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Foods of the Month 2015

January - Crumpets     February - Beans for Adrenal Health   March - Turmeric
April -Tempting Tempeh     May - Asparagus     June - Cucumber
July - Peaches   August - Garlic    September - Millet
October - Pumpkin     November - History of Pie    December - Egg Nog

 

January 2015 -Crumpets

Being of English ancestry, I love everything English. Recently I created a recipe for Crumpets. Ever since then, I cannot stop eating them. Most people probably have heard of crumpets but have never tasted one. They are little, round, bread muffins, similar to English Muffins. They are light, airy, spongy and full of holes. Whether eating them hot off the griddle or toasted, they are amazing.

Thought to be an Anglo Saxon invention, there is mention of them in a Bible translation from 1382. The original ones were hard pancakes cooked on a griddle. The soft, spongy ones we eat today originated in the Victorian Era, when they added yeast. In the English Midlands and London they developed the characteristic holes by added extra baking powder.

They are generally 8 inches round, I made mine smaller. And you will need Crumpet rings, or some other round cooking ring to make them. I used whole wheat pastry flour to make my Crumpets. This is probably the closest type of flour in taste similar to what they used a long time ago. White refined flour was not invented when Crumpets were first created. Whole wheat pastry flour has vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber. Where as white flour has no nutritional value. It is empty calories. And once in your intestinal tract, acts like glue, so you can not properly digest the food you consume. I also made a version with whole spelt flour. They turned out good also, just a little more heavy. And there is a Scottish Crumpet that is more like a pancake. They are cooked without the rings, and are thinner. This variety is only cooked on one side, and usually served with fruit. Traditional Crumpets are served with butter, or some butter substitute, and sometimes with jam.

February 2015 -Beans for Adrenal Health

I have a personal history when it comes to overcoming adrenal fatigue. When I was about 29, I was suffering from complete adrenal exhaustion. I was tired all the time, had no energy, could not sleep at night, and suffered from the pain of having eczema over almost my entire body. And the main factor for my dis-ease was stress. I was so stressed out, I had over worked my adrenal glands to the point of complete exhaustion. I educated myself and worked diligently for a long time to re-build my adrenals. This is not a process that happens over night. Anyone who is suffering with this now, know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to be patient.

I learned that the food that strengthens, nurtures, and supports the adrenal glands is beans. All kinds of beans, and that includes lentils. Your adrenal glands are responsible for the production of several important hormones and play an integral role in our response to stress. In order for them to function properly, they need magnesium and potassium rich foods. Beans are high in both of those, along with; calcium, B vitamins, iron, and zinc. And the worse thing you can eat to weaken your adrenals is sugar. Sugar over taxes the work of the adrenals and blows your sodium, potassium ratio way out of balance.

When healing from my adrenal exhaustion I completely eliminated sugar from my diet for 6 months. And that included all healthy, natural sugars as well, such as fruit. My body was such a state of exhaustion and over stressed, it could not handle even healthy sweets. I am happy to report that my adrenals are working fine now. I still have to watch my stress levels and make sure I do not take life too seriously.

March -Turmeric

Recently I had the pleasure of cooking with fresh turmeric root. The fresh root has a pungent and slightly spicy, but not hot, incredible pleasing flavor. Grating it is the best way to utilize fresh turmeric root. I have been using the fresh grated turmeric in soups, sautés, casseroles, and even specialty drinks. Native to Southeast Asia, it has been consumed for over 2,500 years. Turmeric is related to ginger, and has many of the same healing properties.

Turmeric

Turmeric is best known for its strong anti-inflammatory properties and being a natural pain killer. These strong anti-inflammatory properties makes turmeric a natural remedy for arthritis. It also has anti-cancer properties, plus it helps detoxify your liver. Turmeric has natural antiseptic and anti-bacterial agents. Recently, there have been studies showing that it helps with removing amylod plaque build-up in the brain, therefore, it may help with Alzheimer's disease. It can also be used to soothe an upset stomach.

The fresh root is bright yellow-orange in color. When using it, remember it will stain whatever it touches. I grate the root on a piece of tin foil that I can throw away when I am done. Peeling it before grating is a good idea because the skin is fibrous, and when eaten tastes like you are eating a piece of paper. When using the fresh turmeric root, you will want to use a larger amount than the dried. The dried turmeric is boiled for about 30-45 minutes and then dried in ovens. This drying process concentrates the flavor.

April -Tempting Tempeh

Tempeh is by far one of my favorite foods. It is so versatile that you can use it in so many different dishes. Having no taste right out of the package, it will take on whatever taste you choose. It acts like a big sponge and will absorb flavors. Many vegetarians use it as a meat substitute. When you crumble tempeh it resembles ground meat in texture.

Tempeh is soybeans that have been cooked and fermented. The fermented process is important because fermented food is very easy to digest. Fermenting the tempeh makes the phytonutrients more concentrated and more bioavailable as well. Soybeans are very high in protein, contain; calcium, B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium. Soybeans are considered a complete protein, they contain all 8 essential amino acids.

When people first change their diet and ask me about certain foods, I always tell them to ask themselves this simple question, 'How long has the human species been eating this food?'. If it has been thousands of years, you can bet it is a healthy food for you to eat. Soybeans were a crucial crop in East Asia before written history. Origins of soybean cultivation remains scientifically debated. Recent research indicates that seedlings of wild forms started early (before 5000 BCE) in multiple locations throughout China, Korea, and Japan. The process of fermenting the soybean and making tempeh originated in Indonesia before the 16th century.

May - Asparagus

While growing up, I never ate asparagus. After I moved out of my parents house, I decided to try this unique looking vegetable that I had never had before. It was slightly sweet, juicy, and delicious, I loved it right away. And I found out the reason I had never had asparagus while growing up is my Mom did not like it. However my Dad loves asparagus and, just like me, my sister after trying it loves asparagus also. Now it is one of my favorite vegetables and I cook with it whenever possible.

Known for being a spring time vegetable, it grows wild here in Michigan. Various species of asparagus were cultivated by Egyptian cultures beginning as early as 3,000 BC. And it has been used for its medicinal properties for over 2,000 years.

The asparagus plant contains the anti-inflammatory nutrients; vitamins C and E, beta carotene, zinc, manganese, and selenium. It also contains a variety of B vitamins; folic acid, B1, B2, B6, niacin, choline, and pantothenic acid. B vitamins are important because they get depleted when you are under stress. Packed with antioxidants, fiber, folate, vitamins C and K, and chromium, asparagus is also a rich source of a compound, glutathione, that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals. Which may indicate it will help protect against certain types of cancers such as; breast, colon, larynx, and lung.

When buying asparagus, look for a firm stalk that is not wilted. Also look for the tips to be firm, not soft. Asparagus can be steamed, roasted in the oven, sauteed, deep fried, grilled, and added to soups. Asparagus tastes very good when cooked with garlic, it brings out the natural sweetness of the asparagus.

June - Cucumber

Cucumbers are a wonderful summer time food. Being 95% water, they are a cooling vegetable, ideal to keep you cool for those hot summer days. Juicy and refreshing, cucumbers have many great health benefits. They contain phytonutrients called cucurbitacins, which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties. High in Vitamin C, K, and several B Vitamins, they also contain anti-inflammatory properties. Cucumbers contain copper, potassium, and manganese, plus numerous antioxidants. such as beta-carotene.

Cucumbers are one of my favorite summer vegetables. They are wonderful in salads, and are great for serving with dips at a party. Another one of my favorite ways to utilize them is to put slices of cucumbers on sandwiches.

In one of my recipes I have combined cucumbers with the sea vegetable wakame. Because of cucumber's sweet taste, they complement the bitter taste of the wakame. Sea vegetables are the most nutrient dense food on the planet. They are high in; calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and Vitamins, A, C, several B Vitamins including B12. Wakame in particular has the ability to turn toxic metals in the intestines into harmless salts that can be discharged from the body. Wakame is such a powerful food it can cleanse radiation out of the body. Sea vegetables expand when you soak them, so you do not need to use a lot of them in your recipes. They also have a bitter taste, so putting them with other flavors such as sweet, salty, sour, and pungent, helps create a flavorful dish.

July - Peaches

July, my favorite month of the year! I love the warm weather, the bright sun shine, all the fresh produce available, and celebrating my birthday. On my birthday I like to enjoy some of my favorite foods, such as blueberries and peaches. Both are great summer time fruits. Putting them in a pie together is a great way to show off their sweetness, texture, and taste.


Not only are peaches sweet and juicy, they are full of health benefits. High in Vitamins A and C, which are natural moisturizers, this is why you will find them in many natural skin care products. Peaches contain a phytochemical called phenols, that acts as an antioxidant. They also contain selenium and calcium. Containing beta-carotene, peaches can help protect eye vision. It may help to protect the retinas in your eyes from free radical damage, as well as helping to prevent cataracts and age related mucular degeneration.

There are basically two kinds of peaches. Cling stone, where the flesh sticks to the stone. And freestone, where the stone is easy to separate from the flesh. Peaches are in the rose family and originated in China. The tree was known as the tree of life to the ancient Chinese. When buying peaches, look for firmer flesh if using them in pies, and softer flesh if you want to take a bite right out of the raw peach.

August - Garlic

Garlic is one of the most powerful foods on the planet, but did you know it can help keep mosquitos away from you also? That is right, eat as much garlic as you can in the summer and those irritating little buggers will leave you alone. Known for its pungent, sweet flavor, (pungent when raw, sweet when roasted), garlic makes the perfect seasoning for just about anything, and particularly grilled vegetables. When you use this healing food in your dishes you will be protecting yourself from coming down with colds, infections, and digestive issues.


Used since the dawning of Egyptian, Indian, and Chinese civilizations, garlic was renowned for its incredible healing abilities. And the Greeks also used garlic in their spiritual rituals, placing it at crossroads to gain favor with the Goddess Hecate (Underworld Goddess of magic, charms, and enchantment.) It has strong antibacterial properties. The ancients used garlic to kill infections and treat deadly diseases way before the invention of modern medicine. Also contains anti carcinogen and anti fungal properties. Garlic can help lower blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and stabilize blood sugar. Good for digestion, garlic promotes healthy intestinal flora, and is so medicinal it can eliminate toxins from the body, ranging from snake bites to poisonous metals. And if that is not enough it can also stimulate your metabolism to give you energy.

The whole garlic is called a bulb. The little individual pieces are called cloves. When buying garlic, look for the bulbs to be firm, and when you see green growing out of the top, that means the garlic is old. The best way to store garlic is on your counter top, not refrigerated. To get the skin off the garlic, place a clove on your cutting board. Put your large, vegetable cutting knife over the top, and bang down on the knife. This cracks the clove and the skin will come right off for you.

September - Millet

Creamy, nutty, and slightly sweet, millet is the signature whole grain for this time of year. Known for feeding and nurturing your spleen, pancreas, and stomach, it is considered an anti-stress grain. Millet has the highest amino acid protein profile and highest iron content. It is a gluten-free grain and contains B vitamins, also rich in phosphorus. Millet is the easiest whole grain to digest and is alkalizing to the body.

Botanically, millet is the oldest whole grain. The first written reference to millet is dated 2800 B.C. Frequently noted in the New Testament, millet flourished throughout the Roman Empire and into the Middle Ages. It is the main food of the Huza people in Asia. They are known for their long lives.

When cooking with millet, it will cook up creamy. It works well to thicken soups and I use it for that reason in mychili recipe. Look for millet in the bulk section or pre-package section of your local health store.

October - Pumpkin

Pumpkins are believed to have originated right here in the Americas, thousands of years ago. They were cultivated along river and creek beds along with sunflowers and beans. Most people think of pumpkins as the carving ones we get at Halloween. But the smaller variety, pie pumpkins, are the ones that work best when cooking. To make your own pureed pumpkin, cut the pumpkin in half, lay flat side down on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, until fork tender. Let it cool, then scoop out the flesh.

Pumpkins have some powerful healing properties. One cup of pureed pumpkin contains two times the recommended daily in take of Vitamin A. This helps promote good vision and can slow down the decline of retinits pigmentosa. (the slow decline of the retina function.) High in fiber, pumpkin can help lower blood pressure, help reduce high cholesterol, and promotes a healthy heart. Very high in potassium, and Vitamin C, this sweet, orange vegetable will help boost you immune system. And being high in beta-carotene, an antioxidant, pumpkin can help prevent some types of cancers.

You can use pumpkin in just about any recipe that calls for winter squash. Cut in cubes, pumpkin will impart a naturally sweet taste in soups, casseroles, roasted vegetables, and bean dishes. Using pumpkin in desserts is probably everyone's favorite way to consume them.

November - History of Pie

Ahhh, pie. A stable at every Thanksgiving dinner. As a kid, pumpkin pie was my favorite holiday pie. Since I changed my diet 20 years ago, every year I make my vegan, organic version. This year I have created a new pumpkin pie using apples to enhance the flavor, and I love this pie! The pureed apples add an additional sweetness, without adding a different texture.

Today our holiday pies are very familiar to us, however early pies would have looked a lot different. Ancient historians confirm ancient people made pastries. Ancient civilizations used ground grains for the flour, and the primary fat was olive oil. The first pies were savory, containing meat and vegetables. The word pie first appears in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1303. And by 1362 the word was documented as known and popular.

In Medieval England, the word pie, (the savory version) was derived from the word magpie. The magpie is a bird known for collecting odds and ends in it's nest. This reflected that people who ate pies were not picky about what they ate. These early pies had a varied and unique variety of meats and vegetables put in to them. The phrases 'eat crow' and 'four and twenty blackbirds' are not just funny sayings, they were reflections of what these pies actually had in them. This is also why people use those decorative, ceramic black birds that sit on the pie and help to cook the pies.

Early sweet fruit pies were referred to as tarts, not pies. They were made smaller in a single serving size, so they could be transported and eaten easily. They looked more like a turnover, then a piece of pie. And most people would not enjoy this version, because it was all fruit, not sugar. Sugar, back then, was so rare and expensive, it was saved for the elite and the rich. A fact that makes those ancient tarts healthier for us. When the colonists came over to America they brought the recipe for tarts but the translation got lost and started to be called pies. Our pies have gone through many changes through out the centuries, but one thing is for sure, our holiday dinners would not be the same without them.

December - Egg Nog

It is time for some holiday celebrating with a big cup of sweet, creamy Egg Nog. A beverage that many people enjoy while decorating the Christmas tree or bringing in the New Year. Traditionally made with milk, and/or heavy cream, sugar, and whipped eggs, I have created a version that is vegan and sugar-free. It has all the richness, sweetness, spice, and creamy texture as the traditional one, just without the mucus-forming dairy and blood sugar spiking effect of all that refined sugar.

Egg Nog may have originated in East England or Medieval Europe as a beverage made with hot milk and eggs. The middle Eastern term for a small, carved wooden mug used to serve alcohol was called a nog, which is where the name came from. Often served with brandy, rum, or bourbon, but you can also enjoy a non-alcohol version. The signature taste of the Egg Nog is the spice nutmeg, usually sprinkled on top. Nutmeg is the brown seed of an Indonesian evergreen tree. It can help to aid in digestion, help to relieve coughs, help reduce pain, and you can rub the oil into joints to relieve arthritic pain.

The version I have created uses Amazake to help make the drink sweet and creamy. Amazake is a fermented, sweet, thick beverage. It is made by fermenting brown rice. It is the first fermentation when they make the alcohol beverage Sake. Amazake literally means 'Sweet Sake'. However Amazake has no alcohol in it. Amazake will not spike blood sugar, and therefore a healthy alternative to refined sugar. You can find Amazake in the freezer section of your local health food store. Cheers! And Happy Holidays!

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