It’s hard not to panic when news reports keep telling you that confirmed cases of the coronavirus are steadily skyrocketing in the U.S. and the rest of the world. But as a prepper, you can ease some of your fears by learning essential survival skills. Continue reading
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Lemons work wonders for deodorizing, cleaning, and laundry purposes
Uses lemons for cooking, skin care, first-aid purposes, Continue reading
Microwaves absolutely decimate the nutritional value of your food, destroying the very vitamins and phytonutrients that prevent disease and support good health. Previous studies have shown that as much as 98% of the cancer-fighting nutrients in broccoli, for example, are destroyed by microwaving. Continue reading
Purple carrots, raspberry bushes and a bounty of schoolyard-grown vegetables are sprouting up around the nation. Edible schoolyards are teaching children about sustainability, nutrition and the fun of growing, cooking and eating their own food. As more of these gardens germinate from an idea to a full fledged classroom, children learn about wholesome food choices — helping to curb childhood obesity.
The blossoming of garden classrooms
Instead of sitting in front of video games Continue reading
A unique cooking workshop for the blind and the visually impaired took place this week, for the first time in Israel.
The workshop was organized by the volunteer organization Lions and was held in the “Cooking Experience” center, which specializes in cooking workshops for purposes of both fun Continue reading
Growing your own herbs can add a new dimension to your cooking and give you the opportunity to save money by making your own herbal teas, tinctures and salves. Some people think herb gardening is an option only available to those who have access to a plot of land, but this is not true. Even if you live in an apartment or condo with no outdoor space, you can still grow your own herbs. Continue reading
When do carrots die? Apparently not in the way most of us thought. Carrots don’t die when you pull them out of the ground, but in fact only die when ingested in the stomach, cooked to 60c in hot water or left out to rot. This startling discovery has serious consequences not only for vegetarians, but also for everyone who is concerned about their health. In the light of the raw milk scandal, it takes on an even greater significance.
In his ground breaking new book, Blinded by Science, www.blindedbyscience.co.uk author Matthew Silverstone provides impressive scientific evidence that supports these ideas and uncovers new information that shows many other unknown aspects of plants will completely alter the way Continue reading
October winds mark the beginning of 45 days of harvesting those odiferous, nutritious, delicious ginkgo nuts. Notorious for its stinky fruit which is discarded, the ginkgo nut itself contains potassium, phosphorus, folate and vitamin A, with traces of zinc, copper and manganese. After cooking, the rubbery jade-green nut tastes very similar to edamame (young soy bean pods) with a hint of that unique ginkgo fragrance.
The health benefits of the ginkgo nut make it worth the effort. The nuts have similar health properties as the leaves, but caution must be used if any allergies to tree nuts exist. The recommended “dosage” of nuts is six to ten daily. With antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator properties, Ginkgo is recommended for a variety of ailments, particularly those concerning circulation, heart and lungs. Continue reading
Armadillos, with their sharp claws and body armor, don’t have a reputation for being cuddly. New research should make them even less so. They turn out to be a potential source of leprosy in genetically-susceptible humans.
Researchers report in the New England Journal of Medicine that a strain of leprosy found in humans in the southern United States is identical to the one common in nine-banded armadillos in the region.
The findings mean people should be discouraged from frequent contact with the animals, or cooking and consuming armadillo meat.
The results also suggest that species Continue reading
Gone are the days of seasoning food with just salt and pepper or of jars of herbs and spices collecting dust for a decade in a kitchen cabinet.
The exciting era of herbs and spices has begun and you can either let it boost your home cooking to a higher level of flavor and health or be left behind clutching your jar of Old Bay Seasoning.
There’s a whole world of exotic herbs and spices available to you now over the Internet or at specialty stores that you might not know about because they aren’t called for in Grandma Martha’s recipes. You might not even see the following up-and-coming herbs and spices in magazine and cookbook recipes either — yet.
Herbs and spices aren’t just about adding flavor. They may also have health perks related to their antioxidants. And using herbs and spices in your foods may help you cut back on fat, sugar, and salt, which could help your waistline, blood pressure, and overall health.
Here are six herbs and spices that you probably aren’t using yet, but should.
1. Smoked Serrano Chili Powder
Serrano chili peppers are known for their bold, spicy heat. Now you can find Serrano chilies that are smoked and ground into a fragrant powder.
How it improves dishes: Smoked Serrano chili powder adds a rich, smoky flavor and lively heat to your favorite dishes, including a variety of Mexican and Southwestern dishes, stews, casseroles, egg dishes, and chili.
Turmeric, a favorite ingredient since ancient times, is the root stalk of a tropical plant in the ginger family. It adds a bright golden color and a pungent flavor found in everything from Indian curry powder to traditional American mustard.
How it improves dishes: Turmeric can be added to Southeast Asian recipes including curries; soups; rice and pilaf dishes; and vegetable, chicken, or lentil dishes. It can also be used to add some punch to relishes and chutneys.
3. Saigon Cinnamon
Cinnamon is not a new spice, but Saigon cinnamon, prized for its sweet and spicy taste and aroma, is considered the finest and most flavorful cinnamon in the world.
How it improves dishes: Cinnamon is an old favorite called for in fancy coffee drinks, hot oatmeal, cookies, and fruit crisps. It’s also a popular spice for main dishes (including chicken, seafood, and lamb) from international cuisines such as Indian, Greek, Mexican, and Middle Eastern. Saigon cinnamon is an important ingredient in the popular Vietnamese noodle soup called pho.
4. Vanilla Paste
Vanilla extract is ubiquitous in dessert recipes, but the next generation of recipes might start calling for vanilla paste instead. Vanilla paste is much more preferable to vanilla extract because of flavorful flecks of vanilla bean dispersed throughout its syrup consistency. Vanilla paste has the benefits of using the actual vanilla bean (where you cut the long, thin bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the center) but is so much easier.
How it improves dishes: Vanilla paste has a more concentrated flavor than extract, and the flecks of vanilla bean can be particularly appetizing used in single-color dishes such as ice cream, sugar cookies, and vanilla frosting. It’s a treat to see and taste those flavor-packed little black dots.
This is an up-and-coming herb, according to the Spice Island Marketplace at the Culinary Institute of America. Although this is a relatively new herb to many American cooks, epazote has been used in Mexico for cooking and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
In Mexico, Epazote is best known for flavoring bean dishes and making herb tea. One new use, suggested by the Spice Island Marketplace, is to drizzle some olive oil on top of flat bread, and then sprinkle epazote over the top, heat, then serve.
How it improves dishes: Epazote has a powerful flavor similar to licorice and can be used in bean dishes as well as eggs, burritos, rice, soups and stews, salad, quesadillas, and meat dishes. There is one way that epazote may improve your bean dishes beyond flavor: It’s known in Mexico for helping to diffuse the gas-inducing effect of beans.
6. Herbs de Provence
Herbs de Provence (also called Herbs of Provence) is a blend of five or six herbs reminiscent of France’s sunny Provence region. The herbs included in the blend vary by brand but usually include thyme, basil, savory, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, and/or lavender. When you buy it in a blend, the individual herbs are already in balanced amounts ready to inspire flavorful and convenient cooking.
How it improves dishes: This sweet and fragrant aromatic herb blend adds depth and complexity to your hot dishes. It can be used as a rub on roast, meats, and fish and works great on the grill. It can be added to marinades, sprinkled into sautés, omelets, vegetable dishes, sauces, and soups.
Tips for Buying, Using, and Storing Dried Herbs
If your grocery store doesn’t stock the spices or herbs mentioned in this story, try searching for them online.
- Store dried herbs in a cool, dark place, especially if they come in a clear glass container.
- Dried herbs are usually stronger-tasting than fresh. So if a recipe calls for fresh herbs and you’re using dried instead, use about 1/3 less. If the recipe calls for a tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs, a teaspoon of dried herbs will do.
- Dried herbs lose flavor over time. If stored correctly, they will last about a year. Sniff the herbs before you use them. If you can’t smell anything, they’re past their prime.
Follow this quick checklist of sodium-slashing food-prep ideas every time you make a meal and you could be enjoying better blood pressure before you know it. These tips are based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; the National Institutes of Health; and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Step 1: Read, read, read.
Check all labels before food preparation so you know how much sodium you’re starting with.
- Try to stay below the RealAge-recommended limit of 1,500 milligrams per day.
- Always buy the low-sodium versions of prepackaged, frozen, canned, or jarred foods and sauces.
- Opt for fresh veggies over canned.
- Make things from scratch when you can, to control the sodium content.
Step 2: Reduce, reduce, reduce.
How many ways can you cut the sodium from your food?
- Rinse canned foods before using.
- Don’t add salt to the water when you boil pasta or rice.
- Ditch the flavor packets that come with instant or prepared foods, and do your own seasoning.
- Choose fresh whole cuts of meat or fish over processed, pressed, cured, or canned.
Step 3: Season, season, season.
Get creative with fresh flavors so you won’t feel tempted to grab the saltshaker.
- Choose fresh herbs and salt-free spices instead of salt.
- Use herb- or citrus-infused oils, avocado mash, or malt or cider vinegars instead of salty condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, and soy sauce.
- Try oil with red wine vinegar or lemon juice instead of salty salad dressings.
- Season lean animal protein and veggies with onions, mushrooms, garlic, peppers, and other fresh, savory flavors.
- Stuff fresh, crunchy veggies into sandwiches or wraps, instead of pickles or olives.
Composition of Different Fats – Oils We Eat
Here we examine the composition of vegetable oils and other animal fats in order to determine their usefulness and appropriateness in food preparation:
Duck and Goose Fat are semisolid at room temperature, containing about 35% saturated fat, 52% monounsaturated fat (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and about 13% polyunsaturated fat. The proportion of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids depends on what the birds have eaten. Duck and goose fat are quite stable and are highly prized in Europe for frying potatoes.
Chicken Fat is about 31% saturated, 49% monounsaturated (including moderate amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 20% polyunsaturated, most of which is omega-6 linoleic acid, although the amount of omega-3 can be raised by feeding chickens flax or fish meal, or allowing them to range free and eat insects. Although widely used for frying in kosher kitchens, it is inferior to duck and goose fat, which were traditionally preferred to chicken fat in Jewish cooking.
Lard or pork fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated. Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century.
It is a good source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to be expensive. Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy.
Beef and Mutton Tallows are 50-55% saturated, about 40% monounsaturated and contain small amounts of the polyunsaturates, usually less than 3%. Suet, which is the fat from the cavity of the animal, is 70-80% saturated. Suet and tallow are very stable fats and can be used for frying. Traditional cultures valued these fats for their health benefits. They are a good source of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid.
Olive Oil contains 75% oleic acid, the stable monounsaturated fat, along with 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid and 2% omega-3 linolenic acid. The high percentage of oleic acid makes olive oil ideal for salads and for cooking at moderate temperatures. Extra virgin olive oil is also rich in antioxidants. It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden yellow color, indicating that it is made from fully ripened olives.
Olive oil has withstood the test of time; it is the safest vegetable oil you can use, but don’t overdo. The longer chain fatty acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter, coconut oil or palm kernel oil.
Peanut Oil contains 48% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, peanut oil is relatively stable and, therefore, appropriate for stir-frys on occasion. But the high percentage of omega-6 presents a potential danger, so use of peanut oil should be strictly limited.
Sesame Oil contains 42% oleic acid, 15% saturated fat, and 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. Sesame oil is similar in composition to peanut oil. It can be used for frying because it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. However, the high percentage of omega-6 militates against exclusive use.
Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean and Cottonseed Oils all contain over 50% omega-6 and, except for soybean oil, only minimal amounts of omega-3. Safflower oil contains almost 80% omega-6. Researchers are just beginning to discover the dangers of excess omega-6 oils in the diet, whether rancid or not.
Use of these oils should be strictly limited. They should never be consumed after they have been heated, as in cooking, frying or baking. High oleic safflower and sunflower oils, produced from hybrid plants, have a composition similar to olive oil, namely, high amounts of oleic acid and only small amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and, thus, are more stable than traditional varieties. However, it is difficult to find truly cold-pressed versions of these oils.
Canola Oil contains 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6 and 10%-15% omega-3. The newest oil on the market, canola oil was developed from the rape seed, a member of the mustard family. Rape seed is unsuited to human consumption because it contains a very-long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions.
Canola oil was bred to contain little if any erucic acid and has drawn the attention of nutritionists because of its high oleic acid content. But there are some indications that canola oil presents dangers of its own. It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Baked goods made with canola oil develop mold very quickly. During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into
A recent study indicates that “heart healthy” canola oil actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, a vitamin required for a healthy cardiovascular system. Other studies indicate that even low-erucic-acid canola oil causes heart lesions, particularly when the diet is low in saturated fat.
Flax Seed Oil contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6 and 57% omega-3. With its extremely high omega-3 content, flax seed oil provides a remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance so prevalent in America today. Not surprisingly, Scandinavian folk lore values flax seed oil as a health food. New extraction and bottling methods have minimized rancidity problems. It should always be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads.
Tropical Oils are more saturated than other vegetable oils. Palm oil is about 50% saturated, with 41% oleic acid and about 9% linoleic acid. Coconut oil is 92% saturated with over two-thirds of the saturated fat in the form of medium-chain fatty acids (often called medium-chain triglycerides).
Of particular interest is lauric acid, found in large quantities in both coconut oil and in mother’s milk. This fatty acid has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil protects tropical populations from bacteria and fungus so prevalent in their food supply; as third-world nations in tropical areas have switched to polyunsaturated vegetable oils, the incidence of intestinal disorders and immune deficiency diseases has increased dramatically.
Because coconut oil contains lauric acid, it is often used in baby formulas. Palm kernel oil, used primarily in candy coatings, also contains high levels of lauric acid. These oils are extremely stable and can be kept at room temperature for many months without becoming rancid. Highly saturated tropical oils do not contribute to heart disease but have nourished healthy populations for millennia. It is a shame we do not use these oils for cooking and baking—the bad rap they have received is the result of intense lobbying by the domestic vegetable oil industry.
Red palm oil has a strong taste that most will find disagreeable—although it is used extensively throughout Africa—but clarified palm oil, which is tasteless and white in color, was formerly used as shortening and in the production of commercial French fries, while coconut oil was used in cookies, crackers and pastries. The saturated fat scare has forced manufacturers to abandon these safe and healthy oils in favor of hydrogenated soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oils.
In summary, our choice of fats and oils is one of extreme importance. Most people, especially infants and growing children, benefit from more fat in the diet rather than less. But the fats we eat must be chosen with care.
Avoid all processed foods containing newfangled hydrogenated fats and polyunsaturated oils.
Instead, use traditional vegetable oils like extra virgin olive oil and small amounts of unrefined flax seed oil. Acquaint yourself with the merits of coconut oil for baking and with animal fats for occasional frying.
Eat egg yolks and other animal fats with the proteins to which they are attached. And, finally, use as much good quality butter as you like, with the happy assurance that it is a wholesome—indeed, an essential—food for you and your whole family.
Organic butter, extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-expressed flax oil in opaque containers are available in health food stores and gourmet markets.