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 Sumo: Sweet-Sour Citrus

The sumo citrus, originally named “dekopan”, is a hybrid fruit that is a mixture between a normal orange and a satsuma tangerine. This hybrid fruit was originally developed in Japan in 1972 and had made its way around the world because of its sweet taste, large size, and ease of peeling the skin.

Energetics:

Sumo oranges have a cooling thermal temperature with a sweet and sour flavor. These energetic characteristics can be a beneficial tonic for poor appetite and weak digestion. Sumo oranges can help to regenerate body fluids, lower inflammation and acidity (like in arthritis), moistens those who are dry and overheated from disease processes, physical activity, or hot weather, and can also help to lower a fever. The peel itself has qi stimulating, digestive, and mucus resolving qualities (which is a similar quality to grapefruit).

These fruits have high amounts of vitamin C and bioflavonoids which have been shown to help those with weak gums and teeth. Eye cysts can be helped to dissolve by putting the inner white lining directly onto the eyelids.

Sweet Sumo Kiwi Smoothie Recipe:

This delicious mixture is anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, and low calorie

Ingredients:

  • 1 sumo citrus – peeled
  • 1 kiwi – peeled
  • 4 oz pineapple
  • 1 tsp mangosteen
  • 3 tbsp almonds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup ice

Throw into the blender and drink up!

Original recipe by The Blend

Energetics Of Winter Squash: Go Beyond Pumpkins

It’s that time of the year again, supermarkets and farmer’s markets are teeing with squashes of all varieties. These squashes are more than just for decorating your porch in October or your table at Thanksgiving, they are super yummy to eat as well!

The squashes that we know today originated from a wild squash that grew in an area between Guatemala and Mexico.  This wild squash was held in high regard by many Native Americans, so much that it was buried alongside their dead to provide nourishment on the final journey.

Varieties

Winter squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, a relative of both the melon and cucumber. Winter squashes come in array of sizes and flavor, but they share a hard protective skin, sweet flesh, and a hollow inner cavity that contains seeds.  Not only the flesh great to eat, but you can save the seeds and roast them for a delicious and nutritious snack.

Hubbard Squash

Hubbard Squash

Butternut Squash is shaped like a large pear, has cream-colored skin, deep orange flesh, and has a sweet flavor.

Acorn Squash has dark green skin speckled with orange patches, pale yellow flesh, and has a unique flavor combination of sweet, nutty, and peppery.

Hubbard Squash is a large squash that can be dark green, grey-blue or orange-red in color, and this squash is not as sweet as other winter squashes.

Turban or Buttercap Squash is green in color with speckles or stripes, orange-yellow flesh, and has taste like hazelnuts.

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha Squash

Kabocha is the generic name used for a variety of Japanese winter squashes that are becoming popular in markets around the states.  Their taste are similar to sweet potatoes and are richer and creamier than other winter squashes.  Unlike the other winter squashes, you do not need to remove the skin of kabochas, the skin gets soft and tastes great.

Spaghetti Squash is a large rounder squash that is yellow in color with a thin but surprisingly hard outer shell.  The flesh is also yellow in color, but after cooking it has a texture similar to strands of spaghetti. The flavor is lightly sweet, so it makes a great low carb substitute for pasta.

Pumpkin is an underappreciated squash, as 99% of pumpkins purchased in the states end up rotting on people porches as jack-o-lanterns.  Although, the variety of pumpkin sold to be used to carve these Halloween decorations tend to be too stringy to eat.  The best pumpkins for cooking are sugar pumpkins, as they are sweet and the flesh is not as stringy.

Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash

Winter squashes is available starting in August through March, but the peak season for them is October and November.

How to Choose and Store

To find the best tasting winter squashes, look for ones that are firm, heavy for their size, and have dull rinds.

Avoid any squashes that have a soft or glossy rind, as that may be an indicator that the squash may be watery and lacking in flavor, and those that have water-soaked or moldy areas.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

Winter Squash is a hearty vegetable and stores easily.  If stored properly they will remain fresh for 3-4 weeks.  Always store uncut winter squashes in cool, dark places away from heat or bright lights.  They should never be put I the fridge or other areas with extreme cold.  If the squash is already cut store in an airtight container or plastic storage bag with the excess air removed, then put it the crisper area of your fridge.  To get the most vitamin C out of your squash you should eat any cut squash within a few days.

Nutrition

Sugar Pumpkin

Sugar Pumpkin

Winter squash has the most concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) of all vegetables. ALA is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is very good for heart health.  The deep yellow and orange colors of the winter squashes are a reflection of its carotenoid phytonutrients—alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin—content. In addition to the phytonutrients, winter squash also is an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C, antioxidants that benefit overall health, including heart health.  The vitamin A in winter squash is not just an antioxidant, it is an important nutrient for lung health, as it is essential for the growth and development of the tissues that line the lungs.

winter-squash-nutrition-facts-copyWinter squash is also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin B6, B1 and B5, niacin, manganese, copper, and tryptophan.

Energetics

Winter squash is warming in nature.  It influences the spleen-pancreas and stomach, reduces inflammation and burns (fresh squash juice is applied to relive burns), improves qi-energy circulation, and alleviates pain.  Squash and its seeds can be used to destroy worms, though seeds are the most effective. For parasitic worms, eat a small handful of the seeds of a winter squash once or twice daily for 3 weeks. Compared to summer squash, winter squash has higher amounts of natural sugars, carbohydrates, and vitamin A.

 

 

 

Pumpkin Tacos

Pumpkin TacosIngredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cups cubed fresh pumpkin (or any squash)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons taco seasoning (see below)
  • 12 flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced ripe avocado
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pumpkin in the heated oil 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the vegetable stock, spices and garlic.
  3. Cook until the pumpkin cubes are easily pierced through with a fork, 5 to 7 minutes.  Adjust spices to taste.
  4. Fill warm tortillas with pumpkin; top with tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro as desired.

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne, oregano, basil, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

(Recipes courtesy of AllRecipes.com)

 

 

Energetics of Carrots

 “Everyone open their desks, please.”  announced our fourth grade teacher.  We were all anxious for the last day of school, but first we were retrieving waylaid winter woolies from the cluttered coat cubbies and cleaning out our desks. 

A sickly sweet smell permeated the room once our desks were open.  Ms Tripp hurried to open the windows, saying, “Remove anything even resembling food and place it in the trash can as I walk past your desks.” 

“Eeew!”, “Gross!” and “Ugh!”  became a chorus as 32 students discovered parts of one or more forgotten lunches. 

The poor under-appreciated carrot.  Tossed in school and even office lunch bags with good intentions, but so often set aside until they’re found uneatable  at the bottom of the desk …

Graduate your carrot choice from boring orange to a whole rainbow of colors that range in size from a mere two inches to as long as a yardstick (36 inches).  

Short List of Popular Carrot Varieties (by color):

  • Orange Carrots
    • Scarlet Nantes (especially sweet)
    • Danvers (often raised for processing)
    • Camden (often raised for processing)
    • Other: Navajo, Sirkana, Top Cut and Inca
  • Purples Carrots
    • Indigo
    • Maroon
    • Purple Dragon
    • Cosmic Purple
    • Purple Haze
  • Yellow Carrots
    • Sunlite
    • Solar Yellow
    • Yellowstone
  • White Carrots
    • Creme De Lite
    • White Satin
  • Red Carrots
    • Supreme Chateney
    • Red Samurai

In season summer and fall.

Select deep colored, firm, smooth and straight carrots – the tops, if attached should be fresh (not wilted) and vibrant green.  If tops are missing, then stem end shouldn’t be black (aged).  Fat carrots are sweeter than thin ones.   Store them in the coolest part of the refrigerator in a plastic bag to retain moisture, but add a paper towel to reduce condensation (so they don’t get slimy).  Keep them separate from ethylene producing fruits or vegetables to reduce bitterness. 

Energetics (Healing with Whole Foods, by: Paul Pitchford):  Neutral thermal nature; sweet flavor; benefits lungs (whooping cough); strengthens spleen-pancreas; improves liver functions; stimulates elimination of wastes; diuretic; dissolves accumulations (stones and tumors); treats indigestion  (excess stomach acid, heartburn); eliminates putrefactive bacteria in intestines; used for urinary tract infections, diarrhea and chronic dysentery; contains an essential oil that destroys pinworms and roundworms. 

Carrots are alkaline-forming and clear acidic blood conditions including acne, tonsillitis and rheumatism; rich source of anti-oxidant beta-carotene (Vit A) which protects against cancer.  In fact Beta-carotene was named for the vegetable (carrot).  Also, treats night blindness, ear infections, earaches and deafness.  Beta-carotene benefits the skin and is anti-inflammatory for mucous membranes.   Carrot juice heals burns when applied topically.  Increases breast milk production and regulates hormones.  Helps ripen measles and chicken pox.  Contains silicon and strengthens connective tissues and aids calcium metabolism.  Juiced carrots with some green tops added reduces sweetness and is a better remedy for cancer prevention, liver stagnation and damp conditions.

This dish is inspired by a traditional Ethiopian stew.

Vegetable Stew

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 to 4 Tbsp. butter or vegetable oil to taste
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, +/- to taste
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 head savoy cabbage or 1/2 head green cabbage, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

Preparation:

  1. Heat butter or oil in a large pan or pot over medium high heat. Add onions, garlic, and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until soft, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add ginger, turmeric, and pepper. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add cabbage, stir to combine, cover, reduce heat to medium low. When cabbage wilts, about 3 minutes, stir and cover. Cook until completely wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add potatoes, carrots, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to simmer, and cook until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. If necessary, cook with the cover off to reduce liquid before serving.  Makes 6 servings

Recipe courtesy of Molly Watson, About.com

 

  • Nutrient % Daily Value
  • Vitamin A 407.6%
  • Vitamin K 20.1%
  • Fiber 13.6%
  • Vitamin C 12%
  • Potassium 11.1%
  • Manganese 8.5%
  • Vitamin B6 8.5%
  • Molybdenum 8.1%
  • Vitamin B3 6%
  • Folate 5.7%
  • Vitamin B1 5.3%
  • Phosphorus 4.2%
  • Vitamin B2 4.1%
  • Vitamin E 4%
  • Calories (50) 2%

 

© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

 

 

Energectics of Tangerines: The Perfect Snack

photo credit: Sharon Gerald via photopin cc

photo credit: Sharon Gerald via photopin cc

The Tangerine is one of the most popular varieties of the citrus fruit. What many people may not realize is that the tangerine is actually a branch of the mandarin family of oranges.  Tangerines are the perfect lunch mate or snack, as they are small in size and its skin is very easy to peel.

How to Choose and Store

There are a few varieties of tangerines. There is the honey tangerine, followed by the sunburst, and the fallgo. These types are not very popular in stores, unlike the Dancy or the Fairchild. The Dancy’s rind is deep reddish-orange, thin, and easily removed. The juice is rich and sweet. Dancy Tangerines are available from mid-December through January.   The Fairchild tangerine is the “First of the Season” tangerine and is known for its “zipper skin” (easy to peel). The Fairchild has an orange rind with a bright orange interior. The texture will vary from smooth to somewhat pebbly. Fairchild Tangerines are available from mid-October to mid-January.

photo credit: Sharon Gerald via photopin cc

photo credit: Sharon Gerald via photopin cc

Tangerines are winter season fruits. However, one may find them in supermarkets all over the year, thanks for advanced storage techniques. A ripe tangerine is firm to slightly soft, heavy for its size, and pebbly-skinned with no deep grooves, as well as orange in color. Avoid fruits with spots, excessively softened or feel “hollow” in hand. Once at home store, it is best to store them in a zip pouch and place in the fridge. They will keep for up to a week this way. As always, try to eat them as early as possible in order to enjoy their rich flavor and to get full benefits of nutrients.

Energetics

Tangerine NutritionTangerines are a valuable source of flavonoid anti-oxidants like naringenin, naringin, hesperetin, vitamin A, vitamin C and carotenes; in fact, several times higher than in the oranges. They also contain low amounts potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2 and B3. Tangerines contain Lutein and Zeaxanthin, which both help keep your eyes safe from oxidative stress and macular degradation.

Tangerines are a general tonic for weak digestion and poor appetite, and they help regenerate body fluids. They help cool and moisten those who are dry and overheated from disease processes, physical activity, or hot weather.  Tangerines are good for treating inflammatory and highly acidic diseases, such as arthritis, as well as high fevers.  Their high level of vitamin C benefits those with weak gums and teeth.

The peel of the tangerine has qi-stimulating, digestive and mucus resolving properties.  The inner white lining of the peel when placed directly on the eyelid, helps dissolve eye cysts.

Tangerine BeefTangerine Beef

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds beef tri-tip steak, trimmed of excess fat
1 tangerine
4 scallions, sliced, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons orange preserves
Directions

Pierce the steak with a fork several times on each side. Remove a 2-inch strip of zest from the tangerine, halve the fruit and squeeze the juice into a resealable plastic bag. Add the zest, scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, ginger, garlic, pepper flakes and 1/4 cup water to the bag and mix well. Add the meat, seal the bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the broiler with a broiler pan in place. Remove the steak from the bag and reserve the marinade. Pat the meat dry and place on the preheated broiler pan. Cook, without turning, until the meat is golden brown and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 130 for medium-rare, about 10 minutes. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing; reserve the drippings.

Meanwhile, boil the marinade in a small pot over medium-high heat until slightly thickened. Stir in the orange preserves and the drippings from the meat. Slice the meat against the grain and top with scallions. Serve with the sauce.
Source

Tangerine Beef

Energetics of Persimmons: A Winter Fruit

It is that time the year again, persimmon season. Their harvest starts in November and goes through February. Persimmons are consumed world wide, from Asia to South America. Like tomatoes, they are considered a fruit but are on fact a berry.

Persimmons are delicious fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. One way to consume very ripe persimmons, which can have the texture of pudding, is to remove the top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Riper persimmons can also be eaten by removing the top leaf, breaking the fruit in half and eating from the inside out.  Dried persimmons, or hoshigaki, are a great way to have a nutritious snack.

 

Best Way to Choose and Store

Persimmons are categorized by astringent and non-astringent. The two most common types found in the US are the hachiya and fuyu. The hachiya is the most common, heart shaped and very astringent.  The astringent nature is due to the high tannin content which is lessened as it is ripened, therefore it must be ripe to be edible.

photo credit: amira_a via photopin cc

photo credit: amira_a via photopin cc

The Fuyu is flat and can be eaten firm or soft.  The fuyu is less astringent and contains less tannins and loses the tannins quicker, therefore can be eaten firm but becomes sweeter the softer they are.

So just remember, Hachiya;  heartshaped and eaten soft.  Fuyu; flat and eaten firm or soft .

Before ripening, persimmons usually have a “chalky” taste or bitter taste. To soften or ripen a persimmon, place it in a well lighted place for several days, or place in a paper bag.  For even speedier ripening add an apple or banana to the bag which exposes the fruit to ethylene gas.  Or the fruit to extreme cold which will also result in ripening.

Energetics

Persimmon NutritionPersimmons have high levels of dietary fiber, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, but lower levels of copper and zinc. hey also contain vitamin C and provitamin A beta-carotene.  Persimmon fruits contain phytochemicals, such as catechin and gallocatechin. These phytochemicals increase plasma antioxidant activity (ability of plasma to scavenge free radicals), brachial artery dilation (blood vessel expansion), and fat oxidation. Persimmons also contain betulinic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a more recently discovered potential as an anticancer agent, by inhibition of topoisomerase.

Persimmons cool heat (especially lung heat), builds body fluids, moistens the lungs, removes phlegm, tonifies the spleen-pancreas, and soothes mucous membranes in the digestive tract to relieve gastrointestinal inflammation.  They are used to treat heat and/or dry conditions, thirst, canker sores, and chronic bronchitis. Partially ripe persimmons, which are mildly astringent, are used in treating diarrhea, dysentery, hypertension, and spitting up, coughing up, or vomiting blood.

 

Persimmon Curry SoupCurried Persimmon Soup

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 lb. peeled Fuyu Persimmmns
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 5 cups chicken stock (Reduced Sodium)
  • 1/2 tsp. Curry Powder
  • Lemon
  • Cilantro

 

Step 1: Gather 3 ½ pounds of persimmons together and bathe them.  After they’re washed, remove the four leaves that sit atop the persimmon’s crown.  Take a knife and cut away at the persimmon’s sides like you would an orange, saving as much flesh as possible.  Next, remove the core and cut the persimmon into slices and set them aside.

Step 2: Mince ½ cup of onions as well as one teaspoon of freshly grated ginger.  Add them to the pot along with ¼ cup of reduced sodium chicken stock and let the smell engulf your kitchen.  Take your 3 ½ pounds of persimmons and add them to the mixture, letting the mixture reduce.

Step 3: When the persimmons begin to stick to the bottom of the pan due to a lack of liquid, add another ½ cup of chicken stock to the mixture.  Follow this step several times, allowing the persimmons to become soft and the mixture to become somewhat thick in consistency.  Add curry powder to the mix 30 seconds before you remove the soup from the heat.

Step 4: Remove your mixture from its pan and place it into a blender (provided it has cooled somewhat).  Blend until you’re satisfied with the texture, pour your soup into a bowl and garnish with a sprig of cilantro and a few drops of lemon.

Source

Curried Persimmon Soup

Energetics of Apricots: The Under Appreciated Fruit

photo credit: Apricots via photopin (license)

photo credit: Apricots via photopin (license)

Apricots have been cultivated for the last 4,000 years and hail from the mountain slopes of China.  This summer fruit is often described as a cross between a peach and a plum, but in reality there are no words to adequately describe the unique taste. It is said that the most delicious apricots are found in Eastern Turkey.

 

 

 

 

Varieties

Apricots are the cousin to peaches with golden velvety skin and flesh that is not overly juicy but is smooth and sweet. The taste can also be described as slightly musky with a faint tartness, which is more pronounced when dried.

The apricot comes in many varieties, including Sungold, Harglow and Goldcat. There only difference is size and color, while the taste stays the same.

There are a few notable hybrids. First is the Plumcot, a cross between a plum and apricot, and is more like a plum. There is the Aprium, a cross between the Plumcot and apricot, and is more like an apricot. Then, there is a Pluot which is a cross between a plum and plumcot. The last hybrid is the Peachcot which is a cross between a peach and an apricot.

Apricots are fruits of summer, available in the US between May and August.  Apricots found in the winter months are imported from South America and New Zealand.

How to Choose and Store

For the best apricots, look from ones that are fully ripe and have a rich aroma. Smelling apricots is the best and easiest way to tell whether they are ripe or not. Apricots should also be soft with an even coloring.

Avoid apricots that are pale and yellow, as that is an indication they have not been tree-ripened and therefore have very little flavor. Likewise, apricots with a green tinge or are too firm have been picked too early and will never ripen. They just get softer and rot. Also, avoid overripe apricots as they are very soft and mushy or are brown colored, they have no real nutritional value and have started to form harmful free-radicals.

Apricots will respire faster at room temperature, so they best method of storage is to refrigerate them. Keep as many ripe apricots as can be consumed in a day or so on the counter, but put the rest in the fridge. They will last between 3-4 days in the fridge and only 1-2 days on the counter.

Do not store your apricots in sealed plastic bags or restricted containers where they touch each other, as the buildup of ethylene gas will cause the apricots to rot very quickly.

Nutrition

Apricot nutritionApricots are an excellent source of vitamin A through their high concentration of carotenoid phytonutrients, including beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. These phytonutrients have been getting more attention lately, as they are showing great antioxidant activity, as well as anticancer and anti-ageing potentials. Apricots also have flavonoid phytonutrients at also promote antioxidant activity, catechins and quercetin. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, the antioxidant powerhouse.

The vitamin A in apricots also helps promote eye health by protecting the lens from free-radical damage. This type of damage can lead to cataracts or macular degeneration. Vitamin A also promotes eye health through its participation in the synthesis of rhodopsin, a photopigment found in the eye. Rhodopsin plays a leading role in the adaptionof the eye to low-light conditions and night vision.

Apricots are also a good source of dietary fiber, heart-healthy potassium and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

Caution: The inner pits of the apricot contains amygdalin, a compound that breaks down into prussic acid or hydrogen cyanide, when digested.  Cases of fatalities have been reported from eating the pit.

Energetics

Apricots moisten the lungs and increases yin fluids. Used in the treatment for dry throat, thirst, asthma, and other lung conditions when there is fluid deficiency. It is also used to treat anemia, thanks to its high copper and cobalt content.

Caution: Apricots are considered weakening when eaten in excess, so limit intake. Also, they must be used cautiously during pregnancy and avoided in cases of diarrhea.

Apricot  Leather

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups pitted and diced fresh apricots
  • 1/2 cup organic sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees F (165 degrees C), or lowest setting possible.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, apricots and sugar in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Cover an 11×17 inch pan or cookie sheet with a layer of parchment paper. Pour the pureed fruit onto the paper and spread evenly to within 1 inch of the edge.
  4. With oven door left ajar (use a spoon or tongs to hold open), bake for 4 to 6 hours, until the puree has dried and is no longer sticky. Once dry, cut into strips and store in an airtight container .

Recipe courtesy of SimplyRecipe.com

 

 

Energetics of Cauliflower: Surprisingly Colorful

photo credit: Cauliflower via photopin (license)

photo credit: Cauliflower via photopin (license)

Cauliflower is an extremely versatile vegetable.  Delicious and nutritious whether roasted, boiled, fried, steamed, or eaten raw!  It gets its characteristic white coloring form the thick green leaves that cover the head from sunlight, thus preventing the production of cholorophyll that makes vegetables green.  Although, due to natural mutations there are colorful cauliflower as well.

 

Varieties

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family and comes in three main varieties.  The first variety is white cauliflower, which is the most widely available and most common in grocery stores. The second variety is the colored variety in light green, purple, and orange.  This variety is newly developed and is becoming easier to find in grocery stores.  The last variety is the broccoflower, a recently developed cross bred of cauliflower and broccoli.  Its curd (compact head) is green and looks less dense than cauliflower, and it has a milder flavor.

How to Choose and Store

When looking for the best tasting cauliflower, look for heads that are clean with creamy white, compact curds and that the curd clusters are not separated.  Cauliflower with many thick green leaves tend to be fresher. Size does not affect taste, so choose one that best suits your needs.

Avoid cauliflower heads that have brown spots, dull coloration, or small flowers.  These are indications that the cauliflower is old and no longer fresh.

Cauliflower is a sturdy vegetable, and can keep for a while if stored properly.  To store your whole head of cauliflower put it in a plastic storage bag, squeeze out as much air as you can, and store in the fridge.  It will last up to 7 days if stored correctly.  Do not wash cauliflower before storing it, or it will spoil quickly.  If you are storing a partial head of cauliflower place it in a container with a well-sealed lid, or plastic bag and refrigerate it. For optimal nutritional benefit, eat any cut up cauliflower within a few days.

Nutrition

cauliflower-nutritionCauliflower is a great source of heart healthy folic acid, potassium, magnesium, niacin, vitamin C and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of fiber, the omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B5, phosphorus, manganese, and tryptophan.

Cauliflowers, and many other cruciferous vegetables, contain compounds that are shown to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents and they increase the activity of liver enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.  These compounds include glucosinolates and thiocyanates.  Cauliflower also contains enzymes that help with the detoxifying process; these include glutathione transferase, glucuronosyl and qionone reductase.

Interestingly enough, new studies show that cutting cauliflower into small pieces enhances the activation of an enzyme called myrosinase, an enzyme that boosts phytonutrient concentration.  To get the most nutrition out of your cauliflower, let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes before eating for cooking. Heat will inactivate the effect of myrosinase, which is why it is important to let the cauliflower sit for a while before cooking.

Cauliflower Soup

Cauliflower SoupIngredients:

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto (about 3 slices)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)

2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely chopped (about ½ cup)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 head cauliflower, trimmed and coarsely chopped (about 4 cups)

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade

¼ cup heavy cream

Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375˚. Arrange the prosciutto slices in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake about 10 minutes or until crispy. Let cool slightly, then crumble the prosciutto into pieces and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pot melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the cauliflower and nutmeg, stir well to coat and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Add the broth to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot and simmer the soup until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

4. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade attachment (or use an immersion blender). Return the soup to the pot and add more broth if it’s too thick. Stir in the cream and season with salt and pepper. Divide the soup among bowls, garnish with the prosciutto and serve immediately.
Source

 

Energetics of Food: Hello Honey

HoneyLet’s talk about a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Honey is a sweet food created by bees using nectar from flowers. The most commonly consumed honey comes from honey bees, of the Apis family.  Honey’s can be produced by other bees (bumblebees, sting-less bees) and other hymenoptera insects (e. g. honey wasps), but these types of honey are rarely harvested.

How Bees Make Honey

photo credit: Matthew T Rader via photopin cc

photo credit: Matthew T Rader via photopin cc

Honey bees transform nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and evaporation.  Honey bees eat nectar from surrounding flora and take it back to the hive, where they then regurgitate it into the wax honeycomb multiple times.  The bees repeat this cycle regurgitation and digestion as a group. After the last regurgitation, the honey is still in a very liquid form, so the honey bees leave the digested nectar to the process of evaporation.  Without this evaporation process the high water and natural yeast content would cause the sugars in the nectar to ferment.  Actually, the bees inside the hive fan their wings, creating a strong draft across the honeycomb to enhance evaporation. Ripe honey, as removed from the hive by a beekeeper, has a long shelf life, and will not ferment if properly sealed.

Purchasing Honey

When buying honey, it is best to buy local.  Local honey is either raw or cloth strained which increases their health benefits.  The majority of store bought honey is pasturiezed and lacking many health benefits. Also, when buying honey look for honey labeled raw, do not buy honey labeled with the wording “pure honey”. There is no set labeling standard for “pure” honey, and honey labeled pure may possibly also contain a filler (like corn syrup).

photo credit: mistersmed via photopin cc

photo credit: mistersmed via photopin cc

Raw honey contains pollen collected from flowers, comb from the hive and propolis. Propolis is a glue-like substance composed of substances bees pick up from flower buds and the secretions they use to form resins to seal cracks in the hive. These “extras” contain antioxidants, other vitamins and enzymes the body needs.

Straining or filtering honey involves exposing the honey to high or low temperatures over time, running it through a fabric or metal filtration device, or applying pressure.  Straining removes substances harvested from a hive, like those extra bits I spoke of earlier.  This process produces a smooth, consistently light-colored liquid that doesn’t solidify as quickly as unstrained honey.  The down side to straining and filtering honey is that the enzymatic activity, antimicrobial properties, nutritional value, microbial quality, color and chemical composition are changed, and not for the better. Straining or filtering honey takes away pretty much all of the benefits that honey has to offer.

The only straining process that keeps nutrients in raw honey viable is straining through a cloth or metal device.  During this straining the honey and other small particles can be preserved, while little bits of beeswax and other large particles are further. This creates the clear, golden liquid that’s in squeeze bottles labeled “raw honey” in stores. As long as the honey in these bottles are not heated past hive temperature or pasteurized, this honey is still considered raw and nutritionally healthy.

Example of Local Sources

Why Does Honey Crystallize?

Crystallized HoneyAs a society we are taught that honey crystalizing is a bad or unwanted happening, when in fact CRYSTALLIZATION OF HONEY IS A NATURAL PROCESS!

Crystallization comes from the fact that honey is an over-saturated sugar solution.  Honey is about 70% sugar and 30% water, meaning as the balance of these two major sugars is the main reason that leads to crystallization of honey, and the relative percentage of each determines whether it crystallizes rapidly or slowly. What crystallizes is the glucose, due to its lower solubility. Fructose is more soluble in water than glucose and will remain fluid. When glucose crystallizes, it separates from water and takes the form of tiny crystals. As the crystallization progresses and more glucose crystallizes, those crystals spread throughout the honey. The solution changes to a stable saturated form, and ultimately the honey becomes thick or crystallized.

Pasteurized honey, or honey heated at high temperatures, is the most prevalent type of honey found in mainstream grocery stores. Companies who produce this type of honey heat the honey to insure that the honey will not crystallize nearly as quickly, which as we know is NOT nutrient friendly.

But Kaely! How do you use honey after it crystallizes?

First of all, NEVER heat honey in a microwave! As described above, heating honey destroys all nutritional value.  Microwaving honey is called flash-heating, and this sudden (radioactive) heat destroys the enzymes and chemically changes the honey. It’s still sweet, but it’s now chemically more like a processed sweetener.

The best way to get crystallized honey back to liquid form is to gently heating it in a water bath or warming cabinet.  The heat should gradually increase and never go over 99 ºF!

Antibiotic and Healing Benefits of Honey

1512796328_2991059819The amazing healing property of honey is due to the fact that it offers antibacterial activity, maintains a moist wound condition, and its high viscosity helps to provide a protective barrier to prevent infection. Honey has been reported to have an inhibitory effect on around 60 species of bacteria, including aerobes and anaerobes, gram-positives and gram-negatives. The benefits of honey are linked to the presence of acidity, phytonutrients, and hydrogen peroxide.  Honey is found to help speed up the process of new tissue growth in wounds, in cases of lacerations or burns.

 

Nutritional Facts

Honey NutritionHoney is a mixture of sugars and other compounds. With respect to carbohydrates, honey is mainly fructose (about 38.5%) and glucose (about 31.0%), making it similar to the synthetically produced inverted sugar syrup. Honey’s remaining carbohydrates include maltose, sucrose, and other complex carbohydrates.  As with all nutritive sweeteners, honey contains only trace amounts of vitamins or minerals.  Honey also contains tiny amounts of several compounds thought to function as antioxidants, including chrysin, pinobanksin, vitamin C, catalase, and inocembrin. The nutritional content does differ depending on the flora present that the bees use to produce honey.

 

 

Energetics

Honey, both raw and pasteurized (heated), work to naturally harmonize the liver, neutralize toxins, treat stomach ulcers and canker sores, lowers blood pressure, relieves constipation, treats burns, and relieves pain. Pastured, or cooked, honey moistens dryness, and treats dry or hoarse throat, and dry cough. Raw honey is especially good for drying mucus, and is good for those with damp conditions, such as edema.  Honey’s harmonizing effects are beneficial when a person is overworked, having menstrual problems, or is exhausted from salty and rich foods. It’s sweet and antitoxic effects are used to break the cycle of alcoholism, as alcohol is also a sugar, by giving a spoonful during a hangover to calm the craving.

Energetics of Sweet Potatoes: Not Yams!

The holidays are a great time for putting sweet potatoes on the dinner table. Though available year-round, their peak season is in November and December. You can make nearly anything from these delicious vegetables: casseroles, potatoes pancakes, mashed potatoes, fries. They are even delicious alone! Not only are they dynamic in dishes, but they are extremely nutritious.

Classified as tubers, members of the potato family enlarge to store nutrients, creating a nutrient-rich food. Unlike conventional potatoes (red, russet, etc.) which are part of a plant’s stem, sweet potatoes are known as root tubers, the actual root of the plant, which can be re-grown from their above-the-ground stems. Sweet potatoes are primarily harvested in the Southern states, requiring a frost-free season to grow. They are best suited to tropical climates and can be traced back to the South American countries of Peru and Ecuador. Interesting fact: they are considered pre-historic!

 

They come in three different varieties:

This is a yam.

brownish-purple-skinned (sometimes known as red yams) – Though the term “yam” is often used interchangeably with sweet potatoes, the true yam is actually an entirely unrelated food that originates in West Africa and Asia. In the produce department of your local grocer, if you see a sign labeled “yams,” it is most likely a sweet potato. You can recognize a yam by its wrinkled skin and rough texture.

beige-skinned – This is the standard sweet potato found in most markets. Varieties include “Nancy Hall” and “Juicy Yellow.”

purple-skinned (also known as Okinawan Sweet Potatoes) – These are less-moist and an even brighter purple on the inside, containing  anthocyanin antioxidants.

 

This is a sweet potato.

Make sure to look for ones that are firm and free of any cracks, bruises, or soft spots. Never refrigerate them, nor buy ones found in the refrigerated section of a grocery store, as the coldness can adversely affect taste. (These grow in tropical climates, remember!)

Note that sweet potatoes are a nightshade food, along with tomatoes, peppers, cherries, tomatillos, and more. Nightshade plants are high in alkaloids so anyone with arthritis or gout likely should avoid this family of foods. Steaming, boiling, and baking can help reduce the alkaloid levels.

The best way to cook a sweet potato to retain its rich nutrients is to steam or bake it. Boiling and cooking with oil can significantly lessen its nutritional value.

Energetics: Balances blood sugar; promotes lung health;  treats diarrhea; aids in relaxation; boosts red and white cell production; builds healthy bones; helps boost energy level and moods; promotes digestive health; helps maintain skin’s youthful elasticity.

 

Curry and Maple Sweet Potato Soup

by Jerry James Stone (http://www.treehugger.com/easy-vegetarian-recipes/curry-and-maple-sweet-potato-soup-vegan.html)

Ingredients:

  • 4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 small sweet onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 6 cups of light, salt-free vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons mild curry
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, nutmeg and clove for garnish

Directions:

1. Peel and dice the sweet potatoes.

2. Chop the onion and add it along with the garlic and some olive oil to a large soup pot. Cook the onion and garlic over a medium-high heat until the onion becomes translucent.

3. Add the sweet potatoes and cook for about 15 minutes until they just begin to soften. Then add 4 cups of the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

4. Once the sweet potatoes are fully cooked and just about to fall apart, remove from the heat.

5. Doing 1 cup at a time, puree the sweet potato and broth mixture in a food processor.

6. Transfer the pureed mixture back to the soup pot and add the curry and maple syrup. Also add the remaining vegetable broth. You want just enough to make it soupy, you might not use it all.

7. Bring the soup to a low simmer to have the flavors meld.

8. Let cool to an edible temperature and then salt to taste.

Enjoy!