Energetics of Ginger: Old School Cool

I love ginger, not just for its spicy and zesty flavor, but for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving benefits! Ginger has its origins in China and Southeast Asia and has even been mentioned in many ancient texts from other countries like India and the Middle East.  It is now grown in several tropical areas around the world, with Jamaica producing the most expensive and sought after variety.




Ginger comes in 3 forms; fresh, dried, and crystallized.

Fresh ginger is the most nutritious and best tasting version. When shopping for fresh ginger always look for ones that are firm, shiny and smooth.  Avoid any that are wrinkled, soft or cracked, as they have lost most of their flavor and pungency.  There are 2 varieties of fresh ginger, mature or young.  Mature ginger is the most widely available type and has a tough skin that requires peeling. Young ginger is usually only found in select Asian markets and does not need to be peeled. To persevere the nutrients the best way to store ginger is to put it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to 3 weeks if unpeeled. To extend the freshness you can freeze ginger for up to 6 months.

Dried ginger is usually sold in the spice aisle, usually as in powder form. It can also be found dried whole.  Unlike fresh ginger, the flavor profiles of dried ginger are much less pungent.  Dried ginger should be stored in an air tight glass container in a cool, dark, dry place. To extend the shelf life for up to a full year, store the container in the fridge.

Crystallized ginger is candied ginger.  One of my favorite sweet treats! It is available in any grocery store.




How to Choose and Store

The best way to cook with fresh ginger is to add it to your dish at the end of the cooking time. It can slap be sprinkled on after it has been cooked.

The best way to cook with dried ginger is to add it at the beginning of cooking time, so that it can have a chance to cook down and release its flavor.



This may come as a total surprise, but ginger is amazing at promoting digestive health. Ginger is known to alleviate the symptoms of gastrointestinal distress, relax the intestinal tract, and reduce intestinal gas. It is also beneficial at alleviating nausea and vomiting, especially in pregnant women and seasick people.  Ginger is also a great anti-inflammatory agent, as it contains gingerols. Gingerol is an anti-inflammatory compound that has shown to help reduce both pain and swelling associated with muscular discomfort.  Ginger is also a concentrated source of heart-healthy magnesium, vitamin B6 and potassium, and free-radical scavenging manganese and copper.


Fresh ginger is used to break down high-protein foods, such as meat and beans.  It also lessen the effect of uric acid in the body from these sources.

Fresh and dried ginger is used to treat nausea, vomiting, morning sickness, menstrual cramps, suppressed mensuration, bronchitis, aches, and spasms/twitches.

Dried ginger helps promote and distribute the energetic properties of other foods to the lower extremities- the colon, kidneys, ovaries, sexual organs and legs.  Dried ginger also treats motion sickness.

Caution: Do not eat ginger when there are signs of heat present.

Carrot Ginger Soup


  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots (6-7 large carrots), peeled and sliced thin
  • 2 cups chopped white or yellow onion
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 large strips of zest from an orange
  • Chopped chives, parsley, dill or fennel for garnish

1 Sauté onions and carrots: Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat and cook the onions and carrots, stirring occasionally, until the onions soften, about 5 to 8 minutes. Do not let the onions or carrots brown. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the carrots and onions as they cook.


2 Add stock and water, ginger, and strips of orange zest. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until the carrots soften, about 20 minutes.


3 Remove the strips of orange zest! It’s easy to forget this step, and if you forget and purée the soup with the strips of zest still in it, the soup may be too bitter for your taste.

4 Purée soup: Purée the soup with a stick blender, or working in small batches, pour the soup into a blender and purée until completely smooth. Only fill the blender bowl a third full with the hot liquid and keep one hand pressing down on the cap of the blender to keep it from popping off.


5 Add more salt to taste.  (You will need more salt if you are using homemade unsalted stock or unsalted butter.)

6 Finish: Garnish with chopped chives, parsley, or fennel fronds.


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.


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.


  • 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


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.


Energetics of Dates: Today is the Date to Eat Healthy




Facts About Dates

Dates, fruits derived from the date palm tree (Phoenix dactylifera L.), are one of those foods that people either love or they don’t. I’m one that used to highly dislike them, and more recently I am slowly beginning to like them more and more. I’m liking them especially because they have such a low glycemic index, yet they taste quite sweet! Dates, visually speaking, are interestingly unique when compared to most other fruits. The same is true for their energetics and nutritional content.


Dates nourish one’s elements with a sweet flavor and a warming constitution. This flavorful fruit tonifies the qi and the blood. Dates work their magic through the routes of Liver, Lung, Stomach, and Spleen channels.

Nutrition Of Dates

2This phenomenal fruit is packed full of nutritional content: vitamins, minerals, healthy fats & oils (0.2-0.5%), dietary fiber (6.4-11.5%), multiple amino acids, and sugar (don’t worry though, it’s GOOD sugar!). Dates have vitamin C, B(1) thiamine, B(2) riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin A. Dates contain various proportions of boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, fluorine, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, and zinc. In regards to oils, dates have palmitoleic, oleic, linoleic, and linolenic unsaturated fatty acids. As a side note, date seeds contain 14 types of fatty acids and consist of about 50% oleic acid. There are 23 different type of amino acids that build the protein (2.3-5.6%) stored within dates. The largest component of dates are carbohydrates/plant sugars (44-88%). All of the contents above can range depending on the varietal of date and the time of year it was produced.

Although dates are mostly built of plant sugars, don’t get lost in attempting to equate this to added sugars that you normally read about on an ingredient panel. Plant sugars, in their natural form, are much different than processed sugar because of the way in which they are chemically packaged within the fruit. Nature has created a beautiful combination of biochemistry in that the sugar molecules are surrounded by all of the abovementioned items: these surrounding components make it so that sugar is slowly broken down/released into your body and is a wonderful way to sustain your day. Dates are a low glycemic index food and are a perfect snack for many (even those with diabetes!).

Medjool-dates-010As with anything, don’t eat too many! And at the same time, don’t deprive yourself of them because of being worried about the sugar content. The key to this concept is that our bodies break down every item that we eat and convert it into sugar; the important aspect here is that it is the speed at which this process occurs. If we eat foods that slowly turn into sugar, then we have a more sustainable energy level throughout our day.

Now, go have a date with some dates!

 Dates Recipe

5 Ingredient Peanut Cup Energy Bites5-Ingredient-PB-Cup-Energy-Bites-Perfect-for-a-healthier-on-the-go-snack-vegan-glutenfree

EASY, 5 ingredient peanut butter energy bites sweetened with dates and studded with oats, dark chocolate and chia seeds! Full of fiber, protein and healthy fats.

Author: Minimalist Baker

Recipe type: Snack

Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 15



  • 1 cup (~220 g) dates, pitted (if dry, soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain well)
  • 3 Tbsp all natural salted peanut or almond butter
  • 1/4 cup dairy free dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds (or sub flax or hemp seeds)
  • 2/3 cup gluten free rolled oats


  1. Pulse dates in a food processor or blender until they’re in small pieces or it forms a ball (see photo).
  2. Add oats, chocolate, chia seeds and peanut butter and pulse or mix until combined. You want there to be consistently small pieces but not overly processed.
  3. Carefully roll into 1-inch balls (29-30 grams per ball), using the warmth of your hands to mold them together. Should yield 14-15 balls.
  4. To set, pop in fridge or freezer for 15 minutes. Otherwise, eat as is! Will keep fresh in an air-tight bag or container for up to a week. Freeze for longer term storage.






If you’re curious about using dates as a low glycemic sugar substitute:


Energetics of Chicken: Time Honored Tradition


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


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



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.


Energetics of Buckwheat: A Gluten Free “Grain”

buckwheatI know when I think of buckwheat I think of it being a glutinous grain like wheat, but in reality it is a fruit seed!  Buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb and since it is not technically a grain it is gluten free! While Buckwheat is considered a gluten free grain, if you wish to bake bread or other leavening foods you will have to mix it with a wheat baking flour.

The word buckwheat is thought to have come from the Dutch word bockwheit, which means “beech wheat”.  Beech wheat comes from its beechnut-like shape and its wheat-like characteristics.  Buckwheat is known for its unique flavor that is stronger than other grains.  The French like to make crepes with buckwheat, as do the Russians, although they are famous for their caviar filled crepes called blinis.


buckwheatBuckwheat is native to both Northern Europe and Asia. You can find buckwheat both roasted and unroasted.  Unroasted buckwheat has a soft, subtle flavor, while roasted buckwheat has more of a nutty taste.

Buckwheat Groats: These are raw buckwheat kernels with their shells removed. They are unroasted and are often referred to as whole white buckwheat groats.  White groats can be substituted for recipes calling for rice.

Kasha: Since Russian porridge dish know as kasha is often made with roasted buckwheat groats, this form of buckwheat is called by this name.  Kasha can come in coarse, medium or fine granules.  It is an excellent side to meat dishes or can be combined with vegetables for a main dish. Kasha has a sweeter, nuttier flavor than unroasted groats.

buckwheat-sobaBuckwheat Grits: These are finely ground unroasted buckwheat groats. They cook quickly and are sold as buckwheat cereal or cream of buckwheat (my personal favorite winter breakfast).

Buckwheat Flour and Soba Noodles: Buckwheat is ground into flour and available in either white or dark forms; the darker variety is more nutritious. You can use buckwheat flour in making everything from pancakes to Japanese Soba Noodles.  True Japanese Soba Noodles are made with Buckwheat, but always make sure to check the ingredients label, as some companies will also add wheat flour.

Buckwheat is available all year round.

How to Choose and Store

buckwheatAs with any bulk section, always make sure that the bins are covered and that the store has good turnover to ensure maximum freshness.  Whether purchasing in bulk or pre-package, always make sure there is no evidence of moisture present.

Place buckwheat in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry place.  Buckwheat flour should always be stored in the fridge.  If you live in a warm climate or experience periods of warm weather, you should store all buckwheat products in the fridge.  If stored properly buckwheat groats will last 6 months and buckwheat flour will last 3 months.


buckwheat-nutritionBuckwheat has been found to help manage blood sugar balance, this is due to the component chiro-inositol that plays a significant role in glucose metabolism and cellular signaling.  Buckwheat has a concentration of dietary fiber and magnesium that has been linked to lower total serum cholesterol.  The dietary fiber helps reduce cholesterol levels and magnesium helps promote blood vessel relaxation and circulation.  Buckwheat also contains a high concentration of the flavonoids, rutin, quercetin, and kaepferol. These flavonoids are strong antioxidants and prolong the activity of vitamin C to promote overall optimal health.  The manganese found in buckwheat is an important cofactor in the production of superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant.


buckwheat flourBuckwheat cleans and strengthens the intestines and improves appetite. It is used in the internal treatment of dysentery and chronic diarrhea.  It is used externally as a treatment for skin inflammations, eruptions, and burns. This is done by applying poultice of roasted buckwheat flour and vinegar.

Rutin found in buckwheat strengthens capillaries and blood vessels, inhibits hemorrhages, reduces blood pressure, and increases circulation to the hands and feet. Rutin can also be used as an antidote to x-rays and other forms of radiation.

Caution: Not recommended for those with signs of heat such as high fever, thirst, red face, deep-red tongue color, and high blood pressure.  Or for those with wind conditions such as dizziness, disorientation, nervousness, spasms, or emotional-instability.

Asian Soba Noodles with Vegetables and Edamame

1 (8oz) package 100% buckwheat soba noodles
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, cut into thin sticks
1/4 scallions, finely chopped
1-2 cups edamame, shelled and soaked in warm water 10 mins

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
2 Tsp toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs gluten free tamari
1 Tsp maple syrup
1 Tsp brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 lime, juiced
pinch red pepper flakes
1/4 Tsp salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

1. Bring large pot of water to a boil and add soba noodles. Cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain noodles into a colander and immediately run cold water over them to remove all the starches.
2. In a large bowl, combine noodles, cabbage, celery, carrots, scallions, and edamame.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the garlic, ginger, toasted sesame oil, tamari, maple syrup, brown rice vinegar, sesame oil, lime juice, red pepper flakes, and salt.
4. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
5. When ready to serve, garnish with cilantro.

Adapted from Cancer Fighting Kitchen

Mushroom Buckwheat Risotto with Goat Cheese Curds

Buckwheat risotto


  • 1/3 cup raw buckwheat
  • 1/2 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 cups hot stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup dried shiitake
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated manchego cheese
  • large spoonful soft goats curd*
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • truffle oil (optional but amazing!)


Boil the kettle and pour about 1/3 cup of water over the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl and sit aside.

Fill a saucepan with the stock and place on top of the stove to bring to boil. Once boiling, turn to a very low simmer and cover. In another saucepan on medium heat sauté onion and garlic in olive oil. Once transparent add buckwheat and and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes.

Turn up the heat and add the wine. This will bubble and spit so be careful! Keep stirring until all the wine is absorbed. Now add some of the hot stock and continue to stir through until taken up by the buckwheat grains.

Take the soaked dried shiitake from the bowl of water and finely chop. Add these in with the next ladle of stock. Continue with this process of adding stock until buckwheat becomes soften through. The process should take approximately 15-20 minutes. (There may be some stock left over, dependent on the consistency of your risotto).

Whilst the risotto is cooking, place the sliced portotbello mushrooms in a hot pan with a good splash of rice bran oil and the chopped marjoram and thyme. Using tongs, turn them every 3-4 minutes creating a lovely deep crust on the mushrooms as you do so. This process should take at least 10-15 minutes.

Once the buckwheat risotto is ready (as described above), turn to low heat and stir through parsley, manchego, liquid from soaked shiitakes and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Place lid on saucepan and leave for 1-2 minutes to settle.

To serve, place a serve of the buckwheat risotto on a plate, top with the portobello mushrooms and finely a good dollop of goats curd. It using, finish with a drizzle of truffle oil.

Hint: Traditionally a risotto should be oozy on the plate when served.


Energetics of Brussel Sprouts: Small Vegetable, Big Nutrients

Brussel sprouts originate in northern Europe and were named after Belgium’s capital city, where they remain today as an important crop.  In the 19th century England and France were introduced to them, and then French settlers in Louisiana brought them to America.


Brussel sprouts are part of the cruciferous family, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and mustard greens. Their name comes from the Latin word cruciferae, meaning cross-bearing, due to the shape of their leaves, which from an aerial view look like a polysymmetric cross. The most popular and widely available variety of Brussel sprouts are sage green in color.  You can also find some varieties with a red hue.  While most commonly Brussel sprouts are removed from the stem and sold individually, in some markets you can buy an intact stem.

Brussel sprouts are available all year round, but their flavor is at a peak in the cold months.   The frost actually helps them develop a sweet taste.

Brussel sprouts grown in hotter months tend to be less tender and require about a minute extra of cooking.

Brussel SproutsBest Way To Choose and Store

To select the best tasting Brussel sprouts look for ones that are firm and compact with a vibrant, bright green color.  Try to select Brussel sprouts that are of equal size, as they will cook in a similar amount of time.

Avoid Brussel sprouts that are yellow or have wilted leaves, and they are not puffy or soft in texture.

Storing Brussel sprouts correctly is key, as they can turn yellow and bitter easily.  Store Brussel sprouts in the fridge and make sure to place them in an airtight plastic bag, making sure to squeeze out as much air as possible. Do not wash your Brussel sprouts before refrigeration as it will cause the Brussel sprouts to spoil faster. If stored correctly they will remain fresh up to 10 days.


The phytonutrients found in Brussel sprouts enhance the activity of the body’s natural defenses against disease. Especially the potent compound sulforaphane, which is created from the phytonutrient glucoraphanin, which has been shown to boost the body’s detoxification enzymes and thus helping to clear potentially carcinogenic substances quickly. Other healthy sulfur compounds are indoles and isothiocyanates.  Brussel sprouts are also an excellent source of vitamin C, which supports immune function, antioxidant activity, and the manufacturing of collagen. They also contain vitamin A, which helps defend against infection and promotes healthy skin, and other skin enhancing minerals, including omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid.  As with most vegetables, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Other nutrients found in Brussel sprouts are bone-building calcium, magnesium, vitamin K, copper, and manganese; heart-healthy folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and vitamin E; energy-producing iron, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, and phosphorous; muscle-building protein; and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

by Chocolate & Carrots (http://chocolateandcarrots.com/2012/01/lemon-roasted-brussel-sprouts)


  • 2 – 3 cups whole, fresh brussel sprouts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper and salt, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the brussel sprouts in half, longwise, and place in a bowl.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients, except the pine nuts, to the bowl.
  4. Stir the bowl and pour onto a baking sheet that has been covered with a silpat mat or non-stick foil.
  5. Sprinkle the pine nuts around the baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, or when they start to look golden and delicious!

Servings: 4-5

Energetics of Olives: Extending the Branch



Olives are thought to be one of the world’s oldest foods.  It is believed that they originated in Crete between 5,000 and 7,000 years ago. Since then the olive and the tree it grows on have been a source of food, fuel, timber and medicine.





Greek Olives

Greek Olives

Olives cannot be eaten directly off the tree, as they contain high levels of oleuropein (a chemical that has a very bitter flavor), so they are cured before ingesting.  The color and taste of the olives are based upon the ripeness when picked (black olives are ripe and green olives are unripe) and how they are processed, which includes fermentation, and/or curing in oil, brine or salt.  Olives can come whole with seeds, pitted, or stuffed with ingredients. Olives are available throughout the year.


Curing Methods Using Ripe Olives

Dry Curing

Greek Method: Fully ripened, dark purple or black olives are gradually fermented in salt brine.  They are sweeter and richer, with a more complex taste than other varieties.  In Greece the fermentation process takes around 8 to 10 months, due to lye solutions (caustic soda solutions which speed up fermentation) being illegal to use. Kalamata olives are cured using red wine vinegar or just red wine to give them their distinctive taste.

Dry Cured: Fully ripe black olives are rubbed with coarse salt and left to cure for months, resulting in a wrinkled appearance.  The salt is removed prior to being sold.

Sun Cured: Fully ripe black olives are left on the tree to dry.

Oil Cured: Fully ripe black olives are soaked in oil for a few months.


Curing Methods Using Unripe Olives

Spanish Olives

Spanish Olives

Spanish Method: Unripe, light green olives are soaked in a fast acting lye solution for 6 to 16 hours. Olives cured this way have a crisp texture and nutty flavor.

American Method: Half-ripe, yellow-red colored olives are soaked in an alkaline lye solution without fermentation. A flow of air bubbled through the solution is used to oxidize the olives and give them their classic black color.  Cold water rinses are used after curing to remove as much lye solution as possible. Iron is also added to preserve the black color.  Some types of American Olives are Sevillano and Queens, which are grown in California.  Mission Olives are dry-cured.


Canned Olives

Canned Black Olives are made from unripe olives, which are picked green, and then go through the American curing method. Canned olives are soft in texture and have a flat flavor.

How to Choose and Store

Sevillano (large) and Mission (small) Olives

Sevillano (large) and Mission (small) Olives

While olives have traditionally been sold in jars and cans, you can now find them in bulk at many local markets.  When buying in bulk make sure the store has a good turnover and keeps their olives immersed in a brine or oil, this keeps them fresh and moist.

To store your olives, you should keep them in a airtight bag or container in the fridge.  Make sure to store the olives in a liquid, such as a the brine or oil they came in, so they do not dry out.  If you need to add liquid, use a good olive oil.



nutrition_facts_oliveOlives, the staple of the disease-preventive Mediterranean diet, are  a concentrated source of monosaturated fats, most notable oleic acid. Monosaturated fats are important component of the cell membrane and have a protective effect on cells.  Thus lower the risk of cellular damage and inflammation.  Olives are a great a source of vitamin E, the body’s primary fat-soluble antioxidant, and protects the cell from damage caused by free-radicals. The phytonutrients olueropein and hydroxytryosol also have potent antioxidant activity that protects cells.  The antioxidants found in olives also have been shown to help protect LDL molecules from oxidation (this oxidation process is the first step in the development of atherosclerosis).  Olive are also a great source of iron, copper and fiber.


Olives are both sweet and sour.  They are great for transitioning into colder months, as they help organize open and scattered patterns of the warmer seasons.  They are used as a general remedy for all types of diarrhea. Can be used for coughing up blood (under the supervision of your practitioner).

Marinated Feta and Olive Skewers

2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons orange zest
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
4 ounces feta cheese, cut into 24 (1/2-inch) cubes
24 mint leaves
1/4 large English cucumber, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
12 pitted green olives, halved
24 6in wooden skewers


In a medium bowl combine the fennel seeds, orange zest, orange juice, and pepper. Gently stir in the feta and marinate for 1 hour or more.
To make the skewers, place a mint leaf about 3/4-inch up the skewer, then add an olive half, then a chunk of cucumber. Gently place a cube of the marinated feta on the end.