category: forgotten ingredients

eat your sea vegetables

February 28, 2012

sea vegetables

you’ve probably been told to eat your veggies, but what about sea veggies? it might come as a surprise, but sea vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense plants on earth. popular in macrobiotic diets, ocean plants support thyroid function, detoxification, and hormone balance.

seaweed has many of the minerals we need in our daily diets, including iodine, sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, copper and selenium. it’s also incredibly rich in a variety of vitamins, including B, C, D, E and K. sea vegetables are some of the best plant-based sources of calcium, as well as good sources of the antioxidant beta-carotene and some seaweeds, (such as wakame), are also a good source of protein.

many people associate seaweed as a foreign idea, fishy and a little slimy. but cooked properly, they can be a really delicious addition to your meals! the key to learning to love sea vegetables is preparing them properly. most sea vegetables are best if you pour boiling water over them and let them soak for 10 minutes before use. for the more chewy types, such as hijiki, it’s best to then drain and simmer the sea vegetable in water—how long depends both on the specific variety of seaweed being used and the dish it’s intended for. for example, if you prefer the delicate flavor and texture of the seaweed itself not be overpowered by ocean flavors that may have intensified during drying, you can soak or boil them to remove the briny flavor.

sea veggie savvy 

here’s a list of the most popular and commonly available sea veggies and how you can incorporate them in your meals.

• agar-agar—derived from a very mild-flavored red seaweed that is processed into translucent flakes or a powder and is then used as a vegetarian gelatin or binding agent. agar-agar is also sometimes found in bars that must be crushed before being used. two tablespoons of agar-agar will firmly gel one cup of liquid. To use agar-agar, warm it in the liquid, stirring constantly until it dissolves, then simmer for about 10 minutes.

• arame—derived from a large-leaved, brown seaweed that is parboiled, then shredded and dried. the resulting thin, black strips are mild in flavor and delicate in texture. It should be rinsed well, then may be used in salads, stir-fries, casseroles or soups immediately, or after very quickly stir-frying or simmering.

• dulse—a thin, delicate, leafy sea vegetable with a beautiful purple-red color. It can be eaten dried as a salty snack or added to soups and stews for its gentle salty brine flavor and thickening quality. it’s also available powdered, to be used as a salty condiment. dulse is the most commonly eaten sea vegetable in europe and is often the first sea vegetable many people try (i just bought some this week!).

• hijiki—similar to arame, but thicker, chewier, and slightly stronger in flavor. it should be rinsed well, then soaked for about 20 minutes before cooking lightly. because of its thick texture and pronounced flavor, hijiki should be used prudently, in stir-fries, casseroles and salads.

• kelp—usually powdered and may be used as a salt substitute that is rich in trace minerals.

• kombu—found in wide, stiff strips measuring from 3-10 inches in length. a strip of kombu serves well as a flavoring, which also adds a gelatinous quality to soups, stocks, stews, and when cooking beans. some find that cooking beans with kombu makes them more digestible. the kombu itself is seldom eaten, because it is quite tough.

• nori—sheets of nori are most commonly used as the wrapping for sushi rolls. nori is also sold as a snack, in prepackaged 1-3 inch spiced strips. the dried sheets improve in flavor when lightly toasted. to toast, hold a sheet a few inches above a flame and allow it to shrink slightly, then toast on the other side. use nori crumbled over rice, in salads or in sandwiches.

• wakame—this versatile sea vegetable is tender and delicate. its leaves may be added for flavor and texture to soups, salads or stir-fries. first rinse, then soak for several minutes, and cook for about 10 minutes. wakame is the familiar leafy sea vegetable found in many miso soup recipes.

finding sea vegetables 

finding sea veggies is easier than you might think. health food stores always carry high-quality sea vegetables are you can find commercially harvested seaweeds in most asian markets. look for sea vegetables that are grown wild and harvested from the ocean.

resources and image:the vegetables that came from the sea and the healthiest vegetables
forgotten ingredients

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lentils

i love lentils by geninne

lentils. delicious, nutritious and oh, so colorful! lentils are extremely rich in fiber, folate, magnesium and lean protein. not only are they a great source for cholesterol-lowering fiber, but they also help in managing blood sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after a meal. they are also an excellent source of thiamine, vitamin b-6 and six important minerals. with 17 grams of lean protein in just one cup, 90% of our daily recommendation for folate and virtually no fat, lentils may just be the perfect addition to your meal!

how to cook: black and green lentils keep their shape better when cooked; red and yellow lentils cook faster and break down more. to cook, give them a thorough rinse and put in a pot with one part lentils to two parts water (you can also add in a chopped onion, bay leaf, garlic or carrot if you like!). bring to a boil, then simmer until tender 20-40 minutes (depending on variety). below are a few of my favorite lentil recipes, do you have any you would like to share?

a few favorite lentil recipes:

forgotten ingredients
 

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forgotten ingredients: pumpkin

November 16, 2011


{pumpkin patch}

the pumpkin. we often decorate with them, pick them out at the local punkin’ patch or grab a can of it at the store for making pies. but how often do we grab a whole pumpkin and use it in our recipes? turns out, we should probably be doing it more than we actually do (especially since pumpkins are only in season during the fall!).

the nutritionally robust pumpkin boasts loads of fiber, potassium and iron. the pumpkins bright orange color is also a giveaway that it’s loaded with beta-carotene, a very important antioxidant. studies show that a diet rich in beta-carotene reduces the risk of developing certain types of cancer and protects against heart disease.

pumpkins are also very low in calories, so let’s get to cookin’! here are a few of my favorite pumpkin recipes. do you have any? please share!

pumpkin recipes

 

leaf learn how to roast a pumpkin and toast their seeds

leaf pumpkin pizza wreath

leaf cashew, coconut and pumpkin curry

leaf pumpkin pasta sauce

leaf pumpkin spiced latte

leaf roasted pumpkin with sage

leaf homemade knekkebrød (crackers)

and make sure to keep you pumpkin seeds, they are full of health benefits as well!

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known to many as a miracle superfood, green tea contains one super ingredient after another, specifically catechin. this antioxidant helps to fight cancer in a number of ways, but most importantly has the ability to shrink tumors and slow tumor cell growth. elevated levies of a special chemical called egcg stymies tumor growth as well as aids cells in avoiding damage and premature aging. with plenty of varieties and blends of green tea to choose from, there are no excuses to not make a cup a part of your daily routine! if you’re a coffee drinker (like me), try subbing a cup a day with green tea. supposing the flavor isn’t exactly your ‘cup of tea’ you can always doctor it up with ginger, lemon or honey.

you can also make your own green tea right at home! follow these easy instructions and have your own homemade supertea right at home (and let me tell you, this was the best tea i’ve ever had!). here’s to being happy and healthy!

resources: the whole person

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forgotten ingredients pumpkin seeds

{pumpkin patch 6×6 photo}

who knew, pumpkin seeds aren’t just for halloween! turns out, we should be trying to incorporate them into our diet more and more. they contain zinc, iron and healthy omega-3s and omega-6’s.

zinc is a trace mineral that affects our immune function and acts upon more than 200 enzymes involved in metabolism, building cells and transporting carbon dioxide among other functions.

iron is needed to carry oxygen in the blood, and a low iron intake can lead to anemia. pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of iron, as 1 oz provides ever 4 mg (the daily recommendation for iron is 18 mg).

omega-3s and omega-6s: pumpkin seeds contain both of the ‘good’ fats which researches believe are important to consume together. for those of us who don’t eat fish, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and pine nuts are an excellent way to reach our omega-3s and omega-6s needs.

for ideas on how to consume more pumpkin seeds, try these recipes!

– make your own knekkebrød crackers, perfect for dipping into hummus!

– roast the pumpkin, then roast the pumpkin seeds as a healthy snack or salad topping

– try making a pumpkin pizza wreath

– bake up some homemade granola

what are your favorite ways to eat pumpkin seeds?

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wheat feild

sunlit wheat field

ok, you caught me on this one. i haven’t thought about wheat germ in a long time. but, apparently we should start! wheat germ is a concentrated source of several essential nutrients including vitamin e, vitamin b, iron, selenium, folate (folic acid), phosphorus, thiamine, magnesium, immune boosting zinc and is also a good source of fiber. and, with 7 grams of protein per 1/4 cup serving, it’s also an incredible source protein. who knew!

basically, things like white bread are made with white flour that has had the germ and brand removed (who’s idea was that?). the good news is we can easily start adding wheat germ back into our diets. look for it in your health food store’s refrigerated department and start adding into your protein shakes, casseroles, muffins, pancakes, cereals, yogurt, cookies and other baked goods. just substitute 1/4 of the flour with wheat germ in batters and doughs or swap in wheat germ for half of the breadcrumbs in casseroles or the like.

resources: vegetarian times (spring 2011), wheat germ on wiki

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forgotten ingredients: chia seeds
 
have you ever heard of chia seeds? yes, they are the same seeds that grow on our friendly clay pets, but come to find out they pack immense health benefits! i found my first package while roaming the isles of a local farmers market a few years ago, and after inquiring about their health benefits, decided to give them a try. they have a very mild taste and so are an easy additive to just about any dish. i use them in breads, salads, baked goods, soups and smoothies. you can also use them as a thickening agent (for soups and sauces) by cooking them with a little water for just a few mintues.

*just one note- don’t eat the seeds that actually come with a chia pet! instead, head to your local health food store and buy them in bulk.

here are just a few of their power-house benefits:

omega-3s: chia seeds are the richest plant source of omega-3s, containing more omega-3’s than salmon or flax seed.

fiber: chia seeds are a rich source of both soluble and insoluble fiber, as a 25-gram portion contains 7 grams of fiber.

minerals: chia offers a variety of minerals, including iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, molybdenum and magnesium, and also contain niacin and folic acid.

protein: chia seeds contain 20% more protein than other grains or seeds (wheat has 14%) and the protein is of higher quality.

do you already use chia? share with us all the ways that you put in your diet!

picture via green-lemonade. resources: livestrong & wikipedia

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hello lovelies! today i’m starting a new column called the forgotten ingredient. so often i find myself not only discovering new ingredients, but also discovering the health benefits to some more common ingredients that i just never knew about. are you with me? sound interesting? feel free to share you thoughts in the comment section, add any knowledge you may have or even suggest ingredients for future posts!

on today’s menu? turmeric.

forgotten ingredient: turmeric {organic ground turmeric} (on etsy!)

wh foods describes turmeric as has having a peppery, warm and bitter flavor and a mild fragrance slightly reminiscent of orange and ginger. to me, turmeric has a very light and agreeable flavor, one that you might be surprised at given the intensity of it’s color. you’ll often find it in indian dishes and curries, as the ingredient that gives them that vibrant yellow color. turmeric has quite a long list of health benefits, among them are an immense amount of anti-cancer properties and anti-alzheimers preventers. in fact, over a billion people eat turmeric in india every day, and they have one of the lowest rates of alzheimers in the world!

turmeric and its active component, curcumin, are useful for treating indigestion, ulcerative colitis, stomach ulcers, osteoarthritis, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes, uveitis, and bacterial and viral infections. it is a natural liver detoxifier, anti-inflammatory agent, pain killer and may aid in helping fat metabolism. click through the following articles to find even more of turmeric’s benefits and read the details of each:

- university of maryland medical center on turmeric

- 20 health benefits of turmeric

wh foods on turmeric

so the next question is, just how much should we be eating a day? the recommendation for adults are:

– cut root: 1.5 – 3 g per day
– dried, powdered root: 1 – 3 g per day
– standardized powder (curcumin): 400 – 600 mg, 3 times per day
– fluid extract (1:1) 30 – 90 drops a day
– tincture (1:2): 15 – 30 drops, 4 times per day

that’s roughly about 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric a day (anyone have some turmeric and a gram scale??)

so the next question might be, what do you do it with it?

– add it to curries, stir fries and any indian dishes
– toss it with vegetables before roasting
– make turmeric tea (and read about the benefits)
– add 1 tsp (or more) to rice, quinoa, bulgar or any rice-y dish
– add it to potato or egg salad
– add it to soups

any other ways in which you use turmeric? please share!

 

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