Saturday, April 23, 2011

Herb Potatoes with Carrots and Health Benefits

Potatoes are one of the most popular vegetables because they are nutritious, easy to prepare, and very versatile. They’re rich in complex carbohydrates that can supply energy, but not all that high in calories. One medium-sized potato (about 3 inches in diameter) has about 150 calories. That same potato has about 5 grams of fiber, which is important for a healthy digestive tract. They’re also a healthy source of vitamins and minerals.
Potatoes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department,  even more than bananas. One potato has almost 900 milligrams, which is about 20% of what you need every day. Potassium is important for body growth and cell maintenance. It’s also necessary for nervous function and for normal muscle contraction - including the heart muscle. Potassium is also an electrolyte that helps to balance the fluids in your body, which is important for healthy blood pressure.
Potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy.  Some reports also show they could lower your blood pressure.

There are many ways to cook potatoes. There are boiling potatoes, yellow potatoes, purple, baking, white, red skin, just to name a few.

Here is an easy recipe with boiled potatoes for a side dish.

 Herb Potatoes and Carrots

3 to 4 boiling potatoes cubed
1 cup of crinkle cut or baby carrots
salt, pepper
1/2 teaspoon each of garlic powder, oregano, parsley, basil
3 to 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Boil potatoes and carrots together until tender. Drain. Place in a large bowl toss with olive oil and herbs.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Roasted Fennel and The Health Benefits

The health benefits of fennel include Anemia, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, colic, diarrhea, respiratory disorders, menstrual disorders, eye care, etc.
Fennel, bearing the scientific name Foeniculum Vulgare Miller, or its essence, is widely used around the world in mouth fresheners, toothpastes, desserts, antacids and in culinary.
Apart from these uses of fennel, there are numerous medicinal uses and health benefits, mainly due to the components of its essential oils, which can be summarized as under.
Anemia: Iron, and Histidine, an amino acid found in fennel, are helpful in treatment of anemia. Where iron is chief constituent of haemoglobin, Histidine stimulates production of haemoglobin and also helps forming other components of blood.
Indigestion: It is a common practice, particularly in Indian Subcontinent, to chew fennel seeds after meals. This is done to facilitate digestion and to keep bad breath away. Some of the components of the essential oils in fennel are stimulants and stimulate secretion of digestive and gastric juices, reduce inflammation of stomach and intestines and facilitates proper absorption of nutrients from the food. It also has anti acidic (basic) properties and is extensively used in antacid preparations. It is an appetizer too.
Flatulence: Fennel is most popular as an anti flatulent, due to the carminative properties of Aspartic acid found in fennel. Its extract can be used in right from the infants to the old, to cure flatulence and to expel gases from the stomach.
Constipation: Fennel seeds, particularly in powdered form, act as laxative. The roughage helps clearance of bowels whereas the stimulating effect helps maintain the proper peristaltic motion of the intestines, thereby helping proper excretion.
 Diarrhea: Fennel is helpful in curing diarrhea if caused by bacterial action, as some components essential oils in fennel such as Anetol, Cineole etc. have disinfectant and anti bacterial properties. Some amino acids such as Histidine aid digestion and proper functioning of digestive system, thus helping cure diarrhea due to indigestion. 
Colic: Polymeric and heavy molecules are useful in the treatment of Renal Colic. Such polymers, also called Phytoestrogens, are found in Anethole, a component of the essential oils in fennel. Fennel, with this virtue, is thus helpful in treating Renal Colic.
Respiratory Disorders: Fennel is useful in respiratory disorders such congestion, bronchitis, cough etc. due to presence of Cineole and Anetol which are expectorant in nature, among their many other virtues.
Menstrual Disorders: Fennel is also an Emenagogue, i.e. it eases and regulates menstruation by regulating hormonal action properly in the body.
Eye Care: While using fennel in food helps protect eyes from inflammation, disorders related to aging, macular degeneration etc. due to presence of anti oxidants (vitamin-C, amino acid like Arginine which very beneficial for rejuvenation of tissues and prevention of aging), detoxifiers and stimulants etc. in it, more specifically in its essential oils, and minerals like cobalt and magnesium, the juice of fennel leaves and the plant can be externally applied on the eyes to reduce irritation and fatigue of eyes. 
Other Benefits: Fennel is diuretic, i.e. increases amount and frequency of urination, thereby helping removal of toxic substances from the body and helping in rheumatism, swelling etc. It also increases production and secretion of milk in lactating mothers and since this milk contains some properties of fennel, it is anti flatulent for the baby too. It strengthens hair, prevents hair fall, relaxes body, sharpens memory and has a marvelous cooling effect in summer if the pale greenish-yellow water, in which it is soaked, is taken with a bit of sugar and black-salt.
Few Words of Caution: You must remember that everything has two aspects and too much of anything is harmful. It is true for fennel too. Certain components of essential oils such as Anethol, and few chemicals present in fennel, besides being beneficial, can be dangerous if ingested in over-dose, because you must remember that the compounds which can kill bacteria and microbes in low doses can be harmful for you too. It can induce trouble in breathing, increase palpitations and make heart beats irregular and also neurotic problems
Information by Organic

Roasted Fennel

2 fennel bulbs (thick base of stalk), stalks cut off, bulbs halved lengthwise, then cut lengthwise in 1-inch thick pieces
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Rub just enough olive oil over the fennel to coat. Sprinkle on some balsamic vinegar, also to coat. Line baking pan with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking oil aluminum foil. Lay out the pieces of fennel and roast for 30-40 minutes, or until the fennel is cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lemon, Health Benefit and The Best Homemade Lemonade

Though lemon is acidic to the taste, it leaves off alkaline residues in the body. This is why it is useful in all symptoms of acidosis.
Lemon-juice is a powerful antibacterial. It has been proved by experiments that the bacteria of malaria, cholera, diphtheria, typhoid and other deadly diseases are destroyed in lemon-juice.
It also contains some vitamin A. Natural vitamin C is much more effective than the synthetic one. Vitamin C of lemon-juice is very effective because it is combined with bioflavonoids (vitamin P). In addition to Vitamin C, lemon also contains niacin and thiamin in small amounts.
One should not take concentrated lemon-juice. It should be diluted with water before taking it. Pure lemon­juice contains acid which is injurious to the enamel of teeth.
The body is well cleansed if lemon-juice mixed with cold water and honey is taken on an empty stomach early in the morning. Warm water may be used occasionally to get relieved of constipation.
Lemon-juice prevents or restrains influenza, malaria and cold.
Lemon-juice gives good relief in fever. Lemon-juice mixed with water is useful in quenching the thirst of the patients suffering from diabetes. It gives immediate relief in abdominal disorders. Lemon acts as a sedative for the nerves and the heart and allays troublesome palpitation.
Lemon is especially appreciated for its Vitamin C value. The Most valuable ingredient of lemon next to Vitamin C is citric acid which contains 7.2 %. Lemon contains more potassium than apples or grapes which is beneficial to the heart.

Lemon is very much useful in maintaining the health of the teeth and the bones. The vitamin C content of lemon helps considerably in calcium metabolism.
Lemon has been used for many years in gout and rheumatism. Lemon-juice is a diuretic. It, therefore, gives relief in kidney and bladder disorders. It has been used in destroying intestinal worms. It prevents vomiting and helps to cure hepatitis and other innumerable diseases.

 Lemons are packed with numerous health benefiting nutrients. The fruit is low in calories, 29 calories per 100 g, one of the lowest among citrus group.It contains no saturated fats or cholesterol, but is rich in dietary fiber (7.36% of RDA).Its acidic taste is due to citric acid. Citric acid is present up to 8% in its juice. Citric acid is a natural preservative, aids digestion. Studies found that citric acid help dissolve kidney stones.Lemons, like other citrus fruits, are excellent source of ascorbic acid (provides about 88% of DRI). Ascorbic acid or vitamin-C is a powerful water soluble natural anti-oxidant. This vitamin is helpful in preventing scurvy. Lemons like oranges contain a variety of phytochemicals. Hesperetin and naringenin are flavonoid glycosides commonly found in citrus fruits. Naringenin is found to have a bio-active effect on human health as antioxidant, free radical scavenger, anti-inflammatory, and immune system modulator. This substance has also been shown to reduce oxidant injury to DNA in the cells in-vitro studies.They also contain small level of vitamin A, and other flavonoid anti-oxidants such as α and ß-carotenes, beta-cryptoxanthin, zea-xanthin and lutein. These compounds are known to have antioxidant properties. Vitamin A also required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for vision. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids helps body to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.They also a good source of B-complex vitamins such as pantothenic acid, pyridoxine and folates. These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish. They contain healthy amount of minerals like iron, copper, potassium and calcium. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids helps control heart rate and blood pressure.
Citrus fruits, as such, have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is scientifically established that citrus fruits, especially lemons and oranges, by virtue of their richness in vitamins and minerals, have many proven health benefits. Moreover, it is now beginning to be appreciated that the other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds found in citrus fruits such as phyto-chemical antioxidants, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber have been found to be helpful in reduction in the risk for cancers, many chronic diseases like arthritis, and from obesity and coronary heart diseases.

The Best Lemonade Recipe Ever

1 3/4 cups white sugar

8 cups water
1 1/2 cups Freshly squeezed lemon juice


In a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to boil and stir to dissolve sugar (simple syrup). Add lemon juice. ( If using a microwave, boil for one minute). Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Artichokes, Health Benefits and Stewed with Lemon

 Canned artichoke may be the easiest to find and keep the best, but it will have the lowest level of nutrients when compared to the fresh or frozen artichoke but are still good for you.

If you buy a whole artichoke fresh from the produce aisle, you will only need to wash the artichoke well and then peel off the outer petals that are hard. You also want to cut off the stem and not eat that. As you peel off the outer petals of the artichoke you will eventually come to the artichoke heart. This is the most delicious part of the vegetable and packed full of nutrients. From medium sized Artichokes we can drive 25 calories and 16 essential nutrients!
 Fresh artichokes provide the important minerals like magnesium, chromium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, iron and calcium In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fiber, vitamin C and folate.

Artichokes are low in calories and sodium, have no fat and no cholesterol.
All this means that artichokes, as a part of a low-fat, high-fiber diet, can help reduce the risk of certain types of heart disease, cancers and birth defects.

1 lemon cut in half use one half for garnish and the other half squeezed reserving juice
 1 lemon zested and set aside

3 cans small artichokes
5 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
5 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Drain the artichokes and place in a saucepan. Cut the  lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Add the reserved lemon zest, the garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, garlic powder, salt and olive oil. Add enough water to cover the artichokes, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the artichokes cool in the pan until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour. Sprinkle the parsley on the top and serve immediately. Serves 6.

For using fresh artichoke method:

Fill a large bowl halfway with cold water. Cut 1 lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, break off the tough outer leaves to reach the pale green, tender inner leaves. Using a small knife, trim the dark green portions from the stem and base, then trim the stem. Cut 1 inch from the tops. Cut the artichoke in half lengthwise and slip the halves into the lemon water.

Drain the artichokes and place in a saucepan. Cut the remaining lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Add the reserved lemon zest, the garlic, thyme sprigs, bay leaves, salt and olive oil. Add enough water to cover the artichokes. Place a piece of parchment paper the diameter of the pan on top of the artichokes. Weight the parchment with a heatproof plate that rests directly on the artichokes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the artichokes cool in the pan until tender when pierced with a knife, about 1 hour

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Italian Vinaigrette and Foods That Can Help Woman With Fibrocystic Discomfort

There is always lots of conversation on this subject of  breast health. we have  a long history of these very issues with family and friends.  After doing some research, I have found this painful and somewhat scary condition to be  very common problem for many woman.  Pain that comes and goes, sometimes monthly, yearly and each time the fear comes back again,  always asking is this time different?
Fibrocystic breasts are characterized by lumpiness and usually discomfort in one or both breasts. The condition is very common and benign, meaning that fibrocystic breasts are not malignant (cancerous). Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD), now referred to as fibrocystic changes or fibrocystic breast condition, is the most common cause of "lumpy breasts" in women and affects more than 60% of women, this was a shocking percent to me. The condition primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 50 and tends to become less of a problem after menopause.
In some women, the symptoms of fibrocystic breast condition can be very mild with minimal breast tenderness or pain. The symptoms can also be limited in time, usually occurring only premenstrually. It may not even be possible to feel any lumps when the breasts are examined and pain can last up to 3 months. I was told that using hot compresses or heating pad may help to shrink the cysts. Always check with your own doctor.
Caffeine has been implicated as contributing to both the symptoms and scarring (fibrocystic) changes in fibrocystic breast condition. However,  the results are conflicting, and no firm benefit of caffeine restriction can be scientifically established. Additionally, there appears to be no evidence that caffeine increases the risk of breast cancer.(Note that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. Tea, chocolate, and certain soft drinks also contain caffeine.) There is no harm in trying caffeine avoidance, and there may be a few fibrocystic breast condition patients for whom it is beneficial.

Change to a low fat diet even vegetarian if possible for awhile. High fat intake increases estrogen production in your body, which aggravates pain and swelling. Increase the amount of  vegetables you eat.  These include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and brussel sprouts. Eat more high fiber foods, such as apples. All help your body excrete excessive estrogen.

Even after 50 something , you can continue to get these fluid filled annoying cysts but the good news is they will evently go away through menopause.  Menopause can take care of this but once you have any hormonal imbalance, they can reoccur. Patience is for sure one you need with this condition. One of the critical pieces is your mammogram yearly to check for changes, the other is taking B6 .
In conclusion:
 Eat the right foods and make sure your wearing a loose fitting bar.
See your doctor regularly and  remember to try and keep stress free.
A few tips to keep in mind. Not everyone is the same. If you haven't been checked for the first time you notice pain and have a breast cyst,  go get this checked. Be certain you are dealing with cycle cysts or Fibro cystic breasts changes. After a professional has diagnosed you pay attention to you body, write things down when they happen. Sometimes it happen at the same time every year, not sure why but it does. Stress is always an important factor to control as always, listen to your body. Your doctor will give you the best advice for treatment. Never take it lightly until you know for sure.

Of course here is a healthy recipe for all those vegetables your going to be eating!

A Healthy Light  Italian Vinaigrette dressing for your vegetables:

14 cup garlic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt, pepper to taste
pinch of oregano
1 tablespoon fresh basil
Combine vinaigrette recipe in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Add the garlic vinegar, lemon juice, light olive oil, salt and pepper.Shake Italian vinaigrette vigorously for 1 minute. Pour over grilled vegetables, such as eggplant, zucchini, string beans etc...
Makes 1 cup

Plastic Filled Christmas Ornaments

The skies the limit with imagination with these plastic filled Christmas ornaments! Using things I find around the house and outside t...