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

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 Grapefruit: Delicious and Nutritious

Grapefruit TreeHave you ever wondered why this large cousin of the orange is named after its smaller counterpart grapes? It is because like grapes, grapefruits grow in clusters on trees! The grapefruit is a native of Barbados and has only been around since the 1700’s. Many botanist believe the grapefruit is actually a cross breeding between oranges and pomelos, a citrus fruit brought to Barbados from Indonesia.

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

photo credit: Darwin Bell via photopin cc

Best Way to Choose and Store

While available all year round, peak season is early winter through early spring. Grapefruit are designated white, pink or ruby depending on inner flesh color, not skin color. They come in many varieties and sizes. Duncan, a white grapefruit, are large with yellow skin and is used primarily to make juice. Lavender Gem, a white grapefruit, is a grapefruit-tangelo hybrid with a lemon-yellow or pink blush colored skin. The inner flesh is a pinkish-blue and has a delicate flavor. The most popular variety is the White Marsh, which is a white seedless grapefruit. Pink and ruby varieties tend to be sweeter and have a higher concentration of vitamin A. You can select the best tasting grapefruit by looking for ones that are heavy with smooth skin. Ripe grapefruit are heavy and firm, yet slightly springy when gently squeezed. At room temperature they should have a sweet aroma.   Skin discoloration, scratches, or scales do not affect the taste. Avoid grapefruit that show signs of decay or overly soft spots at the stem. These are signs that they will be less flavorful and more bitter. While grapefruit tend to be juicer when warm, they only last 5 days at room temperature. If refrigerated they can last up to 10 days.

grapefruit nutrition

Energetics

Grapefruit contain lycopene, a carotenoid phytonutrient that is responsible for its pink coloration and provides protection from free-radical activity. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C and vitamin A, that provide immune support and powerful antioxidant protection. Grapefruits are great for heart health, they contain pectin and mineral potassium. Pectin is a soluble fiber that helps trap fats like cholesterol in the intestinal tract.   Mineral potassium helps regulate blood pressure. The pulp of citrus fruit, like the grapefruit, contain glucarates, compounds that may help prevent breast cancer. Grapefruits are also a good source of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) which plays an important role in the body’s production of cellular energy.

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

photo credit: woodleywonderworks via photopin cc

Grapefruit increases appetite during pregnancy, helps overcome alcohol intoxication, and treats poor digestion and belching. Grapefruit peels move and regulate spleen-pancreas digestive energy, resolves mucus conditions of the lungs, lung congestion and coughing, and are used to alleviate intestinal gas, pain, swelling, and promote peristalsis. To extract these properties from the peels, make it into a tea. The tea is also good for frostbite when applied at room temperature with a compress, as it helps restore circulation to the damaged tissue. The juice from grapefruits when combined with tea made from grapefruit pulp will reduce fevers.

Grapefruit seeds are even more beneficial. The extract made from the seeds, Citrus Seed Extract, is an extremely potent antibiotic.   The extract dries damp conditions in the body, inhibit members of several classes of microbes and parasites, among them: protozoa, amoebas, bacteria, viruses, and at least thirty types of fungi. The extract comes in a variety of forms, including liquids, capsules, sprays, and ointments. Internal uses include prevention of “traveler’s diarrhea”, allergies, gardida, parasites, flu, strep throat, and staph infections. External uses include wart removal, treatment of athlete’s foot, nail fungi, dandruff, and poison oak.   This extract is also used in household settings by soaking produce to remove parasites and pesticides, sterilizing laundry, cleaning contaminated surfaces and kitchen utensils, and ridding drinking, bathing, and swimming water of microbes.

Caution: Those with signs of dryness and/or deficiency, including deficient yin syndrome, should use Citrus Seed Extract sparingly.

Energetics of Radish: Radical Groudlings

photo credit: Carrdish via photopin (license)

Radishes are grown and consumed all around the world with the first written records being found from the 3rd century B.C. They are generally eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable.  Surprisingly, there are numerous varieties of radishes, varying in size, flavor, color and length of time they take to mature.  Radishes can be sweet or spicy, owing their sharp flavor to the various chemical compounds produced by the plants, including glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isothiocyanate.

About seven million tons of radishes are produced yearly, that is roughly 2% of the global vegetable production.

 Varieties

photo credit: radishes via photopin (license)

photo credit: radishes via photopin (license)

Radishes come in groupings categorized by the season they are grown in.

Summer Radishes are sometimes referred to as European radishes or spring radishes if they are planted in cooler weather. Summer radishes tend to be smaller and have a relatively short cultivation time. There are many different summer radishes, almost to many to name.  Cherry Belle is the one that is commonly found in grocery stores, it is bright red-skinned with a white interior.  Snow Belle is very similar to the Cherry Belle, but it is all white.   Gala and Roodbol are two varieties popular in the Netherlands in a breakfast dish, thinly sliced on buttered bread.  Champion is round and red-skinned like the Cherry Belle, but with slightly larger roots, up to about 2 in, and has a milder flavor.  Easter Egg is not an actual variety, but a mix of varieties with different skin colors, typically including white, pink, red, and purple radishes. Sold in markets or seed packets under the name, the seed mixes can extend harvesting duration from a single planting, as different varieties may mature at different times

black radishWinter Radishes are, as the name states, grown in the cold winter months.  As with the spring radishes, radishes grown in the fall are considered winter radishes. The most prominent winter radish is the Black Spanish, also called Black Radish and Spanish Heirloom.  This radish has a tough black skin with a very spicy white flesh.  It tends to be round in shape, but can grow as in a pear shape.  Another popular winter radish is the Daikon, which refers to a wide variety of winter oilseed radishes from Asia. While the Japanese name Daikon has been adopted in English, it is also sometimes called the Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Oriental radish or mooli (in India and South Asia). 

There is one last grouping, the seed pod variety.  The seeds of radishes grow in pods, following flowering that happens when left to grow past their normal harvesting period. The seeds are edible, and are sometimes used as a crunchy, spicy addition to salads.

 How to Choose and Store

photo credit: Roots via photopin (license)

photo credit: Roots via photopin (license)

When shopping for radishes, always check the leafy tops first.  They should be bright green and crisp. The roots should be brightly colored and free from cracks and nicks. Give them a quick squeeze to make sure there’s no hollow or soft center. Avoid radishes with wilted or soft roots and avoid radishes with oversized roots as well.

As soon as you get home, separate your radishes from the greens and using a sturdy vegetable brush, scrub the radishes thoroughly so they are free of any sand and dirt. Then, make sure to rinse them thoroughly in cold water. Get either a large wide mouth glass jar or a large gallon-sized resealable bag and line the bottom of the jar or bag with a layer of paper towels. Put your still-damp radishes on top, then put another layer of paper towel and repeat until you are out of radishes. If using a bag, squeeze out excess air.  This should keep them crisp for up to a week.

Nutrition

Radish NutritionLow in calories and high in antioxidants, radishes are high in vitamin C, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamin, folates, and the flavonoid antioxidants, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene. Radishes also contain a high amount of iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.

Radishes contain goitrogens, which may cause thyroid gland swelling.   Those with thyroid dysfunction should avoid radishes.

Energetics

photo credit: Radishes via photopin (license)

photo credit: Radishes via photopin (license)

Radishes moistens the lungs, transforms thick mucus conditions and mucus associated with heat, removes food stagnation, detoxifies, relieves indigestion, and abdominal swelling.  It clears sinuses, hoarseness, phlegm, sore throats.  The cooling nature of radishes benefits many common heat-induced conditions;: nosebleed, spitting up blood, dysentery, and occipital headache.  Regular use can prevent viral infections like the common cold and the flu.  It is also a traditional western medicine remedy for gallstones and kidney and bladder stones.

Caution: People who are deficient in and cold should avoid radishes.

 

Vegan + Gluten Free Chinese Daikon Radish Cakes (aka Turnip Cakes)

This savory, doughy radish cake has many adoring fans. Note: This dish calls for overnight refrigeration.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups daikon radish (1.5 lbs)
  • 4 large green onions, finely chopped
  • 1.5 cups rice flour (not the glutinous or sweet kind,like basmati works well)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp + pinch salt and white pepper

Directions

Saute mushrooms and garlic with a pinch of salt and pepper until mushrooms wilt slightly.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Grate daikon into mushroom mixture, add green onions, rice flour, water and 2 tsp salt.  The mixture should look like lumpy oatmeal.  Oil a cake pan and pour batter in.

Typically the cake is covered then steamed on a steamer rack over simmering water for 45 min but after a minor setback (aka almost setting my kitchen on fire), I decided to bake it in the oven.  Tightly cover with aluminum foil and cook for 45 min at 350F. The cake should be firm to the touch and pulling away from the sides of the pan when done.  Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, slice and fry in oil (olive or canola) until browned and crust forms on the exterior (about 2 min each side).

Recipe courtesy of Beakers & Bouillabaisse: Food Science Meets Culinary Escapades.

Energetics of Garlic: Move over Dracula

photo credit: Vitlök via photopin (license)

photo credit: Vitlök via photopin (license)

Probably the most versatile vegetable in the world, garlic is used in many recipes from across the globe.  In Ancient Egypt, Egyptians believed that garlic was bestowed with sacred qualities and it enhanced the endurance and strength of the slaves that built the pyramids.  Garlic has been a staple for both culinary and medicinal needs in many cultures throughout the millennia.

 

 

Varieties

photo credit: garlic via photopin (license)

photo credit: garlic via photopin (license)

Since garlic cultivation dates back to over 5,000 years, there are now over 300 different varieties grown throughout the globe. Most garlic consumed in the US is either “early’ or “late”, and grown in California, Mexico, and Chile. Garlic can found year round, but the peak season for California garlic is June-December. Since there are so many varieties, I will talk about the different classifications instead.

Soft neck garlic, also called artichoke garlic, is the most common type of garlic found in stores. Its popularity comes from its easy storage and the fact that it does not have a very pungent smell. The most common variety of soft neck garlic is called Silverskin.

Hard neck garlic has a thick, unbendable stem emerging from the center of the bulb. This type of garlic has a complex and intense flavor. There are several common varieties of this type. Rocambole is very popular among chefs due to its well-balanced flavor. Purple-Striped garlic has rosy purple and white stripes on the skin. Garlic imported from Mexico has a reddish skin and sharp taste. Another common variety is the Porcelain garlic, which is easy to confuse with Elephant garlic due to its large size and small number of cloves, but has a more pungent in taste compared to the Elephant.

Green garlic is baby garlic, harvested before the cloves have formed. Unfortunately, green garlic does not have the healthy benefits of fully matured garlic.

Elephant garlic is not true garlic! It is more closely related to leeks and does not have the full flavor or health benefits of regular garlic.

How to Choose and Store

The most flavorful and nutritionally rich garlic can be found by looking for bulbs that are plump. Gently squeeze the bulb; fresh garlic will feel firm and have no trace of dampness. For easier peeling, select larger cloves. Avoid garlic that is soft, shriveled and moldy, or has begun to sprout.   These are indications that decay has set in and will cause inferior flavor and nutrition.

Although flakes, powder, and paste forms of garlic are convenient, they do not have the full flavor of regular garlic.

Garlic is a very sturdy vegetable when properly stored. if not stored correctly, it will turn soft and start to mold quickly.  The best way to store garlic is in an uncovered or loosely covered container in a cool dark place away from heat and bright light.  Do not refrigerate garlic, as the moisture found in the fridge will cause them to spoil.  Proper storage will give whole garlic a shelf life of about a month.  Once you break the head apart you will only get about 2 weeks of shelf life.

Be sure to inspect the bulbs frequently to remove any bulbs that are dried out or moldy.

Nutrition

garlic nutritionNumerous studies have shown that regular consumption of garlic can lower blood pressure and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. As a result, garlic may help prevent diseases such as atherosclerosis and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. It is thought that garlic gets these heart healthy benefits from sulfur compounds, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese.

Speaking of sulfur, phytonutrient compounds found in garlic sulfur have been found to inhibit lipoxygenase and cyclooxygenase, enzymes that generate inflammatory prostaglandins and thromboxanes. These anti-inflammatory compounds, along with vitamin C, help protect against inflammatory attacks (like asthma), and may also be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Allicin, the compound responsible for garlic’s unique odor, is the power house of garlic nutrients. It is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral agent, and alongside vitamin C helps to kill harmful microbes. Research shows it is effective against common infections like colds, flu, stomach viruses and Candida yeast. Studies show that allicin helps lower blood pressure, triglyceride, and insulin levels in the blood. Allicin has also been shown to help protect against colon cancer by protecting colon cells from the toxic effects of cancer-causing chemicals.

Garlic is abundant with minerals and vitamins that act as powerful antioxidants. These include vitamin C, selenium, manganese and copper, as well as sulfur phytonutrients.

Garlic is also a good source of bone-building calcium, energy-producing vitamin B1 and phosphorus, muscle-building protein, and sleep promoting tryptophan.

Energetics

Garlic promotes circulation and sweating, removes abdominal obstructions and stagnant blood, inhibits the common cold virus as well as viruses, amoebae, and other microorganisms associated with degenerative disease such as cancer, eliminates the body of worms, unfavorable bacteria, and yeast, and promotes the growth of healthy intestinal flora.

It is also used in the treatment of dysentery, pneumonia, tuberculosis, asthma, hay fever, diarrhea, snake bites, warts, abscesses, and hepatitis. For chronic conditions, garlic must be ingested regularly for several weeks to initiate substantial improvements.

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 Leeks

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photo credit: Kyle Strickland via photopin cc

The leek is a member of the onion family but has a sweeter, more subtle flavor than an onion. It can be eaten raw or cooked but the green tops are usually not eaten.

Leeks don’t just taste great nor does it just enhance the flavor of other dishes.  Because it is packed with so many essential nutrients, eating leeks also have a string of health benefits when eaten in moderation.

Leeks, known scientifically as Allium porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions. Leeks look like large scallions, having a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of superimposed layers that flows into green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves. Cultivated leeks are usually about 12 inches in length and one to two inches in diameter and feature a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of shallots but sweeter and more subtle. Wild leeks, known as ramps, are much smaller in size, but have a stronger, more intense flavor. They are available for a short period of time each year and are often widely sought out at farmers markets when they are in season.

With a more delicate and sweeter flavor than onions, leeks add a subtle touch to recipes without overpowering the other flavors that are present. Although leeks are available throughout the year they are in season from the fall through the early part of spring when they are at their best

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How to Select and Store

Leeks should be firm and straight with dark green leaves and white necks. Good quality leeks will not be yellowed or wilted, nor have bulbs that have cracks or bruises. Since overly large leeks are generally more fibrous in texture, only purchase those that have a diameter of one and one-half inches or less. Try to purchase leeks that are of similar size so as to ensure more consistent cooking if you are planning on cooking the leeks whole. Leeks are available throughout the year, although they are in greater supply from the fall through the early part of spring.

Fresh leeks should be stored unwashed and untrimmed in the refrigerator, where they will keep fresh for between one and two weeks. Wrapping them loosely in a plastic bag will help them to retain moisture. Cooked leeks are highly perishable, and even when kept in the refrigerator, will only stay fresh for about two days. Leeks may be frozen after being blanched for two to three minutes, although they will lose some of their desirable taste and texture qualities. Leeks will keep in the freezer for about three months.

Energetics

Nutrition_Facts_Leek Leeks can steady the blood sugar levels in the body.  When consumed at least twice a week, the ascorbic acid contained in leeks along with Vitamin B6 and manganese help slow down the body’s absorption of sugar from the intestinal tract. These nutrients aid in the proper metabolism of sugar thus helping the body maintain its sugar level.

Leeks have also been proven to decrease bad cholesterol in the body and instead raise High Density Lipoprotein or good cholesterol.  Maintaining this would ensure that a person would not develop the formation of plaques in the blood vessels that later on, can lead to atherosclerosis and diabetic heart disease.

Aside from helping people avoid stroke, diabetes and other heart ailments, leek is an excellent source of iron and folate.  Iron is an essential vitamin that synthesizes hemoglobin and carries oxygen throughout the body.

Because of its rich iron content, leeks help fight anemia and prevents birth defects especially those that are related with the brain and spine.  And because leeks are also rich in Vitamin C, the iron is quickly absorbed by the body

mushroom-leek-and-fontina-frittata-940x560Ingredients
SERVINGS: 6
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium leeks, whites and pale green parts only, chopped
8 ounces crimini (baby bella) mushrooms, thinly sliced
12 large eggs
1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup shredded Fontina cheese, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Preparation

PREP: 30 MINTOTAL: 1 MIN

  • Place a rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 350°. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 10-inch nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until softened and all liquid has evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk eggs, crème fraîche, and parsley in a large bowl; mix in 1/2 cup cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high and add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet. Pour the egg mixture over the mushrooms, shaking the pan to evenly distribute mixture. Cook the frittata, without stirring, until its edges begin to set, about 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup cheese over eggs and transfer skillet to oven. Bake frittata until golden brown and center is set, 25-30 minutes.

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Energetics of Parsnips:

Parsnips and rutabagas are both root vegetables, or “underground” vegetables, like carrots, potatoes, and beets. They are in season late fall and winter, generally ready to be harvested after the first frost has set in.

Parsnips resemble carrots, but are ivory or yellowish in color, with a curvier form.

Parsnips are high in vitamin C, E, and K. They are also a good source of folate, thiamine, panthothentic acid. They also contain B vitamins including riboflavin, niacin, and B-6. Parsnips provide the body with energy.

Roasted Parsnips and Carrots

Roasted Parsnips and CarrotsIngredients2 pounds parsnips, peeled
1 pound carrots, unpeeled
3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill or parsley

DirectionsPreheat the oven to 425 degrees F.If the parsnips and carrots are very thick, cut them in half lengthwise. Slice each diagonally in 1-inch-thick slices. The vegetables will shrink while cooking, so don’t make the pieces too small. Place the cut vegetables on a sheet pan. Add the olive oil, salt, and pepper and toss well. Roast for 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the vegetables, tossing occasionally, until the parsnips and carrots are just tender. Sprinkle with dill and serve hot.

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Energetics of Rutabagas: Warming in Winter

draft_lens19246622module157717840photo_1332015813a_a_aaaRutabagas are root vegetables, or “underground” vegetables, like carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and beets. While they are closely related to turnips, their exact origin is vague. It is speculated that they are a cross between turnips and cabbage.  They are in season late fall and winter, generally ready to be harvested after the first frost has set in.

Rutabaga has many national and regional names. Rutabaga is the common American and Canadian term for the plant. This comes from the old Swedish word Rotabagge, meaning simply “ram root”. In the U.S., the plant is also known as Swedish turnip or yellow turnip.Rutabagas are also known as “swedes,” as they grew very well in the cold climate of Sweden and surrounding areas.

How to Choose and Store

RutabagaRipe rutabaga will usually have purple-tinged skin. If you scratch the skin slightly you should see yellow flesh beneath. Stay away from rutabagas that are bruised or blemished. And toss that rutabaga back if you notice any green shoots coming out of it, which typically means it’s overripe. A ripe rutabaga will also feel firm to the touch. If the flesh is shriveled, loose, or you notice any soft spots, that veggie is past its prime and should be avoided. Rutabagas are a very hardy vegetable. They should last about a week when left out at room temperature or for several weeks if refrigerated.

Don’t bite into that rutabaga as soon as you bring it home! Rutabagas are often sold with a food-grade wax coating on them. This keeps them from drying out while they’re stored during the winter months, but it’s definitely not tasty! Using a paring knife, cut off the top and bottom of the rutabaga so it has a flat surface to stand on and peel off the skin.

As with watercress, mustard greens, turnip, broccoli and horseradish, human perception of bitterness in rutabaga is governed by a gene that affects the TAS2R bitter taste receptor. Thus, sensitive individuals may find rutabaga so bitter that it is inedible.

Energetics

Rutabaga nutritionLong ago, rutabagas were fed solely to livestock and were considered “unfit” for human consumption. Ironically, rutabagas are incredibly healthy for us! They are high in fiber, potassium, iron, and vitamins A and C.

Rutabaga and other cyanoglucoside-containing foods (including cassava, corn, bamboo shoots, sweet potatoes, and lima beans) release cyanide, which is subsequently detoxified into thiocyanate. Thiocyanate inhibits thyroid iodide transport.  As such, foodstuffs containing thiocyanate, like rutabagas, are best avoided by hypothyroid patients.

Rutabagas benefit that the spleen-pancreas and stomach, helps clear liver and gallbladder obstructions, promotes perspiration, mildly diuretic, lubricates the intestines, reduces wind and damp conditions, and work as an analgesic (allays pain).  Used in soup to treat coughs, colds, and shortness of breath. Rutabagas treat headaches, dizziness, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Mashed Potato, Rutabaga, and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions

mashed-potato-rutabaga-and-parsnip-casserole-with-caramelized-onions

Gluten-free and grain-free with vegetarian and vegan option.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

  • 7 cups low-sodium chicken broth (substitute vegetable broth for vegan option)
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/2 pounds rutabagas, peeled and cubed
  • 1 1/4 pounds parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 3 onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Combine chicken broth, potatoes, rutabagas, parsnips, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme in a large pot. Bring to  a boil. Reduce heat, and cover partially. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer vegetables to large bowl. Add 1/2 cup butter or margarine. Using an electric mixer (a manual potato masher works just fine, too), beat mixture until mashed but still chunky. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mashed vegetables to a buttered 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish.
  3. Melt remaining 1/4 cup butter or margarine ina heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions. Saute until onions are tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onions evenly over mashed vegetables. Casserole can be prepared up to one day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Back uncovered for 25 minutes or until heated through and top begins to crisp.

Sources
Mashed Potato, Rutabaga, and Parsnip Casserole with Caramelized Onions
Rutabagas: An Uncommon Treat