GingerAromatic, pungent and spicy, ginger adds a special flavor and excitement to any recipe. This underground rhizome of the ginger plant possesses numerous therapeutic properties that are time-tested over the centuries.
Gastrointestinal uses: Ginger is valued for being very effective in alleviating symptoms of gastrointestinal distress. As an herbal medicine, ginger is an excellent carminative (a substance which relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract). It reduces inflammation in the colon, which may calm IBS, Colitis, Crohn’s symptoms and may also reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Its anti-inflammatory effects in the colon are helpful to relieve constipation.
Ginger also relieves heartburn, bloating, gas, cramping and flatulence.
Ginger improves the absorption and assimilation of essential nutrients in the body.
The digestion-friendly properties of ginger make it useful when you haven’t been feeling hungry. Ginger tea will get those digestive juices flowing and improve appetite.
Ginger relieves symptoms of motion sickness (dizziness, nausea, vomiting, cold sweats and the effects of chemotherapy).
Pain reliever: Ginger may help reduce pain during menstruation and migraine headaches.
Drinking ginger tea daily has been shown to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain by 25%.
In the blood: As an antioxidant, ginger reduces the body’s production of a damaging free radical, called peroxynitrite.
Ginger may be effective in reducing blood pressure in hypertensive individuals. Ginger has blood thinning and cholesterol lowering properties.
Colds & Flu: Ginger has been thought to boost the immune system, by activating T-cells.
Ginger helps to clear the microcirculatory channels within the body, including the sinuses. Ginger is good to get rid of throat and nose congestion.
Ginger tea can be warming on a cold day, but it also promotes healthy sweat, which is helpful during colds and flu, because it assists in the detoxification process.
Yeast control: Ginger is a potent anti-fungal, which may be effective as part of a yeast fighting regimen. In a controlled study, ginger extract was found to be comparable to the effectiveness of Niastatin, a prescription anti-fungal drug. Ginger contains several phytochemicals with anti-fungal properties; Shagelol and Gingerol being the most active. I take advantage of the anti-fungal properties of ginger simply by consuming it in its natural form.
Ginger promotes healthy sweating. Human sweat contains a compound called Dermicidin, which has been found to inhibit Candida (yeast) growth, as well as other pathogens.
Anti-inflammatory: Ginger has the ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds (Gingerols) and possesses direct anti-inflammatory effects. People with osteo and rheumatoid arthritis have said that they experience pain relief, reduced swelling, and improvement in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly.
After surgery, ginger can help as an anti-inflammatory, pain reliever and with nausea from anesthesia. You know in the hospital, they are always giving patients ginger-ale. Ginger tea is a much healthier alternative.
The active substances in ginger are so concentrated, that you don’t have to use very much to receive its beneficial effects.
¼ teaspoon of ground ginger in 20 oz. hot water with ½ teaspoon SweetLeaf Stevia and 1 tablespoon lemon juice +1 teaspoon lime juice makes a delightful hot or cold drink.
History: Ginger is native to southeastern Asia, where it has been mentioned in ancient Chinese, Indian and Middle Eastern writings. It has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary and medicinal properties.
Ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago. Its popularity remained centered in the Mediterranean region until the Middle Ages. Then its use spread around the world as people migrated to other continents. Spanish explorers introduced ginger to the West Indies and South America.
Today, ginger is produced in India, Fiji, Australia, Indonesia, Cameroon, Philippines, Bangladesh, Thailand, Nepal, China, Nigeria, Japan and Jamaica.
Safety: Ginger is generally recognized as safe by the FDA and is considered safe, based on thousands of years of documented use around the world, but be aware that the use of herbs can interact with other herbs or medications.
Ginger does not typically to cause any allergic reactions and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines. Ginger should not cause any serious side effects, if it is consumed in reasonable quantities.
It is wise to consult with your physician before introducing anything new to your daily routine.
Warning: Consult your doctor before using ginger, if you suffer from irregular heart rhythm, a bleeding condition, blood-clotting disorder or are take blood-thinning medications (such as Warfarin or Aspirin).
Ginger is contraindicated in people suffering from gallstones, as it promotes the production of bile.
Individuals who have ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease or blocked intestines may react badly to large quantities of fresh ginger.
Pumpkin Pie Spiceis a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves.
Cinnamon (more information below).
Cloves provide a uniquely warm, sweet and aromatic taste to this combination. They are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. Picked by hand, the buds are then dried until they turn brown in color. In appearance, they almost resemble small nails. In fact, their English name is derived from the Latin word "clavus", which means nail. Their oily flesh is essential to their nutritional and flavorful qualities.
Cloves possess anti-inflammatory components, due to the Eugenol, the primary volatile oil found inside.
The flavonoids, kaempferol and rhamnetin, also contribue to clove's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Nutritional information: Cloves unique phytonutrient components are accompanied by a variety of nutrients as well.
2 tsp of Cloves contain 126.4% DRI/DV of manganese, 6.6% vitamin K, 2.7% iron, 2.6% calcium and magnesium.
History: Native to Indonesia. Cloves have been consumed in Asia for more than 2,000 years. Chinese courtiers would keep them in their mouth as a breath freshener. As far back as 200 B.C., Arab traders brought cloves to Europe around 300 A.D. Today, the leading clove producers is Zanzibar and East Africa. Additionally, cloves are grown commercially in the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, India, Pemba and Brazil.
Nutmeg contains chemical constituents that make you feel good. In fact, historically, it has been documented as being exotic and potent enough to induce hallucinations when inhaled or consumed in large doses.
History: The early settlers believed nutmeg could help warm the body, fight off head colds and stomachaches. During ancient times, Roman and Greek civilizations used nutmeg as a type of brain tonic; to stimulate the brain.
Brain: It can help to eliminate fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression. It may also help to improve your concentration, so you can become more efficient and focused at work or school.
If, like me, you have difficulty sleeping at night, drinking nutmeg tea may help you achieve relaxation and induce sleep.
Pain: This effective sedative may also help to reduce inflammation and abdominal pain. Aching joints, muscle pain, arthritis and other ailments may benefit from nutmeg.
Gastrointestinal: Digestion-related problems, like diarrhea, constipation, bloating and flatulence may be relieved effectively with nutmeg, plus it has been shown to boost appetite. The antibacterial properties of nutmeg may remedy halitosis by getting rid of the bacteria that cause bad breath, as well as gum problems and toothaches.
Nutmeg is known as a tonic for the liver and kidneys, and may help remove toxic buildup from diet, pollution, medication and other external substances. It may also be effective to prevent and dissolve kidney stones.
Two kinds of cinnamonCeylon cinnamon is "true cinnamon," but it is rather unknown to most people, as it is not the predominant spice typically sold as cinnamon in the United States. The majority of Americans have been buying and consuming Cassia cinnamon.
There are about a dozen species of trees of the genus Cinnamomum, in the family of Lauraceae, but only a few of them are grown commercially for use as spice in sweet and savory foods.
Ceylon cinnamon and Cassia cinnamon are related, but they should be treated as separate foods, both nutritionally and from a health standpoint. True cinnamon comes from the plant Cinnamomum verum (old botanical name - Cinnamonum zeylanicum), most commonly called Ceylon cinnamon.
Ceylon (siˈlän, sāˈlän) cinnamon is a small evergreen tree that is native to Sri Lanka and is also grown in Bangladesh, India, Madagascar and the Seychelles. Ceylon cinnamon is a finer quality because it is sweeter, with a more delicate, intricate and subtle complexity to its flavor. Ceylon cinnamon is preferred for culinary uses, because its light flavors do not compete with other flavors in recipes.
Ceylon cinnamon lacks that almost peppery bite, which Cassia cinnamon is well known for. It is highly valued for culinary and medicinal uses and is recommended for regular use, due to its almost negligible coumarin content.
Ceylon cinnamon rolls only from one side, not both like cassia cinnamon. Ceylon cinnamon has a parchment paper like feel that you can break apart with your fingertips, unlike cassia cinnamon which is stiff, hard and very difficult to grind. Ceylon cinnamon is lighter in color and with a crumbly center. Once ground, it is difficult to tell them apart by appearances only, but they smell and taste uniquely different.
The price of Ceylon cinnamon is up to 10x more than Cassia cinnamon, but definitely worth it!. The taste and aroma of Ceylon cinnamon will make you fall in love with it immediately! You will never want to go back to using Cassia cinnamon again.
Cassia (ˈkaSHə) is a native of Burma and is also grown in China, Indonesia and Vietnam that yields an inferior kind of cinnamon that is used to adulterate true cinnamon. It is misnamed "cinnamon" and marketed to consumers as cinnamon, because it costs much less than true cinnamon.
Cassia is much cheaper then true cinnamon and most often used in commercially produced food products. The origin of the cinnamon is not mentioned on the label; it just says "cinnamon".
Cassia is slightly darker than Ceylon, by comparison, and has a much stronger and somewhat harsher, bitter flavor, with more pungent aroma, making it more suitable for potpourri. However, I would not want to ingest it.
So what's the difference between Ceylon and Cassia cinnamon besides taste and appearance? Courmarin content! Courmarin is a blood thinning phytochemical that is present in high amounts in Cassia cinnamon, but in undetectable levels or only trace amounts in Ceylon cinnamon. This is so significant that there are Food Safety Standards distinguishing between cassia and ceylon cinnamon.
Coumarin is a naturally occurring phytochemical compound, from the benzopyrene family. Coumarin is moderately toxic to the liver and kidneys, with strong anticoagulant properties. Our blood needs to maintain its ability to clot or coagulate in times of injury. Excessive consumption of courmarins over a long period of time can pose significant health risks. 1 teaspoon of cassia cinnamon powder contains 5.8 - 12.1 mg of coumarin. Cassia contains 1200x more coumarin than Ceylon powder. Repeated and prolonged ingestion of cassia has resulted in damage to liver cells (hepatotoxicity) and kidney damage in adults. Tests revealed that coumarin has the potential to cause liver toxicity in several species and is carcinogenic in rodents.
In Germany, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment established a TDI (tolerable daily intake) value for coumarin of .1mg per kg or 2.20462 pounds of body weight. If a child eats cassia cinnamon on his/her cereal, toast or a cinnamon roll for breakfast a few times a week, they can easily exceed the safe upper limit of exposure.
The European Union set guidelines for maximum coumarin content in foodstuffs to 15 mg per kg in everyday bakes goods, which is low enough to affect the flavor of cinnamon pastries, making them almost tasteless by comparison to customer preferences.
Currently, the FDA lists courmarin among "Substances Generally Prohibited From Direct Addition or Use as Human Food", according to 21 CFR 189,130 FDA. Cassia cinnamon contains high levels of coumarin and large amounts should not be consumed. Relatively low doses of coumarin can cause liver damage, if consumed for a few months, especially in particularly sensitive individuals. In minor cases, this can cause an elevation of liver enzymes in the blood, and in severe cases, inflammation of the liver, which manifests as jaundice. The effects are reversible.
Ceylon cinnamon contains, at the very most, trace amounts of coumarin, which are safe. In food preparation, Ceylon cinnamon is the healthy choice that adds quality and flavor. Ceylon cinnamon has been one of the oldest and most widely used natural remedies for reducing blood glucose levels. The phytochemicals contained in the bark of Cinnamomum trees have the ability to enhance insulin signaling and facilitate glucose uptake and storage by the cells of the body. However, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of cinnamon for glucose control in diabetics. Another characteristic of cinnamon is its anti-microbial effect, which inhibits the growth of fungi and yeast.
True cinnamon names: Cinnamomum verum or Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Ceylon was the former name of Sri Lanka until 1972.
Cassia cinnamon names: Cinnamomum loureirli, or Vietnamese cinnamon. Cinnamomum burmannii or Korintje cinnamon. Cinnamomum aromaticum or Chinese cinnamon.
History: True cinnamon and cassia have been known from antiquity. True cinnamon was imported to Egypt as early as 2000 BC, while cassia came from China. The Bible mentions the spice many times. Sweet cinnamon and cassia were both used in holy anointing oil. Cassia was primarily used as a perfume, scents, incense and part of the ketoret (an important component of the Temple service in Jerusalem. Ceylon was given as gifts to monarchs and offered to gods.
Organic Ceylon Cinnamon
2.1 teaspoons (10g) of ground cinnamon contains.
24.7 calories, 12g fat, 8.06g carbohydrates (of which - 5.31g fiber, .2g sugar) and .4g protein
Storage Tips: Like all other spices, cinnamon looses its strength over time. Store cinnamon in air-tight containers, in a cool place, away from any moisture, heat or sunlight. Racks above the stove or near a window are not good choices. Refrigerating spices in containers that are not air-tight is not recommended due to the high humidity level in refrigerators. Large quantities of spices store well in air-tight containers in the freezer. The shelf life of cinnamon that is properly stored is 4-5 years for cinnamon sticks and 2-3 years for ground cinnamon.
Allergen Info: Good Manufacturing Practices are used to segregate ingredients in a facility that also processes egg, wheat, soy, tree nuts and milk ingredients.
Jerusalem ArtichokesA tuber that looks nothing like Globe Artichokes. If you are fortunate to find them in your local organic market between October and March, I think you will find that they are worth the $4.99 per pound that I pay for them. I purchase as many as I can get my hands on. It feels like I am robbing the bank in the produce isle. LOL After washing them thoroughly, I cook them in a crock pot on low for hours to preserve their good nutrition, and freeze them in serving sizes. This enables me to enjoy their unique, delicate, nutty flavor all year. Since I can't have potato, they make a more than satisfactory substitute for me. This is one of the ways I pamper myself.
Jerusalem Artichokes help to build the blood, stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines and aid motility. They lower blood pressure and cholesterol. One cup of sliced artichoke has 100 calories. It is a good source of inulin for diabetics and an excellent food choice for those with gluten allergies. They are a non-starchy substitute for potatoes and an excellent source of iron.
Jerusalem Artichokes contain calcium, magnesium, vitamins C, B, E, fiber, lipids, amino acids and valuable phytonutrients. They also contain the highest known natural level of fructoglicosaccharides (FOS). FOS cannot be digested by the human body, but move to the colon where they feed beneficial bacteria. In turn, the friendly flora promote health by inhibiting the growth of toxic bacteria in the colon that has been linked to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as wall as carcinogens and decreased immunity.
Select tubers that are firm and clean, and free of blemishes. The skin should be glossy and tan in color, with no sign of green. Choose tubers with the least amount of knots and show no signs of sprouting.
Jerusalem Artichokes can be kept dry and stored in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag with a paper towel, for up to two weeks in the crisper drawer. Most of the nutrients are just beneath the skin, so was gently with a vegetable brush under cool running water before use. Cut them into chunks for soups, stir fry, sliced raw into salads, or baked and served like potatoes.
OkraThis unusual looking vegetable is the "gumbo" that you find in Cajun recipes. As the pods cook, they produce a gelatinous or slimy substance that is not as noticeable when added to rice dishes or soups.
Medicinally, okra has many wonderful health benefits. Okra helps to prevent constipation, and to relieve intestinal disorders, including inflammation, spasms, colitis, diverticulitis and stomach ulcers. It lowers blood cholesterol levels, and inhibits the formation of plaque in arteries.
The nutrient content of okra cannot be overstated. With only 74 calories per cup, it is high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, vitamins A & C, B vitamins, folate and phytonutrients.
Fresh okra is tender and moist, with a "peach fuzz" covering. They should be a bright green. Choose smaller pods, as the larger ones tend to be tough and fibrous.
You can store okra in the refrigerator crisper compartment for up to 3 days, but they are best used or frozen sooner than later, of course.
To prepare, wash the pods in cool water and remove the cap with a knife. Cut each pod into slices for stir-frying or sautéing. You can reduce the gelatinous consistency that cooking produces by leaving the cap on and not cutting into the pod, but cooking the whole pod in tact. Okra is less gelatinous when prepared with an acidic vegetable, like tomatoes.
I enjoy this vegetable with rice, some Celtic Sea Salt and herbs to add a bit of flavor. Sea salt helps to break down the fibers of vegetables, making them easier to digest.
BlueberriesThese nutritious and delicious berries grow on shrubs native to North America and grow wild in the Northeastern region of the US, and are raised commercially in New England. Commercially grown blueberries are more available, but less nutritious than those that grow in the wild. The wild blueberry contains less sugar and more vitamin C than the commercially grown varieties.
Blueberries possess wonderful curative powers.
* They purify the blood
* Have antiseptic qualities
* Are a tonic for the kidneys
* Help block kidney stone formation
* Promote bladder health
* The leaves of the blueberry bush make a tea that is useful for the treatment of diabetics, because they are rich in manganese; a mineral that is necessary for carbohydrate metabolism.
* Blueberries also help to normalize blood sugar levels.
* Blueberries are best known for their antioxidant benefits, which scavenge for free radicals in the blood stream.
* My favorite thing about blueberries is that they are the richest source of a bioflavonoid known as anthocyanoside, which is a pigment that gives blueberries their "blue" color. The anthocyanoside pigment replenishes the visual purple needed by the rods of the retina in the eye to absorb light as it passes by the eye and enters the retina, which makes vision possible. Perhaps this is why the creatures of the forest that depend on these berries for food, like bears, birds and deer, have such extraordinary vision.
Anthocyanosides also strengthen the walls of blood vessels, especially the tiny blood vessels of the eyeball. Eating blueberries often may help to improve almost every visual disturbance, including nearsightedness, farsightedness, macular degeneration and poor night vision. Exposure to bright light depletes visual purple and it must be replaced for vision to remain normal. Symptoms of visual purple deficiency include, night blindness, sensitivity of the eyes to bright light at night, tired feeling or heavy eyes, spots before the eyes, and/or blurred vision.
To liberate the fat-soluble nutrients in blueberries, combine them with a source of fat, like whole milk yoghurt.
Do not buy blueberries that are wilted or moldy. The season for fresh blueberries is short and fresh blueberries spoil quickly, so use them soon after purchasing or freeze them. Frozen blueberries are available year round. I prefer to purchase the Wild Blueberries that are already frozen.
Picking Wild Blueberries is a mountain top taste experience.
FigsI know of no better aid for digestion, relieving hemorrhoids and chronic constipation. They kill bacteria and roundworms in the body. Figs help to lower blood cholesterol and are good for the thymus gland, immune system and respiratory system. They contain high amounts of calcium and phosphorus, which is helpful to build strong bones.
One medium fig contains 37 calories, soluble fiber, 18 mg calcium, .18 mg iron, 8 mg magnesium, 7 mg phosphorus, 116 mg.potassium and other minerals, vitamin A, B’s, lipids and amino acids, as well as important phytonutrients.
Select fresh figs that have a rich color, are firm and unbruised with the skin in tact, not moldy, do not smell sour. Black Mission Figs are the most popular, but the greenish-yellow skinned Calimyrna and Kadota figs are just as nutritious and tasty.
Ripe figs must be refrigerated and used within a day or two or frozen. Don’t let them sit in water or juice, as this will introduce bacteria and cause them to spoil quickly. Unripe figs can be placed on a paper towel and kept at room temperature, away from heat and sun light, until fully ripe. Turn them frequently as they ripen.
Wash figs under cold water and remove the stem with a knife. Fresh figs are a taste of heaven, so take your time and let your taste buds rejoice in the delicious taste of every bite.
When I purchase fresh figs, generally between July and October, they usually come in a nice "egg carton" style clear plastic box of about 6-8. I go to the produce manager and ask him when figs will be on sale to order 54 packages for me, which come in a case of 6. When they arrive, I immediately go get them, so I know they are fresh. Since figs spoil very quickly, I wash them the same day. I insert the box of figs into a 2 gallon zip close freezer bag, which conveniently holds 4 cartons and stacks neatly in the freezer. This way I can enjoy fresh figs from the freezer all year long.