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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.

Cool As A Cucumber

Monday, June 08, 2015

Yes, you too, can be as cool as a cucumber. What’s the trick? Just eat plenty of cucumbers!

 

Why the cucumber?

Cucumbers are naturally low in carbohydrates, sodium, fat and calories. (~15 calories/cup) They also contain a high amount of phytonutrients which provide antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer benefits. If that’s not enough for you they are also packed with water so eating a cup of ‘cukes’ is like drinking a glass of water. Cucumbers contain silica which helps keep your skin smooth and can aid in alleviating the puffiness around your eyes. Because they also contain potassium (4% of your daily value) they are essential for keeping your blood pressure from rising. So the next time you start to feel a little ‘hot under the collar’ try some cucumber water to help keep you cool.

 

Cucumber Recipes

Cool Cucumber Water

Peel 1 cucumber, slice in ¼” wide slices and Add slices to large pitcher of water and refrigerate. Enjoy a glass every hour. Or add 4-5 cukes to a large travel container and enjoy on the road.

 


 

 

Cucumber Salad

Peel 1 cucumber. Slice in half lengthwise and use spoon to scoop out seeds. Then slice in ¼” slices. Dice 2 tomatoes. Slice 1/4 red onion into thin strips. Add 1 tablespoon of freshly chopped basil. Mince 1 clove fresh garlic. Drizzle 1 tbsp (~2-3 seconds pour) of EVOO. Drizzle ½ tbsp. of balsamic vinegar. Add pinch of s/p. Mix together and let marinate for ~30minutes. Enjoy as a side to your main dish or as a tasty snack.

 


Heart Healthy Oatmeal Casserole

Friday, February 06, 2015

Eating the same bowl of oatmeal for breakfast can get boring so I decided to mix it up into a hot casserole. You can use any type of berries (preferably ones in season) and also substitute any type of milk.

 


Serves 6 (Double the batch for a larger breakfast crowd)

1.5 cup of rolled oats

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

½ tsp aluminum free baking powder

¼ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup honey or agave (can eliminate if you want to reduce the sugar; I used just a drizzle on top)

1 cup coconut milk (any milk will work)

1 egg

1 tbsp soft butter

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1-2 bananas, sliced into ½-1” pieces

1.5 cups blueberries

 

Heat oven to 375°. Coat a 9x11 baking dish with butter (or light baking spray)

Mix oats, cinnamon, salt and baking powder together in a bowl and set aside

Whisk milk, egg, vanilla extract together and set aside

Place sliced bananas on bottom of dish in a single layer

Add ~1/2 of the berries on top of the bananas

Spread the oatmeal mixture on top of the fruit evenly

Add the rest of the berries and then slowly pour the milk/egg mixture on top of the entire dish

(You may need to shake the dish a few times to make sure the milk mixture is evenly distributed across the entire casserole)

Sprinkle the walnuts on top and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until slightly golden brown and bubbly

Drizzle honey on top after removing from the oven

 

Heart Healthy Benefits:

  • Eating oatmeal can reduce the ‘lousy’ cholesterol (low density-LDL) and also helps to lower blood pressure
  • Blueberries contain flavonoids that help prevent plaque build-up in the arteries as well
  • Adding cinnamon to your food (or coffee) can help control your blood sugar

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