Monday, December 22, 2008
There is so much confusion between yams and sweet potatoes. They look the same, they taste the same and you never really know which you are eating at any given time.
So I am going to do my best and give you some information on why these two roots are different from each other and not to be mistaken. However you can still choose to interchange them in recipes-I always do!
Yams were first cultivated in Africa and are part of the tuber family. They are very popular in tropical regions of the world. They are round and elongated with a thick, scaly or rough skin and it's flesh can be either white, ivory, cream, pink or purple. Yams are typically mores starchy and dry. However the most common variety has a deep orange flesh, which is why they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes. Most of the time they are also mislabeled in stores and are actually sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potatoes on the other hand, are native to South America and is part of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are actually not at all related to Yams or Potatoes. They are very sweet and dark and sometimes mislabeled as Yams. Sweet potatoes have a wide center and taper at both ends. They also have a thin and smooth skin. Sweet potatoes are also sometimes mislabeled when actually they are yams.
I know it can be confusing...but when it comes to their nutritional content and health benefits they are pretty much the same with a few unique qualities between the two.
They are both amazing sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant found in most orange fleshed foods such as mangoes and carrots. They are both high in vitamin A and C with a good amount of thiamine. They are nourishing to the spleen, pancreas and stomach. Yams are particularly known for it's properties to help regulate menses and prevent miscarriages. Yams also help to treat fatigue, inflammation, spasms and stress.
For more information on the differences between Yams and Sweet potatoes you can read upon the loads of articles and resources on the net with sometimes confusing but insightful information these roots. Or you can always check out Rebecca Wood's Whole Foods Encyclopedia for a small description on the description, health benefits and uses for each.
So in conclusion, both roots are amazing for their own unique properties. Now you can be just a bit more aware of which varieties you are eating (if it is labelled correctly). Either way both are sure to please your palate and make wonderful ingredients for side dishes, soups, dips, pancakes or pies!
Yummy Yam Pecan Pie
1 cup almonds, ground
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoon maple crystals
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups mashed or cooked yams or sweet potatoes (you can always buy canned organic sweet potatoes or yams if necessary)
1 cup vanilla soymilk
3/4 cup maple sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans, mixed with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut oil and roasted for 5-10 minutes at 200F
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 in tart pan or a few mini tart pans.
For the Crust:
2. In food processor, grind nuts to meal. In mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, maple crystals, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate small bowl, whish together oil and maple syrup
4. Mix wet ingredients (oil and syrup) into dry ingredients (nut meal and flours).
5. Press crust mixture into tart pan.
For the Filling:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a vita mix or a blender until well combined.
2. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 45-60 minutes.
3. Cool on rack and then refrigerate over night before serving.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Coconut oil has to be among one of the most controversial topics these days. I am constantly being asked about it's relation to health. How can a saturated fat be healthy?
Coconut oil has been perpetuated by both the media and medical practitioners as unhealthy, fattening and damaging to the arteries. Well let me tell you something- this is a wrong approach as those who are against coconut oil have not really looked at the whole picture. It is the hydrogenated coconut oil that is use in most processed products that are deemed unhealthy, as hydrogenation changes the delicate nature of virgin coconut oil into a trans fat. By the way this goes for most cold pressed vegetables oils (such as olive, sunflower, safflower and sesame) that when heated at high temperatures they too become denatured and altered into a trans fat!
There have been studies upon studies done on the health benefits of virgin coconut oil (in it's original state), from its antibacterial, antiviral, energizing and healing properties all the way to being used daily as a moisturizer!
Bruce Fife, among many others such as Conrado S. Dayrit have proven that coconut oil is actually a cure to so many health ailments and diseases.
For example, the saturated fat component of coconut oil is made up of certain fatty acid chains called medium chain triglycerides or MCT's. These are different from animal sourced fatty acid chains made up from long chain triglycerides. This may not sound like a big deal, but in your body it is! The long chain fatty acids found in animal and dairy fats are the ones that clog arteries, contribute to increased cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain. Also the consumption of processed and packaged foods made up of trans fats (or altered vegetable oils) such as margerine and shortening are also the main culprits that lead to high cholesterol and other heart damaging conditions such as atherosclerosis. Whereas the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil actually help people who suffer from digestive problems to protecting against infections to boosting energy and metabolism and it even protects against serious health problems such as cancer and diabetes. (Source: The Truth about Coconut Oil : Conrado S. Dayrit, 2005)
So don't be afraid of this wonderful and tasteful fruit, use it whole, use it's water, use it's butter, use it's shell. There are endless possibilities!
I make wonderful recipes with Coconut Oil - it is one of my favourite ingredients. It is dairy free, gluten free and full of delicious flavour. It can also be heated to high temperatures in baking and stir frying without any fret or used raw in smoothies and desserts. You can even drink the water straight from the coconut and use it as an energy drink before, after or during exercise!
I could really get into a whole long discussion about how wonderful coconut oil really is, but I am going to leave it at that.
So get yourself educated about the benefits of coconut by reading some books or going to:
I will also leave you with a recipe for shortbread...yes coconut oil is the perfect replacement for butter in this decadent and rich shortbread cookie created by Jae Steele.
Spicy & Sweet Shortbread Cookies
(Slightly Adapted from Jae Steele's recipe for Shortbread Cookies in her book "Get it Ripe")
1/2 cup maple sugar or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup virgin coconut oil, diced
1/4 cup room temperature applesauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, cocoa powder or maple crystals
Preheat oven to 275 F
1.Place sugar and salt in food processor and blend for 30 seconds to give a finer texture.
2. Add the flour and baking powder and blend to combine. Add the oil and applesauce and process until well combined, but do not allow to form a ball.
3. Scrape dough onto a clean surface with spatula and knead gently with your hands and form a ball. Divide dough in half and roll out each half to 1/2 inch thick.
4. Cut dough into rounds using a cookie cutter (I chose a heart!)
5. Place cookies on to parchment paper lined baking sheets and dust with cinnamon, cocoa powder or powder maple sugar.
6. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until they turn a light colour. The shortbread will be be firm at first, but it will harden as it cools.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets before storing in an air tight container for up to a month.
Saturday, December 6, 2008
It is so nice to know that the flavours that come from traditional Indian cuisine, are not only delicious to that palate but they are completely nourishing to the body as well.
We had a chance to discover this on Wednesday's Indian Flavours Cooking Class.
We created and sampled a whole range of dishes from Chana Masala to Lentil Dal, to a Saffron Yellow Basmati Rice, to a Brown Rice Pudding and of course the class would not have been complete without a Coconut Vegetable Curry (recipe below).
The common thread in all the recipes was all the fresh and fragrant spices that were in each dish. We made continuous use of the flavours of cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, garlic, cumin and mustard seeds. Each on of these delicate spices offers a wonderful infusion of flavour that makes you want to use them all the time.
So here is a quick guide to some of the beneficial properties of these spices:
Sweet and pungent, pleasant and warming cinnamon supports the spleen and the pancreas, stomach, bladder, kidney and liver meridians (from a Chinese medicine perspective).
Cinnamon aid in digestion, aid in circulation and helps to treat diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and menstrual cramps. Cinnamon is also well known for it's blood stabilizing abilities.
Has a peppery and pungent taste. It is warming and stimulates digestion and boost circulation, respiration and nervous system function. Ginger is useful for colds and fevers and alleviates motion sickness and nausea. It is also an anti-inflammatory and destroys intestinal parasites.
Has the highest source of beta carotene. It tones the spleen and pancreas, liver and stomach. It strengthens the immune system and enhances digestion and helps to dissolve cysts and gallstones. Turmeric is antibacterial and may be used to regulate blood sugar for diabetics.
Is sweet and pungent and warming. It also acts upon the spleen and pancreas, stomach, lung and kidney meridians. It aids in digestion, relaxes spasms and cuts mucus, making it useful in lung tonics. It also eases coughs, breathlessness, burning urination, incontinence and hemorrhoids.
Are bitter, spicy and warming. They tonify the kidney, spleen, pancreas and stomach. Cloves also aid digestion, treat nausea, hiccups and vomiting.
Is pungent and bitter. It aids the digestive system, improves liver function, promotes assimilation of other foods and relieves abdominal distention, gas and colic, as well as migraines and headaches.
If you want more information on these spices or any other specific food have a look at Rebecca Woods book "The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia" which is available for purchase right here on my page (see my favourite book list).
So warm up this winter and make use of these nourishing and health supportive spices!
Coconut Vegetable Curry
1 Spanish onion
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into ¾ cubes
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into ¾ “ cubes
1 medium cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
1 cup shelled peas, cooked
½ red cabbage
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water
Vegetables can be roasted*
1 teaspoon coriander
2 teaspoons cumin
½ teaspoons turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
¼ teaspoon cardamom seeds, no pods
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1. In a large skillet, sauté onions, with one teaspoon salt in oil until they begin to soften and brown. Add squash and cook ten minutes more. Add potatoes and curry blend and continue sautéing another five minutes, stirring often.
2. Add cauliflower to the top of the squash and potatoes, being careful no to stir the mixture. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until vegetables are tender (15-20 minutes).
3. With a wooden spoon, smash some of the squash in the curry mixture against the sides of the skillet to thicken the sauce. Stir in the peas and season to taste with salt.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
4 Medjool dates (soaked overnight or boiling water for 20-30 minutes)
2 tbsp of pure unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp almond butter or 1/2 cup raw almonds (soaked in water overnight for 8 hrs.)
1 tsp cinnamon
Combine the ingredients in a blender and whirl on high until well blended into a thick creamy pudding.
Divide the pudding into 2 servings
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Haven't you been waiting for the perfect program to get you started on a new path in healthy eating? Well I have created a program just for you!
Here is an outline of the program:
Monday January 19th and Monday January 26th
Cost $50.00 includes any 1 FREE cooking class (any free upcoming class)
We will cover all the necessities. You will learn to become equipped with the tools, ingredients and skills that you will need in your kitchen in order to live a wholesome and long life!
You will also learn what to eat when you can't always cook - whether it's out for dinner or on vacation!
EAT GREAT, FEEL GREAT, LOOK GREAT: Monday Febrary 16th
In this session we will discuss how whole foods will make you look and feel great! We talk about which foods to consume and which foods to avoid make your skin and hair shine and keep your nails and bones strong! You will also be introduced to new ideas of how to give yourself your very own whole-food facials, scrubs and cleansers!
Monday, November 10, 2008
There are so many to choose from! Different tastes, textures, colours and even shapes. But on a whole, all of them are composed of an amazing source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, b vitamins, trace proteins, minerals and even heart healthy fats that make you feel energized and nourished.
What needs to be recognized and understood by many, is that grains can be an essential part of everyones daily diet unless candida or carbohydrate metabolism is a problem. But when grains are left intact and prepared properly in their whole form - one requires much less of a portion to be satisfied. These grains are very different from eating a bowl of white pasta, white bread or white rice where you may need a few servings to fill that "hunger" void.
The natural fiber content whole grains also don't spike your blood sugar levels nearly as much and thus also contribute to feeling satiated for a longer period of time.
So the trick is to start simply. Select the grains that are most familiar and then go from there. Most people are accustomed to cooking rice, couscous and maybe even barley. With rice you want to find an organic brown rice. This can be either short grain, long grain or basmati (for simplicity sake). Couscous also exists in wheat counterparts, Spelt and Kamut (these are ancient forms of wheat that are left in their whole form and easier to digest). Also speaking of spelt and kamut, both of which can be cooked in their whole grain form as well...spelt is also known as Farro which comes from Italy. It is a wonderful addition or substution for a grain in any classic rice dish recipe!
As for barley, there are a few different types - but to start out I would go with a "pearled" form as it is easier to cook. Once you get hooked on grains and they become more familiar, get the whole barley which requires soaking and longer cooking and also has more fiber and nutrients intact.
Then comes the next level of grains which includes many gluten free options for those with digestive disturbances such as celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, crohns and something known as "leaky gut". These grains (almost seed-like) includes Quinoa, Amaranth, Teff, Millet and Wild Rice to name a few. Recipes for these divine gems can range from loafs, to pilafs, croquettes, soups, salads, cookies and pancakes. Many a cookbook exists on how to venture into the world of grains, including how to soak them, cook them, prepare them using a wide variety of ingredients. "The Splendid Grain" by Rebecca Wood is one in particular that makes cooking and learning about grains really easy and rather fascinating.
My overall advice, is to make sure you have some healthy whole grains on hand, stored properly (in a glass jar) in your cupboards, so that the next time you want a warming and nourishing bowl, side dish or breakfast of delicious goodness they are there and ready to go!
Warm Farro Foutash Salad
1 cup pearled farro (if the whole form then soak overnight)
1 cup vegetable stock
½ butternut squash, cubed
1 red onion, chopped
1 cup portabello mushrooms, chopped
1 cup rainbow chard, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon sea salt
Dash of herb de provence
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup toasted walnuts
1/3 cup cranberries or currents
Crumbled goat cheese (optional)
Rinse and place farro into a pot with vegetable stock and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.
Set aside farro.
Place cubed butternut squash on a baking tray with 1 tablespoons of olive oil and place in the oven for 30 minutes.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil with garlic over medium heat and add mushroom and sauté until softened.
Add spinach, sea salt, dry herbs and balsamic vinegar. Let sit to let the flavours combine for a few minutes.
Place cooked faro into a large bowl, add olive oil, and butternuts squash and onion, mushroom, spinach mixtures and stir everything in.Add pinenuts and crumbled goat cheese
Sunday, November 2, 2008
4 cups red beets, cut in quarter or small wedges
4 carrots sliced
1 butternut squash
2 turnips or parsnips
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 ½ tbsp orange juice
2 cloves garlic
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp paprika
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp tamari
Preheat oven to 350°C
Prepare the sauce by mixing all of the ingredients in a jar and shaking well. Set aside.
Clean and slice all of the vegetables then place them in a large baking dish or baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Pour the sauce over top and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly. Place the pan in a preheated oven and bake for 45-55 minutes. Stir the vegetables and few times while baking to be sure that they are coated with sauce and cook evenly.
Remove from oven and serve hot.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Miso is a fermented paste with a texture like almond butter. It is made from soybeans, koji (a bacterial starter), salt and a grain - usually rice or barley.
There is quite a variety of Miso's on the market, as soybeans can be fermented into a range of different flavours, from rich and savoury to delicate and sweet. They come in varieties of either dark brown, red, white or yellow in colour.
Miso is so wonderful and holds amazing health properties. Miso acts as an anticarcinogen, and is also effective in reducing the effects of radiation, smoking, air pollution and other enviromental toxins. The darker the colour the more potent its medicinal properties. Miso is also a wonderful digestive aid because of the fermentation process. So having a cup of warm miso soup before or after a meal is the perfect choice is your digestive system is a bit off!
Miso is also a concentrated protein source, it contains approximately 12-20% protein depending on the source. It is also low in fat, but in keep in check that it is fairly high in salt!
Miso can be used in a variety of dishes and recipes. Because of the variety of flavours and colours to choose from, each one will derive a different outcome. It can be used in place of worcestershire sauce, salt and soy sauce as a seasoning agent. Miso is most typically used as the base of soup, where it provides a rich and flavourful broth. But it can also be used in marinades, salad dresssing and even some desserts.
So get yourself equiped with at least two different varieties of miso (a sweet miso and a dark brown miso), so that you can create different recipes with different flavours. You will not be disappointed, as miso is magical and makes you feel good all over!
Quick Tip: Before adding miso to your pot of soup, take some water out and stir in the miso until it has completely dissolved. Then pour the miso mixture back into the soup pot with the heat turned off.
Miso should never come in direct contact with boiling water as it will affect it's naturally occuring enzymes and delicate properties!
Sweet Miso Dressing:
½ cup white miso
1/3 cup agave nectar
½ cup mirin
¼ cup sesame oil
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ chopped ginger
In a blender, blend all ingredients until smooth. Store in refrigerator for 3-4 days. Makes about 2 cups.
Add this dressing to any salad or slaw with a variety of vegetables like: napa cabbage, carrots, beets, cucumber and throw some sea vegetables in too (arame, wakame, nori....)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Here is a quick resource of some daily things you can be doing to keep your levels in check while creating overall, balanced and healthy eating habits!
Tips for Regulating your Blood Sugar Levels on Daily Basis Naturally
Always eat a balanced breakfast, everyday!
Do not go more than 2 hours without food or consume large heavy meals. Eat six to eight small meals throughout the day. Even eating a small snack before bed might help.
Eat a diet high in fiber (whole grains, legumes) and include large amounts of vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, squash, spinach and green beans and whole fresh fruits.
Consume beans, brown rice, oats, oat bran, lentils, sweet potatoes, tofu and fruits such as apples, apricots, avocados, banana, lemons.
For protein eat white fish or wild salmon, turkey, lean chicken breast, eggs and goats and sheep’s milk cheeses or sheep’s milk yogurt.
Use natural low glycemic sweeteners such as: brown rice syrup, barley malt, agave nectar, dates, stevia* and maple syrup (in moderation)
Stay away from high fatty foods and fried foods and choose healthy fats and oils instead: (avocado, coconut oil, olive oil or other cold pressed natural oils, raw nuts and seeds)
Remove alcohol, processed foods, sulphured dried fruits, table salt, white sugar, saturated fats, soft drinks and white flour. Also avoid food with artificial colours and preservatives.
Special foods with special properties for blood sugar:
Avocado: contains a sugar that depresses insulin production, which make them an excellent chose for people with hypoglycemia.
Cinnamon: has a lowering affect on blood sugar levels by reducing the amount of insulin secreted. Consume at least 1 teaspoon everyday!
Brewer’s Yeast: (1 Tbsp. twice daily) provides a rich source of the mineral, chromium, which has a glucose tolerance normalizing effect.
Soybeans and other legumes: (1 cup or more daily) Kidney beans, lentils, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and lima beans retard the rate of absorption of carbohydrate into the blood stream.
Onions and garlic: (1/2 a clove twice daily) normalize blood sugar regulation by decreasing the rate of insulin elimination by the liver.
Other blood sugar controlling foods include: berries (especially blueberries), celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, sprouts, string beans, parsley, garlic, onions, psyllium, flaxseed, lemons, oat bran, radishes, sauerkraut, sunflower seeds, squash, watercress.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
1 Spanish onion, cut into large dice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoon, sea salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 cups filtered water or stock
1 bay leaf
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into medium dice
3 parsnips cut into medium dice
1 sweet potato cut into large dice
3 ribs celery cut into large dice
1 large zucchini or two small zucchini, cut into small chunks
1 bunch of chard, cut into bit size pieces
1 cup soaked and cooked kidney beans (optional)
½ cup cooked macaroni brown rice noodles (optional)
In a small pot, sweat onion in oil with salt until soft.
Add oregano and sweat a few more minutes
Add water and bay leaf
Add vegetables in order given (squash, parsnips, sweet potatoes, celery, zucchini)
Turn up heat until water bubbles, then lower and simmer covered for 40-45 minutes.
Stir vegetables until squash falls apart.
Add in chopped chard.
Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir a few more times and serve.
*** For a smoother texture, simmer squash separately until soft (in 1-2 cups of water), and puree in food processor. Add squash to the soup for the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
I am completely, wholly and utterly passionate about food. Whole foods that is! I love anything that has to do with nutrition, the body and food preparation. I am also passionate about educating people. I love to show people how they can learn to eat healthy foods at home with simple and effective methods to prepare them. Teaching cooking classes is completely rewarding. I get the chance to meet new people all the time, answer questions and concerns they may have about specific foods or recipes, and the best part is watching people create delicious recipes and enjoying every bite of them!
What do I want to share with my clients:
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice from ¼ cup peeled and grated ginger
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2½ tablespoons tamari
1 tablespoon umeboshi paste
½ cup apple juice
2 breasts organic chicken, cut into strips
¼-1/3 cup vegetable oil (grapeseed oil)
1 tablespoon kuzu dissolved in ¼ cup water or apple juice
1 bunch of broccoli florets, blanched
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2. In a blender, combine first six ingredients with ½ cup water. Blend until smooth.
3. Slice chicken into strips of equal thickness.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken with the marinade (reserving a small amount of the marinade). Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 5- 10 minutes.
5. Continue to pan fry chicken over medium and heat until golden on both sides.
6. After chicken is cooked, add dissolved kuzu to reserved marinade and stir in a small dish until well combined.
7. Pour the blended marinade mixture into the pan or wok with the chicken, and cook for about two minutes, until the liquid is thickened, stirring constantly.
8. Add the Broccoli to the sauce stirring until well coated and top with toasted sesame seeds.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Parents always want to make sure that their kids have the best of everything. The coolest running shoes, the most high-tech video games, the trendiest clothing etc...So why skimp when it comes to their nutrition? I can't stress how important it is to make sure that kids are fueled with the right nutrients as early on in their life as possible. It becomes more difficult the older they get, as they begin to form unchanging and differing opions in their life - and when it comes to food, there is no shortage of personal preferences and aversions to foods that they just don't want to try because "I don't feel like it"!
If you train their palates to adapt to delicious foods then there should be any hesitation but to want to gobble up everything and anything you make for them. They won't even know the amazing nutritional benefits they are getting until they grow up and thank you for their good health and well being!
So the trick is to make sure that the foods you are preparing, taste just as good if not better than anything else they are eating. Even if that means sneaking in healthy ingredients into tasty recipes, they will never know the difference. Especially if you are making recipes from fresh whole foods, there should absolutely be no problem. Most recipes depending on what they are can be sweetened wih natural alternatives, bulked up with healthy fiber from natural sources and provide interesting textures and flavours that they have never experienced.
If you want to have delectable recipes like "Everything Cookies" and "Quinoa Surprise Salad" in your home then come and learn how to make a difference in your child's nutrition. You can guarentee that they will be saying "Mummy That's Sooo Yummy!"
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, August 11, 2008
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Learning about which foods have significant levels of calcium is crucial especially if you are concerened about your bones or current calcium intake levels. Unfortunately, I hate to break the news to you, but the Calcium that you think you are getting from a glass of milk, a cup of "low fat" yogurt or slice of cheese is not being absorbed into your body in a usable or beneficial form. In fact it is doing quite the opposite.
The truth is, dairy (especially commercially processed dairy) is extremely acidic to the body and especially to the bones. So when you consume any form of processed dairy, it is actually stripping calcium away from your bones rather than building on to it. So most individuals in North America, predominantly women could be responsible for thier own weakening bone conditions as a result of overconsuming commercial dairy. But not to fret, this can be taken care of and quite possibly reversed.
All you have to do is start consuming adequate amounts of Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium. These sources which come from plant based foods, are extremely bioavailable to the body and they taste great too!
So get your daily dose of greens in (chard, kale, beet greens, collards, broccoli and bok choy). You can steam them, blanch them, saute them, add them to soups, salads or grain dishes--you can even hide them in a smoothie. Consume nuts and seeds such as sesame seeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds, all great sources of calcium, iron, protein and essential fatty acids. Other hidden but rich sources of calcium include tempeh, avocado, parsley, figs, carob, beans and legumes, salmon and quinoa.
So do what you will, but you can avoid taking expensive supplements and consuming commercial dairy and simply get your calcium from nature. Your body and your taste buds will thank you!
Parsley and Scallion "Butter" with Steamed Greens
This recipe is inspired by Anne Gentry owner of Real Food Daily (Vegan Restaurant in Los Angeles)
1 bunch of greens such as kale, beet greens, collards, swiss chard, bok choy or spinach
1 ½ cup fresh scallions, chopped
1/2 cup tahini
1/3 cup fresh parsley
3 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
1 tablespoons umeboshi paste
1 teaspoons minced peeled fresh garlic
Steam greens and rinse with cold water to maintain brightness.
Combine all ingredients of "butter" in a food processor and blend until creamy and smooth.
Transfer the spread to a small bowl.
Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and allow flavors to blend and the spread will become slightly firm.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
My new series of cooking classes have started off great!
A wonderful group of five lively and lovely ladies joined me for a wonderful evening of delicious summer recipes.
Everyone was greeted with a fresh glass of ginger-goji berry lemonade and then sat down to watch a demo of a creamy guacomole being prepared with fresh green garden peas, to be dipped in by organic blue corn chips. This is a delicious and nutritious twist to a traditional guacamole recipe. The peas add some depth, flavour and some good quality protein as well! The bowl was empty within seconds.
We then got into a discussion of the natural and fresh ingredients that were going to be used in the class. Everyone had questions to be answered.
Most questions were stemmed around what the difference is between some conventional ingredients such as soy sauce and sugar and what the natural alternatives were that we would be using in this class.
So I did my fair share of explaining that Tamari is a naturally fermented source of Soy Sauce that does not contain any wheat or additives. The sources of sugar we used in the class were either brown rice syrup, maple syrup or agave nectar, which are all from natural plant or food sources. Whichs means they contain some vitamins and minerals that would not be found in traditional white sugar. It was also pertanent to mention that brown rice syrup and agave nectar do not spike blood sugar levels as rapidly as processed sugar does.
It is always so great and rewarding to educate people on basic things that they can take home and bring into thier own cooking and daily eating. There are so many questions around food, and I am always more than happy to bridge this gap, and make clear what is confusing.
So the evening carried on with everyone making one of the many recipes that were to be prepared in the class. Everyone got to choose between making either: Tangy Thai Lettuce Wraps, Apple-Fennel salad with a Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette, Quinoa Tabule, Green Beans with Hazelnuts, White Bean Dip with Dill, Citrus Tempeh Skewers or Creamy Lemon Tarts. A tough decision to make, I know!
But everyone chose the recipe that made them eager and excited to prepare .
The recipes turned out fantastic and everyone learned a new technique or two to make things easier for them in the kitchen, whethter it was how slice fennel on a mandoline, processing quick dressings in a blender or vitamix or blanching broccoli to get crisp and tender floret, everyone got something helpful and useful out of the class.
Then after two hours of fun in the kitchen, we all sat down to enjoy the wonderful sampling of all the recipes together, plus there was plenty of leftovers to take home!
After such a great experience, I am really looking forward to my next upcoming summer classes and I hope you can make it to one of them!