Energetics of Kohlrabi: Discover Your New Favorite Vegetable

photo credit: postbear via photopin cc

photo credit: postbear via photopin cc

Kohlrabi is more than a funny name, it is also very good for you. It’s name comes from the German word kohl, cabbage, and rabi, turnip. Hence its nicknames German Cabbage and turnip cabbage. Its origin in nature is the same as that of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collard greens, and Brussels sprouts: they are all bred from, and are the same species as the wild cabbage plant (Brassica oleracea).

The Best Way to Choose and Store

The taste and texture of kohlrabi are similar to those of a broccoli stem or cabbage heart, but milder and sweeter. Young stems in particular can be as crisp and juicy as an apple, although not as sweet. Kohlrabi is grown annually. They weigh about 150 g and have good standing ability for up to 30 days after maturity. There are several varieties commonly available, including White Vienna, Purple Vienna, Grand Duke, Gigante (also known as “Superschmelz”), Purple Danube, and White Danube. Coloration of the purple types is superficial: the edible parts are all pale yellow. The leafy greens can also be eaten. Kohlrabi stems are surrounded by two distinct fibrous layers that do not soften appreciably when cooked. These layers are peeled away prior to cooking or serving raw. This results in stems that often provide a smaller amount of food than you assume from their intact appearance. Kohlrabi root is generally served raw in salads, while the leaves are a bit more versatile. The leaves can also be eaten raw, or they can be cooked and used like collard greens or kale.

Energetics

Kohlrabi nutritionKohlrabi is rich in vitamins and dietary fiber while only containing on 27 calories per 100g. Kohlrabi is especially high in vitamin C, with 102% of your recommended daily value. It also contains health-promoting phytochemicals such as isothiocyanates, sulforaphane, and indole-3-carbinol that are supposed to protect against prostate and colon cancers. Kohlrabi has high levels of minerals throughout the plant. The stem also has an abundance of copper, calcium, potassium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus. The leaves are also very nutritious, with high levels of carotenes, vitamin A, vitamin K, minerals, and B-complex group of vitamins.

Kohlrabi improves qi energy circulation, eliminates blood coagulation and stagnancy, reduces damp conditions in the body, relieves painful or difficult urination, stops bleeding in the colon, reduces swelling of the scrotum, and alleviates the effects of intoxication by drugs or alcohol. It is used in the treatment of indigestion and blood sugar imbalance, especially in people with hypoglycemia and diabetes. The juice is drunk as a remedy for nose bleeds.

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 medium kohlrabi (2 1/4 lb with greens or 1 3/4 lb without)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 1/2 lb butternut squash

 

Preparation

Put oven rack just below middle position and put baking pan on rack, then preheat oven to 450°F. (If roasting vegetables along with turkey, preheat pan for 15 minutes while turkey roasts, then roast vegetables underneath turkey.)

Trim and peel kohlrabi, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss kohlrabi with 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Transfer kohlrabi to preheated pan in oven and roast 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel butternut squash, then quarter lengthwise, seed, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss squash with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper in same bowl.

Stir kohlrabi, turning it, then push it to one side of pan.

Add squash to opposite side of pan and roast, stirring and turning squash over halfway through roasting, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes total (after squash is added).

Toss vegetables to combine and transfer to a dish.

 

Source

Roasted Kohlrabi and Butternut Squash

Coping with Seasonal Stress

The holiday season can be filled with a dizzying array of demands, visitors, travel and frantic shopping trips. For many people, it is also a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. Compound the usual seasonal pressures with economic strain and you many find this to be one of the most emotionally trying times of the year.

Boost your overall ability to handle seasonal stress by replenishing the nutrients that stress hormones deplete by including the following foods in your meals:

Blackberries – Blackberries are jam packed with vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C has shown to be a powerful stress reducer that can lower blood pressure and return cortisol levels to normal faster when taken during periods of stress.

Cruciferous Vegetables – Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and kale are full of stress-relieving B vitamins. Cauliflower is also one of the very best sources of vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid helps turn carbohydrates and fats into usable energy and improves your ability to respond to stress by supporting your adrenal glands.

Salmon – Salmon is a healthy and delicious way to get your dose of B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids. Among the many benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, a 2003 study published in Diabetes & Metabolism found that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduced the stress response and kept the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine in check.

 

© Donna Sigmond, EastWest Wellness

Enegetics of Cabbage: Harmonious Health Benefits

Isn’t cabbage cute? photo credit: welovepandas via photopin cc

Every St. Patrick’s Day, many people make corned beef and cabbage without realizing the incredible health benefits of this cruciferous vegetable. It is a rich source of vitamin C (having more vitamin C than oranges), and its outer leaves have high concentrations of vitamin E. Cabbage is unique for its rich supply of glucosinolates, which have special detox and anti-cancer properties. Glucosinolates are also found in turnips, watercress, and radishes.

A note on color variations: Diversification of color options is ideal, as red and green cabbage provide different benefits that complement one another.

Cabbage lasts about a week in the refrigerator, and the healthiest way to cook it is to sauté it in water or broth, which will minimize leaching of nutrients. It may be eaten raw (see recipe below) or steamed. However, we strongly warn against boiling, as it will minimize cabbage’s nutritional value.

Click here for nutrition facts, courtesy of The World’s Healthiest Foods.

Energetics: Lowers cholesterol (especially when steamed),; helps prevent cancer; reduces inflammation; supports cardiovascular health; improves digestion; treats constipation, the common cold, and whooping cough; helps rid the digestive system of worms; remedies ulcers; and cleanses and rejuvenates the digestive tract (as sauerkraut).

Crunchy Chinese Coleslaw

Yummy!

This recipe was taught long ago to us by a friend. It is delicious and nutritious. We couldn’t get enough! This is an easy recipe for any get-together and is a great way to incorporate raw cabbage into your diet.

4 c. green cabbage, finely chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 tbsp. slivered almonds
1/2 pkg. ramen noodles, raw and crushed

(Note: We highly recommend buying organic ingredients, especially ramen noodles. Do NOT use ramen packages available in conventional groceries stores, as they are loaded with potentially-harmful additives. You can find higher quality ramen in Asian markets or health food stores.)

Brown sesame seed, almonds and noodles in cooking oil of your choice or toast in the oven. Each item must be done separately due to fact they all have different browning temperature. Mix above ingredients together, and dress with the following dressing.

Dressing:

3/4 c. sesame oil
1/2 c. cooking oil of your choice
1/4 c. turbinado (or raw) sugar (or your favorite sweetener, to taste)
1/4 c. soy sauce
5 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. black pepper

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar together in small saucepan. Whisk in 1/2 cup oil and boil 1 minute, whisking all of the time (mixture will foam). Remove from heat and whisk in sesame oil. Cool and pour over above ingredients. Chill until serving time. Depending on the size of the head of cabbage this recipe will fill a large 2 to 4 quart bowl.

Resources
“Cabbage,” The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=19
“What Are the Health Benefits of Red Cabbage vs. Green Cabbage?”Livestrong. http://www.livestrong.com/article/410758-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-red-cabbage-vs-green-cabbage/
“Glucosinolates (Goitrogenic Glycosides),” Cornell University Department of Animal Science. http://www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/glucosin.html

Energetics of Horseradish: Spicy Spring Antioxidant

 

Horseradish Facts

Horseradish, Armoracia rusticana, is a cruciferous vegetable that is part of the Brassica family (which contains mustard, wasabi, broccoli, and others). This potent root vegetable is also considered a perineal plant and has a multitude of beneficial uses. The root of the plant is what most are familiar with consuming, however the leaves and flowers can also be harnessed in various ways—nearly every part of the plant has medicinal properties.

Horseradish can be used as an expectorant to fight the common cold, flu, and various respiratory disorders. Horseradish has also been found to have antibiotic, antifungal, and anticancer properties. The German Commission E (equivalent to the US FDA) prescribes horseradish as a treatment for UTIs

Energetics

Horseradish nourishes the Lung, Spleen, and Large Intestine meridian channels. It has a warming constitution and a pungent flavor profile. The pungent energetics will assist in opening the orifices of the body: expels congestion in the lymph system and phlegm in the lungs.  The energetics of horseradish also strengthen yang by dispersing cold and treats external conditions like fevers and chills. It also supports, warms, and invigorates the lungs, supports liver yang, promotes urination, and assists in removing blockages from the body.

Nutrition of Horseradish

The nutrition of horseradish starts with Glucosinolate, found in horseradish, is a vital antioxidant compound that has many benefits for the human body. This compound is a main proponent for its anti-cancer ability. Glucosinolate protects the body from toxic mutagens and also assists the body in detoxifying those that are already present within the system (by increasing blood flow to the areas infected by pathogens). Broccoli and others from the Brassica family have this compound as well, however, it is 10 times more abundant in horseradish. For more information about the scientific evidence for horseradish’s nutritional components see the life extension link at the bottom of this blog post.

Recipe Using Horseradish

Horseradish Tea

The leaves of horseradish can be put into hot water to drink as tea. This form of medicine was used to treat scurvy (due to its high vitamin C content).

Pungent Probiotic: Homemade Horseradish

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. kombucha (or whey if your meal is a dairy meal)

1 6 inch horseradish root, peeled and chopped

½ tsp. salt

*Cold water

Alternative addition: beets!

Method:

Peel and chop the horseradish root into ½ inch slices.  Put on your onion goggles and proceed in a well-ventilated space.  Put the horseradish root, kombucha (or whey), and salt, into your food processor.  Process on high for 30 seconds.  Add cold water 1 tbsp. at a time, if necessary, to allow the blades to process the horseradish root freely.

*if using store-bought kombucha, then make sure to get an unflavored version. Also, open the bottle and allow it to stand on the counter for a couple days to a couple weeks (put cheesecloth over it with a rubberband to keep bugs out). This will allow for the kombucha to become more potent*

When the horseradish root is pureed fully, transfer the prepared horseradish root to a jar and refrigerate.  The kombucha (or lacto-bacteria in the whey) will preserve the horseradish for several weeks, if kept refrigerated.

Recipe by Joybilee Farm

 

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2009/11/horseradish-protection-against-cancer-and-more/page-01

https://www.eastwesthealingacademy.com/herbs/horseradish/

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/horseradish.html

http://joybileefarm.com/horseradish-passover/

 

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.

Varieties

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.

brussel-sprouts-nutrition-label-facts1Nutrition

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)

Ingredients

  • 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

How-To

  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

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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.

 

 

 

Varieties

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

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.

Energetics

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

ek0309_marinated_feta-jpg-rend-sni12col-landscapeIngredients
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

Directions

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.

Source

 

Energetics of Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

The great debate, what is a tomato?!  Well, while it is used and consumed as vegetable it is botanically a fruit. Tomatoes have seeds and grows from a flowering plant, therefore it is botanically classified as a fruit. The confusion comes from the fact that in 1887, US tariffs imposed a duty on vegetables, but not fruits.  Then in 1893 the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Nix V. Hedden that tomatoes were to be considered a vegetable based on the popular definition that classifies vegetables by use, meaning that since tomatoes were usually served with dinner and not as a dessert they were a vegetable.

 

Varieties

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Tomato plants originated in the South America Andes in an area in modern day Peru. It was first consumed as food by the Aztecs. Now a days, the main producer of tomatoes is China, followed closely by the US and India. There are literally about 7,500 different types of tomatoes in the world, but today we are going to talk about 5 categories of tomatoes most commonly found at your local market.

Cherry Tomatoes are red, orange or yellow in color, and are bite-sized. These are used mostly in salads or as a garnish.

Slicing Tomatoes

Slicing Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes and Roma/Italian Tomatoes are small, egg-shaped tomatoes that contain less juice than Slicing Tomatoes. Since they contain less juice these types of tomatoes are ideal for cooking, especially tomato sauces.

Slicing Tomatoes are small, round, and juicy.  These are the most commonly found tomato in local markets.  These include the flat beefsteak tomato.

Heirloom Tomatoes actually have no standard definition, but most experts consider them to be varieties that have been passed down for generations of a family and developed to bring out their best characteristics. They can be found in a variety of colors, shapes, and tastes. They are usually a soft tomato with a short shelf life, thus are not as wide distributed.  Most are found in farmer markets, natural food stores and supermarkets with a larger expanse of produce.

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes are unripe tomatoes. They contain less nutrients than fully ripe tomatoes.  This is due to the fact that the phytonutrients that result in the tomatoes red coloring have not yet developed.

While tomatoes are available throughout the year, their peak season runs from July through October.

Best Way to Choose and Store

Plum Tomatoes

Plum Tomatoes

When selecting tomatoes look for ones that are deeply and evenly colored, and ones that are firm and heavy for their size. They should also be well shaped and have smooth skin.  Ripe tomatoes will yield to slight pressure and have a slight sweet smell. Avoid tomatoes with wrinkles, cracks, bruises, or soft spots.  Also avoid ones with a puffy appearance, as they tend to have inferior flavor.

Since ripe tomatoes are too fragile to ship, most commercially sold tomatoes are actually picked green and are exposed to ethylene gas (do not fret, this is the gas that fruit and veggies naturally give off that help quicken the ripening process) to ripen them to a red color once they reach their destination.  Since these tomatoes are picked early, their taste is not as flavorful as tomatoes found at farmers markets.

For canned tomatoes, make sure that you purchase tomatoes canned in the United States. Many countries do not have the same strict policies about controlling lead content in their food containers.  The high acid content in tomatoes can lead to corrosion of the container’s metal and result in migration of metals (especially lead) into the food.

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes

It is best to eat tomatoes the same day you buy them, but if that is not a possibility make sure you store them correctly.  Tomatoes can be stored uncut for up to 10 days.  It is best to keep them at room temperature and to keep them away from direct sunlight. Refrigerating unripe tomatoes can cause them to lose flavor and become spongy. Only put tomatoes in the fridge if they are overripe and you have not had a chance to eat them yet. Try to place them in the butter compartment if possible and eat with 2 days. Take them out of the fridge at least 30 mins before preparing them, so that you can regain the optimal flavor and juiciness.  For tomatoes that are already cut, place it in an airtight container or bag with all the excess air removed.  Sliced tomatoes will only last up to 2 days in the fridge.

Nutrition

tomato-nutritionTomatoes are rich in nutrients that have antioxidant activity.  They are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, due to their concentration of pro-vitamin A carotenoids such as alpa- and beta-carotene. Tomatoes also contain the carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene.  Other great benefits of tomatoes are their heart healthy potassium, folic acid, dietary fiber, and vitamin B6; bone-building vitamin K, magnesium and phosphorus; sulfite-detoxifying molybdenum; free-radical-scavenging manganese, copper and vitamin E; energy-producing vitamin B1, vitamin B12, vitamin B5, niacin, and iron; muscle-building protein; blood-sugar-regulating chromium; and sleep-promoting tryptophan.

 

 

 

Energetics

Tomatoes are very cooling in nature. They build yin fluids and relieves dryness and thirst, tonifies the stomach and cleans the liver, purifies the blood and detoxifies the body in general, encourages digestion and used in cases of diminished appetite, indigestion, food retention, anorexia, and constipation. Tomatoes relieve liver heat and accompanying symptoms such as high blood pressure, red eyes, and headache. It can also be used to treat areas of blood stagnation, as both food and an external pack of raw finely sliced pieces. Even though tomatoes are highly acidic, after digestion they alkalizes the blood and thus is useful in reducing the acid blood of rheumatism and gout.  Try to eat vine-ripened tomatoes, as green-picked tomatoes that are later ripened can weaken the kidney-adrenal function.

Caution: Tomato upsets calcium metabolism and should be avoided in cases of arthritis. Large amounts of tomatoes are weakening of everyone.

 

Roasted Cherry Tomato Chutney on Squash

Tomato RecipeIngredients

  • 1 2 – pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 pints cherry and/or grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 8 – ounce container bite-size fresh mozzarella balls, cut up
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

  1. Brush cut sides of squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash halves, cut sides down, in a large baking dish. Prick the skin all over with a fork. Bake, uncovered, in a 375 degrees oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, place cherry tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, the minced garlic and salt to taste; stir well to coat. Place tomato mixture in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake in oven with the squash for the last 20 minutes.
  3. In a large skillet, bring the chicken broth to boiling; add onion. Cook about 3 minutes or just until tender. Remove skillet from heat. Add roasted tomatoes to the skillet with the onion. Using a fork or potato masher, gently press down on tomatoes to pop their skin and release their juice. Add mozzarella, basil and mint to the tomato mixture; toss well.
  4. Using a fork, remove the squash pulp from shell. Top squash with tomato mixture and Parmesan cheese.

Source

Energetics of Food: Why is it Important?

yin_yin-yang_yang-imageThe energetics of food can be quite the tricky concept for the Western mind to understand. It’s definitely not impossible to understand; it’s more that the concept of energetics is a cross current pattern of thoughts that collide against the way in which most Westerners think about the food that they consume. I am one of these Westerners; my Western mindset gave me a lot of applicable and helpful knowledge. However, this mindset also led me astray when it came to my own health. I was so engrossed with consuming items that had phenomenal nutrient profiles that I had not considered the energetics of the food that I was eating. Once I accounted for the energetics of food, applied these Eastern concepts into my diet, and began Western nutritional supplementation, it was then that my health came back online.

energetics-apple

This image uses special photography to see the energetics of this apple. This is a real image of an apple. http://kirlian.com/

If you’re wondering, “what does the energetics of food even mean?” then please read this phenomenal series by Kaely Shull: Power of Energetics: Food as Medicine, Power of Energetics: Yin and Yang, Power of Energetics: 5 Properties, and Power of Energetics: 5 Flavors (Part 1) & Part 2. These blogs do an amazing job at exploring the dense, broad, and integral concepts related to this topic.

I am writing this blog post to share my personal experience with you: optimal health can sometimes require both Eastern and Western methodologies of medicine.

Over the last 8 years I have been attempting to widen my perspective to include ideas, concepts, and ways of being that are not aligned with my culturally adopted way of thinking. Chinese medicine—and the vital knowledge of energetics—has been one of the avenues which deeply expanded my thought processes, and more recently, has shifted me into better understanding how the energetics of food directly affects my body. To be completely honest, this transition into Eastern thinking literally feels as if my brain is turning inside-out and upside-down from its normal Western alignment. I feel like a ship lost at sea with only a half-working compass.

Not to worry though! Our minds and our bodies have the ability to make sense of this “lost” feeling. Eventually we can re-calibrate, and quite naturally, these two mindsets can learn to live harmoniously. The synergistic relationship between these two seemingly opposing ways of thinking can begin to inform one another and a new level of health can be established—one which would be almost impossible with either side being alone by itself. As with anything, this is an ever-growing process, and it is one that I am currently adapting to because of a recent health issue in my own life that has resurfaced from my past: dermatitis.

I’m currently 28 and this recent health issue, although in a new area of my body, was not something that I hadn’t experienced before. As a child I had extreme (well, to me) spouts of diagnosed eczema that had ebbed and flowed throughout my life and throughout different parts of my body. This form of dermatitis had been diagnosed and treated by Western medicine specifically via applying steroid creams and pharmaceutical liquids; this ‘fixed’ it for the time. After my body went through puberty my symptoms of eczema mostly stopped, and every once in a while since then, a small patch would show up in what seemed to be random parts around my body and I could not figure out what caused it. These small patches were minor and didn’t affect my daily life. I began to notice that my skin was my “Achilles heel” since I hardly got sick outside of skin issues, so I began changing my diet in the ways I knew best.

superfoodOver these last 8 years I have tried a multitude of different ‘healthy’ superfoods, drinks, smoothies, practices, etc. in order to optimize my own wellness and to detoxify my body from the things that I consumed before I became aware of the importance of food as medicine. However, my thought processes which lead me to these ‘healthy’ items was confined to my Western model of thinking—one which had overlooked the importance of the energetics of food, and instead, singularly focused on the nutritional profile. I was so busy seeking various superfoods containing abnormally high amounts of antioxidants, anticancer-agents, omegas, fiber, and protein that I unintentionally disregarded the importance of also utilizing the energetic qualities that were imbibed within these healthy sources: yin & yang, 5 properties, 5 flavors, 5 elements, and the 4 directions.

path_through_the_forest-t2My lack of applied knowledge, within the vital field of the energetics of food, led me astray. My hand flared a fiery red with inflamed dermatitis; the discomfort associated with this kept me from sleeping and was a constant struggle of attempting to rehydrate it will various oils; the less I slept, the more I stressed, the worse my hand inflamed. I then saw Donna, our practitioner here at East-West Wellness, and she reminded me of the importance of the energetics of food. After a month of this, I was finally able to see through the forest and know the path that I needed to take. I back-peddled through my mind to try to find where I went wrong. What was I doing that could have caused this to happen? If there isn’t a directly specific cause, then what things are feeding this fire on my hand?

Here lies one of the things that started the fire on my hand: my most recent blog posts (written 3 months before this blog and about 1 month before my hand flared) were written about the energetics of turmeric (Part 1 & Part 2). Turmeric has a plethora of amazing benefits for the body so I decided to prescribe myself ‘therapeutic dosages’ of turmeric. Even though I wrote this article with the intention of expressing its energetic qualities, I again still focused on the Western sense of a nutritional potency: I made a golden paste (highly condensed turmeric) and put this into most of my foods; I would sprinkle turmeric on almost every meal that I ate; I would also add it into my coffee and cacao drinks. I did this heavilTumeric and tumeric powder.y after I wrote that set of blogs, and then after a month of heavily consuming turmeric, my hand slowly exploded with dermatitis that got worse day by day.

Turmeric has a warming energetic constitution; this energetic quality of turmeric—even though it is also anti-inflammatory in Western terms—most definitely fed the inflammation on my hand. I also love spicy foods of all sorts, so naturally I had been consuming many spicy foods at the same time as this new influx of turmeric came into my digestion. Donna explained to me that the dermatitis on my hand has a hot energy to it (as it was obviously inflamed, red, and felt very hot in temperature), and therefore I should remove all energetically warming foods, begin to include more cooling foods, and to also use a topical neem cream with added vitamin D. I did all of this as well as ingested Chinese herbs prescribed by her which helped to clear the extra heat that I had in my system. After a blood test, I was also prescribed a few Western supplements to bring my nutrient levels back into an optimal state.

energetics-pear

Visual Energetics of a Pear

Almost two months later, after being urged to become aware of the energetic impacts of the food that I choose to consume, I now feel and see an immense improvement in my hand. The inflammation has receded, the pain has gone away, and my skin is beginning to feel normal again (FINALLY!). The miraculous thing about this improvement is that this improvement in health was able to occur during my most intensely stressful semester of college-level chemistry and biology (which was definitely among one of the causative factors).

All of this to say that by me shifting my perspective into applying the importance that energetics can play within my own body was a mind-body altering experience for me. Now, I can’t say that turmeric and warming foods were the only culprit—that is very obvious to me—as the ways in which I was dealing with my stress was also a contributing factor, and there were many other things that I had to become aware of (e.g. ingredients in soap, my need to increase exercise, etc.). However, I do feel that being armed with medical knowledge from a multitude of cultures, and now the direct experience of how the energetics within all foods affects my biology, became a key concept that allowed me to take control of my own health. This applied knowledge allowed me to be empowered in the decisions I make every day: what will I eat today? How will this food choice affect my energetics?

Now this doesn’t mean that I can never eat spicy foods or turmeric ever again—unless of course I took a food sensitivity test and found out otherwise. It does mean, however, that I need to learn how to balance my foods in relation to the qualities that these foods bring into my body. This is an art within itself; one that I am immensely excited to learn more about and integrate into my ever-evolving diet.

I know within my heart that this disruption in my health was a blessing in disguise. It is my hope that this experience can also be of help to those of you who read this. Feel free to post if you have any questions or comments =)

energetic-temperature-of-food

Click image to enlarge and save it for your reference

Energetics of Onions: Don’t Cry for Me

Fun fact, ancient Egyptians had such a high regard for onions that they actually used them as currency for the workers who built the great pyramids! Not only that, but they were also thought to have high spiritual significance and as such were placed in the tombs of the pharaohs.  Nothing like a nice snack to accompany you to the afterlife.  Nowadays onions have become a staple in almost every region in the world.

 

 

Varieties

Onions are actually native to Asia and the Middle East, having been cultivated for over 5,000 years.  They vary in size, color, and taste depending upon their variety.

Spanish Onions

Spanish Onions

Storage Onions

Storage Onions are a variety of onion that, as you can guess, store for a long time.  They are grown in colder climates because they are dried for a period of several months after harvesting. They tend to have a more pungent flavor than Spring/Summer Onions, and they are named after their color.  Spanish onions also fall into this category.

Yellow Storage Onions are very flavorful and the most commonly used variety. They also contain the highest concentration of antioxidants called quercetin.

Spanish Onions are large yellow onions with a mild flavor.

Red or Bermuda Onions are the hottest and sweetest of the Storage Onions. They are high in quercetin and anthocyanins.

Pearl Onions

Pearl Onions

White Onions are not very sweet and have a mild taste.

Pearl or Boiling Onions are a smaller version of Storage Onions.

Spring/Summer Onions

These juicy onions are grown in warm climates and since they remain in soil longer than Storage Onions, much of their carbohydrates turn to sugar giving them their characteristically sweet taste. The extended time in the ground results in the reduction of their nutritional value and loss of sulfur-containing compounds.  The loss of these compounds is the reason these onions do not bring tears to your eyes.  Varieties of Spring/Summer include Walla Walla, Vidalia, and Maui Sweet Onions.  These are best eaten raw and should not be kept longer than a week.

Summer/Spring Onions

Summer/Spring Onions

Other Varieties

Scallions and Green Onions are bright in color with long, narrow hollow leaves and a small pear-shaped white bulb.

While Storage Onions are available throughout the year, Spring/Sumer Onions are available only a few months of the year.

Maui Onions- April through June

Vidalia Onions- May and June

Walla Walla- July and August

 Best Way To Choose and Store

Red Onions

Red Onions

Always look for ones that are clean and well-shaped, have no opening at the neck, and feature crisp, dry outer skins. Avoid selecting onions that are sprouting or have signs of mold.  Spots, moisture at their neck and dark patches may be indications of decay ad reflect inferior quality.

Onions actually last a while if you store them correctly.  The length of time you can store it depends on the variety of onion you bought. Varieties that are more pungent in flavor, such as Yellow Onions, can be stored longer than those with a sweeter taste, such as White Onions.

The best way to store uncut Storage or Spring/Summer Onions is in a cool, dark place, away from heat and bright light.  Make sure that they are well ventilated and do not put them in a storage bag. You can put them in a wire hanging basket or a perforate bowl with a raised base so air can circulate. Do not place uncut onions in the fridge, as this will cause it to spoil quickly. Do not store onions with potatoes.

The best way to store portions of onions not used should be placed in a sealed container to limit its exposure to airflow and store in the crisper in your fridge. Use any cut onions within a day or two, as onions will oxidize and lose its nutrients quickly.

Prevent Onions from Irritating Your Eyes

imgresThere are actually a few methods to help prevent onions irritating your eyes while cutting them.  The irritating factor comes from allyl sulfate, which while annoying to the eyes, it is where their significant nutritional value comes from.  One way to do this is to chill the onion for at least an hour before cutting.  Another method is to cut the onion while running it under running water. The problem with this method is the water can dilute the amount of allyl sulfate. There are some people that say putting a slice of bread or metal spoon in your mouth while cutting onions can help neutralize the irritating compounds. If none if these work, may I suggest using goggles.

 Nutrition

Onions help promote blood sugar balance, experimental and clinical evidence shows that there is a link between allyl propyl disulfate and an increased amount of free insulin available to usher glucose where it needs to go.  Also, onions are a great source of chromium, a mineral component in glucose tolerance factors, which helps cells responds appropriately to insulin.

Regular consumption of onions have shown to lower high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure, both actions that can help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease, and reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.  Onion’s heart benefits are likely due to its sulfur compounds, chromium, folate, and vitamin B6 content. Folate and vitamin B6 also help prevent heart disease by lowering high homocysteine levels.

Onions contain many anti-inflammatory agents, these agents are helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms associated with inflammatory conditions.  They have this power because they contain compounds that inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, the enzymes that generate inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes. These effects are due to vitamin C, quercetin, and isothiocyanates found in onions. Quercetin and other flavonoids also work with vitamin C to kill harmful bacteria, making onions great for soups and stews during cold and flu season.

Energetics

imgresOnions are pungent and influence the lungs, promote warmth, move energy around the body, resolve blood stagnancies, reduce clotting, and expel coldness.  They are rich in sulfur, a warming element that purifies the body, helps remove heavy metals and parasites, and facilitates protein/amino acid metabolism. Onions also clean the arteries and retard the growth of viruses, yeast, ferments, and other pathogenic organisms. Onions lower blood pressure and cholesterol, decreases catarrh (phlegm and inflammation of the nose and throat), treats dysentery, inhibits allergic reactions, induces sweating, and can help cure the common cold.

Traditional cough remedy: Simmer onions in water until soft with a little added honey.  Also one should eat an onion every 4 hours.

Caution: While onions have many medicinal values, they are not recommended for those seeking mental and spiritual refinement as onions foster excessive emotional desire.

Onions are a concentrated source of manganese, copper, phosphorus, and tryptophan.

7-Minute Healthy Sautéed Onions

dsc01880Traditional caramelized onion sautéing destroys many health benefits. Low heat sautéing brings out onion’s sweet flavor and preserves the most nutrients.

Prep and Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBS + 2 TBS chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 TBS extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Slice onions and let sit for 5 minutes to enhance health-promoting benefits.
  2. Heat 2 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  3. When broth begins to steam, add onions and cover for 3 minutes. The onions will ‘sweat’.  Add another 2 TBS broth and stir uncovered for 4 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat when onions become translucent, about 7 minutes. Increase cooking time for more tenderness.
  5. Transfer to a bowl. For the best flavor toss onions with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste while still hot.

Serves 2: Calories 206 (100g) Recipe Courtesy of WHFoods.com

 

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)