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Foods of the Month 2017

January - Roasting Vegetables    February - Sweet Potato for your Sweetheart
March - Aquafaba    April -Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!   May - Protein on a Vegan Diet
June- Tempeh and Soy Foods    July - Corn     August - Turmeric Root
September - Heart Healthy Peach Blueberry Pie
October - Foods to Help Combat Cancer November - Cooking For The Holidays
December -Cooking for the Holidays

January - Roasting Vegetables

Roasted vegetables are a simple and easy way to incorporate more vegetables in your diet. When you roast the vegetables you bring out the natural sweetness to the vegetables. And when you get a little browning on the vegetables they are exceptionally delicious! Some tips to making sure your roasted vegetables are the best they can be: Lay the vegetables out in a single layer, do not pile them on top of each other. I prefer to keep the different vegetables separate and cook them on separate dishes. The reason I do this is because some vegetables will cook faster then others and you can take them out of the oven at different times.

You can use a variety of vegetables when roasting. Cauliflower is one of my favorites. Roast the cauliflower to the point it is browning and it gets kind of crisp. And cauliflower is tremendously healthy for you. Being in the cruciferous family of vegetables, it has anti-cancer properties. High in Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and B Vitamins. Also known as the best brain food, helps improve blood pressure, and helps boost heart health. The dietary fiber in cauliflower helps to protect the lining of the stomach preventing bacterial overgrowth. And it contains anti-inflammatory properties.


February - Sweet Potato for your Sweetheart

One of the most loving things you can do for your sweetheart is to make them a special sweet treat. And if that treat has health benefits you are helping keep your significant other feeling better. For Valentine's day, you can make a wonderfully, delicious, sweet treat and still have it be healthy. With the addition of sweet potato in your treats it adds another layer of sweetness and rich taste.
Native to South America, the sweet potato is high in fiber, vitamin C, calcium, manganese, riboflavin, panthothenic acid, and vitamin A. Known for feeding and nurturing your spleen, pancreas. and stomach, their natural sweet taste and creamy texture make them anti-stress food. Sweet potatoes are orange, reddish, or yellow in color. Sometimes confused for a yam, which is white, ivory, cream, pink, or purple, they are completely different vegetables. And sweet potatoes are not related to the white potato either.

March - Aquafaba
(Chick Pea Cooking Liquid)

Have you heard of aquafaba? It is an amazing ingredient that is all the rave in the vegan community. I have started using it this summer and created my amazingly light and delicious vegan ice cream with aquafaba. I am very excited to be able to share this month a new Blueberry Muffin recipe I just created using aquafaba as an egg replacement. These muffins are very light and moist from the addition of the aquafaba.

Aquafaba is the liquid that is left over when you cook beans. The most popular is the liquid from when you cook chick peas. The chick pea liquid seems to work best, and has a neutral flavor.I have tried a few different beans to use their cooking liquid, and I have to agree that the chick pea liquid seems to work the best. Because of the starches, proteins, other plant solids that are left in the water after cooking chick peas, the water whipped up to make firm peaks. It is as if you are using egg whites and creating a meringue. The first time I tried to whip the aquafaba, I was so surprised to see how it expanded and looked like meringue. It is a really cool thing to witness.

You can use the aquafaba to create meringues, mayonnaise, butter spreads, vegan cheeses, macaroons, frozen desserts, and as an egg replacement to create light baked goods.

April -Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

Pasta is part of a healthy whole foods lifestyle. Traditionally made using wheat flour and water, pasta has a long history of being a part of our diet. The origins of pasta has been contributed to the Chinese, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs, however it is the Italians that have been most noted for the origins of pasta as we know it now. Long standing, traditional pasta is made from soft wheat flour and water. Italian traditional pasta is made from hard, durum wheat flour and water. Soft wheat contains less protein, and absorbs less water. Durum wheat is a large grain with sharp edges, is difficult to break apart and is yellow, amber color. Which creates different types of pasta for us all to choose from.

For those looking for a wheat free or gluten free pasta, there are many options out there that are delicious and easy to use in any dish you prepare. My favorite is brown rice pasta, the brand I buy is, 'Tinkyada'. It cooks up very nicely and does not stick together. Other options are; quinoa, buckwheat, sprouted grain, and corn.

The best way to cook pasta is bring a large pot of water to a boil, put pasta in and keep the temperature on high, and cook pasta in boiling water for 7 to 10 minutes until done. To test to see if it is done, I take a piece out of the water and taste it to see if it is done. I do not cook my pasta with oil or salt. There is no need to season pasta while it is cooking, you season it with the sauce that you add to the pasta.

May - Protein on a Vegan Diet

Where do you get your protein? A question I get asked all the time. Here is my answer, "Everything that comes from Mother Nature in its whole form, except fruit, has protein".

That means everything I eat has protein: whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, tofu, tempeh, and vegetables, Every time I eat I am getting some protein. Eating the S.A.D (standard American diet) does not supply as much protein as most vegan and vegetarian diets include.

One great protein food to start using in your cooking is miso. Made from fermenting soybeans, miso is a salty condiment and adds a rich taste to your dishes. Being a fermented food, it is a live food, containing lactobacillus (same as yogurt). Miso is 13 to 20 % protein, helps alkalize your body, helps eliminate toxins from your body, helps improve circulation, and feeds and strengthens the kidneys, pancreas, and colon.

Protein is present in every cell in our body. Protein is responsible for cell replication and required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body's tissues and organs. Protein builds strong muscles and the biggest muscle in the body is the heart. Keeping our heart healthy by eating whole foods, protein rich, dishes is an important part of living a healthy vegan lifestyle.

June- Tempeh and Soy Foods

Some of my favorite ingredients to cook with are tofu and tempeh. Both made from the soybean, they are so versatile that the possibilities are endless for these two wondrous foods. Neither one has that much taste by themselves, they take on whatever taste you desire in your recipes.

The soybean has been cultivated for about 2,500 years and for good reason. These wonderful beans contain iron, carotene, niacin, vitamins B and B2. They promote clear vision and vitality, as well as improve circulation and support detoxification. Along with all these wonderful traits, soybeans also have isoflavones, which are similar to a natural estrogen that may help prevent hot flashes.

They also contain genistein, which helps prevent heart disease and may stop the spread of some cancers in their early stages. These power packed beans also contain protease inhibitors that are a universal anti-carcinogen and may block the action of cancer causing enzymes. And if that is not enough reason to start enjoying these wondrous beans, they also contain phytic acids that inhibit the growth of tumors.

You will find the tofu in firm or soft style. The firm is used when you want the tofu to keep its shape, such as marinating it. The soft is better used to create sauces and dressings. Always cook your tofu before eating, cooking makes it more digestible. Tofu is 8% protein, and high in good quality unsaturated fat, 4.3%. It contains all your amino acids and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and Vitamins B and E.

The texture of tempeh is chunky, it gives the illusion of meat in some recipes. It is 19.5% protein and it is a complete protein. It contains all the essential amino acids and B12. Tempeh tastes especially good sautéed in toasted sesame oil with a little tamari to season. It can also be crumbled and then molded into patties or loafs.

July - Corn

For a strong heart and a happy, healthy brain, eat your corn! Although most people consider corn their favorite vegetable it is actually a grain. In fact it is the signature grain for summer. Known for its sweetness, it feeds and nurtures your heart and brain. A tea made from the corn silk is said to promote a healthy heart.

Here are some nutritional facts about corn:
-Prevents the formation of urinary stones.
-Strengthens your over all energy.
-The only grain that contains Vitamin A.
-Helps lower blood sugar levels.

Corn on the cob is one of my favorites cooked on an open fire. To do this, you soak the corn in water while still in its husk, about 5 to 6 hours. Then you put it over the fire on a grate or other cooking devise. I have one of those tri-pods that sits over the fire. Depending on how hot your fire is, it will take anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes until the corn is done. Once done remove the husk and enjoy the smoky, wonderful, sweet taste. For something different try spreading a little ume plum paste over the corn.

August - Turmeric Root

I am in love 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, sautes, 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 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.

September - Heart Healthy Peach Blueberry Pie

To keep our heart healthy there are many different foods that we can start incorporating in to our diets right now. Foods that are high in fiber is a great place to start. And foods that have a natural bitter taste help support the heart also. Some signature heart healthy foods are: Corn, quinoa, amaranth, dandelion greens, kale, cucumbers, beets, yellow summer squash, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils, garlic, turmeric, peaches, and blueberries.

In Oriental medicine they teach that if a particular food looks like a part of the body, it feeds and nurtures that part of the body. When looking at a peach, it looks like the shape of the heart. Peaches are very high in potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure, and helps promote proper pumping of the heart. Peaches are high in insoluble fiber, which does not get dissolved in water, and helps the body eliminate toxins. Originated in China where they considered the peach tree to be the tree of life, peaches are also high in Vitamin C and contain calcium.

Blueberries are my favorite fruit. They are native to Michigan, where I live, and are packed full of juicy sweetness that make your taste buds explode with joy. High in antioxidants, potassium, Vitamin C and K, manganese, blueberries are great for your heart also. They contain significant amounts of anthocyananins, which is an antioxidant compound that gives fruits and vegetable their blue, purple color. And blueberries contain high levels of a compound that helps to widen arteries which helps blood flow smoothly.

October - Foods to Help Combat Cancer

Researchers agree that most cancers have a 10 to 20 year interval between their carcinogenic stimulus and the appearance of a developing tumor. Food you eat and lifestyle habits are likely to influence the state of your health a decade or two from now. A diet of refined foods laden with chemicals and deficient in many nutrients is currently thought to be the greatest contributor to cancer development. According to the world cancer research fund, you can reduce your risk of developing cancer by 40% just by lowering fat, and consuming a higher percentage of whole foods and vegetable. Photo-chemicals or phytonutrient compounds in food that provide significant protection against cancer are not present in processed foods. Cancer fighting substances that number in the thousands are found in whole grains, beans, vegetables and fruit.

In the early 1900's, two thirds of the carbohydrates in the U.S. diet came from complex sources, such as whole grains, grain products, and vegetables. Today, half of all carbohydrates consumed come from refined and concentrated simple sugars. Sugar consumption has risen more then 1500% in the last 200 years! In only two generations ten million new chemicals have been invented and randomly released into our environment, many are known carcinogens. It is no wonder our health is suffering. Five of the most common cancers, lung, breast, stomach, colorectal, and prostate, were practically unheard of before the early 20th century, The escalation of cancer parallels the industrialization and chemicaliztion of our world. The more developed the country, the higher the cancer rates.

A cancer cell is an out of control invader, setting its own course of gradual multiplication in any organ, gland, or body system. It continues to divide until as a mass, it breaks apart to invade other parts of the body (metastasis). Cancer devastates the most important part of the cell, the DNA, which controls the cell's function.

Foods that help fight and prevent cancer are foods that are eaten in their whole form, right from the Earth with no chemicals spread on them. Some of the best being: brown rice, all whole grains, sea vegetables, miso, soybeans, kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, dandelion tea, bok choy, root vegetables, aduki beans, and all beans.

November - Cooking For The Holidays

Holiday cooking is upon us again and, for some people, it can be challenging to remain true to your healthy lifestyle during this decedent, rich, culinary time of year. I have spent the last 20 years creating and perfecting standard holiday dishes that I now cook with a healthy flare.

Some rules of thumb to remember when you are first starting out on your healthy holiday menu is keep it simple. You do not want to over whelm yourself at first, so stick to what you know. If you have a recipe that you make on a regular basis do not discount it just because you think it is not special enough for the holidays. You can spruce up the recipe to make it more rich for the holiday dinner table, such as adding a little more fat. Good quality fats, such as olive oil or tahini, can be added to most recipes to create a richer taste.

Adding a little extra spices to your dishes can also make them special for the holidays. Sage is the signature spice for stuffing and can be added to any brown rice or millet dish you are creating for the holidays. Thyme and rosemary are also great spices to add to your dishes, and all three taste very good together. Also adding nuts, such as walnuts or pecans, imparts wonderful flavor and texture to dishes making them richer and extra special for the holidays.

December -Cooking for the Holidays

When asked what is my favorite sweetener to use, I always answer brown rice syrup. Unfortunately most people have not heard of it, which makes it the best kept health food secret. I make all kinds of desserts with brown rice syrup, from cookies, cakes, and pies, to candies, fudge, jams, and so much more. As the name implies, it is made from brown rice, which is a whole grain complex carbohydrate, a staple in all of our ancestor's diet.The brown rice syrup is produced when naturally occurring enzymes convert the starch in the grain to sugar. The process retains the vitamin and mineral content of the brown rice. And being made from a complex carbohydrate, the sugar that is produced is maltose.

Maltose is the least reactive sugar there is, it releases slowly into your blood stream. Unlike white sugar or sucrose, which releases very quickly into the blood stream and reeks havoc with all the organs in your body. Brown rice syrup and the maltose in the syrup will not spike your blood sugar. For that reason it is considered the healthiest sweetener.

It has a mild sweet taste that is satisfying. However, if you have been using sweeteners that are very sweet, it may not be sweet enough for you at first. If you stick with the brown rice syrup, it will taste sweet after you give up all those intensely sweet foods that are not good for you. You will find it in a jar at you local health food store, or even some main stream grocery stores now carry it. It is thick and sticky like honey.

When measuring it, coat your measuring cup and spatula with a little oil and the syrup will slid right off instead of sticking.

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