Food as Medicine class - beans, legumes and lentils


We had a great class this morning, focusing on beans, legumes and lentils.  All wonderful sources of fiber - not to mention also great source of protein, molybdenum, B vitamins, calcium, anti-oxidants, folic acid...the list goes on.


Beans have many health benefits eg in heart disease for reducing homocysteine levels, stabilizing blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory effects, and from the high fiber content, assisting elimination of excess hormones, cholesterol, toxins and carcinogens.

Coriander and coconut dahl with chickpea pancakes


We also discussed ways of cooking, soaking and how to reduce the gas-producing effect of beans by combining with certain spices and herbs or through the cooking and soaking techniques.

We cooked some yummy food too, including:

  • cannellini bean and basil dip
  • lentil and caper pate
  • coconut and coriander dahl served with chickpea pancakes
  • Moroccan bean stew
What a filling lunch that was! I don't think any went home hungry and we got our 35+g of fiber today, just in one meal!

Moroccan Bean Stew with black beans, garbanzo beans and lentils

And we restrained from the black bean brownies and not-so-dumb blondies this time!


Next time we will be focussing on fats, oils, essential fatty acids and the effects they have on our health.

Let me know if you are interested in attending a class.
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Food as medicine

It was our final Food as Medicine class today. The class has been going 10 months now.  Its been such fun.


Today, we discussed how to read food labels and what to look for, and then I offered them a system of assessing the food they eat each day, with a goal of getting 100 points a day.

Then we cooked together and on the menu was a pecan pate, bell pepper and tomato soup, dill and horseradish potato salad and chocolate mousse.  It all went down well, and a lovely and colorful, as well as tasty.



It was a lovely few hours - and I'll really miss the Tuesday class.  My Thursday class ends this week too, so the summer will be a little quieter.
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Spicing things up

I held two spice classes this week for my food as medicine groups, looking at what benefits certain spices have to our health and how we can incorporate them into our daily lives.

Photo From Wikimedia commons

As well as tasting individual spices, we created a variety of blends from different countries and then tasted them in either applesauce, butternut squash or sweet potato - as vehicles for the spice, so you could get the true flavors.

Tasting stations at the ready!

The key spices we focused on were

  • cinnamon - great for diabetes
  • turmeric - anti-cancer and anti- inflammatory activity
  • black cumin - immune system boosting
  • cloves - toothache, mosquito repellent, anti-infection
  • cocoa - great source of flavonols which increase nitric oxide production, and help heart health
  • Plus we looked at those spices that can affect the Cancer "Master Switch" - NFkB
The blends we made we:
  • Chai tea - India - we actually made a tea-less version
  • La Kama from North Africa
  • Garam Masala - India
  • Golden Milk -India
  • Panch Phoron - India
  • Chinese five spice - China
  • Colombo Powder - Latin America
  • Quatre Epices - France
  • Hot Chocolate - Mexican
We then ended up with a chocolate tasting of 6 chocolates with cocoa contents of >75%.  I'll tell you more about that another day!


It was a great class.  People really started to focus on tasting carefully and identifying different flavor and whether spices predominated or harmonized. 
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New food of the week - Mandarinquat

This past week we've been enjoying the fruit from our newest citrus tree - a Mandarinquat tree.  We bought the tree last year, so this is its first harvest. My husband tried the fruit first and declared that it was really too sour.


But then he read the label (!) and sure enough, it tells you that the flesh of the fruit is indeed sour but that the peel is sweet. Thus you eat both together and the flavors balance each other out.  How clever!

As you may have guessed, the tree is a cross between a mandarin and a kumquat. The fruits are larger than kumquats (about 3 inches tall) and such a lovely orange color.   More vibrant orange color than mandarins and satsuma - and teardrop in shape.



To use them, we are slicing them across - so you get both skin and flesh in each taste. I've been adding them to salads, and an oat-berry (groats) recipe I'm working on. You can also make marmalade out of them, but we don't have enough for that this year.

They taste good but it is their appearance that will make me want to use them.  They are good sources of vitamin C and as you eat the peel and flesh, you also get a lot of fiber from them.



In my food as medicine class this week we made bean brownies as our topic was beans and legumes - so we used some satsumas from our other tree in the brownie mix and then decorated each brownie with a slice of mandarinquat.  It made for a citrus brownie that seemed much more special - both in appearance and flavor.


Don't they look nice!  Have you tried a new food this week?  Have you ever seen mandarinquats for sale?

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Food as Medicine Group - Beans

My two "Food as Medicine" classes this week are focusing on the health benefits of beans/legumes/lentils.

Here are a couple of photos of two of the dessert items we will be making together.


I'll share some of the recipes later.  Both of these are gluten free, dairy free, and refined sugar free.

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Strawberry and pink peppercorn raw chocolate

I've been making raw chocolate today.  Yes, chocolate that has health benefits and is refined sugar free, dairy free and gluten free!

The recipe needs a little tweaking still, but the taste is wonderful.  I don't think reworking the recipe will be too much of a hardship!



You may recall at the gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free dessert class I taught a couple of months ago, I did dried strawberry and pink peppercorn cookies. I just love the combination so tried that as one of my raw chocolate flavors.

It is yummy. I used coconut nectar as the sweetener and it didn't combine completely with the chocolate so I'll try reducing it a little next time....maybe tomorrow!


I love this new mold I bought in England. It make a perfect sized bite...4cm x 2.5 cm. And the chocolate tempered well, with a lovely glossy sheen.

I'm hoping the recipe will be good for my Food as Medicine classes next week.....

Watch out - strawberry and pink peppercorn will be a flavor combination popping up everywhere soon. Remember you heard it here first! :-D

What's your favorite flavor?
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Getting the most benefit from your cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous family of vegetables are unique among vegetables because of their glucosinolate content.  Glucosinolates give cruciferous vegetables their characteristic spicy or bitter tastes.


When the plant cell walls of the cruciferous vegetables are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, an enzyme called myrosinase converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) - which are the compounds in cruciferous vegetables with potent anti-cancer and other healing effects.  Such effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, detoxification, preventions of DNA damage, promotion of programmed cell death, anti-etrogenic activity, etc.


What this means is that cruciferous vegetables must be chopped, crushed or chewed well for maximum benefit so that the myrosinase enzyme can cause the chemical reaction. The myrosinase enzyme is physically separated from the glucosinolates in the intact vegetables, but when the plant cell walls are broken, the chemical reaction can occur and ITCs can be formed.  The more you chop or chew, the better.


However, these enzymes heat sensitive.  This doesn't mean that we should only eat cruciferous vegetables raw, but that when we are cooking these vegetables, we should chop them up in advance, and leave them for 5 - 10 minutes before cooking them, to allow the enzymes to act before they are destroyed by the heat.

So when you cook with cruciferous vegetables, chop them well, and then leave them for at least 5 minutes - go and set the table or something - and only then, start cooking them, so the enzyme has time to work before being denatured by the heat.


Cruciferous vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • chinese cabbage
  • collard greens
  • cress
  • daikon radish
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • rutabaga
  • homegrown sprouts
  • turnip
  • watercress

Remember: When eating raw - chew well to release the myrosinase.  When cooking, chop, wait, then cook.

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Swimming in tomatoes!

The joy of growing your own fruit and vegetables: you wait for ages to begin harvest, then have masses all at once!
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Even with just two tomato plants, we are nearly overwhelmed with tomatoes! We pick them just about everyday but yesterday seemed to tip me over the edge. We've been managing just eating them raw, but I now know I have to get cooking with them. I'm planning on making some roasted tomato soup and then also trying some tomato sauce. I've never tried that before. Should be fun.

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For today however, I'm roasting some for my lunch and will have them on some gluten free toast.

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They are drizzled with blackberry balsamic vinegar, and sprinkled with homegrown oregano and marjoram. Hmmm. Here's the oil-free recipe. Can't wait for lunch time.

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Recipe: Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
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Ingredients:
Cherry tomatoes
Balsamic vinegar - plain or flavored
Fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, marjoram

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F/ 200 degrees C
Halve tomatoes and place on silpat or parchment paper on a baking tray. (It is important to use a non stick surface as no oil is added in this recipe.)
Sprinkle with chopped herbs of your choice
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar
Roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes.
Serve warm with crusty bread or on toast.
Store at room temperature for maximum flavor.
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Recipe for healthy gluten free granola

I hope you'll enjoy the following recipe. It is to create a healthy low fat, low sugar, gluten free granola. The recipe shows you how to create a plain granola and then each morning you can add additional fresh ingredients such as fruit, nuts, seeds, etc to create the taste you desire at that time.

Ingredients:
1 cup GF rolled oats
1 cup GF puffed brown rice - I use Erewhon, unsweetened
1 small carton (4oz) unsweetened organic apple sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375F
2. Mix the oats and rice together and stir in the apple sauce, to thoroughly combine.
3. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and stir well, bringing the edges into the center
5. Return to the oven for another 10 minutes.  If it is dry and crispy, remove. If still a bit soft, stir and put back in for a couple more minutes.  Watch it carefully as the edges may burn.
6. Cool and store in a jar for a month.

It isn't sweet but the addition of fruit sweetens it enough for me.  If you prefer, you could add some stevia as sweetener.  My favorite way to eat this is with raspberries and blackberries and a little unsweetened almond milk.

It has a much lower fat and sugar content than granolas you buy - check the labels.

Let me know what you think.
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