Food Matters
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Immune-Boosting Juice Recipe

beetroot juice in two glasses with fruit in background
 Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Right now, immunity has gained importance. In this article, I explain the concept of immunity according to Ayurveda principles. Ayurveda is a popular, and one of the oldest, traditional systems of medicine (TSMs) accepted worldwide.  We now have a magnificent opportunity to relearn our connection with foods, I am sharing a recipe for immune-boosting juice which can be included in the diet daily.

Immunity is considered as 'Vyadhi Kshamatva' in Ayurveda. Vyadhi is the Sanskrit word for disease and Kshamatva is the Sanskrit word for resistance. In Ayurveda, immunity is referred to as prevention of disease, as well as quick recovery from a disease.

So, how is one able to improve immunity as per Ayurveda principles?

By the concept of Tripods (Pillars) of Life, Ayurveda considers Ahara (food), Nidra (sleep), and Brahmacharya (celibacy) as the tripods, or three pillars, that support life. It is important for our body to be adjusted to a timely intake of high-quality and proper food, regular sleeping habits, and controlled indulgence in sex because as all this ensures a long and healthy life. Let us look at each of these factors in detail.

  1. Diet: It is essential to know what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat, and how to eat. Ayurveda isn't focused on caloric intake, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats/lipids. It is focused on seasonal eating and eating per your constitution, which also considers metabolism.
  2. Sleep: Sleep is essential and getting to bed around 10 pm (no later than 11) will provide a great balance to the body. The later someone stays up, the more the natural rhythms of the body are thrown off and the more this affects tomorrow by disrupting metabolism, increasing hormonal issues, cravings, and even affecting the next night's rest. Also, Ayurveda doesn't recommend sleep during daytime as it increases the Kapha in the body.
  3. Celibacy: Total abstinence from sexual activity may not be possible for ordinary people, but a restrained sexual life, keeping in mind the higher goal of eternal happiness and life goals, is certainly possible.

Following the concept of Dinacharya (daily regimen), Ritucharya (seasonal regimen), and sadvritta (code of conduct).

Immunity-Boosting Juice Recipe

The immunity-enhancing nutrients in each of these ingredients can help with a natural boost to your body’s defense mechanisms.

Ingredients:

  • 1 green apple (Granny Smith), cubed
  • 1 beetroot, cubed
  • 1/2 tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 2 carrots, cubed
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed pepper

Method of Preparation

Blend all the ingredients together and serve fresh. You can always add a cup of coconut water or nut milk if you feel the juice is way too thicker in consistency.

Benefits of Ingredients

Carrots and apples are a winning combination for helping your body protect itself and fight off infections. They have the notable ingredients like Vitamins A, B-6, potassium and folic acid. Inflammation is usually the body’s response to infection. Beetroot which is a root vegetable helps reducing the inflammation and infections. Ginger has tremendous anti-inflammatory effects in the body. The whole collection of ingredients together makes a potent immune boosting juice.

Delicious and Easy Frybread Tacos Recipe

9 salsa

We’re in Mesa Verde National Park right now and touring the Anasazi cliff dwellings. I have a hard time imagining how these ancient peoples made a living here but they did it relatively well for over 700 years before leaving to go elsewhere in the Southwest. I look at these stone homes and structures and think of the men and women who cultivated and hunted food every day. What exactly did the Anasazi people eat? The archaeological record indicates corn, beans and squash supplemented by the occasional deer or rabbit.  It was a simple diet without all the additions we take for granted today.

Frybread, this recipe's central ingredient, arose from a dark chapter of American history: the theft of Indigenous lands and forced relocations of Indigenous peoples to reservations. In 1864, the United States government forcibly removed the Navajo and Mescalero Apache peoples of Arizona to Bosque Redondo, an internment camp in eastern New Mexico—a deeply traumatic event known as the "Long Walk." The forced march to Bosque Redondo killed several hundred Indigenous people, who, unable to keep up with the pace, were either shot or left for dead. Starvation, exposure, and disease killed almost a third of the ten thousand Indigenous peoples forcibly imprisoned at Bosque Redondo.    

Because the Indigenous peoples held at Bosque Redondo were unable to grow their staple foods on account of the poor land quality, the United States government supplied lard, canned items, white flour and sugar. Lard, white flour, and sugar would be used to create frybread. In Indigenous cultures of the United States today, frybread symbolizes "both perseverance and pain," as Jenn Miller of the Smithsonian Magazine puts it. 

Whenever I make frybread tacos, sometimes known as Navajo tacos, I not only enjoy a delicious meal, but I am also reminded of the resilience and rich cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples in the United States.

Authentic Frybread Tacos

6-8 servings 

Ingredients

Frybread

  • About 2 cups flour
  • About 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 – 1 cup lukewarm water
  • About 1 pound of lard or Crisco for frying

Toppings

  • Chili: 4 cups canned pinto beans, 1 lb. ground beef, browned; season to taste with chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 1 large tomato, chopped small
  • 1 head shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 pound cheddar or Mexican style cheese, shredded
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • Green or red salsa or pico de gallo for garnish

Directions

  1. Make the dough first. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Add warm water to the flour mixture, and working with your hands, make a smooth dough. Don’t overwork it or it will become tough. It will be a little bit sticky – not too dry, not too sticky is the key.
  3. Cover the dough and let it rest for about 30 minutes.
  4.  Make the toppings while the frybread dough is resting.
  5. Once the dough has rested and you have the toppings ready it’s time to fry the bread. I’ve found that frybread is best hot right out of the pan. This is why it’s important to have all the toppings ready before you start the bread. The simple chili beans can sit on the warming burner. Everything else is cold.
  6. Heat 2 inches of lard or Crisco, in a heavy pan at a medium-high heat. If using a thermometer, go for 350 degrees. Fat must be hot enough. Pinch off a little bit of dough and put it in the hot fat to see if it fries.
  7. Once the fat is hot enough, we’re ready to fry. Pinch off dough balls about the size of a lemon. Roll between your hands into balls. Pat balls into round flat shape and stretch further until they’re about a 1/4 inch thick. Immediately and gently lay dough in hot fat.
  8. Fry the dough quickly, one circle at a time, until golden on both sides, turning once with a fork or tongs. Watch so they don’t burn. Drain on paper towels.
  9. Putting the tacos together. Put a frybread or two on a plate. Add the toppings in this order: a layer of chili, some lettuce, chopped onion, shredded cheese, and chopped tomatoes. If you like add a dollop of sour cream and any kind of salsa. In truth you can put anything you like on a frybread taco but traditional ingredients always have some kind of chili beans and meat.

Campground Bean Stew Recipe

My husband and I have embarked on a 3-month vacation traveling throughout the western United States. I’m going to share with you how we made this a fun and delicious adventure.

My first recipe share is a tabletop version of my dad’s Quebecois Beans which were beans cooked in a Dutch oven in a hole in the ground with coals from a fire. He called them "Shanty" beans and he used salt pork. Everything else is the same. If you camp in the middle of nowhere and you have a shovel with which to dig a hole you can cook them like he did. I’ll tell you how to do that in another blog.

Campground Bean Stew 

2 Servings (if you want more servings increase the ingredients proportionately)

bean stew

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz small white beans such as navy beans
  • 24 oz water
  • Clove of garlic smashed
  • 1/2 small onion chopped OR  1 tbsp dried onion
  • 8 oz pancetta chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste (I don’t use any. I think the pancetta is salty enough)
  • Optional: chopped tomatoes, chopped cooked sausage (Maybe left over from breakfast)

Instructions

Put the beans in a small slow cooker or pot. Cover with the water. (Don’t worry about having too much or too little water. This recipe makes the most scrumptious pot liquor. Add more water if it starts to go dry.)  Saute the pancetta in a frying pan to render out some of the fat. Pour the pancetta in with the beans. If you like the fat pour in the rendered fat, too. Put the garlic in there, too, and if you’re using, the tomatoes and sausage. Turn on high and let cook for 8 hours or until the beans are soft. Enjoy with buttered sourdough bread. Bon appetit!

Photo courtesy of Pigsels

Waste Not, Want Not: 10 Tips for Repurposing Leftovers

Saving leftover food is one of the easiest ways to combat food waste at home. The average American family can utilize leftovers in creative ways, from food scrap vegetable stock to a hearty soup. Saving leftovers is not only an environmentally-friendly solution to food waste, but it is also a delicious way to reduce your grocery bill.

An estimated 40 percent of the U.S food supply is wasted. But repurposing meals for leftovers can be a quick and easy solution. From taking leftover ingredients to concoct brand new meals to making your own vegetable stock, here are ten tips to reduce waste and maximize your food budget.

veggies on green background

1. Food Scrap Recipes

Many ingredients that we usually throw out can be repurposed into new recipes. Watermelon rinds, onion skins and cheese rinds are just a few examples of food to use in creative and delicious ways. Leftover veggies like carrot peelings and wilted celery can be added to vegetable stock for added flavor.

2. Soup

When dealing with leftovers, making soup might be the best solution for most ingredients. Add leftover veggies or meat to a simple broth with select seasonings and you have a whole new meal. 

3. Save Grilled Food

Many families enjoy dinner on the grill or barbecue during these summer months. While pulled pork might be especially delicious right off the grill, leftover barbecue can be repurposed into countless dishes like wraps, mac & cheese, and even chop suey.

4. Bowl Meals

Bowl meals are a popular way to eat clean, protein-dense food. Combine leftover protein, veggies and spices to create a whole new meal that takes no time to prepare. For example, use leftover chicken scraps to make a southwestern power bowl, complete with canned black beans and avocado.

5. Casserole Dishes

Not only are casserole dishes incredibly versatile, but they are also a great way to stretch food into a whole week of meals. Casserole dishes are great for leftover ingredients that should be re-cooked before eating. With a variety of recipes to choose from, it's possible to find a casserole that suits your dietary preferences, and makes a great way to utilize leftover rice and grain from other meals. 

6. Compost

Say you've just thrown a huge birthday party or holiday event and cannot possibly save all of the leftover food. If you are unable to utilize leftovers for eating, composting is a great way to save and reuse nutrients. Online resources are available if you are attempting to compost while dealing with limited outdoor space, making the process surprisingly painless.

7. Add An Egg

If you have a bunch of mismatched leftovers that don't quite make enough food for a wholesome meal, just add an egg. Eggs are a great source of protein and other nutrients. They are also an easy addition to most dishes by adding your favorite seasoning! 

8. Make Tacos

There's nothing wrong with having taco night more than once a week. Tacos are a great way to reuse leftover food, and it's easy to come up with creative flavor combinations! Keep it traditional by adding chili powder and cumin to leftover veggies or protein, or mix it with unique ingredients—the possibilities are endless.

9. Put Greens in Ice Water

It's bound to happen at some point - you buy way more spinach than you can eat while it's still fresh, or discover another bag of iceberg lettuce hiding in the back of the fridge. Greens are one of the most perishable foods, and often the hardest to utilize as leftovers. If you find wilted greens that are still fresh enough to consume, try soaking them in ice-cold water to perk them up. This method may also work for fresh herbs, like cilantro and dill.

frozen vegetables in glass containers

10. Freeze Meals

Perhaps the most sensible decision, freezing food, is one of the best ways you can save leftover food for later. Make sure to organize your freezer efficiently, and check items regularly to ensure that everything stored is still good to eat. 

Waste No More

1.3 billion tons of food is wasted every year, but it doesn't need to be this way. Whether dealing with leftovers after meal prep on Sunday or finding enough containers after a family barbecue, repurposing food into new recipes is a simple and efficient way to combat food waste. If leftover food is no longer fit for consumption, composting is a great way to save organic nutrients. 

The next time you find yourself struggling to come up with a creative way to use those containers in your fridge, try making tacos or a power bowl. Reducing food waste can be as easy as freezing meals for future use or making soup with leftover veggie scraps.

Photos by Diana Oborska on Unsplash (top); Fotolia (bottom)

Tips to Get Your Family on Board With A Plant-Based Diet

If you've recently switched to a plant-based diet, it can be a bit frustrating when the rest of your family doesn't suddenly see the world the same way you do. If you have kids that are used to the Standard American Diet, making this change can feel nearly impossible without listening to constant moaning and groaning.

When "I make the food, so I make the rules" doesn't quite cut it, it can feel like there's nowhere to turn. However, there are ways to make this lifestyle change feel fun, normal and less like a chore. It can take a bit of dedication, but it's important not to give up so you can pass these health benefits and values onto your family.

variety of fresh raw veggies on plate

Embrace the "Accidentally Vegan"

Many new to plant-based eating try to convert the masses by replicating old fan favorites. While the logic is there, vegan chicken nuggets, cheese and burgers aren't the conversion tools you might think they are for those who are set in their ways. Instead, bringing in new foods that are delicious and plant-based will go further.

Imitation often won't measure up, especially to those looking for flaws. Innovation is key. Try experimenting with cuisines and recipes that are easy to make plant-based, or old favorites that are accidentally vegan already. Asian-inspired dishes are often a hit, as are many Indian recipes and pasta dishes. You might find it's much easier to introduce something new and exciting than to replace someone's coveted hot dogs. 

Find That Plant-Powered Protein

As a plant-based individual, you're probably ready to scream at the next person who asks you where you get your protein. You know by now that plant-based diets offer a variety of sources to get your daily dose, and what's even better is they can be great for converting those non-followers in your house.

One of the top complaints about plant-based food is that it isn't filling enough. Even though protein isn't the most nutritionally dense component of a well-rounded diet, people who eat the standard American fare are used to heavier meals. Foods like tofu and lentils are perfect for that savory, filling experience.

Don't Make Junk Food a Reward

This can be a tough one for parents, but it's worth it — plant-based household or not. Building a positive relationship with junk food by associating it with good behavior isn't going to serve your kids well. In fact, it can be actively harmful and follow them into adulthood. At the same time, seeing healthy, plant-based food as a punishment and associating it with negative emotions won't make them actively gravitate toward it.

It's easy to say, "if you eat your vegetables, you can have ice cream." While this can work short term, it lays the framework for your kids to see the vegetables as the awful food they have to endure to get their treat. 

Instead, try to illustrate the rewards of healthy food and lead by example. Try saying things like, "I ate so many vegetables, and now I feel happier and more energized" or "Wow, I feel fantastic after eating that fruit."

Season Your Darn Vegetables

Kids not wanting to eat their vegetables is a tale as old as time — and let's face it, adults often aren't much better. When veggies aren't cooked into something, they often go untouched on the plate. This can change by treating them like any other food, and that means seasoning them. Go beyond just salt, pepper and olive oil. Flavor them like meat. Try adding black pepper, chili powder, paprika, garlic and all the works.

When you make your vegetables taste like a dish in their own right, they'll be better. It's simple, but it goes a long way. Kids don't want to eat plain, unseasoned food — and you probably don't, either.

Have the Tough Conversations

While you might not want to sit your kiddos down in front of factory farming footage on loop, kids deserve to know where their food comes from. Trying to make your family go vegan, or more plant-based, by simply telling them it's the right thing to do can come off like "because I said so" parenting. Instead, explaining your personal reasons for going plant-based can open up a dialogue.

It may be hard to tell your kids that their nuggets are actually made of chicken, or that milk is made by momma cows for their calves. However, the reality is that most modern people — especially kids — live with an unhealthy disconnect with where their food comes from. Children deserve the autonomy to know, and from there, it may spark internal motivation to see your side of things.

Going Plant-Based as a Family

Getting your family to join you in your plant-based diet is a marathon, not a sprint. It's important not to give up, and meet your family where they're at. By employing some of these tips, you can build a household with more awareness, communication, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Photo by Anna Pelzer on Unsplash

Homemade Blueberry Orange Walnut Scones

Every once in a while I get a hankering from something sweet. Mind you now, I am not a big sweet freak. I am more of a salt freak as in potato chips, French fries and the like. However, I do appreciate a little sweet now and then and scones are an easy to make, perfect snack.  They are basically sweet baking powder biscuits with a little more sugar and fat. Of course, I cannot leave well enough alone so I have to add things. In this case I add blueberries, orange zest and chopped walnuts. Badda bing! The magic of cooking chemistry reveals itself and we have a delicious treat in about an hour. If anybody had told me I would be so interested in kitchen chemistry when I was in high school I would have taken it more seriously because, you see, cooking is chemistry through and through and don’t let anybody tell you differently! Perhaps you can be the first to tell your children that they might enjoy chemistry more if they find out that daily life is rife with practical chemistry.

done

Blueberry Orange Walnut Scones

The interesting thing about this recipe is that I made the first batch without cream and baking powder. I didn’t have any in the pantry and I didn’t want to go to the store. So, I used 2% milk instead of cream and left out the baking powder. The scones were still tasty though a little dense. That’s all. What I’m trying to tell you is that if you don’t have every single ingredient you can still make most recipes and this is an example. However, I would not make it if I did not have BOTH egg and baking powder. That would make them very dense. The egg has leavening properties so the recipe can survive without the baking powder.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (you can make it half and half, whole wheat and white)
  • 1/2 cup sugar (you can use 1/4 brown sugar and 1/4 white for a caramel taste)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Zest of one or two oranges (depending on how much you like orange. I like orange!)
  • 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or milk (skim milk would make them plain indeed but use it if that’s all you have)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (or any nut you like; pecans would be great!)

How To

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. I used a pie plate and that worked fine, too. P.S. I love parchment paper. It makes clean up so much easier!

dry

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and orange zest.

butter

Then add the butter and using your fingers work the butter into the flour until it looks like coarse breadcrumbs.

nuts

Now add the chopped nuts.

cream mix 

In a separate bowl mix together the egg, cream and vanilla until combined. Add this to the flour mixture and gently mix until it’s a soft dough. Don’t overmix. If it’s a little crumbly it’s okay. As a matter of fact, this makes it turn out a better and softer texture so don’t be concerned.

blueberries

Fold in the blueberries. Now turn the dough out into the pan and form a round disc about a half inch thick or so. If you're using a pie plate simply press the mixture into the plate. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Remember what mom said, “It’s all going to wind up in your stomach!” Cut the round into 8 wedges. If you can, pull the triangles away from each other but if you don’t it will all turn out fine. Cutting wedges makes it easier to cut after it’s baked.

Brush the top of each scone with cream. Just a little. Don’t soak them. Then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or as long as it takes for them to lightly brown and come clean if you stick a toothpick in the middle of one. Let them cool a bit before transferring them to a wire rack or plate.

Tea and scones, anyone?

All photographs copyright by Renee Benoit

Mangoes: The Summer Superfood

Mangoes are the summer superfood. Mangoes have a sumptuous tropical flavor. It’s not just the juicy flavor that makes mangoes special, in addition mangoes deliver nutritional value and make healthy eating a delightful sensory experience.

The sweet aromas of mangoes remind me of the stains left behind on my clothes as well as candor as a child. I was born and brought up in India and mangoes are one of the favorite summer fruit in India. The species name of the mango itself is Mangifera indica, which means “an Indian plant bearing mangoes.”

Here I am sharing some amazing recipes with mangoes, their nutrition and health benefits, and some Ayurveda facts. 

Mango Nutrition

  • A mango serving size is equivalent to 3/4 cup of sliced mangoes and is just 70 calories, so it’s a satisfyingly sweet treat.
  • The above-mentioned serving size is Sodium free, cholesterol free and fat free.
  • Presence of 20 different vitamins and minerals makes it a super food
  • One serving (3/4 cup) of mango contains 7% of your daily fiber.
  • Also, mangoes are good sources of folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin B6

Ayurveda Properties of Mangoes

This sweet, delicious and juicy fruit is known as King of Fruits – especially in India. It possesses sweet taste and has nourishing quality. It is also a good energizer and is beneficial for improving the immunity. They are thirst quenchers and is heavy to digest. Consuming mangoes are good for skin health and they can pacify Vata dosha in the body. Mangoes support all the seven dhatus (body tissues) and provide a very satisfying snack or dessert.

Mangoes are in season from January through August, peaking in June.

Mangoes

Mango Chutney Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 well ripe mango, sliced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 pinches cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Curry leaves

Method of Preparation

In a Blender, blend ingredients except mustard seeds and curry leaves until smooth. In a pan add ½ tsp. of coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the prepared mango and spice mix to the pan. Gently heat the chutney, do not boil. Serve warm with rice or bread.

Mango Lassi Recipe

Though yogurt is heavy for digestion, thinning yogurt with water and blending it changes the molecular structure, so it is more easily assimilated. Drink it before or with lunch.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup organic fresh yoghurt
  • 1 Mango
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Himalayan Pink Salt – a pinch
  • Cardamom pods – 2

Method of Preparation

Peel the mango and cut the flesh into a blender. Add enough water to cover the mango and purée until smooth.

Add yogurt and the rest of the water and blend until smooth.

Tropical Summer Salad Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 romaine lettuce
  • 1 mango
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Salt and pepper

Method of Preparation

Wash and cut lettuce into small pieces. Cube mango and avocado and mix with lettuce.

Mix olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Pour dressing over salad and toss it gently.

Health Benefits of Mangoes

Mango has been an important herb in the Ayurvedic and indigenous medical systems for over 4000 years. Mangoes belong to genus Mangifera which consists of about 30 species of tropical fruiting trees in the flowering plant family Anacardiaceae. According to Ayurveda, varied medicinal properties are attributed to different parts of the mango tree. Mango possesses antidiabetic, antioxidant, anti-viral, cardiotonic, hypotensive, anti-inflammatory properties. 

Ripe mango fruit is considered to be invigorating and freshening. The juice is restorative tonic and used in heatstroke. The seeds are used in asthma and as an astringent. Fumes from the burning leaves are inhaled for relief from hiccups and affections of the throat. The bark is astringent, it is used in diphtheria and rheumatism, and it is believed to possess a tonic action on the mucus membrane. The gum is used in dressings for cracked feet and for scabies. It is also considered anti-syphilitic. The kernels are converted into flour after soaking in water and eliminating the astringent principles. Most parts of the tree are used medicinally, and the bark also contains tannins, which are used for the purpose of dyeing.1

Image Courtesy - Archana Krishna


References

  1. Shah, K. A., Patel, M. B., Patel, R. J., & Parmar, P. K. (2010). Mangifera indica (mango). Pharmacognosy reviews4(7), 42–48. https://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.65325






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