil, it should always be kept in an air tight glass container in a cool, dark, dry place.  If stored properly, the dried basil will keep for about 6 months.

Nutrition

Basil conta8ins flavonoids, such as orientin and vicenin, which have been found to protect cell structures and chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage.  Basil is considered anti-inflammatory since the volatile oil, eugenol, has been found to block the activity of the COX enzyme.  Many over the counter pain medicines also work by inhibiting the same enzyme.  Basil is also a concentrated source of energy-producing iron; bone-building calcium; heart-healthy potassium, magnesium and fiber; and free-radical-scavenging vitamin A, vitamin C and manganese.

Basil has been shown to exhibit antibiotic properties by restricting bacteria growth.  This is thought to happen to due basils volatile oils such as eugenol, mycrene, limonene and others.

Energetics

Warming and Pungent. Basil stimulates circulation, clear obstructions and improve liver function, moistens the kidneys affecting fluids in the entire body, improve digestion, and reduce mucous conditions, and expels parasites. Used in the treatment of coldness, especially cold-type asthma.  Basil can help calm and focus the mind.

Basil Dill Coleslaw

Ingredients

  • 6 cups shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons snipped fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dill weed
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Preparation

In a large bowl, combine cabbage, basil and dill. In a small bowl, whisk dressing ingredients until blended. Drizzle over cabbage mixture; toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving.

Source

Energetics of Lamb: More Than Meats The Eye

 

Lamb is considered one of the most flavorful meats.  Lamb is currently the most abundant livestock in the world and it is one of the most popular sources of meat.  Unfortunately, the US has not quite fully appreciated this wonderful food source.  The US only eats about a pound of lamb per person in a year, while other countries like Spain or Greece eat about 60 pounds of lamb per person in a year! It is about time to start introducing your friends and family to this delicious source of meat.

Varieties

Sheep are thought to have been domesticated in the Middle East and Asia around 10,000 years ago. Lamb is the meat from a young sheep that are usually between five and six months old but can be up to a year old. Lamb is categorized by age, season, and feeding habits.

Yearling: Meat that is from an animal between one and two years of age.

Spring Lamb: Lamb that is brought to market in the spring and summer months.  Spring and summer used to be the peak season for lambs, but now it is available all year round.  The label of Spring Lamb does not denote additional quality anymore.

Milk-fed Lamb: Meat from very young lambs and is found mostly in the spring.  It is the most tender, free of hormones and antibiotics but also very expensive.

Grass-fed Lamb: Lamb that has been fed grass for three to six months after they have4 been taken off milk. Lamb that is grass-fed until a year old and never fed any grain will not contain any hormones or antibiotics. Grass-fed lamb is most popular in New Zealand and Australia, and getting it from these countries is the best chance to get hormone-free lamb.

Grain-fed Lamb: Most US lamb is fed grain before it is sold. Grain-fed lamb is usually labeled “Select”, “Choice” or “Prime”.

Organic: Organically raised lamb has been fed an organically grown diet and raised without hormones or antibiotics.**

Mutton: Meat from an animal more than two years old.  Mutton has red meat and yellowish fat; it is less tender than lamb and has a stronger flavor than lamb. It is difficult to find mutton in the US.

** Range-fed lamb does not mean that the animal was only grass-fed or organic.  The best lamb is milk-fed, grass-fed and/or certified organic.

How to Choose and Store

The best-tasting lamb comes from animals that are five months to one year old. Look for meat that is firm, finely textured, and pink in color. The fatty portion should be white. Avoid lamb with yellow fat surrounding or marbled throughout the meat, as this is a sign that it is actually mutton from an older animal and therefore does not have the same delicate taste that lamb should have.

Lamb is highly perishable and must be stored correctly to keep from spoiling. Lamb should always be kept cold, either in the fridge or the freezer. Refrigerate lamb in its original packaging and always follow the use by date for freshness. If there is no use by date, use these tips: lamb roasts and chops can stay fresh for 3-5 days and ground lamb will only stay fresh for up to 2 days in the fridge.  To extend the lambs freshness, put it in a storage bag, place it in a bowl, and cover it with ice to further reduce the temperature.

Nutrition

Lamb is an excellent source of protein. Protein helps in the production of: structural proteins that maintain the integrity of muscles, connective tissues, hair, skin, and nails; enzymes and hormones; necessary to spark chemical reactions in the body; transport proteins, which carry substances like oxygen and nutrients to the body tissues; and antibodies.   Lamb is also a great source of zinc, a mineral which plays a critical role in supporting immune function (along with protein).  Zinc protects against free-radical damage, required or proper white blood cell function, promotes the destruction of foreign particles and microorganisms, activates the serum thymic factor, and inhibits the replication of several viruses.  Lamb is a good source of selenium, a mineral that has powerful antioxidant properties. Lamb is also a concentrated source of energy-producing niacin and phosphorus, and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Lamb is considered to be hypoallergenic, in that most people do not have adverse food sensitivity reactions to lamb as they may have to beef or chicken. As such, lamb is usually included in elimination diets and other hypoallergenic diets.

Energetics

Lamb is warming and sweet.  It increases qi energy, intestinal warmth, lactation, and improves blood production. Used in the treatment of general weakness, kidney and spleen-pancreas deficiencies, anemia, impotence, low body weight, and lower back pain.

Caution: Lamb is contraindicated in heat conditions and hyperlipidemia (high blood fat).

Rack of Lamb with Garlic and Herbs

Ingredients:

For Lamb

  • 2 (8-rib) frenched racks of lamb (each rack 1 1/2 lb), trimmed of all but a thin layer of fat
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For Herb Coating

  • 1/2 head new garlic or 3 large regular garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Special equipment: an instant-read thermometer

Preparation:

Brown lamb:

  1. Heat a dry 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until hot, at least 2 minutes. Meanwhile, pat lamb dry and rub meat all over with salt and pepper. Add oil to hot skillet, then brown racks, in 2 batches if necessary, on all sides (not ends), about 10 minutes per batch.
  2. Transfer racks to a small (13- by 9-inch) roasting pan.

Coat and roast lamb:

    1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
    2. Stir together garlic, herbs, salt, pepper, and oil. Coat meaty parts of lamb with herb mixture, pressing to help adhere. Roast 15 minutes, then cover lamb loosely with foil and roast until thermometer inserted diagonally into center of meat registers 120°F, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. (Internal temperature will rise to 125 to 130°F for medium-rare while lamb stands.)
    3. Cut each rack into 4 double chops.

Source

Energetics of Almonds: More Than A Nut

Ever been to a wedding and people shower the bride and groom with bird seed or other harmless projectiles?  This came from ancient times when the Romans considered almonds, rice, and other seeds to be a sign of fertility, happiness, and romance.  Therefore throwing them over the bride and groom was a representation of the prosperity, fertility and best wished for the new couple!

 

Almond Varieties

Almonds are believed to have originated in the regions of western Asia and North Africa. The almond that we call a nut is actually the seed of the almond tree, a tree that bears bright pink and white flowers.  Like its cousins the peach, the almond tree bears fruits with the stone like seeds or pits within.  There are two main categories of almonds, sweet and bitter.

Sweet Almonds

Sweet almonds are the edible variety. They are oval in shape and have a buttery taste.  You can find these almonds in or out of their shell.

Jordan: This Mediterranean almond is an import from Spain.  It has a semi-hard shell and a rich, sweet flavor.  This is the most popular variety of almonds.

Nonpareil: A variety produced in California that has a paper thin shell.

Bitter Almonds

These almonds are used mostly in the manufacturing of almond oil and as a flavoring agent for foods and liqueur.  They are otherwise inedible, as they naturally contain toxic substances, such as hydrocyanic acid.  These toxic compounds are removed during the manufacturing process.

Green Almonds

This is the green, furry fruit that surrounds the almond. When mature almonds are harvested the fruit portion is discarded. Yet, when they are young and green, they can be eaten whole. They have are crunchy and have a slight unripe peach flavor. At this stage the almond nut has not hardened, white in color and is soft and jelly-like.

Almond in the shell are the freshest fall to winter and packaged or raw almonds are available all year round.

How to Choose and Store Almonds

When buying shelled almonds look for ones where the shell is intact, there should be no splits or signs of mold. When buying unshelled almonds, make sure that they are uniform in color and are not shriveled up.  They should smell slightly sweet and nutty, if they smell sharp or bitter then they have gone rancid.

If you are looking to buy roasted almonds look for “dry roasted” as they will not have been cooked in oil. Most commercial roasted almonds are actually deep fried and deep frying has been linked to high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and the thickening of artery walls. If you are worried about the roasting process in store bought almonds, you can always roast them yourself at home.

To roast them at home yourself:

2 Cups Almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 160-170°F
  2. Place one layer of almonds on a cookie sheet
  3. Roast for 15-20 mins
  4. To enhance the “roasted” flavor you can mist the almonds in liquid aminos or tamari/soy sauce

Almonds that are still in their shell have the longest shelf life, especially when stored in a hermetically sealed bin versus open-air bulk bins. Store almonds in tightly sealed containers in a cool, dry place away from moisture or sunlight. Keeping them cold will further prolong their freshness. If stored properly almonds will last up to 6 months in the fridge or 1 year in the freezer.  ‘

Nutrition

Almonds are heart healthy, in that they are high in monosaturated fats and vitamin E.  Both of these nutrients are known for lowering levels of LDL and stop LDL oxidization, a process linked to atherosclerosis. Research has shown that almonds benefit those trying to lose weight (A low-calorie diet with almonds versus low-calorie diet with complex carbohydrates).  Almonds also include bone-building magnesium, manganese, copper, and phosphorus; energy-producing vitamin B12 and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Energetics

Almonds are slightly warming and have a sweet flavor. They relieve stagnant qi of the lungs, transforms phlegm, alleviates coughing, and lubricates the intestines. Used in the treatment of lungs conditions and fluid-dryness types of constipation.

Caution: Almonds can exacerbate phlegm and sputum if the person has damp signs, such as sluggishness, thick, greasy tongue coating, and edema.

Lentil Almond Burgers

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown or French green lentils
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ¾ cup finely chopped carrot
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped shallots (about 2 medium)
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped celery (about 1 stalk)
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions:

1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in lentils, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until very tender and beginning to break down, about 25 minutes for brown lentils or 30 minutes for green lentils. Drain in a fine-mesh sieve.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrot, shallots, and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add almonds, thyme, salt, and pepper; continue cooking until the almonds are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a food processor; add 1 cup of the cooked lentils. Pulse several times, scraping down the sides once or twice, until the mixture is coarsely ground. Transfer to a large bowl; stir in the remaining lentils. Let cool for 10 minutes. Mix in egg yolk and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Form the lentil mixture into 5 patties. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet, preferably cast-iron, over medium-high heat. Add the patties and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Turn gently and continue to cook until lightly browned and heated through, 3 to 4 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Source

Energetics of Pichuberry: The Lost Incan Crop

PichuberryPichuberries may look exotic, but they are more commonly known as the Cape Gooseberry. The Pichuberry roots yield from the Andes of Peru and are referred to as the Lost Incan Crop.

Eating one is like unwrapping a present. The pichuberry itself is covered by loose, dry leaves that once opened, reveal a small saffron-colored “berry.”  They are mildly sweet and subtly tart. Their size and texture are similar to that of a grape. It is a unique summer snack for the whole family.

You may be surprised to learn that these are not berries at all! They are actually a cousin of the tomatillo. Pichuberries are fruits of the nightshade family, related to eggplant, cherries, potato, tomato, bell peppers and, of course, the tomatillo. Because they are nightshades, those with certain health conditions should avoid them. Nightshade plants are high in alkaloids so anyone with arthritis or gout must avoid this family of foods. Steaming, boiling, and baking can help reduce the alkaloid levels.

The pichuberry is more than just a delicious snackit is filled with nutritional benefits. It is one of the most abundant sources of vitamin C available among all fruits and plants. This little berry carries as much as 20 times the vitamin C of an orange! Also hidden in its small size is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamin A, and B vitamins including thiamin, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B-12. Pichuberries also help in reducing sugar levels in the blood, as well as increase production of blood corpuscles in the body.

Nutrition Facts Amount
Serving Size 100 g
Calories 65
Total Fat 0.2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 50 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.1 g
Fiber 4.8 g
Protein 1.7 g
Iron 1.2 mg

Pichuberry Salsa

Pichuberry2

Also check out a recipe for Pico de Pichuberry Salsa! Click here for the recipe.

Looking for a unique way to incorporate Pichuberries into your meals? Try this summer salsa.

Ingredients

1 cup Pichuberries without the cape (half lengthwise)
1 small avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and coarsely chopped.
1 small tomato, coarsely chopped
½ red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeño chopped, seedless.
½ cup (2 oz) chopped green onions
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
Pinch of salt

Directions

In a bowl, mix all ingredients and refrigerate 1 hour before serving.

Energetics of the Nightshade Family

Energetics of Eggplant: Not Quite Egg, But Fully Plant
Energetics of Chili Peppers: For the Spice Lovers
Energetics of Tomato
Energetics of Sweet Potato: Not Yams!
Energetics of Bell Peppers: The Colorful Kitchen Staple

 

Sources
Pichuberry: Peru’s Exotic Fruit from Eating Free
Pichuberry General Information from Pichuberry.com
Pico de Pichuberry Salsa from Pichuberry.com

 

 

Energetics of Scallions: How They Differ from Green Onions

photo credit: leezie5 via photopin cc

photo credit: leezie5 via photopin cc

While browsing the produce section of my local supermarket I encountered a perplexing revelation. I was looking at a very popular type of onion and wondering, “Is that a scallion or a green onion?” Is there a difference, or are they the same thing?

The Best Way to Choose and Store

“Scallion” is actually the group name for many members of the onion family, including green onions and scallions themselves. The difference being a green onion is a new onion harvested while its top is still green and its bulb small. Whereas, a scallion is younger than a green onion, and its white base is skinnier. A baby onion is considered a scallion until its bulb matures to about three-quarters of an inch, and then it’s called a green onion. So, essentially they are the same thing, just the name differs depending on age.

When buying scallions look for ones that have fresh, green tops that appear crisp and tender. The base blub should have two to three inches of whitish color. Avoid any that have yellow or wilted tops.

scallion nutrition

Energetics

Scallions are surprisingly full of nutrients.  They are a member of the Allium family, like garlic.  Most of flavonoids or antioxidants are found just under the outer skin, so try not to peel more than absolutely necessary.  The phytonutrient polyphenol content in onions is higher than in garlic, leeks, tomatoes, carrots or bell peppers.  Quercetin, a flavonoid, will transfer to the broth when simmered (low heat) in a soup or stew.

Scallions help promote urination and sweating, alleviates exterior conditions such as common cold or flu if taken during the first stages (especially when the cold is a “wind-cold” influence), it is a antifungal and antimicrobial, and relives dampness and watery accumulations like edema. They are also used to treat heart and chest pain, diarrhea, abdominal swelling and pain, arthritis pain associated with coldness disorders, and in tea form treats measles.

Caution: avoid when heat signs prevail, including yellow tongue coating, yellow mucus, fever, aversion to heat, and great thirst.

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1/4 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch scallions, julienned
  • 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper powder)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Preparation

Place onion and scallions in a medium bowl of cold water. Chill until scallions curl, at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk gochugaru, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and 1 tablespoon water in a medium bowl. Let sit, whisking occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and sauce looks shiny, about 10 minutes.

Drain onion and scallions and spin in a salad spinner or pat dry. Transfer to bowl with gochugaru sauce. Add vinegar and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Do ahead: Onion and scallions can be soaked 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.

Source

Spicy Scallion and Onion Salad

Energetics of Eggs: What Came First?

Howard Helmer the Omelette King

Omelette Trivia: Omlette’s are beaten eggs cooked in a pan and rolled or folded. The ancient Romans supposedly made the first omelet and, because it was sweetened with honey, they called it ovemele (eggs and honey). Some insist this was the origin of the word omelet. Others maintain the word was derived from amelette (Fr) meaning blade, describing the long, flat shape of an omelet.

The fastest omelette maker in the world made 427 two-egg omelettes in 30 minutes. American Egg Board’s Howard Helmer, is the Omelette King; he holds three Guinness World Records for omelette making.

Egg Varieties

Eggs are available all year round and the most common types found in stores include:

Organic: Eggs produced following the strict organic food guidelines.  These eggs are produced from chickens not treated with any antibiotics or hormones.

Omega-3 Enriched: These eggs are produced by chickens that have been fed a diet containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.  While these eggs are enriched, they are not meant to be a sole source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Brown: These eggs are produced by a special breed of chickens.  The color of these eggs does not necessarily equate a significant nutritional benefit.

How to Choose Eggs and How to Store Eggs

Eggs sold in stores and most markets are classified by the USDA grading of AA, A, and B.  This system is an indicator of many quality parameters, including freshness, with the AA grade has the highest quality and B as the lowest.

Always inspect eggs for breaks or cracks before purchasing them.

Never wash eggs before storing them, as you can remove the protective coating on the shell that prevents making them susceptible to bacteria contamination. Many fridges come with a special compartment on the door for eggs, but you should not use it if you wish to keep your eggs fresher longer.  The best place to store the eggs is by putting them at the back of your fridge.  If you store eggs properly they can last up to one month.

Salmonella Scare

There are many safety concerns around eggs and salmonellosis (salmonella poisoning).   Salmonella bacteria can be found in both cracked and uncracked eggs.  It can be introduced to eggs in two ways — from outside the egg (as a result of contact with organic matter such as chicken manure) and from within (from the hen to the egg before it has been laid). Safe food handling techniques, like washing eggs, may not actually protect you from salmonella. The only sure way to prevent getting sick from consuming salmonella poisoning is to cook eggs to an internal temperature of 160°F.

Should Eggs Be Refrigerated?

Never store eggs in the door!

There has been a lot of debate on whether eggs should be refrigerated or not. This stems from the fact that Europe handles this issue much differently than the United States.

American egg producers focus on preventing contamination from the outside, so they are required by the USDA to thoroughly wash the eggs before they go to market. They’re rinsed in hot water, dried and sprayed with a chlorine mist almost as soon as they’re laid.  Europeans take a much different approach. In the United Kingdom, for example, producers instead vaccinate laying hens to prevent the transmission of salmonella. They then rely on a thin, naturally occurring coating called the cuticle, to prevent any contamination from the outside of the shell penetrating to the egg.  British authorities actually discourage refrigerating eggs on the theory that chilling and then warming could create condensation, which would allow salmonella to penetrate the shell. In the U.S., this cuticle is removed during washing and even though some producers replace it with a light synthetic coating, regulations still require refrigeration.

Egg Nutrition

Eggs are an “egg-cellent” source of protein, especially for the price per egg! Dietary protein provides essential amino acids that we use to build muscle, tissues, skin, immune system, antibodies, nutrient transport proteins, and many other compounds vital to physiological function.  Eggs are also a great source of iodine and selenium, which are components of thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These nutrients are needed to synthesize hormones and maintain healthy thyroid hormone metabolism.  Eggs are an important factor in brain function and health due to its levels of choline.  Choline is not produced enough by the body and must be supplemented by our diets.  Choline deficiency can cause other deficiencies, such as folic acid. Like many leafy green vegetables, eggs are a great source of lutein, a carotenoid that is an antioxidant found concentrated in the eyes.  Lutein has been shown to help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.  Eggs are also a good source of bone-building vitamin D, vitamin K, and phosphorus; energy-producing vitamin B12 and vitamin B5; sulfite-detoxifying molybdenum; and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Many people shy away from eggs due to their high cholesterol content, but an increasing number of studies have found that high saturated fat intake is more related to high cholesterol levels than foods rich in cholesterol.

Energetics

Eggs are a blood and yin tonic, have an ascending direction (eggs influence energy and fluids to move higher in the body), calms fetus’ excessive movement in mothers, help prevent dryness of the lungs throat, and eyes, and are used in the treatment of diarrhea.

Since eggs nurture blood and yin, they can be used for a person with a dry, thin, anemic constitution.  However, eggs can also cause a thick type of mucus, therefore consumption of eggs often cause imbalance, especially for the sluggish, overweight person or others with damp-mucus symptoms.

Eggs are great for protein deficiency, but they do have a drawback in their sticky mucus forming quality, which can eventually block the gallbladder, slow the functioning of the liver, and leave deposits throughout the body.  Eggs also can contribute to wind, manifested in liver conditions such as vertigo, strokes, nervousness, spasms, and paralysis.  Therefore, eggs are contradictive in wind conditions.

Easy Frittata – Easy Egg Recipe

I love frittatas!  All you need is a basic frittata recipe and then you can add in your own ingredients for the perfect breakfast, lunch or dinner meal.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 1-ounce Parmesan, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted asparagus
  • 1/2 cup chopped country ham
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to broil setting.

In medium size bowl, using a fork, blend together eggs, Parmesan, pepper, and salt. Heat 12-inch non-stick, oven safe saute pan over medium high heat. Add butter to pan and melt. Add asparagus and ham to pan and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Pour egg mixture into pan and stir with rubber spatula. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until the egg mixture has set on the bottom and begins to set up on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

Place pan into oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned and fluffy. Remove from pan and cut into 6 servings. Serve immediately.

Source

Energetics of Umeboshi: Try Something New

umeboshi

Umeboshi Facts

Umeboshi (梅干) are pickled ume fruits common in Japan. The word “umeboshi” is often translated into English as “Japanese salt plums,” “salt plums” or “pickled plums.” Ume is a species of fruit-bearing tree in the genus Prunus, which is often called a plum but is actually more closely related to the apricot.  Pickled ume which are not dried are called umezuke (梅漬け). Umeboshi are usually round, and vary from smooth to very wrinkled. Usually they taste salty, and are extremely sour due to high citric acid content, but sweeter versions exist, as well.

Umeboshi were notorious for their ability to eat their way through the plain drawn aluminum lunch boxes commonly used in the 1960s. The combination of organic acids and salt in the umeboshi were the cause of this phenomenon.

Umeboshi were esteemed by the samurai to combat battle fatigue.

How Is Umeboshi Made?

6a0120a71b1d39970b0192ab2da552970d-800wiUmeboshi are traditionally made by harvesting ume fruit when they ripen around June and packing them in barrels with salt. A weight is placed on top and the fruit gradually exude juices, which accumulate at the bottom of the barrel. The left over salty and sour liquid is called umezu (梅酢), or ume vinegar, although it is not a true vinegar. It is great for making pickled vegetables.  The ume is then taken out of the barrels and laid out flat on reed/grass mats to dry in the hot sun for about 3 days.

How To Eat Umeboshi

Umeboshi Makizushi

Umeboshi Makizushi

Umeboshi are usually eaten in small quantities with rice, for added flavor. It is also a common ingredient in onigiri, rice balls wrapped in nori, and they may also be used in makizushi. Makizushi made with umeboshi may be made with either pitted umeboshi or umeboshi paste (which is cheaper.  Another usage of umeboshi is in “Ume ochazuke,” a dish of rice with poured in green tea topped with umeboshi.

Umeboshi is used as a cooking accent to enhance flavor and presentation. They may also be served as a complement of a green tea or a drink with shochu and hot water.

Energetics – Health Benefits of Eating Umeboshi

umeboshiThe health benefits of Umeboshi are as follows: it treats indigestion, diarrhea and dysentery, removes worms, and acts on the liver. Umeboshi is hailed as the “Japanese Alka-Seltzer” because of its use in treating digestive upset.

The Japanese folk remedy for colds and the flu is okayu (rice congee) with umeboshi.

Caution: Habitual consumption can add too much salt to one’s diet.

 

How To Make Umeboshi At Home

This Umeboshi recipe is not for the light-hearted or impatient.  If you are of the said type, you can find pre-made umeboshi in jars at your local Japanese or Asian foods store.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Ume Plums
  • Coarse Seas Salt
  • Red Shiso Leaves
  • Shochu (Can use vodka or other distilled alcohol if needed)
  • Bowls
  • Flat Baskets
  • Large wide-mouth container
  • Weights (Can use water in tightly sealed plastic bags)
  • Large Jars

Prepping the Ume

When you buy them, make sure you choose ones that are firm, plump and unblemished. Even small blemishes or cuts on the plums could lead to mold, which is the biggest reason umeboshi can fail. Once you have the ume plums, carefully remove any remaining stems. The best way to do this is with a cocktail stick. Try not to pierce the ume plum when you’re doing this – again, this can lead to mold. Once the stems are removed, wash the plums in several changes of water, and then fill a large bowl with cold water and leave the ume plums to soak overnight. This gets rid of some of the bitterness in the plums.

After soaking overnight, drain and dry the plums. Made ready a bowl of shochu or vodka, and dunk the ume plums completely in the alcohol. This is to kill any kind of mold spores on the surface.

Prepping the Red Shiso Leaves

Red shiso or perilla leaves give color and flavor to the umeboshi. Use about 10% of the ume plus in weight of shiso leaves – so for 1 kilo of ume plums, use 100g of shiso leaves. Wash them, take off any tough stems, sprinkle with a little salt and massage the leaves with your hands until they are limp.

Salt Ratio for Fermenting

Traditional umeboshi uses around 20% salt, which is fairly salty.  You can lower the salt percentage if you choose, but beware that the lower the salt ratio the higher risk of mold developing.  So we suggest starting at 10% or 12% for beginners.

Here’s the amount of salt vs. ume plums at different percentages:

  • 8%: For every 1 kilo of ume plums, use 80 grams of salt
  • 10%: For every 1 kilo of ume plums, use 100 grams of salt
  • 12%: For every 1 kilo of ume plums, use 120 grams of salt

Getting Pickling Container Ready

Use a large, wide-mouth jar or other fairly deep container. Wash it inside and out thorougly, then disinfect the inside. Some people do this by putting the container in boiling water, but the most common – and convenient – way is to spray it with some shochu or vodka.

Filling the Pickling Container

Start with a layer of coarse salt. Cover with a layer of ume plums, then a bit of the shiso. Repeat the salt-ume-shiso layers, until the ume are used up. Now, cover the whole thing with a plastic bag or sheet, then put on a weight that is at least half as heavy as the ume plums – in other words, 1 kilo of ume plums requires at least a 500g weight.

While there are dedicated ceramic weights available, you can use anything you can find such as a bagful of water (as long as it doesn’t leak), a full water bottle, clean rocks in a plastic bag, hand weights or dumbbells, and so on.

Once the container is full and weighted down, cover the top with a clean, porous cloth like a cheesecloth or open weave kitchen towel; secure this with a rubber band or string. Leave in a cool, dark area of your house, until the ume plums become soft and completely immersed in a reddish liquid.

Once the liquid is about 2 cm above the top of the ume plums, reduce the weight by half, and leave the ume plums in the jar in the liquid until it’s time to dry them in the sun.

Drying Out

Take the plums and the shiso leaves out of the jar. Put the ume plums in a single layer on flat baskets, and the shiso leaves in spread-put clumps separately.

Leave the plums like this in a fairly sunny place with good ventilation, for about 3 days. If it rains, take them inside before they get wet. Turn them over at least once a day.

Finish

The umeboshi are now done. You can store them as-is, in a jar, layering plums with the shiso leaves. Or you can pour back in some of the ume vinegar, to give them a softer texture.

Umeboshi improves with age for a few years. The best time to start eating them 3 years after making them, though you can eat them right away. The best time flavor wise is at the 5 year mark. Do not store over 10 years, as they will start getting mushy, if stored with a liquid, or dry and brittle.

Alternate Umeboshi: White Umeboshi

You can make umeboshi without the red shiso leaves. This results in light brown umeboshi and an almost clear ume vinegar.

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Energetics of Plums: 1 In a 1000

European Plums

Plum FactsEuropean Plums

Plum Facts

Did you know that there are over 100 varieties of plums in the US alone? Between the US, Europe and Asia there are thousands of varieties in a wide range of sizes and colors.  There are very few fruits that have such a range.  Plums have been cultivated since the ancient times.  European plums are believed to have originated from Damacus, Syria and Persia, while Japanese plums originated from China.

Plum Varieties

Plums are from the genus Prunus and are related to peaches, nectarine, and almonds.  They are considered drupes, which are fruit that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds.  Dried plums are also known as prunes.

Japanese Plums

Japanese Plums

Plums belong to one of six categories: Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild, and European/Garden.  The plums in each category vary by size, shape and color.  The two main varieties found in the supermarkets are Japanese and European plums.

Japanese: These are known as clingstone because their flesh clings to the pit.  The skins of Japanese plums range from crimson to black-red (but never purple).  They are very juicy with yellow or reddish flesh.

European: These are characterized by their blue or purple skins. They are smaller in size, denser and less juicy then their Japanese counterpart. They are considered freestone because their flesh easily separates from the pit. This type is used most often in making prunes.

The Plum season starts in May and ends around October, with Japanese plums making the first appearance and peaking in August. European plums start peaking in the fall.

How to Pick Plums; How to Store Plums

Japanese Plums

Japanese Plums

When selecting plums look for ones that are fully ripe.  They should yield to gentle pressure and are slightly soft at the tip. Better quality plums will have a rich color.  Avoid plums with soft spots as this is an indicator that it is overripe. Overripe plums with brown flesh should not be eaten.  Make sure that the plums you are selecting are free of puncture marks, bruises, or any signs of decay. You should also avoid hard plums, as they have been picked too soon and will never develop their full taste, texture or nutritional benefits.

Plums are a very delicate fruit and bruise easily, so always handle them with care.

Proper storage is the key to keeping plums fresh.  If properly stored, fresh plums can last up to 10 days.  Any plums that you are planning to eat within a day or two can stay on the counter, store any other plums in fridge.  To enjoy maximum flavor and juiciness, make sure you allow plums to get back to room temperature before eating them.

Plums Nutrition

Plums - Nutrition FactsPlums (both fresh and dried) are an excellent source of antioxidant protection.   They have a high content of unique phytonutrients called neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid.  These are classified as phenols and they have been found to be very effective in neutralizing a particularly destructive oxygen radical called superoxide anion radical. Another antioxidant that is found plums is catechins, a flavonoid phytonutrient that have been found to protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation.  Plums have many heart healthy nutrients as well, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and dietary fiber.

 

Plum Energetics

European Plums

European Plums

 

 

The purple varieties tend to be slightly cooling, while its yellow varieties tend to be neutral.  Plums build body fluids.  Plums can be used in the treatment of liver diseases, cirrhosis of the liver, hardened for expanded liver conditions in general, diabetes and dehydration.  The purple plums are best for liver conditions that express themselves as emotional repression, pain, and nervous disorders. Stewed prunes are a traditional remedy for constipation and are especially beneficial when excess liver and heat signs are present.

Caution: Plums are not good for people with delicate digestion or gastrointestinal ulcers or inflammations.  Rich in oxalic acid, plums can deplete calcium in the body.

 

Plums Recipe

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Plum Reduction

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Plum ReductionIngredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers; gently lay the tenderloin into the hot oil. After about 1 minute, gently loosen the meat from the bottom of the skillet, if necessary. Cook until the pork is seared a golden brown color, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pork to the lined baking sheet.
  3. Roast the seared tenderloin in the preheated oven until a thermometer inserted into the center of the pork reads at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C), about 15 minutes. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into medallions.
  4. Cook the plums, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, honey, and blueberry juice in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the plums are soft, about 10 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a blender and blend until smooth. Return the sauce to the saucepan and simmer until reduced and thickened to the consistency of apple butter, about 5 more minutes. Spoon plum sauce over the sliced pork to serve.

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Energetics of Goat’s Milk: You Got Goat Milk?

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-goat-milk-image24057054

Goat’s Milk Facts

Goat’s Milk is a great alternative to cow’s milk.  It only has trace amounts of the specific casein that is thought to cause of casein sensitivity, and it contains more calcium and protein than cow’s milk.  While in America cow’s milk is the norm for drinking and making other dairy products, for the rest of the world, goat’s milk is actually consumed much more.

In ancient Egypt goat’s milk and cheese was highly revered and was included in the burial chambers of the pharaohs with all their other treasures.

Goat’s Milk Varieties

Goat’s Milk: Goat’s milk comes with different amounts of butterfat and is available fresh, powdered, as canned evaporated milk or as ultra heat treated (UHT) milk in aseptic containers.

Goat Cheese: Goat cheese has fewer calories than cheese made from cow’s milk and has a stronger flavor.  Young goat cheese has a pleasant tartness with a slight gummy texture.  Goat cheese increases in gumminess as it ages.

Goat Yogurt: Goat yogurt has a fuller flavor than yogurt made from cow’s milk.

How To Choose and How To Store Goat’s Milk

Nourishing-Practices-Why-Raw-Goats-MilkWhen purchasing goat’s milk, always pay attention to the “sell-by” date and use it as a guide to the shelf life of the milk. Smell the top of the container to make sure that the milk does not smell spoiled. When purchasing from stores, try to buy the milk at the bottom of the fridge, as that is usually the coldest part.

Although goat’s milk comes in many forms, fresh is always best for drinking and making desserts.  Dried, canned, and those in aseptic packaging picks up an unpleasant caramelized flavor when they’re heated for packaging.

imgresAlso, it is best to stay away from UHT or ultra-pasteurized milk products. UHT milk (from goat or cow’s milk) has been thermally processed at or above 280° F for at least 2 seconds, either before or after packaging, so as to produce a product which has an extended shelf life.  “According to Lee Dexter, microbiologist and owner of White Egret Farm goat dairy in Austin, Texas, ultra-pasteurization is an extremely harmful process to inflict on the fragile components of milk. Dexter explains that milk proteins are complex, three-dimensional molecules, like tinker toys. They are broken down and digested when special enzymes fit into the parts that stick out. Rapid heat treatments like pasteurization, and especially ultra-pasteurization, actually flatten the molecules so the enzymes cannot do their work. If such proteins pass into the bloodstream (a frequent occurrence in those suffering from “leaky gut,” a condition that can be brought on by drinking processed commercial milk), the body perceives them as foreign proteins and mounts an immune response. That means a chronically overstressed immune system and much less energy available for growth and repair.” Source

Goat’s milk should always be refrigerated, as warm temperatures cause the milk to spoil quickly. Always seal or close the milk container when storing to prevent it from absorbing the food from aromas in the fridge.  Avoid storing goat’s milk in the fridge door as it exposes it to too much warm air when the door is opened and closed.

Nutrition of Goat’s Milk

Goat_Milk_Nutrition_Facts_-_03.16164354_stdThe nutrition of goat’s milk is like cow’s milk in the sense that it is a great source of calcium, a mineral that is very important to maintaining the strength and structure of bones. Goat’s milk is also a good source of high-quality protein. Protein is needed for our bodies to build muscles and tissues. Protein also gives us slow burning energy that helps you feel your best. Goat’s milk is also heart healthy, as it is a good source of potassium which helps maintain normal blood pressure and heart function.  It also promotes energy production in the cells through high levels of phosphorus and vitamin B (riboflavin). Phosphorus is needed to make ATP, the molecule that serves as fuel for cellular activity. Riboflavin is a component of the flavoprotein enzymes that allow oxygen-based energy production to occur.  Also found in goat’s milk is dietary fluorine, which helps build immunity, protect teeth, and strengthen bones.  Be aware though that fluorine is lost during the pasteurization process.

Energetics

Goat’s milk is used as a remedy for people in a weakened and convalescent conditions. It is used in the treatment of emaciation, malnutrition, stomach ulcers, nervous exhaustion, and loss of energy. Goat’s milk enriches the intestinal flora and can be beneficial in cases of constipation.  Its astringent properties can also help treat diarrhea.  Goat milk can be easier for infants to digest when the mother is emotionally upset, chemically toxic, or imbalanced in other ways.

Goat’s Milk Recipe

Goat Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Homemade-Scalloped-Potatoes-RecipeIngredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed with peels on*
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly grease a 1 1/2  to 2-quart casserole dish with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. With a mandolin or sharp chef’s knife, slice the potatoes into very thin slices, 1/8-inch-thick or less. Place the potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with the minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat the slices as evenly as you can.
  3. Spread 1/3 of the potato slices in the bottom of the prepared dish. Crumble half of the goat cheese over the top. Repeat with the next 1/3 of the potatoes, then the remaining goat cheese, then finish by layering on the final third of the potatoes. The potatoes may discard some liquid as they rest in the bowl. If this happens, simply leave the liquid in the bottom bowl and shake the potato slices gently in your hands to remove excess liquid before layering them in the dish.
  4. Pour the milk evenly over the top of the dish, then sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Cover the dish with foil, bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes, until the top has browned. Scatter the rosemary over the top. Serve hot.

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Energetics of Chicken: Time Honored Tradition

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Chicken Facts

Raising chickens for food has been going on for a millennia.  The first domestication of chicken was said to have occurred in South Asia around 4000 years ago from a species called the red junglefowl. Chicken is consumed all around the world thanks to its versatility in cooking. It is so popular that experts estimate that there are about 25 billion chickens in the world at any given time.

Varieties Of Chicken

imagesChicken is available all year round.

Organic Chicken: Organically grown chickens have been fed an organic diet free from hormones or antibiotics. They have been raised in humane conditions, they are not allowed to be overcrowded and must have access to the outdoors and direct sunlight.

Free Range Chicken: Chickens allowed to run freely in the farmyard rather than being raised in coops. Some believed that this method of raising chickens leads to more flavorful meat. Free range chickens are not necessarily organic.

Broiler/Fryer Chicken: These chickens are not limited to just broiling or frying, they are also great being poached, steamed, grilled, or roasted.  They are not however good for stewing.  The average weight from this type of chicken is from about 2 ½ to 5 lbs and are about 8 weeks old when brought to market.

Roasters Chicken: This variety can be roasted, grilled, braised or stewed. They average from 3 to 5 lbs and are brought to market when they are 3 to 5 months old.

Stewing Chickens: These chickens are tough but flavorful.  They are best for stewing, braising and making stock. Stewing chickens are mature chickens that weigh 4-6 lbs and are usually around 1 year old.

Capons: These are surgically castrated male chickens.  This procedure results in birds that weigh about 10 lbs at a very young age.  They have a large portion of white meat, but the thick layer of fat under the skin makes them fattier than other varieties. They are best roasted.

Cornish Game Hens: This is a hybrid of cross between a Cornish Game Cock and a White Plymouth Rock Chicken. They weight ¾ to 2 lbs, are very low in fat and can be roasted, broiled, braised, and sautéed.

How to Choose and How to Store Chicken

depositphotos_2540985-stock-photo-raw-chicken-isolatedTo select the best chicken look for meat that have a solid and plump shape with a rounded breast and a fresh smell. Whether choosing a whole chicken or parts, the chicken should be pliable when gently pressed. The color of the skin should be it be yellow or white, does not have any bearing on the nutritional value. Regardless of color, the skin should be opaque and not spotted. Check the sell by date to make sure that your chicken is not expired.

If purchasing frozen chicken, look out for freezer burn or ice deposits. Also avoid chicken that has frozen liquid in the packaging, as that is a sign that it has been defrosted and refrozen.

Chicken should be stored in the coldest part of your fridge. Do not remove from its packaging until you are ready to use it. Check to make sure that the package does not leak, if it does you will need to wrap it tight in saran wrap.  It is important to make sure that the chicken does not contaminate other foods.  Refrigerated raw chicken can last for 2-3 days if stored properly.

Nutrition Of Chicken

chicken nutrition labelChicken is a great source of the B vitamin, niacin, which components of DNA require.  There have been links to genetic damage caused by a deficiency in niacin (as well as other B-complex vitamins). Niacin also is essential for converting the body’s proteins, fats and carbohydrates into usable energy and helps optimize blood sugar regulation.  Another B-vitamin that chicken contains is vitamin B6, which along with niacin helps support energy metabolism.  Vitamin B6 is essential to the body’s processing of carbohydrates, especially the breakdown of glycogen.  Chicken is also a great source of the trace mineral, selenium, which is an essential component in several metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems and immune function. Chicken is a good source of phosphorus, a mineral that is essential part of the ATP molecule that fuels the activities of the cells. Chicken is an excellent source of protein, which in addition to its important physiological functions, dietary protein is important in preventing bone loss in the elderly.

Energetics of Chicken

Chicken acts as a qi energy tonic, specifically affects digestion (spleen-pancreas and stomach), increases jing (essence) and improves the condition of the bone marrow, and aids lactation.  Used when the following conditions result from the spleen-pancreas imbalances, anorexia and poor appetite in general, edema, diarrhea, diabetes, excessive urination, vaginal hemorrhage, vaginal discharge, and weakness following childbirth.

Chicken Recipe

Chicken Tikka MasalaCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients:

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, to serve

 

Directions:

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.

If you have the time: Marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup yogurt for up to 6 hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker.

→ If you have the time: Sauté the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. This will give your tikka masala more depth of flavor.

Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the heavy cream. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. The tikka masala can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.

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