Shea Butter – Whip it Good

Whip It

Shea butter, it’s edible, you’ve probably eaten it before in chocolate. Mmmm – fat derived from the Shea tree nut, coming from Africa – even Cleopatra used it in her cosmetics… and who knows what else. If it was good enough for Cleo, then it’s good enough for me!

Shea butter is a triglyceride, high in the saturated fatty acid stearic acid – it acts as a softening agent. It also contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 fatty acid, which is an emollient that improves skin hydration by reducing evaporation.

If you have skin issues, why not go for one of the best natural choices available? Just whip up some raw 100% pure Shea butter and add your own favourite scented oils!

Scented Whipped Shea Butter
1/2 cup Raw 100% Shea Butter
1 tbsp coconut oil
8 drops Lemongrass Oil
8 drops Rosemary Oil

Whip it Good, on high for 5 – 10 minutes

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Store your whipped Shea butter in opaque glass jars if possible. Light and oxygen exposure will reduce nutrient loss, so keep that in mind when storing your foods too. I used a mini-mason jar so I can bring it along to work, and I’m using this tinted brown recycled yeast container for at home. Happy Whipping!

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Pottery by Eve Yantha

Forge Your Destiny – Avoid Iron Deficiency

Iron deficiency is the most common mineral deficiency worldwide.  Iron is needed to deliver oxygen throughout your body. If your blood is iron deficient, then you aren’t creating enough red blood cells to transport oxygen and your body will be fatigued. Exhaustion, in turn, will affect your brain function and your immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

iron veggie edition

Iron deficiency is a common problem for females during their childbearing years, in fact, a 2011 Canadian study showed 9% of women of this group were experiencing iron-deficiency anemia.  Also at risk are: pregnant women who need twice as much iron, young children because they require extra iron for growth and development, underweight teens, women who experience heavy periods, patients on kidney dialysis and people who work-out a lot.

Symptoms of iron deficiency include lethargy, irritability, lack of appetite, difficulty concentrating, being easily out of breath, hair loss, and weakened immune systems leading to easily catching colds and getting sick.

Vegetarians and vegans need higher than average daily iron intake, because there are two differing types of iron – heme and non-heme (illustrated below). Heme iron is primarily animal based and is more easily digestible by the body than non-heme iron.

To help the body increase absorption of non-heme iron, it is a good idea to get ample Vitamin C.  Many fruits and veggies besides oranges are high in Vitamin C including strawberries, pineapples, guava, papaya, kiwi, bell peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts. Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurts, and kimchi contain lactic acid and will  enhance non-heme iron absorption. Another good tip is to cook with cast iron skillets – they will actually leach iron into your food!
At the same time, it is best to avoid caffeinated beverages such as coffee, black and green teas, pop, beer and wine because these bevvies will decrease your body’s ability to absorb iron.

If you are feeling lethargic and are experiencing other symptoms, simple blood tests from you doctor will show whether you’re iron levels are lacking. Adding iron to your diet with meal planning is helpful in maintaining iron levels, but sometimes supplements will be required to get your iron levels back on track.

Moosewood Cookbook = Vegetarian Bliss

moosewood cookbookAges ago in Toronto, my former roommate Mariana introduced me to the Moosewood Cookbook.  That was almost a decade ago, and now it’s finally part of my own collection.  It’s vegetarian and world famous – dating back to 1973.  In fact, The New York Times named Moosewood a top 10 bestselling cookbook of all time!

Moosewood was is an Ithaca, New York restaurant and many of the recipes came straight from their menu, which must have been truly ahead of it’s time. Consider how niche vegetarianism was in the early ’70s compared to today.  On the other hand, as I learned in Anthropology of Gastronomy class, vegetarianism has trended on and off since ancient Greece and India!

I am considering pulling a Julia & Julia with this cookbook – devoting myself to tryingcampbells mm salt every single recipe and blogging about it.  So far, I made the Spicy Tomato Soup, but couldn’t resist modifying the recipe to include half a cup of parboiled rice, in homage to the crappy Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Rice Soup I liked as a kid!

Moosewood’s Spicy Tomato Soup
Ingredients

  • Olive Oil, 1 tbsp IMG_0659
  • Onions, raw, 1 cup, chopped 
  • Garlic, 3 cloves 
  • Salt, 1 tsp 
  • Dill weed, dried, 1 tsp 
  • Pepper, black, 1 tsp 
  • Red Ripe Tomatoes, 800 grams 
  • Water, tap, 2 cup (8 fl oz) 
  • Honey, 1 tbsp 
  • Sour Cream, reduced fat, 1 tbsp 
  • Red Ripe Tomatoes, .5 cup, chopped or sliced 

Directions

Saute onion and garlic in oil with spices.  Add tomato and honey, simmer over low heat 20 – 30 min.
5 minutes before serving, whisk in sour cream, fresh tomatoes and top with minced herbs (like parsley or basil).
6 Servings

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Soup Review

To be honest, I didn’t see in the ingredient list what was so ‘spicy’ about this soup, so besides the half cup of rice, I added two chili peppers and a bit of cayenne.  Because the can of tomatoes was labelled with no added salt, I did add a pinch while sauteing the onions, (but beware – generally canned foods have high sodium content.)

I also used homemade mushroom stock instead of tap water.  Why not fortify your soup with extra nutrients?  Homemade stock also ensures a richer taste to soups, stews, or sauces, so every once in a while I make a huge pot of stock and store it in litre containers in my deep freeze.

The tablespoon of honey was delish in this soup and cut the tomato acidity nicely. The rice and chunky slices of onions gave this soup a hearty feel and texture, the aroma was lovely, the colour was pleasing, and “delicious as usual” was how my squeeze described this soup.  Hehe!

Naturally, this soup left Campbell’s Tomato and Rice in the DUST!

NutritionLabel - spicy tomato soup moosewood

Healthy Lifestyle for Longevity Tips

Recently, I attended a highly informative Ontario Society of Nutrition Management conference, where I learned some interesting facts about dementia, handling difficult people, and leading edge thought was shared on retaining maximum mental and physical health.

Here is some of what we learned:

Fruit and Serving SizeEat 7-10 servings of fruits and veggies per day
This sounds brutally difficult, but it’s not considering 1/2 cup of juice, chopped, cooked or canned fruit is one serving! The easiest way is to throw it in a blender, (of course then be sure to include some flax seeds and raw cocoa powder!)

whole grain or notEat 1/2 cup of whole grains per day
This reduces blood cholesterol levels, may lower chances of heart disease, fills you with  fibre for good bowel function, and gives your body Vitamin Bs which are needed for cellular body function.


mushroomsMake getting your Vitamin D a priority
because deficiency is associated with poor bone health, and chronic diseases such as cancer, let alone mood disorders! Studies show Canadians have widespread D deficiency, so eat lots of mushrooms all year round.

beans and legumesBeans – complex carbohydrates that break down slowly.  This means steadier blood sugar levels, lowering risks of diabetes and heart disease. Since Type 3 diabetes is now linked to Alzheimer’s, it’s wise to lean towards foods that have a low glycemic index. Since eating less meat is  advisable for those on the Standard American Diet, eating beans alongside a grain you will save money, and still provide your complete proteins. It’s so simple and satisfying = try rice and beansor beans on toast!

we-dance-news-bannerExercise, exercise, exercise! Just a 20 minute walk makes your brain more active and happier, while blood travels faster through your body helping your cells to function properly. It improves resistance to disease, keeps inflammation down, and sharpens the brain. Just adopt a dog, it will ensure you get the daily walks, or simply dance to your favourite music for 20 minutes each day!

The Mellow Pomelo

pomeloOh lovely pomelo, earlier this year I saw you in a bin at the Asian Market, looking like a giant grapefruit, wrapped in that plastic and red netting – I took a chance on you – you didn’t disappoint! No bitterness, not like a grapefruit at all.

The pomelo’s pith is a piece-of-healthy-cake to peel, the flesh breaks free effortlessly, and inside are big chunks of juicy pulp. It’s a quick job to peel a quarter, pack it pith-free for lunch, and not have to deal with messy peels or composting later on in the day.

The pomelo, or Citrus Maxima, also known as shaddock, is one of the four original citrus fruits, the other three being the citron, mandarin, and papeda. The pomelo is the progenitor of the grapefruit and tangelo, in fact, popular citrus fruits such as lemon, lime, and orange are all hybrids of the four originals.  pomelo nutrition facts

As you could already guess, the pomelo is full of vitamin C which boosts the immune system, and regular consumption decreases the chances of developing UTIs, since high urine acidity levels will inhibit bacteria growth. The potassium found in the pomelo promotes heart health by reducing bad cholesterol in the body and regulating blood pressure levels.

The pomelo is popular is asia, indonesia and thailand, and fortunately, becoming more widely available in North America. A friend informed me they can also be found at Zehrs Markets, and since then I’ve also spotted them at Metro grocery store here in Ontario.

Thai Pomelo Salad

pomelo salad 2

This lovely little Thai salad is inspired by the refreshing mango salads that can be ordered at so many different Thai restaurants. It’s chilies, peanuts, and lime sauce will stimulate your salivary glands!

Portion size 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pomelo
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped unsalted peanuts
  • 1 small sweet red pepper
  • 1 lrg carrot, grated
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped mixed greens
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) coarsely chopped fresh mint

Dressing:

  • 1 tsp (5 mL) grated lime rind
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) soy sauce or fish sauce
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) honey
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) minced hot pepper
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) fresh grated ginger
Preparation

In skillet, toast peanuts over medium heat until fragrant and dark golden, about 5 minutes.
Set aside. Peel, remove pith and break apart the pulp of the pomelo. Seed, core and thinly slice red pepper. Grate carrot. Chop mixed greens and mint. Set aside.

Dressing: In large bowl, whisk together lime rind and juice, soya/fish sauce, honey, hot pepper, and ginger. Add pomelo, red pepper, carrot, mixed greens, and mint; toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with peanuts.

Enjoy!

Oven Canning Jar Crumble

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Lovely pottery by the multi-talented Eve Yantha

Whenever I think of crumble, I get Adele stuck in my head, “Let the skyfall… apple crumble…

These canning jar crumbles were so incredibly easy and turned out positively delish! I’ll be sure to bring one along with me to school as a tasty sidekick to one of my healthy mason jar salads!

After coming across a bake cakes in a jar video, I decided to try a somewhat healthier version substituting some of the white flour with whole wheat, and the white sugar for brown. Then for the heck of it, because that’s how I roll, I threw in some oats.  This switched my experiment from a cake to a crumble,

wpid-20150208_113147.jpgOf course, mason jars are built to withstand up to 250 °F, and they are meant for contact water baths, not dry heat like in an oven, so there is a possibility of glass cracking. In fact, canning jar manufacturers do not recommend using dry heat methods, saying they were not intended or approved for that purpose. Baking in mason jars is a fun trend right now, but please use caution and check carefully for cracks before consuming – shards of glass are not something you want in your fabulous desserts!

 

Here’s all you need:

4 1/2 pint jars
oven safe dish
dried beans (to stop jars from sliding)

2.5 cups of fruit
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Divide the fruit up between your jars, (I only had 1 pint jars so filled them only half full).
Combine the flours,  sugar, oats, and salt in a bowl, then divide evenly between jars.
Lay a clump of butter on top, and place jars in an oven dish, spreading dried beans around jars to hold them in place. Bake for 1 hour, cool completely.
They can be stored in the fridge for up to one week.

Nutrients Per Serving

kcalories
Fat
Cholesterol
Sodium
Potassium
Sugar
Protein
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Calcium
322.2
12.7  gr.
30.5 mg.
303 mg.
247 mg.
34 gr.
4 gr.
98 RAE
48 mg.
47 mg.

Aquaponics – Connecting Nature

www.aquaponicssystems.net

Aquaponics is a self-sustaining system combining hydroponics, which bypasses the use of soil in plant growing, and the farming of aquatic life, known as aquaculture. Those two methods create water waste on their own, but when used in combination the systems compliment one other to balance and continually cycle the water. Aquaponics –> no water waste!

backyard aquaponics

backyardaquaponics.com


Why it Works so Well

Water is continually recycled in this system. Good bacteria convert the fish waste ammonia into nitrates and become nutrients the plants can use. This nutrient-rich water is pumped along the root system of the plants. After consumption the clean water is pumped back to the fish tank, creating a fresh supply of healthy water for the fish. This closed loop system ensures water conservation, and creates a high nutrient density food production system for the fish and plants.

 

design

designspiration.net

History

It’s actually an ancient method, used by the Aztecs who gardened floating islands on lakes, and by the Indonesian and Thai, who added fish to their rice paddy fields.

 

The Future
Fortunately, we have indoor aquaponic starter kits becoming available in the near future to look forward to. Patents, such as the photo to the right, are currently being developed and can be found on kickstart.com.

 

Here is one of my dreams – a pit aquaponics greenhouse. Pit greenhouses retain heat year round, though my dad, a Dutchman with his own flower nursery, argues that in our climate we’d still need to run a heater in winter. More research required!

aquaponicsplans

aquaponicsplans.com

Home Made Yogurt… So Good!

fresh  yogurt and muesli
After receiving a yogurt maker for Christmas from my darling parents, we’ve all been enjoying some very consistent batches of fresh and creamy yogurt each morning. Sure, I had tried making yogurt before by leaving the oven light on and using a thermos wrapped in a towel, but my new Deni 5600 makes the process much more enjoyable!

There are several benefits to consuming home made yogurt; it is definitely higher quality than store-bought yogurt, and we’re joyfully avoiding all of those processed additives like preservatives, stabilizers, fillers and sweeteners.

Cell repairing proteins and other nutrients are found in yogurt, like calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium, and magnesium.

Probiotics are the helpful bacteria that are naturally found in yogurt and these bacteria have been shown to help boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract. Yogurt actually helps both constipation and diarrhea, and many lactose intolerant people can enjoy it without problems.  Yogurt with active bacteria discourages Candida and yeast infections, and due to a high calcium content, yogurt is recommended to help prevent osteoporosis (Caucasian and Asian women are in the highest risk groups). Yogurt makes you feel fuller, so it can be an natural and healthy way to watch the line too!


Here’s how easy it can be to make using a yogurt maker!

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The first step is to bring 1 litre of 2% milk to a slow boil. Slowly bring it to a boil is of utmost importance in order to achieve the best texture and consistency. The milk will begin to foam up as it reaches a boil, immediately remove from heat and let it stand until it reaches room temperature.

 

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Next, it is a good idea to put the milk into a pouring container, and then add a half a cup of yogurt, making sure the yogurt you use has active bacteria in it, preferably organic. I used Astro Balkan yogurt. Mix it well with the room temperature milk.

 

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The third and final step is to pour the mixture into yogurt maker’s sterile glass containers (each holds 2/3rds a cup), and place inside.

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So far I’ve been setting the timer for 10 hours, which is very handy for overnight.

 

 

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After 10 hours the yogurt came out thick and creamy. It should be refrigerated for a few hours before enjoying. I crumbled some home made granola over it and threw in some big red strawberries before realizing that I just GMO bombed my wonderful Slow Food breakfast!

Uber Healthy Lunch

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Anthropology of Food class

Julia Mirabella has a new recipe book out called Mason Jar Salads which is definitely worth the buy; it inspired me to grab a mason jar and create one on the spot using my fridge ingredients.

According to the book, if you pack these salads in the right order and tightly into the mason jar, you can refrigerate five on a Sunday and the last one will still be fresh by Friday! Great idea, and so healthy. This salad left me filled right up for the day, and I was pleasantly amazed at how well beans, green leaves, and grains can compliment each other in a salad.

Black beans were soaking in apple cider honey vinaigrette at the bottom of the jar, and from there you can see some finely chopped jalapeno above carrots and tomato. I mixed a few craisins in with the spinach and topped the jar with some of my kitchen-grown radish sprouts, and a bunch of feta cheese mmmmm. I had to restrain myself from throwing sunflower seeds and chopped apples in — you just have to stop somewhere!

The recipes in the book are really delish looking. My grocery list is ready to go, so next week I’ll be flashing around some more uberhealthy lunches hehe.

So, hey, if even my superfit nutrition teacher bothered to scribble the book’s title down after seeing it, you know it’s gotta be good!

Make Your Own Power Bars

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“Crispy-Chewy Cherry-Flax Pucks” from the cookbook Power Hungry by Camilla V. Saulsbury

These homemade Power Bars resemble cookies at first glance, but they were baked in a muffin tin, and there were no flours (gluten) or baking powder used.

Packed full of energy, these 12 babies (I ate one before I took the picture!) contain 2/3rds a cup of ground flax seeds which are loaded with fibre, vitamin B6, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.  B6 is needed for brain development/function, and helps our bodies produce serotonin and norepinephrine – these influence mood.  So not only do these bars taste great, but they put you in a better mood!

Since I just happened to have a batch of freshly made Vitamix peanut butter at hand, I modified the ingredient list out of Camilla V. Saulsbury’s book Power Hungry by replacing the almond butter with peanut butter.  Other than the peanut butter and flax, the ingredients include dried cherries, almond milk, and maple syrup.

After the success of these power bars, I will gladly try out more of the recipes from Power Hungry!

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