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A Little Spice Makes Everything Nice

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

 

Let’s talk about health benefits of a few of my favorite spices: cardamom, cinnamon and ginger. Cardamom originated in India and is available in most grocery stores (ground) and specialty health food stores (pod and plant). It is rich in Vitamins A & C as well as potassium, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and phosphorus. It is well-known for having anti-carcinogenic properties as well as being good for cardiovascular health. It is also an anti-depressant and is often one of the essential oils used in aromatherapy.


 

Cardamom Tea

4 cardamom pods

4 black peppercorns

4 clove

1 cinnamon stick

4 slices fresh ginger (quartered)

*Heat all ingredients in 2.5 cups of water for 2 hours. Strain and serve with a teaspoon of honey and a splash of milk (sub almond or coconut milk for dairy free)

 

Have Nausea…Take Ginger! Ginger is the cure-all for all types of nausea including morning sickness, alcohol hangovers and motion sickness. It can also be used to aid in digestion. It originated in Southeast Asia more than 5000 years ago but spread quickly to other regions as its healing properties became more widely known. Traditional Ayurvedic (meaning life knowledge in Sanskrit) hailed ginger as a gift from God. It also has anti-microbial properties so it can be helpful when fighting a cold or other immune-suppressing illness.

 


 

Ginger Salmon

1 Filet wild caught Salmon

1 stem fresh chopped ginger

1 garlic clove chopped

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

S&P to taste

*Heat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly rub evoo on salmon then add garlic and ginger plus salt and pepper to taste. Bake for 15-20 minutes until salmon flakes off easily. Serve with a side of baked asparagus or other green vegetable and/or brown rice.

 

The use of cinnamon goes back to around 2000BC when Egyptians used it as a perfuming agent in the embalming process. Cinnamon is made by cutting the stems of the cinnamomum tree. Those stems are dried and during the drying process they roll up into sticks. The sticks can be used alone or they can then be ground up to form the powder we most commonly use in various recipes. Cinnamon contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidant making it a huge superfood. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to help the body fight infection and repair tissue damage. Cinnamon has also been linked to reduce heart disease, lower blood sugar and blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Try a teaspoon in your coffee in the morning!

 


Basil Cinnamon Peaches

1 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup raw sugar (Or use 3 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar)

3 strips lemon zest (1-by-2-inch strips)

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 3-inch piece cinnamon stick

3 ripe but firm medium peaches, halved lengthwise and pitted

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

*Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice and cinnamon stick in a large nonreactive saucepan (see Note); bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Add peach halves. Return to a brisk simmer, cover the pan and simmer, turning the peaches occasionally, until they are tender when pierced with a skewer or paring knife and the skins are loosened, 20 to 25 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the peaches). Transfer the peaches to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Return the liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in basil and let cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.

Slip off and discard the peach skins. Place the peaches in a storage container and strain the cooled syrup over them. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours.

Healthy Meals on a Budget

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Over the past few years grocery prices have skyrocketed, right alongside gas prices and the general inflation rates. Here are some tricks to pinching pennies at the grocery store while still enjoying nutritious and delicious food:

 

Eat more beans - Beans are wildly economical and versatile. You can make bean salads, Cajun dishes, Indian dishes, vegetable soup, chili, Mexican bean dips, stir them into whole-grain pasta—the list goes on and on. Your family will never catch on to the fact that they’re eating beans most nights of the week. Beans are high in protein and fiber.

 

Vegetarian Meals - Eat more vegetarian meals than meat-based meals. This is a great time to stock up on your veggies and give yourself an extra dose of antioxidants to boost your immune system and fight free radical damage. But be sure you are still meeting your protein needs for the day. This is different for each person and the amount of protein you need can be understood when you know your body type.

 

Chop your veggies - Spend more time than money. In other words, cruise by the convenience foods—even those that you think are healthy. For example, buy a head of romaine lettuce and cut it yourself rather than buying prepackaged salads. A head of romaine may only cost a little more than $1, but prepackaged salads often cost at least $3.50. Ditto for all fruits and vegetables, plus meat. Buy a whole chicken and cut it yourself to make it last for six meals, including making chicken stock with the bones.

 

Buy in bulk - This will save you money over several weeks. Sure, you might spend $20 on a bushel of apples this week, but you won’t have to buy them for three weeks. If you had spent $7 per ½ peck once a week for three weeks instead of buying the bushel, you would have spent $1 more for ½ peck less of apples.

 

Go local - Buy as many local foods as possible. Produce from local farmers is unbelievably cheap, incredibly tasty, and chocked full of more vitamins since it spends far less time being transported to your plate. End-of-season crops you can get right now include broccoli, cauliflower, beets, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, apples and apple cider. If you eat meat, try to find a local farmer. You’ll save money by buying in bulk, and the meat will contain no antibiotics or hormones.

 

Cook once, eat twice - Most people have no idea what’s for dinner tonight and make something that will be eaten just at that meal. If you can plan ahead, your ingredients will go farther. A whole chicken can make up to 4 meals! First meal chicken breasts, second meal chicken stir fry, third meal chicken tacos, fourth meal chicken soup made by boiling the remains for stock!

 

Don’t shop while you’re hungry - You’ll be tempted to stray from your weekly budget with unnecessary items such as potato chips and cookies. Eat a healthy snack like a handful of almonds or a piece of fruit right before shopping.

 

 

Don’t Stress Out Over Food

Maintaining balance and stress can be a challenge! For many people, money can be a huge stress trigger. If you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad or overwhelmed when it comes to household spending try planning your grocery shopping list by using these budget friendly tips before your next supermarket trip. Make the conscious effort to be in command of the stressors that are in your ability to change. You will be eating healthier, spending less and creating balance at the same time. Plus the money you spend on healthy foods generates savings in medical costs now and in the future since you will be less likely to develop chronic conditions from unhealthy eating habits.

Time to Veg Out

Monday, March 16, 2015

Farm Fresh Veggies

 

I woke up this morning craving fresh tomatoes. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting a homegrown tomato freshly picked off the vine with a dash of salt and pepper then you know exactly why I’m craving tomatoes! It is a little piece of heaven and totally moan-worthy in my book. J That being said it’s time to start working on my garden so I can have tomatoes ready for the summer. And for those of you who don’t have the time or the desire to plant a garden those tomatoes are just a click away. One easy way to get fresh veggies is to sign up for a local community supported agriculture (CSA) program. You can easily Google a program in your area and there’s a good chance that there’s a local farm nearby that has a program or offers onsite pick up of fresh farm veggies. And did I mention farm fresh eggs?!

 

For those of you that are in the Charleston area here are a few programs you can check out.

  • -Ambrose Family Farms: This is my personal favorite and I try to do either the winter or summer share program depending on my schedule. I would recommend the medium share for a 4-person family. Plus you can always head to the Stono Market on Main Road if you want more veggies.
  • -Legare Farms
  • -Gruber Farms

 

For my Columbia, SC peeps….try these

 

There are a few other large retail companies that are now partnering with local farms to provide customers with access to fresh produce. Check out Overstock.com and search for ‘produce’ and add your zip code to see if there is a program near you. There is also a Costco-like retailer, ThriveMarket.com, which also sells fresh veggies and a wide range of other products that you can have delivered to your door. There are free shipping options with both of these retailers to make it a little more cost efficient.

Everyone should have access to fresh produce regardless of where you live. And buying fresh farm veggies is usually very inexpensive and you’re supporting local business so it’s a win for your wallet and for your local community.


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