Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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!

Emotional Eating

stressed

While working towards consciously eating my way into a balanced diet, I’m noticing emotional dependence on certain foods.

Chocolate is something I like to have on my desk at all times; chocolate equals happiness! At the grocery store, I compared the milk versus dark chocolate labels, and it was a no-brainer – dark has less sugar. The higher the cocoa content the more minerals such as magnesium and copper. I can’t say I enjoyed eating it as much, but maybe I can learn to love it?

Some people eat out of depression – this must be where chocolate comes in. Is chocolate keeping my head above water? Without it will I drown in depression? Probably not, but it’s not really a boat I care to rock.

They say snacking on chips is related to boredom. For me, snacking on chips (and popcorn) goes exceptionally well with watching movies! Luckily, it’s pretty easy to substitute that kind of snacking with dried fruits and nuts – problem solved.

Guilt. Wouldn’t it be stressful to feel guilty about something, then roll an even larger self-loathing snowball by indulging in unhealthy eating? When I see cheesecake, cupcakes, cookies, or any baked goods in general, I want to pop them in my mouth because the experience is so enjoyable. There is no guilt, even after swallowing.

Who knew that improving diet would require so much self exploration for success? I thought it would simply be a logical choice. All we can do is take baby-steps and be kind to ourselves through the process.

Benefits of Using a Pressure Cooker

cooker Yes!  I received my pressure cooker and I’m pretty excited about all the benefits of using it.  Cooking time is cut down by over half, and due to the shorter cooking time there is less nutrient loss than with other cooking methods – which also means cutting energy costs in half!

pressurecooker explodes

Today’s pressure cookers have safety features, so this can’t happen

The food is cooked at a higher temperature than boiling point, similar to steaming, and the nutrients stay in the pot with the food, unlike when boiling and much of the nutrients go out with the bath water.

A seemingly small bonus, but definitely not unnoticed by me, is the cleanliness of cooking with a pressure cooker.  There is no splattering due to the locked lid,  and no need to wipe down the stove top afterwards.

pressure cooker wrench

Definitely don’t ever attempt this!

Over the last year, I have heard some negative things about pressure cookers – people getting their faces burned off and such – meanwhile the pressure cookers sold today have so many safety mechanisms, it’s not even possible to open the lid if there is still pressure inside the pot.

So far I’ve made an Indian dish, but tonight I’ll be using the steamer basket for spaghetti squash.  Only takes six minutes!

Pressure Cookers can also be used for quick canning, but this requires a larger pot that goes up to 15 psi.

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