Rosewater (or Rose Hydrosol)

rosewater or rose hydrosol

Today I bring you rosewater. Well, technically rose hydrosol. Rosewater is made with rose petals soaked in cold distilled water and is made without heat. Rose hydrosol comes from the distillation process while making rose essential oil. They are very similar and typically used interchangeably. Personally I find that rose hydrosol is a bit stronger as the heat brings out more of the essence, but others prefer the cold-made rosewater.

One of the traditional uses and best benefits is that rosewater is excellent for use on the skin as a toner and balancer. It is anti-inflammatory and a mild anti-septic. What I love about rosewater is that it is also a natural remedy for anxiety. The scent has a calming effect on the body and can be used to ease anxious feelings, relieve stress, and help relaxation. Another thing I love about rose hydrosol is that it is an excellent flavor in drinks, cooking, and baking. We recently made a Rosewater Cardamom Lassi that has such a unique and delicious flavor that I want to guzzle the stuff every morning.

Many times it can be hard to find a high quality source of rosewater. I purchased organic rose hydrosol from Mountain Rose Herbs which has an excellent selection of herbs, as well as natural products. Also, you can usually find rosewater on Amazon. Try it as a skin care product, in drinks, smoothies, cookies, misted into the air, sprayed on the sheets at bedtime and more! Then come back and let us know what you think.



Kale promotion

Can I have a promotion? Well, then, can kale have one? While we are talking about extraordinary food, we might as well talk about kale. I know the first question that is coming to your mind after the last post is whether I put dandelions in my smoothie. Oh well, I am going to tell you anyway. No, unfortunately I did not put dandelions in my smoothie, but, but, but!, I did put kale in my smoothie, and more than once to boot.

One of the things that is nice about kale is that it is not really bitter at all. It blends in a smoothie just fine and you hardly notice the tiny green chopped up flecks, especially among the blueberries, bananas, strawberries, and cocoa. But, but but!, what I like even better about kale is its power-packed nutritional profile. I mean, can I even list all of the good stuff in kale? It is like, in the hall of fame of nutrition density.

Kale is versatile! You can use it in salads, smoothies, soups, sandwiches, soap, salted chips, and something else that starts with S. Actually, I don’t know about the soap, but why not? Because kale is not bitter, it is much easier to work into your diet, at least that is my opinion, and I think it will be your opinion too, if you let it. Then we will be of the same opinion and our opinions will sway other people’s opinions. Yes, we are still talking about kale.

If you have any kale recipes that are to die for, please shamelessly promote them here. I mean, it’s kale!

Vitamins: A, C, K, B1, B2, B3, B6, Folate
Minerals: calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium, zinc
Amino Acids: cystine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, tyrosine, valine
Omega-3 fatty acids: Yessss.

But, but, but!, I am still going to try dandelions in my smoothie. Lose the butt.

Why is it called grape fruit, really?

grapefruit

This morning, I said out loud, “I really like grapefruit”. Have you ever noticed how different it is to say things out loud, as opposed to just thinking them? It is as if there is greater conviction when things get said out loud. They reverberate through the universe, echoing into outer-space. They are set in stone… or air, in this case.

I am kind of surprised that I have never talked about grapefruit on this blog. When I like something so much and I do not even mention it, it seems steeerange to me. Although, some things need time to come to a fullness within us. Other things grow on us over time. Also, to me, some things seem so good that I don’t want to share them with anyone else, yeah, selfish of me, I know.

My favorite way to enjoy grapefruit is to ensure that I get whole pieces, so that, with each bite, the juicy bits of pulp burst in your mouth. That’s how I like it. It takes mucho mucho time to peel back the skin in order to keep the pieces as whole as possible, but it’s worth it. Using a grapefruit knife and spoon is another enjoyable method. I typically only slice and gnaw when I am in a rush. That is the first time I have ever said ‘gnaw’ on a blog. I think I only said it because Kate said it in the comments on the last post and now it is in my head… still… echoing.

Grapefruit is really a powerhouse of excellent goodness… nutritionally speaking. It is high in vitamin C and antioxidants, and also contains vitamin A, vitamin B5, folate, and potassium. If you are enjoying pink or red grapefruit, the color is due to lycopene. Yes, that is the same phtyonutrient/antioxidant found in tomatoes and watermelon. There are so many interesting things in grapefruit (like limonoids and naringenin), that there tis not the time to tell thee of them. Tetall.

Well, hopefully I didn’t bore you to death. I didn’t bore myself, since I wanted to take a picture of fruit with my new phone. Hellooo grapefruit. If you are looking for something a little more exciting to make with grapefruit, I recommend making this Grapefruit Honey Sorbet, that Shanna and I made! It is very refreshing! That is all for now, goodbye, blog world.

Oh, just some random thoughts

Just like life as a whole is a journey, so the individual parts of life are a journey… like food and eating. Sometimes I elevate food and eating while admiring its ability to bring people together and to enjoy the enjoyment it brings. Other times I lower it in my estimation and want to have little esteem as I view it as ‘just food’, mere fuel that is elevated to a place in people’s mind that is detrimental to a healthy mind, will, and emotions. Some days I just want to “stick it” to food and say “none of you” and others I want to enjoy it and use it. And I do. Both. And I enjoy both, strangely enough. I have had some strange journeys with food (vague I know) and I am sure you have as well. I think balance in life (and thereby food) is important. It is as if you do not want to undervalue, under-appreciate, or even be in less awe at food… and at the same time you do not want to overvalue, over-estimate, or be in too much awe over food.

Another random thought I have been thinking is how we get used to buying or eating certain things and do not even question them anymore. Do you do that? For example, do you always go into the grocery or market and have your ‘go to’ things that you just pick up and go without even thinking. I do that. Naturally, things we are less familiar with, we take more time to get acquainted with. Every now and then the thought runs through my head “But what if they changed the ingredients since you last looked and now they process it with or add something you don’t want to eat”… so I better read. For some reason this attention has caused me to enjoy my food more. Strange, I know. I think it is partly because when I have a better idea of what things truly are, I appreciate them more.

Sometimes I just want to keep eating a certain food or spice over and over in order to gain all of the sense of what it is and what it tastes like, so that I can really know it. Sometimes I want to do that with people too. There are certain people that I never get tired of hanging out with and they make you just want to keep experiencing them over and over again. But how would you know that about the food or the person unless you have a really good sense of what it is (or they are).?.? Hmmm?

What was this post about? I don’t know, I was just thinking out loud to you… and to me.. obviously… you see.

Sometimes I wonder about you… oxidation

Haven’t you wondered about oxidation? Like when your guacamole is starting to look like bean dip or your freshly sliced apples are turning brown? Or maybe you wondered why some dried fruits are brightly colored and others are not. Well, I wonder about those things.

Oxidation in fruit is just like rust on metal. Basically, there is an enzyme (polyphenol oxidase) present in the fruit that reacts with oxygen and browns the surface of the fruit. While oxidation can be unpleasant to eat (who wants to eat brown guacamole), and there may be some loss in nutrients, most nutritional value is not lost.

Several years ago I started to wonder about the dried fruits I was eating, I could taste something I didn’t like in them. I noticed that there were packages, both of bright orange apricots, and brown ones too. The difference: sulfur dioxide.

Many dried fruits have sulfur dioxide, potassium sorbate, or sodium benzoate added to prevent oxidation and help preserve the color and nutritional value. While there are many opinions, and “science”, some saying the preservatives are good and fine and others saying they cause long term side effects, for me, it just came down to taste. It was really that simple. I would rather deal with the oxidation than with the sulfur dioxide.

If you have ever had a dehydrator you learn ways to help preserve color and nutrients without the use of preservatives. For example, soaking fruits in a lemon or lime juice solution, blanching (which destroys the enzymes though), or limiting the exposure to oxygen. Certain fruits are excellent for drying as the nature of the fruit allows it to be protected by the skin and allow the nutritional value to stay intact… like grapes, plums or berries.

For guacamole, I like to wait till the end of preparing it and then seal the top with a thin layer of lime juice (instead of mixing in right away). Not only is the lime key in the taste, it also helps to prevent oxidation by reducing the ph on the surface of the fruit and inactivating the enzyme, and by sealing the top so it prevents air from touching the guacamole… it’s a double whammy. Usually I will then mix the guac right before it gets served.

Just like anything, I try to do my best to look at what I am buying. Especially since so many crops are sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Also, like in this post, many dried products had additives like artificial sweeteners added. Why? Why do that? It is fruit. Of course, that was in Taiwan, but nonetheless, it is good to be aware of where your food is coming from and the practices used in growing it and preserving it. (I definitely do not always know).

So, while oxidation is inevitable and fine in many respects, such as in dried fruit, there are also times when you should be wary. I am soon going to wonder aloud, or maybe in print, about oxidation in fats and oils.

On a side note, saying dried plums sounds so much better than saying prunes, don’t you think? When you say prunes, it makes one think of nursing homes and bowel movements, but when you say dried plums it makes you think of Christmastime… or something like that. I like dried plums.

Article roundup (1/30)

Looks like a vegetable roundup this week… of course, mama always said to eat your vegetables.

1. Don’t forget to eat your greens
Fascinating article discussing how chlorophyll in greens could reverse the effects of aflatoxin poisoning (like from peanut butter).
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2. Eat fat with your veggies
Good fats help the body absorb the fat-soluble nutrients. So put some olive oil on your salad! Good article.
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3. Fighting cancer with broccoli

The study can be found here. Broccoli sprouts are an even better and more powerful way to get your sulforaphane.
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If you drink this, you will have an awesome life and all of your problems will go away.

A lot of times I end up talking to people about all sorts of ‘amazing and exciting new health drinks’. Drinks like MonaVie, Zrii, Frutaiga, Goji juice, Noni Juice, Genesis, Xango, Mandura, Vemma, and the list goes on and on.

First, let me say that I think a lot of these products are good, and there are some good manufacturers of them, and some are done well and can be beneficial for people. Buuuuuut, I’m gonna go with my gut on this one…

I do not care for the spirit of all of these companies and drinks. Let me explain. Far too many people are looking for a quick fix or a miracle drug or one thing that they can do so they do not have to change their life. The mindset, whether spoken or not, is ‘let me do whatever I want and just take this drink to keep me healthy’ or ‘taking this product is going to cure my ills’ or ‘I am going to use this combined with whatever to help me stay young forever’ or… whatever else is here it bothers me. It’s like the mindset that says, ‘I can eat this terrible thing, I will just exercise a little more to work it off’.

When you are eating well, there is no need to even be concerned with all of the peripheral latest and greatest things that are coming out. There are numerous beneficial products being produced, but the majority of people, who these products are marketed to, need to look in the mirror and change themselves and their every day habits of diet or way of life. Sure, keep an eye on the ‘modern food’ coming out, but keep perspective with food that has nourished people for thousands of years, like olive oil, perhaps.

The $20-$40 per bottle that this stuff costs is ridiculous. They should go drink some raw goat milk or colostrum, buy some coconut oil, and eat fresh vegetables and it would do the exact same thing for less money.

Besides, MLM always comes across as distasteful. It’s kind of like the taste of sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, and sulfur dioxide… pun intended.

Article roundup (1/19)

Yeah, that sounds about right.

1. Russia Bans U.S. Poultry over Chlorine
Chicken frequently gets a chlorine bath… and ammonia baths too! Yay!
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2. California Firm Recalls Beef Products Due to Possible E. coli O157:H7 Contamination
No surprise here.
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3. Monsanto’s GMO Corn Linked To Organ Failure, Study Reveals

I have mentioned a little bit about Monsanto previously here.
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Now that’s a marriage!

If you want to talk about a good marriage, then let’s talk about apples and cheese. First, I see an apple and I don’t get that excited anymore. I mean, I know they have excellent phytonutrients (basically natural plant chemicals that are not nutrients but protect the plants immune system) and flavonoids (basically water-soluble plant pigments) which provide antioxidant protection. Sure they have good dietary fiber and some vitamin C. Yada yada yada, they are good for you… but in the end it’s just a lonely organic pink lady sitting on a plate:

I worked at Whole Foods Market for a very short time in the specialty department. I specifically wanted to work in specialty since they work with cheese, olives, coffee, chocolate, beer, etc (all the best stuff). So I got to sample everything in Whole Foods’ cheese case. I cut the cheese every day, if you will, it was my job. It was during this time that I devoted my attention to developing my palate for cheese. It was fun and nowadays, I like to enjoy my apples with cheese. Lots of different kinds of cheeses (goat, sheep, or cows milk).

On this particular day, organic pink lady met a raw milk, grass-fed cheddar from Canal Junction Cheese. Now, I’ve had better marriages… ha. But it was good. Canal Junction produces excellent quality cheeses, but the cheddar I was tasting was a little more grassy than I prefer (that’s not because it’s a grass-fed cheddar, but probably due to the type of grasses and plants the cows are eating). I should like to try some of their swiss-style cheeses and their blue looks nice.

High quality cheeses made with high quality milk are good for you! Cheese has beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and enzymes that are good for your gut! Typically, raw milk cheeses sold in stores have been heated in the making, but they are lower heat levels and maintain more of the original bacteria and characteristics of the milk and usually have more complex flavors.

There are random cheesemakers all over that I stumble across that have truly raw milk cheeses that retain all the original bacteria of the milk. I just had a real nice cheddar from Nourishing Meadows in Ohio (which I got in my stocking for Christmas… how about that). Organic Pastures also sells “truly raw” cheese.

I like simple food and clean food. All that to say, apples and cheese make an excellent healthy snack… and marriage.

Cookies. This is a first.

Cookies? On this blog? Shocking, shocking, shocking, I know. I don’t make cookies very often but since I made some for Christmas recently I thought I would post them. Of the cookies I made, these were my favorite: Apricot coconut cookies.

These cookies were regulars in my family’s celebrations whether it be Thanksgiving or Christmas. For some reason, I have the hardest time remembering exactly what they looked like or how they tasted. I think they were supposed to be more round with a small thumb print and the preserves put in there. I just went ahead and made them like a traditional cookie and put the preserves in the middle.

The recipe is adapted from my mom and my aunt. I modified it a bit (of course, I do that with everything). And I am sure they could just as easily be made gluten-free and casein-free (ahem) using ghee or coconut oil instead of butter and using buckwheat flour instead of spelt. In fact, all of those would be better options, I just used what I had and was acceptable to me.

For some strange reason I enjoy trying different flours and different brands of the same flour. This time I used spelt flour from Vita-Spelt. I had only used it once before and I am not sure what I think of it. Hey, I’m honest. I really don’t know. I was not particularly impressed. But it was fine and I was not disappointed either. Also, usually I would use a whole grain spelt flour but for these I used white spelt flour. It was Christmas.

Because they are dipped in egg whites and then coated in coconut it’s very similar to a macaroon (depending on how you like your macaroons). It also gave me an excuse to buy my favorite store bought preserves: Fior Di Frutta.

Welp, here are the details:

1 cup spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unrefined cane sugar (I used rapadura)
1 egg separated
4 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 organic unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup apricot preserves

Cream butter and add sugar gradually. Cream until fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix. Gradually add dry ingredients (flour and salt). Mold into small balls, about 1 tablespoon for each. Dip each ball into slightly beaten egg whites and roll in coconut. Place on greased baking sheets (or parchment paper). Bake in preheated oven at 300 for 24 minutes. While cookies are warm add apricot preserves to the cookie centers. Yields 12-20 cookies depending on yep, that’s right.

I do not live to eat

So. It is January 2, 2010. I usually take time to review my year in my head and think through what I am doing and where I am going. I have not really done that yet. I have thought through this blog a bit though. That last sentence seems funny to me cause I said “thought’, ‘through’, and ‘though’. Do not get tripped up.

As I have said many times, I like food. I like to eat. I am sure you do too. That reason is most likely why you are here reading this post. I must say though, I do not want to idolize food in any way. I know I do that sometimes. Maybe we all do. Maybe in some ways we idolize all of our desires, whatever they may be. That is a lot of maybe’s.

After thinking it through, I have decided that I will keep this blog. Ha. I think it is good to grow in all areas of life and I enjoy food and learning about it. Also, I think the wisdom of being able to share healthy, nourishing food with other people, especially our families is good and important. It is good and important for life, community, fellowship, together-ness, yada yada yada.

For most of my blogs, I have asked myself if I would be the only one reading them, or knowing about them, would I still write on them.?. That is kind of my test to see if it is worth it to me. Maybe that is because I like to talk to myself, but the answer is yes. So, I like that answer because then, regardless of who reads it, I still write it. Of course, there are several other factors that play into it, but that was enough for now.

So, in 2010 I hope to be posting on a more consistent basis (not necessarily more frequently). With that said, I hope you are having a nice start to the new year and that you can find some useful information here for the year to come. Happy New Year!

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I do not live to eat.

Yeah… I am a fan of smoothies

Yeah, I am a big fan of smoothies. I like to blend things in the blender almost everyday. I particularly like real milk, berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), banana, cocoa, and eggs. That is probably my favorite combination. This particular morning I thought I would mix it up a bit with an avocado since I was all out of bananas. I am a big fan of avocados too. Am I saying ‘fan’ too much?

Avocados promote HDL (good cholesterol) and lower LDL (bad cholesterol). They are full of monounsaturated fat (oleic acid) which is good for heart health. They are also bursting with nutrients… bursting I tell you! Avocados contain vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, H, K, minerals like folate, magnesium, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, and all of the essential amino acids that our body needs.

Now, now… adding avocados to a smoothie may be a little too weird for you. It is a different taste. But no fear, I have experimented several times and I rather enjoy it myself. I first wanted to try it after reading how in other parts of the world avocado shakes and durian shakes were common fare. I have never had durian fruit, but hey I have avocados! And off I went blending and combining.

I would recommend trying a little at first and seeing what you think. I like 1 cup of milk, a banana and then I add all of my other ingredients to taste. Smoothies are a great way to get goodness into your body… especially since digestion takes so much of your body’s energy. Preferably you don’t give your body a crazy insulin swing with way too much sugar in your smoothie. AND Yes, my smoothie is in a wine glass… that’s just how I roll. Not really, I was just in a goofy mood and wanted to put it in a wine glass this particular day.

Nice window, nice counter, nice flower.

Food to make you smarter… you need all the help you can get.

I thought this was a fun read from alternet.org about 20 foods that make you smarter. I like them all. Good thing. I need all the help I can get.

Check them all out as it is a good read but my favorite 10 from the list are:

1. Avocados

2. Blueberries

3. Wild Salmon

4. Nuts

5. Seeds

6. Dark Dark Chocolate

7. Garlic

8. Eggs

9. Green Leafy Vegetables

10. Tomatoes

Eczema and Probiotics

Hm. Interesting study done in the Netherlands that showed a 58 percent reduction in eczema during the first three months of life (since a lot of newborns and pregnant women get eczema). Also after three months of life no difference in the incidence or severity was noted. Hm. I wonder why… I don’t know.

You can check it here. If you care to. If it’s not a bear to. I just thought I would share with you.