A site called Chicago Healers (www.chicagohealers.com) emailed me today to let me know about five of the most nutritious spices, compiled by practitioner Dr. Helen Lee. I don’t always agree with these types of superlatives, but I appreciated the refresher of which benefits certain spices have. (I say “spices” as a general term, encompassing herbs/seasonings/etc.)
· Reduces blood glucose level in Type 2 diabetics
· Lowers triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol
· Great anti-inflammatory helping to reduce pain and discomfort, soreness, and muscle aches
· Powerful anti-oxidant and cancer-fighting herb
· Phytochemcals in oregano act as anti-bacterial/viral/fungal/parasite chemicals which also aid in optimal digestive health
· Powerful antioxidant properties which help to reduce damage from free radicals that causes aging and degeneration
· Helps heartburn, morning sickness and nausea/motion sickness
· Decreases inflammation of arthritis
· Increases immune function, healthy liver
· Research is also finding it may prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
· Helps to improve immune system, improve blood sugar, improve skin conditions such as acne & warts
· Reduces triglycerides and reduce arterial plaque between 5-18%
I frequently use cinnamon, ginger and garlic in my cooking, but not so much oregano and tumeric. Note to self.
Zukay Live Foods has a really exciting line of salad dressings that I have been looking forward to posting about since before I even tried them. I first heard about them from the product blog of the Park Slope Food Coop where, like much of the NYC metropolitan area’s population, I was at one time a member.
As the brad name implies, Zukay Live Foods’ salad dressings are made from, well, live ingredients. 100% raw and vegan, they’re a mixture of fermented vegetables and herbs without added fats or sugars. They are only about 5 calories per serving. So, they’re wonderful alone or for mixing with your desired amount of olive oil (or other variety of oil).
Another use I discovered was mixing them with hummus to make a dip. Delicious!
Let’s get on to the flavors. There are six:
Tomato Provencal (with kalamata olives and herbs de Provence)
Sweet Onion Basil
Tomato Pepper Pesto
Red Pepper Cilantro
I have sampled the first four (thanks, Scott!) and can vouch for the freshness, vibrancy and wonderfulness of each. I have no doubt the last two are delicious as well. The bottles “hiss” a bit when you open them- proof of their “life”!- and they have very herby, lively aromas.
Learn more at Zukay Live Foods, where you can also place an order.
Most of us have had green tea, but how about green tea powder?
I had been noticing all sorts of recipes that called for the stuff, but couldn’t locate it at any grocery stores. I even popped into some tea/spice shops in Chinatown to no avail.
I used a sample Wendy sent me to whip up some delicious hot green tea lattes. The green tea flavor, as expected, is pronounced–but not overpowering, and not bitter at all.
The website has myriad other recipes using powdered green tea, too, ranging from butternut squash and flavored salt to ice cream and truffles. And remember, anything made with green tea is healthy!
There is a generation of us who grew up in the 1980s who happened to be the right age when Yo-J came out and was extremely popular for a brief time. It was like milk and juice mixed together, yet somehow all of the flavors turned out extremely vibrantly hued… hot pink, blueish purple… and we loved it.
Fast forward a couple decades, and we now have an option to enjoy dairy and fruit fusion in a beverage- conveniently available at Whole Foods and Target, but with roots 2,000 years old from the Caucasus Mountains.
Kefir! Lifeway has a delicious line of lowfat kefir which it describes as “cultured fruit smoothies.” They have 10 strains of live probiotic cultures, known to enhance the immune system and aid in nutrient absorption. I sampled the plain, vanilla and strawberry flavors. They have pretty colors, but in comfortingly subdued hues. I enjoyed them particularly mixed with granola and other cereals. They have a sweet but tangy zip (but taste nothing like Miracle Whip, promise).
Thanks to Erin for sending me some to try, and be sure to check out Lifeway Kefir.
Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing
Makes 4 dinner salads
Peanut butter lovers beware. The dressing in this colorful and tasty salad is addictive.
For the Peanut Dressing:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (if you use natural you may want to add a bit of sugar to sweeten)
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup canola oil
A pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
1/2 cup Peanut Dressing
1/2 cup fresh snow peas
1 bag (5 ounces) Spring Mix salad blend
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (can use supermarket rotisserie chicken)
2 carrots, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a traditional grater
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
2 limes, quartered, for garnish
For the Peanut Dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together the vinegar, peanut butter, ginger, soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, canola oil, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
For the salad:
Bring salted water to a boil in a medium pot. Add snow peas and cook until vibrant green and crisp tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Drain the peas and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Drain again and place in a large salad bowl.
Add the salad blend, chicken, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and toss. Add the dressing to taste and gently toss to coat.
Garnish with lime wedges. Serve immediately.
A couple of weeks ago I got Montel Williams’ Living Well HealthMaster, and since then I’ve been making almost everything in it. Salad dressing, soups, sauces, fruit smoothies and vegetable juices all by just pressing the button. It doesn’t leave behind a stringy mess like a blender, yet retains all of the fiber and nutrients instead of discarding the way juicers do.
It comes with several recipe books. That’s where I got this cucumber soup recipe.
Chilled Cucumber Soup1/2 cup plain yogurt 1 seedless cucumber 1/2 red onion, peeled 1/2 garlic clove, peeled 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients into the HealthMaster. Secure the lid. Turn on the speed control to 1 (low). Turn on the machine. Increase the speed to 8 (high) until blended. Serve chilled.
I loved not having to chop the vegetables beforehand. So easy. I served this soup with a sprig of fresh mint and crumbled queso blanco. Refreshing and nutritious!
I have a friend who loves peanut butter and almond butter but never buys it for herself. Why? She’s afraid that she’ll eat the whole jar.
Now I know what I’m getting her for her upcoming birthday: Justin’s Organic Nut Butter Single-Serve Squeeze Packs!
The 1.15oz squeeze packs (~180 calories and 6-7g protein; full nutrition facts via the linked website above) come in 6 flavors. I’ve tried and loved all of them, but for interest’s sake I’ll rank them:
1. Almond Butter with Maple (very sweet and maple-y)
2. Peanut Butter with Cinnamon (not so sweet and, uh… cinnamon-y)
3. Almond Butter with Honey (um… kinda crystalized and honey-ey)
4. Peanut Butter with Honey (I suck at flavor descriptions)
5. Classic Almond Butter (#5 just since it wasn’t a new flavor for me)
6. Classic Peanut Butter (which, for many people, would be #1)
They’re sold at Whole Foods and many Starbucks. So convenient for throwing into your bag with some crackers, carrots or an apple so that you have a healthy, filling snack for later!
Everyone always talks about wishing they ate more healthy food, but it seems less common to change certain habits that are dietary pitfalls.
Consider for a moment staff rooms and our workplaces. If someone brings in food to share, or if it’s someone’s birthday, or if you’re celebrating something as a group, what type of food do you have? Cake, cookies, chips, candy or soda, right? I’ve noticed that often this leaves us feeling lethargic and guilty, evolving into a discussion about wanting to eat healthier.
The FruitGuys is an awesome company that strives to change this experience across staff lounges, dorm rooms, and kitchens across the country. They work closely with farmers all over the country to ensure that they buy fruit local to the regions that they serve. 70-90% of their fruit mixes are locally grown within the three regions they serve (East Coast, Midwest, West Coast). There is a great variety of fruit offered which makes the box colorful, exciting and likely to please anyone.
What’s more, their boxes are moving from 70% to 100% post recyclable and can be “eaten” by the earth in the same way their fruit is eaten. All of the insulation and padding in the crates are made from cornstarch and can be degraded easily and properly.