Energetics of Tofu: Just Another Soy Product?

Ah yes, that non-descript jiggly white stuff that vegetarians and vegans can’t seem to get enough of. What is so great about this seemingly strange food?

Tofu was discovered over 2000 years ago by the Chinese and legend has it that it was discovered by accident when a cook added a type of sea vegetable to a pot of soybean milk, which caused it to curdle and viola, tofu. Some people even call it the cheese of Asia, since it resembles a block a farmer’s cheese. Although, unlike cheese, tofu has very little flavor itself. Which is not a bad thing, as it is able to absorb the flavors of the ingredients around it making it perfect for any dish.

Varieties

There are 2 main varieties of tofu and it is distinguished by its texture.

Silken Tofu: This type is smooth and very similar to custard.  It is usually found in sealed aseptic packages.  You can buy silken tofu in soft, firm or extra firm. You can even find low-fat and lite versions in some stores. It is easily pureed, so it makes a great milk, sour cream or yogurt substitute.

Regular Tofu: This is also available in soft, firm or extra firm, its texture is much more granular. This type is sold in bulk or pre-packaged containers.  You can use it in dishes such as stir-fries, soups, and salads.

Best Way To Choose and Store

Most tofu is found pre-packaged, so make sure that when buying you are checking the expiration date. Some silken tofu can be purchased non-refrigerated, always make sure that the aseptic packaging is not punctured prior to use.

All opened tofu should be rinsed well and then kept in a container covered by water. When storing tofu, make sure to store it in the fridge (unless you buy aseptic packaged silken tofu) and change the water daily.  Stored properly, tofu can last up to a week.

Tofu can be frozen in its original packaging and will last for up to 5 months if stored properly.  Be aware, freezing tofu can change its texture and color.  Always squeeze water from thawed tofu prior to cooking it.

Nutrition

Tofu and its main ingredient soy have many great heart benefits. Research has shown that a regular intake of soy protein helps lower total cholesterol levels, LDL, triglycerides, and the tendency of platelets to form blood clots. These benefits come from the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically Alpha-linolenic Acid, selenium, calcium, and magnesium.  Calcium is also great for bone health since it helps build bone density and prevent accelerated bone loss.  Other bone-benefiting minerals found in tofu is manganese, copper, and phosphorus.

Tofu and soy also have shown great benefit in alleviating menopause symptoms. Soy contains phytoestrogens, specifically the isoflavones genistein and daidzein, which help dock estrogen receptors and act like weak estrogens. Perimenopause is a time when a women’s estrogen is fluctuating and phytoestrogens can help maintain balance. During menopause when a women’s natural ability to produce estrogen drops, phytoestrogens have enough activity to reduce uncomfortable symptoms.

Tofu and soy products are not just a great source of protein, but of iron as well.  Iron is an essential mineral that plays an important role in hemoglobin synthesis, a factor in energy production via the transportation and release of oxygen.

Energetics

Cooling in nature, tofu benefits the Metal element (lungs and large intestine). It moistens dry conditions, relieves inflammation of the stomach, neutralizes toxins (especially in cases of alcoholism, chronic amoebic dysentery, dietary changes and healing reactions), and reduces heat signs accompanying heart disease and high blood pressure.

Energetics of Eggs: What Came First?

Howard Helmer the Omelette King

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

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

Egg Varieties

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

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

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

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

How to Choose Eggs and How to Store Eggs

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

Always inspect eggs for breaks or cracks before purchasing them.

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

Salmonella Scare

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

Should Eggs Be Refrigerated?

Never store eggs in the door!

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

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

Egg Nutrition

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

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

Energetics

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

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

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

Easy Frittata – Easy Egg Recipe

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

Ingredients

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

Directions

Preheat oven to broil setting.

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

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

Source

Energetics of Dates: Today is the Date to Eat Healthy

4-Simple-Ways-In-Which-Dates-Help-Control-Diabetes

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Facts About Dates

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

Energetics

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

Nutrition Of Dates

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

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

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

Now, go have a date with some dates!

 Dates Recipe

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

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

Author: Minimalist Baker

Recipe type: Snack

Cuisine: Vegan, Gluten Free

Serves: 15

 

Ingredients:

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

Instructions:

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

 

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12850886

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-dates.html

http://www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/dates

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

https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/are-dates-new-low-glycemic-sugar-substitute

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

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

Goat’s Milk Facts

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

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

Goat’s Milk Varieties

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

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

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

How To Choose and How To Store Goat’s Milk

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

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

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

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

Nutrition of Goat’s Milk

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

Energetics

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

Goat’s Milk Recipe

Goat Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

Homemade-Scalloped-Potatoes-RecipeIngredients

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

Directions

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

Source

Energetics of Chicken: Time Honored Tradition

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Chicken Facts

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

Varieties Of Chicken

imagesChicken is available all year round.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Choose and How to Store Chicken

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

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

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

Nutrition Of Chicken

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

Energetics of Chicken

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

Chicken Recipe

Chicken Tikka MasalaCrock Pot Chicken Tikka Masala

Ingredients:

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

 

Directions:

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

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

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

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

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

Source

Energetics of Olive Oil: Liquid Gold

Olive OilOlive trees have grown along the Mediterranean Sea since that area of the world was settled.  There are groves in Spain that are over 1,000 years old, as olive trees have a very long life.  It should not be surprising that olives are rich in oil, as the botanical name of olive trees is Olea europaea and olea actually means “oil” in latin.

 

Varieties

Olives were brought to America by the Spanish and Portuguese during the 15th and 16th centuries.  They were then introduced to California in the late 18th Century by Franciscan missionaries.  Olive oil is created by crushing the olives and the pressing them.  Olive oil comes in many colors from yellow to smoky greens, each color having its own unique taste.

olive oilExtra Virgin Olive Oil: The former olive oil is the most superior and pure form and the only type that I truly recommend.  It has a delicate and yet complex flavor. Extra virgin olive oil is made by using only mechanical or physical pressing methods, are not exposed to heat, solvents or other treatments.  Only about 1% of oil extracted from olives can actually be called extra virgin. This is due to the fact that extra virgin olive oil is only taken from the first pressing.  Extra virgin olive oil also has the highest concentration of nutrients, the lowest acidity, and has the lowest smoking point.

Not only is flavor affected by the color o the oil, but also the nutrient content.  Yellow-colored oils tend to be rich in beta-carotene and have a fruity flavor.  Green-colored oils are rich in cholorophyll and polyphenolic compounds. The more intense the flavor, the more health benefits they contain.

Virgin: While also extracted form the first pressing, virgin olive oil has a higher acidity level (double extra virgin) and thus the flavor is less delicate and complex.  Virgin olive oil has been found to have less antioxidant phytonutrients than extra virgin olive oil.

Pure: This is a refined oil. Pure olive oil is not only mechanically pressed, refined oil is created by using charcoal and/or chemicals to filter the oil. Refined oils tend to be produced from poor quality olives. They also have a higher smoke point.

Light: Do not be fooled by  the term “light”, its caloric and fat content i the sea was other oils. “light” refers to its light taste and color.  It is devoid of the peppery taste and green color of extra virgin olive oil and is of far inferior quality. The term “light” is a marketing ploy and does not define the oil.

Like olives, olive oil is in season all year round.

Best Way to Choose and Store

olive oilBuying olive oil is not as easy as you would think.  It is very delicate and can become rancid easily by heat and light. Always buy olive oil in dark tinted bottles, this will increase the shelf life our oil. Also make sure that the oil s stored away from direct light or heat.

Unfortunately, the USDA does not have any labeling laws pertaining to olive oil that define what “extra virgin” actually means.  The main differentiation is through the wording “fancy” or “choice”.  There has been an increase in that last few years of fraudulent extra virgin olive oils in stores, where the oil has either been treated with heat or a solvent (making it pure olive oil), the oil has been cut with other less expensive oils (such as soybean or safflower), or they have not been olive oil at all (just colored and then given additives to make it taste like extra virgin olive oil).  Studies recently suggest that around 69% of extra virgin olive oil found on store shelves is fake or heavily diluted. Therefore, the best way to be confident that your product is actually extra virgin olive oil and of superior quality is to only purchase organic extra virgin olive oil that is from a company subscribed to the International Olive Oil Council’s definition of “extra virgin”, which will be indicated on the label.

As with buying olive oil, correct storage is very important. Never stroke your olive oil near the store, no matter how convenient, as it will speed up the spoiling process.  It is best to store it in a dark tinted glass container in a dark, cool cupboard until opening. After opening store in the fridge to preserve its freshness. While olive oil stored in the fridge can last a year, for the best flavor profile it is best to use it with 90 days.

If you store your olive oil in the fridge, it is important to allow the oil to come to room temperature before cooking with it, as the cold makes the oil thick and cloudy.

imagesEnergetics

Olive oil can help flush out gall bladder stones (do so only under practitioner guidance).

Energetics of Asian Pears: Everyone’s New Favorite Fruit

Asian pears have many names, usually based on the region of harvest, but globally they are commonly called the nashi pear.  Nashi, , literally means “pear” in Japanese!  Many people in Asian counties use these pears as gifts or serve it to guests.  During the Edo Period in Japan they were thought to ward off evil and misfortune and were planted near gates and corners of properties.  In South Korea they even have a museum dedicated to the Asian pear called The Naju Pear Museum!

 Varieties

Asian pears are native to China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.  They are now cultivated in many East Asian countries, Australia, Greece, and in parts of California and Washington. The most commonly grown in the US is the Japanese variety, and are a round shape like an apple.  The less commonly grown Asian pear is the Chinese variety and it is by far the best tasting of all the Asian pears!  The Chinese pear is shaped more like a traditional pear, but has a creamy white colored flesh and is VERY juicy! It can sometimes be found in Asian Markets in the US.  Asian pears are classified in two groups. Most belonging to the Akanashi (‘Russet pears’) group, and have yellowish-brown rinds.  While the others belong to the Aonashi (‘Green pears’) group, and have yellow-green rinds.

 How to Choose and Store

photo credit: Japanese pear via photopin (license)

photo credit: Japanese pear via photopin (license)

When picking your Asian pears look for ones that are very fragrant and unbruised, with little to no brown spots.  Always be careful when handling, as Asian pears are very fragile and can bruise easily! Unlike traditional pears, Asian pears are actually hard and do not soften because they are harvested ripe.  Therefore they should be fairly firm when gently squeezed.

Since they are harvested ripe, they have a longer shelf life than other pears.  They will stay fresh for about 1 week at room temperature or up to 3 months stored in the fridge!

 Nutrition

asian-pear-nutritionAsian pears are a good source of essential vitamins, particularly vitamins C and vitamin K.  Vitamin C has two main functions in the body; it helps make collagen, a protein that keeps your bones from being too brittle, and has antioxidant functions to keep your tissues healthy. Vitamin K also has two main functions; it ensures that you can form blood clots and it allows your body to make proteins needed for bone mineralization.   Asian pears are also a good source of the minerals copper and manganese. Both minerals help support body functions by helping your cells produce energy, and they also help with tissue health by playing a role in collagen synthesis and maturation. Manganese also keeps your bones healthy, while copper nourishes the brain.

 Energetics

In Chinese medicine Asian pears are considered a cooling fruit and are used for detoxification purposes and to treat coughs, laryngitis, ulcers and constipation. They are also used to promote a healthy complexion, eliminate under eye circles and relieve retina pain.

Hot and Sour Chicken Nashi Stir-fry

HandSChickenNashiSFryIngredients:

1 – 2cm stalk lemongrass (white part), finely sliced

1 – 2cm piece ginger, peeled and diced

juice of 1 large lime

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tsp palm or brown sugar

1 large green chilli (optional)

2 large (450g) chicken breast fillets

2 large Nashi

 

 

Directions:

Combine the lemongrass, ginger, lime, fish sauce, sugar and chilli into a medium bowl. Mix well. Slice chicken into strips and toss in marinade. Slice Nashi into thin wedged strips.

Drain chicken, reserving marinade. Heat a large non-stick pan or wok and fry chicken until golden. Add Nashi and continue cooking 2 minutes. Pour over marinade, toss well until hot, then serve.

Tip: the marinade can be made in advance, and the chicken marinated overnight

 

 

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

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