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know those large burrs you get on your pant legs while taking a hike
in the woods? That is from the burdock plant. Yes, burdock grows locally
here in Michigan. You can easily identify the plant from the large
burrs plus the exceptionally large leaves. The root of the plant is
what is used in cooking to create earthy, robust winter dishes, The
burdock root is so strong when it is growing downwards under ground,
if a rock is in its way, the root will break the rock and keep going.
In Oriental medicine they teach us, we become the what we eat. Can
you imagine the strength you will get from eating a root that can
break a rock?
When shopping for
burdock root, you will have to look at health food stores or Oriental
stores. Also known as gobo root in Japan, the root should be firm not
soft or wilted when it is purchased. Burdock root loves water. Once
you get the root home, wrap it in wet paper towel and place in plastic
bag and store in refrigerator. The burdock will last a couple months
if you make sure the paper towel remains wet during that time.
The healing benefits
are tremendous, here is a list:
- Remove toxins
from blood and purifies blood
- Moves stagnant lymphatic system, helps make lymphatic system strong
- Anti inflammatory properties and anti bacterial properties
- Treats enlarge spleen, spleen keeps body free from infections and
- Promotes hair growth and improve scalp condition
- Helps get rid of painful tonsillitis
- Treats arthritis, drink tea for 40 days, lowers inflammatory markers
- Contains antioxidants, phenolic acids, quercetin and luteoplin
- Defends against diabetes, contains inulin a insoluble fiber and
prebiotic that improves digestion and lowers high blood sugar
- Supports healthy gut flora
- Helps treat anorexia nervosa
- Improves liver function
properties: Arctigenin which is a lignan in certain plants that combat
caner cells. It selectively stops the proliferation of cancer cells
by inhibiting the cancer cells production in a particular protein (NPAT
protein), hence crippling cancers ability to reproduce. Also arctigenin
has been shown to kill certain cancer cells, such as lung, liver and
stomach cancer cells.
- Umeboshi Plums
America we say, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away."
In Japan they say, "an umeboshi a day keeps the doctor away."
When it comes to "let food be thy medicine", there is
none more medicinal then the umeboshi plum. Known for it anti-biotic
properties, it can help heal cuts, scraps, and help fight off infections
and colds. Plus the umeboshi has a strong alkalizing effect on the
body. You need your body to be slightly alkalized, because disease
lives in a acidic condition.
The umeboshi plum
is naturally fermented which creates lactobacillus acid to help in digestion,
enzymes and amino acids all very important for gut health. If you ever
have a stomach ache, take a little umeboshi and it will go away fast.
Plus it can help promote the elimination of toxins, neutralize fatigue,
stimulate digestion, help treat dysentery, typhoid and food poisoning.
The umeboshi plums
are made by mixing the un-ripe plums with sea salt and shiso leaves,
putting weight on top and letting set while the plums ferment. They
ferment for about 3 months. Once done fermenting they can be bought
whole with the pits still in them, or in the form of ume plum paste,
where the flesh has been pureed. I prefer using the ume plum paste just
because it is easier to measure and use in recipes. Plus the salty brine
from the pickling process is made into ume plum vinegar, a wonderful
The umeboshi whole
or in the paste form has a strong taste. Some people love the taste,
and others do not enjoy the taste, Mainly the umeboshi is salty, with
a sour under tone. However the umeboshi contains all five tastes in
one: salty, sour, bitter, pungent and sweet. Being that it contains
all five flavors it adds a tremendous amount of flavor to many dishes.
is a harmless bean curd made from soybeans, so why are so many people
afraid of it? Maybe because they have tasted a dish made using the wrong
kind of tofu, and/or it was not properly seasoned or cooked. When used
in the correct way, tofu can be very tasty and can be used to create
all kinds of different dishes. The key to cooking with tofu is that
it has no real flavor on its own, so it will take on whatever tastes
you add to it when creating a dish. Always make sure you add salt, or
a salty ingredient, and make sure to cook the tofu. The cooking process
will enhance the flavor and make the tofu easier to digest.
Five thousand year
old texts describe the soybean as one of the most important crops in
China. And for good reason, high in protein, iron, B vitamins, soybeans
can also help support detoxification, improve circulation, and have
many anti-cancer properties. A food that has been eaten for thousand
of years, has been proven through time to be a healthy food for the
human species to consume. There is a lot of information out there claiming
that soy food is bad for us to consume. But do not get confused, the
bad stuff is refined and processed. Such things as: soy flour, soy flakes,
soy isolates, (TSP textured soy protein). I do not use these products
in my cooking. And when purchasing tofu and other soybean products,
always buy organic. Unfortunately, a large percentage of the soybean
crops have been genetically engineered.
Using the correct
type of tofu is also important to create the correct texture for your
dishes. I use the fresh, firm, tofu packed in water, found in the refrigerator
section, for almost all my recipes. If you can find a local producer
of tofu, that is best, the fresher the tofu the better the texture and
one of the signature whole grains of spring. It is one of the oldest cultivated
whole grains, domesticated around 8000 B.C. Know as a food for the physically
strong, it was the main food source for the Roman Gladiators. They ate
a roasted barley gruel everyday and it kept them strong and energetic.
Being in the whole
grain category, barley is high in fiber which helps maintain a healthy
blood pressure. Barley contains beta glucans that can help reduce high
cholesterol. Plus helps maintain a health blood sugar level because
it contains enzymes that help with insulin secretion. In addition, barely
gets digested slowly, releasing glucose very slowly to give the body
energy and help nurture the brain. Barley contains B vitamin such as
niacin, manganese, selenium, chromium, phosphorus, and magnesium. And
it is the whole grain that help feed and nurture the liver, gallbladder,
and nervous system.
Barley holds within
it the spring energy that is one of flexibility and graceful movement.
During this spring time the body goes through a natural cleansing time
and barley can assist the body by breaking down hardened accumulated
fats and helping to flush them out of the body. Barely has also been
used to treat hepatitis and painful urination.
barley look for whole barley. It should have a brown or tan color to
the grain. The package will probably say "hulled barley".
This means that the hard outer shell, that the body can not digest,
has been removed. There is also a variety called "pearled barley".
Many people like the taste and texture of the pearled variety because
it is lighter and creamier. Some of the outer shell has been polished
off to create the pearled barley. However, not all the outer, nutrient
dense, shell is removed, so pearled barley is still a whole grain and
full of the health benefits of barley.
May - Greens
are an important part of a healthy diet. The chlorophyll that gives
the vegetables their green color has a strong detoxing ability for
the body. Plus it can help with gut health, help give you energy,
help support your immune system, and help to prevent cancer. And chlorophyll
has been shown to help with cataracts, help the heart, has anti-inflammatory
properties, and anti-aging properties.
All greens have
a natural bitter taste. That bitter taste is important because it feeds
and nurtures your heart. When using bitter greens in a recipe, always
pair it with naturally sweet vegetables; carrots, squash, sweet potatoes
and cooked onions. Greens can be added to most dishes, stir fries, casseroles,
salads, and soups.
greens: antioxidant, highly nutritious, anti-inflammatory, may
help reduce high cholesterol, may help reduce high blood pressure, Vitamins
A, C, E and K, folate and other B vitamins
High in protein, high in Vitamin C and K, calcium, iron, anti-cancer
Helps cleanse toxic metals out of body, Vitamin A, C and K, promote
bone health, heart health, helps with blood sugar
(pronounced 'keen-wa') was the mother grain of the Incas. They considered
it sacred and held ceremonies honoring quinoa. In South America, in
the high altitudes of the Andes mountains, quinoa has been grown, harvested,
and eaten since at least 3,000 B.C. Because of its hardiness, being
able to survive at such high altitudes, quinoa is considered a strengthening
quinoa is a fruit, we classify it as a whole grain. In fact, quinoa
is the signature whole grain for summer time. As one of the easiest
whole grains to digest, it gives us a tremendous amount of energy to
be able to be very active in the summertime.
Quinoa is high in
calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, and
is a complete protein. Quinoa is high in quercetin and kaempferol, two
flavonoids that have anti-inflammatory, anti- viral, anti-cancer and
Quinoa cooks up
quickly and has a nutty flavor, making it ideal for creating cold salads,
perfect for a summer meal.