Rosehip truffles revisited

I made a second batch of rosehip truffles as we have friends coming around today.  Thursday I posted the recipe - and it was one of the few recipes written by someone else that I didn't tweak and change anything on - as it seemed perfect.



However, today I did do something different and I prefer it - so you may want to give it a try - or not.  I still think both versions are great.

It was just in the dusting part. Instead of mixing the rosehip powder with cocoa powder and dusting the truffles, I just used the rose hip powder.


2 reasons:

  1. I like the color of the rosehip powder showing on the outside. Its a different color - yellowy, orangey, peachy - and will attract people to them, wondering what it is.  It sets you up for it being  a more fruity taste of truffle rather than a rich chocolate truffle
  2. We don't need chocolate or cocoa to be in all our truffles. I like the idea of these being chocolate free and more fruity and spicy instead.
Here's the recipe again in case you missed it:
Makes 20 truffles:

3/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup unsulphured dried apricots
4 tbsp ground rose hip powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cayenne
1 tsp ground cinnamon
For Dusting - 2 tbsp rose hip powder

Process the nuts in the food processor to finely chop them.  Then add the rest of the ingredients, (except for the dusting rose hip powder).  Process for approx 1 minute until it forms into a ball and starts to stick together.

Place the mixture in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove the mixture from the fridge and divide into 1/2 tablespoon balls.  Roll the balls in your hands, compacting the mixture as you roll.

Roll the balls in the dusting mixture and then refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving.


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Zippy Beans and Rice

After my spice classes a couple of weeks ago, I've had lots of pots of spice mixtures to use in my foods. Each night I open their lids, take a smell and decide which I think will go best with what I am cooking.


I found a great combination - using Panch Phoron with a beans and rice dish.  Panch Phoron is an indian spice mix, made from 5 different seeds (Phanch meaning 5, and phora meaning seeds).  Here is the recipe:

Panch Phoron
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon black cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds.

The key ingredient is black cumin seeds which I absolutely love. I use them everyday.



The blend is used with the seeds whole and you traditionally heat the seeds first so they release their fragrance either in a dry pan or with a little oil, as the start of a dish.  The mix is typically used with lentil dishes and to flavor vegetables and potatoes but I find it very versatile.

In my dish I had black beans, green garbanzo, brown rice, fire roasted corn, edamame, tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes...and I can't remember what else.


The spice mix gave a real zip of flavor, turning a bland dish into exciting flavors dancing on the tongue.

But the spices do more than just add flavor, they also have phytonutrients and volatile oils that have healing effects on the body.

Black cumin - Nigella Sativa - which isn't cumin - is known as a "cure-all".  One of its key benefits is in strengthening the immune system.  In one study, people having black cumin oil showed a 30% increase in natural killer cells. Studies also show potential for helping prevent and/or treat the following:

  • age related immune issues
  • allergies
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • colitis
  • dermatitis
  • eczema
  • high blood pressure
  • MS
Mustard seed is consider advantageous against cancer, as the mustard plant is a cruciferous vegetable, and also helps with heart disease and cholesterol problems.
Cumin seeds may be important for fighting diabetes, in fighting the formation of advance glycation end products, which play a role in diabetes complications.
Fennugreek again is associated with defeating diabetes. More than 100 studies show that fenugreek can balance daily blood sugar levels, lower A1c levels, increase the enzymes that help regulate blood sugar and activate insulin signaling in cells.
Fennel seed is helpful in calming cramps so useful with menstrual pain,  and colic.  It is also a powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory.


All the more reason to make up some spice blends and use them every day. Try and think about adding at least one spice to every meal.  Your taste buds will appreciate it, as will your health.
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Moroccan bean stew

Chilly nights mean a desire to cozy up with some yummy comfort food.



As I mentioned yesterday, I cooked some garbanzo beans and so used them in a Moroccan bean stew.  As well as the garbanzo beans there are black beans, red lentils and sweet potatoes plus a host of veggies and spices.


It is the combination of spices that brings this dish alive. Ten different herbs and spices to be precise!  They have a lovely sweetness to them. Its a great synergistic effect.

This makes for a really healthy dish including:

  • excellent fiber levels from the beans and lentils
  • very high antioxidant levels from the spices and beans and lentils too
  • plenty of protein from the beans and potatoes
  • good beta carotene from the sweet potatoes
  • anti-inflammatory activity from the Quercetin in the garlic and onion, and the turmeric and fresh ginger
  • anti-cancer activity from the garlic and onion and spices
  • blood sugar control from the cinnamon
  • selenium from the garlic
  • free from added fat, and gluten too - low allergy and vegan.
I made a big pot of it, so it'll keep me going through the week.  Let me know if I can bring you a bowl!  

The recipe comes from Dreena Burton's book "Let them eat vegan".   Moroccan Bean stew recipe.  It has to be the book I use most often of all my recipe books - and you wouldn't believe how many I have! 

I'll be making it again next week in my Food as Medicine class where we are focusing on the health benefits of legumes.

Hope you are cozy tonight.  Take care. 
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New food of the week - fresh turmeric

I've posted about turmeric before and all it's wonderful health benefits. However, I've always used just the ground turmeric you buy in little spice bottles.


Our local Whole Foods now has fresh turmeric, so I thought I'd try that for my new food of the week this week.

It's a rhizome, like ginger but it looks a little grub-like when you see it - and not terribly appetizing....Anyhow, I scraped off the outer layer with a spoon (also the best way to remove the "skin" from ginger) and grated some on my salad, using a microplane.


I often sprinkle the dried ground spice on salads as it has so many health benefits so thought this would be a good test, without cooking it.

A couple of points to note. The smell as you grate it is divine.  So pungent. Makes you just want to eat it right away.


The vibrant orange color is gorgeous - but also quite persistent...says she typing with orange finger tips and a microplane that is now stained orange in the center!!!

But the taste is wonderful.  As a spice used in many curries, it doesn't remind me of curry flavors in it's fresh form.  Just interesting flavors that change the longer it is in your mouth.  It opens up many more uses to me - I can see myself adding it to cookies, creating a buzz like the little pink peppercorn cookies did.....

It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic agent - especially if eaten with pepper.  Interestingly enough, I was recently reading about a curcumin supplement (which is a compound in turmeric)  that had higher absorption rates than regular curcumin supplements which as normally very low. I wanted to find out what they had done to increase it's absorption.  The secret was that they included more of the other compounds in turmeric in the formulation i.e. they made it more like the whole food instead of an isolate!  Seems a perfect result that suggests that you eat the whole food and forget the supplement!

But don't go overboard with your consumption.  Your maximum intake should be 1 tsp a day because turmeric has high levels of oxalates in it, which can increase your risk of painful kidney stones.

Did you try a new food this week?
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Food as Medicine - Turmeric

Turmeric is a rhizome plant of the ginger family.  The rhizomes (roots) are boiled for several hours, then dried and ground to produce a bright yellow powder.  This powder is the principal spice in Indian, Persian and Thai curries.  It is also one of the most common ingredients used in ayruvedic medicine for its anti-inflammatory properties. No other food ingredient has such a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.


The principle molecule responsible for this effect is Curcumin.  In laboratory studies, in addition to its general antiinflammatory effect, curcumin also inhibits growth in a large number of cancers including colon, prostate, lung, liver, stomach, breast, ovarian, brain and leukemia.

At the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, scientists have studied turmeric as they would any new pharmaceutical.  While there were some skeptics that such positive lab results came from a "food", progress has continued and several clinical trials  looking at turmeric as a means to prevent and treat cancer are currently under way.

But before you go out and eat a teaspoon full of turmeric (beware - it's spicy!), this food also illustrates the benefits of culinary traditions in comparison to the consumption of isolated substances.  It has been found that turmeric ingested alone, or in capsules, is very poorly absorbed by the digestive tract. But when it is mixed with black pepper - as it always is in a curry - this increases it's absorption by 2,000 percent!

Recommended usage*:

  • mix 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of black pepper.  Add to soups or salad dressings or pour over cooked vegetables.  If the taste is a little bitter, try adding a few drops of agave nectar too.  
  • sprinkle turmeric and freshly ground pepper on/in hummus or other dips
*This should not be construed as medical advice. 
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