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Foods of the Month 2021

January - Burdock Root  February - Umeboshi Plums
March - Tofu   April - Barley   May - Greens
June - Quinoa

January - Burdock Root

You 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 viruses
- Promotes hair growth and improve scalp condition
- Helps get rid of painful tonsillitis
- Treats arthritis, drink tea for 40 days, lowers inflammatory markers in blood
- 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

Cancer fighting 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.

February - Umeboshi Plums

In 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.
umeboshi plums

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 condiment.

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.

March - Tofu

Tofu 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 taste.

April - Barley

Barley is 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.

When purchasing 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

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.

Dandelion Greens

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.

Dandelion 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

Kale: High in protein, high in Vitamin C and K, calcium, iron, anti-cancer properties

Parsley: Helps cleanse toxic metals out of body, Vitamin A, C and K, promote bone health, heart health, helps with blood sugar

June - Quinoa

Quinoa (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 food.

Although botanically 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 anti-depressant properties.

Quinoa cooks up quickly and has a nutty flavor, making it ideal for creating cold salads, perfect for a summer meal.


July -



August -



September -

red lentil corn soup


October -


November -

ginger on cutting board



December -



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