Saturday, May 3, 2014

S.H.I.E.L.D: Spices Help Impede Eradicative Disease

There's a stir in the food world right now. #FutureofFood is trending this week with National Geographic's Hackathon hosted this weekend, May 3-4, presenting food related issues and increasing awareness. The movie Fed Up, or FU, will be premiering in 6 days and there is a bit of buzz on Twitter. Even Katie Couric is tweeting about it.
While reading about the movie I ran across an article by Dr. Mark Hyman, who is part of the group shedding light on food challenges faced by this generation. The article is called FED UP: Cook or Be Cooked. Really good article describing the concepts behind the movie. Through the article, I learned that we pay for, wait for it....wait for it.... "over 10 billion serving(s) a year of soda to our poor." I am shocked. I am appalled. I am sad. I am going through stages of grief over this number. 
Now, I love soda. I drink soda. But that the American public actually pays for people to drink soda, I just don't know how I feel about that. No, actually, that pisses me off. Especially with an obesity epidemic with epicenters in the poorest of our communities. 
So, I had to think about this number, about what really irked me. Yes, I drink soda. But I also make and drink gallons of homemade teas and fruit infused waters (that I make...with fresh fruit) each week. As does my 3 year old, on top of milk and severely watered down apple juice.  He drinks root beer on a rare occasion. Not daily. Not even weekly.  
Then, somewhere along the line, I read that that 80 % of our food sources have added sugars either explicitly stated or hidden in them. That's a big number. Well over majority rules. ::I shake my head:: What are we doing here? We are setting people up for sickness. And you know what, a lot of people go through 13 years of schooling and graduate thinking that if a box of Pop Tarts states "13 Whole Grains inside!"on the front, well, that's wholesome. No. It's not. We need food education. People need actual techniques for to adopt in their busy daily schedules. I'm not talking basting and mother sauces. 
I post this today at the risk of sounding "preachy." Oh gawd, I hope that's not the case. Don't get me wrong, our family indulges in an In N Out burger once in a while. Like I said, I drink soda. There's always a gallon of ice cream in the freezer for Super Steve and a wheel of brie in the fridge for me ::gasp:: We are not perfect. I struggle to get the boys to eat their friggin' veggies. Jeez! I fight the good fight anyways. I write this post today for the same reason I blog. Awareness. Whether it being aware of the creativity you posses in the kitchen or the awareness of the things we cook with or the things we buy. 
Photo Credit: Olivera Weight Loss
This all inspired me today to talk about spices. Spices are disease fighters. Defenders against cancer. They can replace the sugar and salt in our food. Sugar and salt feed diseases. Spices instead act as a shield while flavoring food in a way that we can decrease the salt and sugar. You know we are in superhero station over here so, I liken spices to "The Avengers" inside your body, just fighting those toxic cells and toxins, whereas sugar and salt are weapons for the toxins. Weapons against you. Literally, you can feed your body the weapons of which to bring it down. How messed up is that? If only they taught these things in brutal reality in school. 
Yes, we can eat suicidally. Or, we can eat saviorically. We can even balance the two, and still find little pleasure in the things that could kill us in large daily doses.

Guide to Spicing Up Your Food

Alright, to begin, I found this great little article about spices and flavor profiles. It's a good jumping off point. An easy guide to start experimenting with spices by Teresa M., Registered Nurse at Olivera Weight Management :
"Beef: Bay leaf, marjoram, onion, pepper, sage, thyme, oregano, basil, garlic, cumin, ginger, parsley, rosemary, savory, shallot, tarragon, chives
Chicken: Ginger, marjoram, oregano, paprika, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, saffron, parsley, onion, garlic, dill, cumin, chives, basil
Fish: Dill, dry mustard, marjoram, paprika, pepper, basil, chives, rosemary, sage, tarragon, cayenne, garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme
Turkey: Basil, garlic, marjoram, onion, oregano, parsley, rosemary, saffron, sage, tarragon, thyme 
Asparagus: Chives, lemon balm, ginger, parsley, tarragon, thyme, sage, savory, rosemary
Broccoli: Garlic, lemon balm, oregano, thyme, tarragon
Carrots: Cinnamon, cloves, dill, ginger, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, mint, tarragon, thyme
Cauliflower: Chili powder, caraway, chives, cumin, curry, dill, garlic, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon
Eggplant: Basil, cinnamon, dill, garlic, marjoram, mint, onion, oregano, sage, savory, rosemary, thyme
Green Beans: Dill, curry, marjoram, oregano, tarragon, thyme, basil, sage, rosemary
Mushrooms: Pepper, coriander, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, thyme
Squash: Cloves, cinnamon, curry, marjoram, nutmeg, rosemary, sage, basil, caraway, cardamom, ginger, savory
Zucchini: Basil, dill, tarragon, thyme"
Follow This Link Cooking with Herbs & Spices
They offer recipes for spice mixes made just from these spices including: Taco Seasoning, Grilling Seasoning & a Spice Blend for homemade salad dressings. 

Don't forget another simple homemade salad dressing from last year A Salad Dressing to Remember

If you ever want to test the 80% statistic, head to the the labels on salad dressing shelves at your local market. Salad dressing is so readily available, bottled, that people don't even think to make their own. We are programmed this way by the food industry. 

Mixing up your own dressing is not only easier than it sounds but you know exactly what ingredients are in it this way. Store in the fridge and you have a dressing ready all week, just like grabbing a bottle of Kraft, but so much better.

Guide to Spicing Up Your Health

In closing, I want to share this picture and link to a GREAT article about these 18 spices proven to work with your body in positive ways:

Follow This Link for more info 18 Spices Prevent & Treat Cancer

If  you have a few minutes, read through the 18; the king of which is TUMERIC. I learned so much from these 18 blurbs. It will help me definitely add herbs and spices more thoughtfully towards health (flavor always being a concern.)

I posted one recipe last year with turmeric in the sauce. Easy As Ramen Chicken Noodles Oh so yummy! Substitute regular or whole wheat (even better!) egg noodles or even farfelle or shells; cuts down the time to 30 minutes or less for dinner on the table.
Since I don't use turmeric that often, I'll be making the effort to experiment more with The King of Spices! Please drop some links off in the comment section to any great recipes you may have! :)

Until next time....Happy & Wholesome Cooking!!!


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pesto Style Hummus with Crudité

The weekend starts tomorrow for some of us. Cue the weekend get-togethers. You may not have a clue what you are going to bring, your friend just asked you to make an appetizer. Now it's Thursday and the week is flying right by. You are running out of hours to shop & cook by. This recipe took me less than 15 minutes, I made it the day before, and honestly it just gets better as the days go by. I mean, within reason people, I'm not suggesting taking a week old dish to a party. But seriously, this is the way to go. 

This is a versatile recipe appropriate for lunch, snacks, kids lunchboxes, etc. But, it really shines as a recipe to entertain by. Guests arrive, a beautiful spread of crudités are out with this vibrant Pesto Style Hummus to dip in. Pretty, impressive, and -easy- shhhh!  So, let's get to it. 


3 Cups Garbanzo Beans
1/4 Cup Grapeseed Oil
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 Cup Toasted Pine Nuts
3 Small Cloves Garlic
1/2 Grapefruit, juice only
1/2 Cup Water
Big Handful Basil Leaves
1/2 tsp Salt & Pepper
+ more to your taste

A Few Easy Steps

Start by toasting your pine nuts on low heat while you prep/measure ingredients.

You'll know the pine nuts are toasted when they become fragrant and look like this

Now it's as easy as blending all the ingredients together in a food processor or even a blender is workable. 

I like to add the water slowly, mixing in with a fork when the mix is too thick for the blade to mix through. I used about 1/2 a cup, but you know me and measuring sometimes don't mix, so keep some extra on hand to get it to that thick creamy consistency.

Drizzle a little olive oil over the top when serving. I  added the basil sprig and toasted pine nuts for toppers. 

About That Crudité 

For the Crudité spread, I used:

Whole Wheat Pita, toasted in the oven on 350 for 10 minutes
Black Olives, rinsed & drained
Grape Tomatoes
Daikon Radish, strips
Red Bell Pepper, strips
Radish, sliced

Other good ones are carrot sticks, celery sticks, kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, cauliflower and broccoli pieces. So many raw veggies pair with hummus and are a good way to get those raw veggies into kid's (and adults) diets.

Check out my Crudité spread...

Vibrant & colorful. Interactive & playful. This is what they meant by "playing with our food!"

Until next time....Happy Cooking & Crudité-ing!