Sunday, July 31, 2011

Vegan Cupcakes - Spreading Awareness, Compassion and Breaking Myths One Bite At a Time...


















Banana Split Cupcakes from VCTOTW - Made for graduation party in June

Who doesn’t like dessert? I know I do. I’ve always had a bit of a sweet tooth, though I’ve always been partial to things like pies, cobblers, brownies, muffins, scones and other small pastries, I’ve never been a cake person, or a cupcake person for that matter, and I’m not a fan of sugary icing either. Having said that, I am quite taken with Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero’s book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" they do use a lot more icing then I think is necessary - and so I just scrape away the excess or leave it off altogether - but their delectable cupcake recipes have definitely won me over. Though this is the type of book I only break out on special occasions, like parties, holiday’s, big family get-togethers etc, it hasn’t failed me yet.



















Cookies ‘n Creme Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for Easter

The first time I made vegan cupcakes to bring to a family gathering was at Easter this year, and I wasn’t sure how they’d do. I was confident in my ability as a baker of course, and actually the previous year (Before I went vegan) I’d brought a batch of vegan, sugar-free, chocolate brownies made with tofu that everyone loved, but you can never tell. I know that Vegan is a scary word for a lot of people. They don’t understand it, and they don’t want to understand it. It’s the sort of ‘other’ they don’t want to be confronted with because they’re afraid it’s going to make them think about themselves, their own habits and their own values, and they might not like the conclusions they come too. Sometimes they feel that by simply being around a vegan or by being faced with vegan food they’re being judged, which is rarely if ever the case when you’re in the presence of a ‘Joyful Vegan.’ and a lot of times people simply want to be stubborn for stubborn’s sake, but I find if you hand someone a vegan dessert and don’t mention the fact that it’s vegan, they’ll take it happily and gobble it down. Usually such events are immediately followed by praise and outrageous decelerations about how that cupcake, or brownie or what-have-you was the best they’d ever had.


















Chocolate Cherry Creme Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

Isn’t it funny? It’s exactly the sort of thing that proves my point that when it comes to this ‘fear’ of veganism, it has nothing at all to do with taste and everything to do with stubborn preconceived notions. In fact on several occasions a friend of mine and I have preformed an experiment on unknowing people. We will each bring vegan baked goods to a party, she will tell anyone and everyone that her baked goods are vegan, while I neglect to mention the fact letting people draw their own conclusions. The result is that her baked goods remain virtually untouched, while mine get eaten so fast you’d think there was a national dessert shortage. We have done this on three separate occasions and the result is always the same.


















Sexy Low-Fat Vanilla Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June and Easter

It’s a bit ridiculous when you think about it really. This notion that a vegan baked good is somehow inferior to a conventionally baked one. After all fat is fat, and sugar is sugar and when you eat a sweet treat that’s generally all you’re tasting. I mean, have you ever had someone come to you and say "Hey, these cupcakes are fantastic! Must have been a good batch of eggs!" Have you ever heard anyone say "Hey this brownie is delicious, it must be the milk!" No, of course not, it would be silly. Milk imparts no flavor on your finished product, and is absolutely not necessary for baking especially when you have delicious alternatives like Soy, Almond, Rice, Hemp,. Oat, Hazelnut etc.. Eggs too have no discernable taste in a cake, and are absolutely not needed for either binding or leavening your pastries. Still people trudge along doing the same old same old, using eggs and milk for no other reason then it’s the only thing they know, which is why I love to bring vegan baked goods to parties. I consider doling out sweet decadent vegan treats to be part of my ‘vegan outreach’ so to speak As it almost always generates interest, questions, compliments, and more often then not it becomes the springboard for conversations about things deeper and more important then just the baking itself.


















Coconut Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

It’s my belief that people can’t grow if they don’t know, and they’ll never know if you don’t open that door. To educate ourselves and one another is the most important thing we can do in this world, and I happily do it with goodies. I think it’s really important to remind people that different doesn’t mean bad, and it’s equally important to show people that vegan food is just food. Plain and simple. A ‘vegan’ cupcake is just sugar, oil, flour, baking powder and or soda, vinegar (sometimes) salt, non-dairy milk, non-dairy butter (sometimes) and whatever else you decide to flavor it with. Nothing strange about it, and the best part is not only are they delicious but no creature had to die, be tortured or exploited to bake them.


















Pineapple Right-Side Up Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for Easter

So next time you’re in the mood for a cupcake I highly recommend you check out the book "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World" Next time you have a party or are going to one and you need something to bring, make any one of these cupcakes and you’ll have a huge hit on your hands. You’ll be the talk of the party, and you’ll blow all those boring old tired dairy based desserts out of the water. Happy Baking Everyone!.


















S’More Cupcakes from VCTOTW Made for graduation party in June

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Carrot Cashew Miso Spread...


















Okay, I have got to give a major shout out to Terry Walters, for her ‘Carrot Cashew Miso Spread’ which appears in her book Clean Start. I flipped through this book numerous times at the bookstore, seeing many recipes that I was interested in making, this one topping that list. Finally I got the book yesterday, and today the carrot cashew miso spread was the first thing I made. It was quick and easy, I was hungry and I had all the ingredients on hand. Now, trust me when I say I know it sounds like a strange combination, I wasn’t sure initially how I’d like it, but I swear to you, this spread will blow your mind. Walters says the bread pairs well with crackers and breads, particularly rye or pumpernickel breads but I wanted a more low-carb sort of lunch and so I served it with celery sticks and baby carrots. It was so phenomenally good that there isn’t a drop of the dip left. I ate most of it, and my husband, even more skeptical about it then I was, helped me finish off the rest. I have to say, the look on his face when he popped that first baby carrot smothered in dip into his mouth = priceless!

As far as I know Terry Walters is not a vegan, but Clean Food is a vegan cookbook. None of the recipes that appear in this book contain meat, dairy, or eggs. The recipes are also free of refined sugars, and grains, and they also happen to be gluten-free if that’s a concern for you. Walters is serious about clean healthy living, and eating the kind of food that nourishes your body, rather then destroy it. I love that the recipes are healthful, low in fat, and focus on whole foods rather then rely on prepared or processed ones. I also like how the book is split into seasons, and that the recipes are seasonal. I’m trying more and more to eat by season, it does take some conditioning but it really is the way we’re meant to eat. The photos in the book are also quite beautiful, and mouth watering.

So, regardless of whether the author is vegan or not, I think this book is worth owning, it would certainly be a welcome addition to your collection.


















P.S. To go with dinner tonight I also made her Daikon Carrot Salad with Cilantro and Peanuts, both my husband and I thought it was delicious, so we’re two for two now.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Spotlight Food - Tomatoes...


















Nothing screams summer like a nice juicy red tomato am I right? I love tomatoes, and while I do eat them year round I tend to eat them in larger quantities during the summer then in the winter. In the summer months my husband and I can go through as much as 3-4 pounds of tomatoes per week, while in the winter it tends to be a more conservative 1-2 pounds per week. My absolute favorite kind of tomatoes are just the simple tomato on the vine. I find they have a magnificent flavor, more concentrated then your average watered down garden tomato. I’m also a passionate eater of the Roma tomato which I use frequently, but don’t get me wrong, I do love all tomatoes, and wouldn’t dream of turning any variety away from my plate. Grape and Cherry tomatoes are particularly pleasing during the summer, and sun-dried tomatoes are fantastic year round. The tomato has got to be the worlds most versatile fruit, it really can be used a million different ways, in each and every season.


















History/Cultivation

The Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) is a fruit belonging to the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family. This delicious red gem has an interesting history starting with it’s origins. While we generally associate tomatoes with Mediterranean cuisine, particularly Italian, the tomato actually originated in Western South America, most likely in the highlands of Peru. While the exact date of domestication is not known it’s believed that the first domestic tomatoes may have been small yellow fruits similar in size and shape to cherry tomatoes, grown by the Aztec’s of Central Mexico. Though the tomato has been given many different names in many languages the word tomato comes from the Nahuati word Tomati meaning "The Swelling Fruit" Interestingly the Latin name for the Tomato Lycopersicon means "Wolf Perch" referring to the former belief that the tomato was as dangerous as a wolf because it’s a part of the nightshade family, and all nightshades at that time were considered to be poisonous The French called the tomato pomme d’amour, meaning "Love Apple" because of their belief that the tomato had aphrodisiac qualities; and the Italians named it pomo d’oro "Golden Apple" due to the fact that the first species of tomato with which they were familiar was likely the small yellow variety.

It’s uncertain who first intorduced the tomato to Europe. The Spanish Explorer/Conquistador Hernán Cortés may have been the first to bring the tomato back to Spain after he captured the Aztec city of Tenochtitian (now Mexico City) in 1521. However it’s possible that Christopher Columbus brought tomatoes to Europe as early as 1493.

After Spanish colonization of the Americas the Spanish distributed the tomato throughout their colonies in the Caribbean. They’re also credited with introducing the tomato into the Philippines from where it spread to Southeast Asia. Cultivation of tomatoes began in The Mediterranean in the 1540's where it grew easily due to the climate. Interestingly the earliest discovered cookbook containing tomato recipes was published in Naples in 1692, though the recipes used had apparently been obtained by the author from Spanish sources. Despite the growing use of tomatoes, and the fact that tomato cultivation began in Britain in the 1590's they weren’t widely eaten until the middle of the 18th century. The tomato was first introduced into the Middle East somewhere between the years 1799-1825 and entered Iran through two separate routes. One being through Armenia and Turkey, the other being through the frequent travels of the Qajar royal families visits to France. An interesting note is that the name for Tomato in Iran is gojeh farangi meaning "Foreign Plum" In North America the earliest known reference of tomatoes comes from 1710 when the herbalist William Salmon reported seeing them growing in what today constitutes South Carolina. It is thought that tomatoes made their way to South Carolina via the Caribbean, brought over by Spanish explorers. Though tomatoes were once an unpopular food due to the belief that they were dangerous or poisonous, they have now become one of the most widely cultivated and top selling vegetables in the world. Today Russia, Italy, China, The United States, India, Spain and Turkey are amongst the worlds largest producers.


















Health Benefits

Tomatoes have huge antioxidant benefits due to their lycopene content. The lycopene in tomatoes has been extensively studied for it’s antioxidant and cancer-protecting qualities. In contrast to many other food phytonutrients whose effects have only been studied on lab animals lycopene from tomatoes has been repeatedly studied in humans and found to be protective against a growing list of cancers. From colorectal, prostate, breast, intestinal, lung, and pancreatic cancer. However while lycopene is a very important antioxidant phytonutrient, recent research shows that when it comes to tomatoes protective effects against prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease it’s not due simply to lycopene alone. Rather, in certain instances, it’s the synergy between lycopene and other phytonutrients naturally present in tomatoes that help to provide some of the most protective health benefits. That’s not to say that lycopene itself isn’t important, but it does go along way in lending support for those who advocate whole foods in the debate over whether cancer prevention is best achieved through whole foods or through concentrated single compounds.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those persons with the lowest amounts of lycopene in their blood were 230% more likely to have or develop colorectal adenomas (The precursor to colorectal cancer)

A meta-analysis of 21 studies published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, confirms that eating tomatoes, especially cooked, provides protection against prostate cancer. When compiled the data from all 21 studies found that men who ate the highest amount of raw tomatoes were found to have an 11% reduced risk for prostate cancer. Men who ate the most cooked tomato products did even better with a 19% reduced risk.

A 3 year Canadian study, published in the Journal of Nutrition found that men consuming the most lycopene had a 31% reduced risk of pancreatic cancer.

It’s interesting to note that when it comes to lycopene and prevention it’s better to eat cooked tomatoes vs raw, because their phytonutrients become more concentrated when cooked, particularly into a sauce or paste. Heating tomatoes just makes their cancer-fighting properties more bioavailable to us.

It’s also worth noting that research has found organic tomatoes and organic tomato products to have higher levels of lycopene then conventional (non-organic) tomatoes and tomato products. When comparing the nutrient density of non-organic ketchup to organic ketchup it was found that the organic ketchup contained 183 micrograms of lycopene per 1 gram of ketchup. Which is roughly about five times as much per weight as a tomato. The non-organic brand contained 100 micrograms of lycopene per 1 gram of ketchup. Bottom Line? For the most lycopene choose the deepest, darkest red organic ketchup, tomato sauce, tomato paste, tomato juice, and other tomato products.

Lastly it’s worth keeping in mind that lycopene has been shown to protect against many different cancers especially when consumed with fat-rich foods such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds. This is because carotenoids are fat-soluble meaning they’re absorbed into the body along with the fats.

More good news about tomatoes is that they’re a very good source of potassium, and niacin. Niacin has been used for years as a safe way to lower high cholesterol levels, and diets rich in potassium have been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. In addition to this lycopene may also provide some protection against heart disease. In a study conducted in Boston of 40,000 middle aged and older woman who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer when the study began. During more then 7 years of follow up those who consumed 7-10 servings each week of lycopene rich foods were found to have a 29% reduced risk of cardiovascular disease compared to woman eating less then 1.5 servings of tomato products weekly.

Another study conducted in Europe and published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that when a group of 12 healthy woman ate enough tomato products to provide them with 8mg of lycopene daily for a period of three weeks their LDL cholesterol was much less susceptible to free radical oxidation. A second study of 21 healthy individuals published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that a high dietary intake of tomato products significantly reduced total LDL cholesterol levels while also increasing LDL’s resistance to oxidation.

A study conducted in Australia and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that when 20 people with type 2 diabetes and no history of blood clotting problems were given 8 oz of tomato juice daily, after just 3 weeks platelet aggregation (the clumping together of blood cells) was significantly reduced. While of special benefit for those with type 2 diabetes who are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, the blood thinning effects of tomato juice are noteworthy for anyone at higher risk of blood clot formation, however be sure to choose low-sodium unsweetened or naturally sweetened tomato juice.

Lycopene has also been shown to improve the skin’s ability to protect against harmful UV rays.

So there you have it, tomatoes are a wonderfully rich source of antioxidant and phytonutrient protection. In addition to everything else they’re also a fantastic source of vitamin C, A, and K, so load up on those tomatoes and don’t forget to eat them both raw, and cooked.


















Preparation

I love tomatoes! I love them raw diced into salads, sliced on sandwiches and wraps. I love them in cooked or fresh salsa’s. I love them on pizza in pasta, I love them in pasta and pizza sauce. I love them in curry, in soup. I love them broiled, grilled, sauteed, roasted. I love them in chili, in casseroles, on tacos, . You name it and you can pretty much put a tomato in it or on it, in my opinion. They’re even wonderful on their own, sliced thin, drizzled with a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and dusted with a tiny bit of sea salt and black pepper. Be creative, and as always...

Happy and Healthy Eating to you!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Watercress, Tomato and Avocado Sandwich with Smokey Garlic Mayo


















Since my unexpected success with my super simple dill mao I’ve been rather interested in concocting other interesting mayo flavors to pair with interesting yet easy sandwiches that can be thrown together for a quick bite to eat. This particular sandwich came about out of sheer necessity. I had an avocado and a bunch of watercress sitting in my fridge begging to be used. Even though I’m not too familiar with watercress (I actually only tried it for the first time this month! Wow, that’s a little embarrassing to admit actually.) I thought it’s peppery, parsley reminiscent bite would pair well with smooth and creamy avocado. Of course tomato and avocado are a match made by Hera, so that was a no-brainer. Developing the mayo however took a little brainpower but eventually I came to the realization that you can never go wrong with garlic and a bit of smokiness, especially where tomatoes and avocados are concerned, and I was right.

This sandwich was the perfect lunch, filling, cooling and refreshing in the face of this ridiculous heat wave we’ve been having. All the components paired beautifully together. The best part of course is that it’s super quick and easy to throw together, and you can pair it with some veggie chips, fresh fruit, fresh raw veggie sticks or my Sweet Cajun Plantains as I did here.


















Watercress, Tomato and Avocado Sandwich with Smokey Garlic Mayo

1 handful watercress
4-5 slices tomato about 1 small-medium
4-6 slices avocado (or to taste, about half to one avocado)
2 slices whole wheat bread
pinch of white pepper
Smokey Garlic Mayo
1 ½ tbsp mayo (I used Earth Balance Mindful Mayo)
1 heaping 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
dash of black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder

- Toast your bread till lightly golden.

- While bread is toasting you can slice your vegetables and make your mayo. To make mayo all you have to do is combine your favorite non-dairy may with the your spices in a bowl, and mix until smooth and everything has been incorporated.

- The best way that I’ve found to slice and peel an avocado. Is to just take a knife and cut down lengthwise all the way around the circumference of the avocado. Then twist and the two halves will come apart, then you can easily remove the peel and the pit, then slice the avocado into nice strips.

- When your bread, your veggies and your mayo are all ready, slather mayo onto one slice of bread, pile with tomatoes, a sprinkle of white pepper, watercress and then avocado. If you like you can slather your second slice of bread with the remaining mayo (I did, I also used the whole avocado, because I’m not the type to worry about such things) and press on top.

- Slice your sandwich in half, and enjoy with your favorite light summer side dish, and a glass of Iced Ginger Lime Green Tea, or Cranberry Lemonade.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mighty Green Pasta with Garlic Scapes and Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce...


















You’ll have to excuse the poor quality of the pictures, the lighting in my kitchen at anytime of day is not very good, not ‘photographer’ good anyway, and it’s particularly bad at night. On top of that, on the particular day that I made this recipe I was cooking for a guest, and because the hour was growing late I was in something of a hurry to take the photograph. Don’t let the poor photo quality deter you in any way from trying this dish though, trust me when I say it’s phenomenal. It far exceeded even my wildest expectations.

Now, a note about Garlic Scapes, they are a revelation! I can’t believe I’ve never eaten them before! Now, if you’re like me, and not very familiar with Garlic Scapes, it’s very simple. All they are is the green shoots that grow out of the garlic bulb. In order for the bulb to grow into maturity the scapes have to be removed. Usually they were just tossed away into the garbage or compost, but it seems that some ingenious person decided, "Hey, why don’t I cook them?" and that set the foodie world on fire, as garlic scapes are now quite the in and trendy thing to cook with. Garlic Scape pesto in particular seems to be the hot new dish making the rounds, but since I don’t care much for food fashion or food trends, and I generally approach the foodie elite with scorn and much eye rolling I chose to do something else with them.


















Look at all those beautiful Scapes!

Originally I bought the scapes for a soup I planned to make using a recipe from "Super Natural Cooking" however as I didn’t have the recipe on hand I bought six bunches of scapes just to cover my bases. Turns out I only needed three for the soup, and so the other three I decided to stir-fry with various other green vegetables and toss with pasta. It was a wonderful combination, as the scapes have a texture similar to asparagus, and a flavor like mild garlic. Mixed with Lemon and Dill it was a winning combination.


















Mighty Green Pasta with Garlic Scapes

1 lb Whole Wheat Spaghetti
2 Tbsp Earth Balance Coconut Butter or non-dairy butter or olive oil (optional)

3 Bunches Garlic scapes (Roughly 24 scapes)
1-2 heads Broccoli chopped into florets (or more to taste)
Roughly ½ lb Shaved Asparagus
½ Yellow Onion cut into half-moons
2-3 large handfuls baby Spinach
1 tsp olive oil

Creamy Lemon Dill Sauce

7 tbsp olive Oil
Half a large bunch of fresh Dill
5 tbsp Lemon Juice (or to taste)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp agave nectar
1-2 cloves garlic
4-5 sprigs fresh Oregano (or more to taste)
1/4 C Mellow White Miso
water to thin as needed
Black pepper and Sea Salt to taste

- Fill a pot with water and set in on the stove to boil. Once boiling cook pasta as directed by package.

- In the meantime trim all the flowers or buds from your garlic scapes. You really only want to use the firm part of the scapes, the bud and the thin wispy curl beyond it you can discard. Once trimmed, cut your scapes in 2-3 inch pieces.

- In a pan heat your tsp of olive oil, add your sliced onions and garlic scapes and cook for 5-10 minutes on medium until onions are translucent and scapes are soft.

- While onions and scapes are sauteeing in oil shave your asparagus. This is a very easy thing to do. All you need is a vegetable peeler. Peel thin strips off of your asparagus spears until you’re only left with the asparagus tops and some nubs. I recommend keeping the nubs and top pieces and tossing them in at this point to soften up a bit.

- Once onions and garlic scapes are softened add in your broccoli florets and saute for another 5-7 minutes until broccoli has softened and turned a bright green. You want to get the broccoli in that perfect stage of doneness. A little crisp but not overly crunchy, so keep an eye on it and keep testing.

- Once Broccoli is softened, reduce heat slightly and add in both the shaved asparagus and spinach. Stirring them both in until the spinach has wilted slightly. Remove from heat.

- By now your pasta should be done, drain it, and return it to the pot with 2 tbsp of Earth Balance Coconut Butter or your favorite non-dairy butter, or oil. (Optional of course) Stir to combine and add in your pan of mixed vegetables. Stirring again until combined.

- To make your sauce, add all of your ingredients into a food processor or high speed blender. (Food processor works great for this so a Vitamix isn’t necessary for those of you who don’t have one) pulse, or blend until sauce is creamy and smooth. Taste for flavor, tartness, and spices and adjust as needed. Then pour the sauce into your pot of pasta and veggies, stir well until all pasta and veg are coated and sauce is well combined. Then distribute amongst plates or bowls and enjoy, perhaps with a small side salad, or a slice of crusty garlic bread. Though it’s entirely suitable on it’s own as well.


















*** Note- Garlic Scapes are apparently only available for a shot time each year, between June and July, so if you can’t find them you could always substitute with some additional chopped asparagus in addition to the shaved, some whole green onions, and a few garlic cloves. ***

P.S. Apologies to my good friend C.S, for I promised to post this recipe for you weeks ago and I never did. Better late then never though I suppose right? Peace/Love.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Dangers of Dairy - Why It’s Bad for Our Health from Heart Disease to Cancer, and Beyond...

 ***Note - Because I’m currently living in the United States facts, figures and statements about the dairy industry or various government agencies will be primarily limited to those operating in the United States, unless otherwise stated. However it’s my understanding that dairy industries in several other countries run similarly, and considering that the arms of the United States dairy industry have begun to reach farther then the boarders of the United States itself, some of these things might be good to keep in mind. It might also be incredibly beneficial for anyone reading outside of the U.S. to do your own research about how the dairy industries in your country influences and dictates both public opinion and government policy.***

The Dangers of Dairy - Why It’s Bad for Our Health from Heart Disease to Cancer, and Beyond...

Since my Post about protein I’ve wanted to do a sort of follow up about dairy, however where to begin in dispelling the myths so heavily perpetrated by the Dairy Industry is a difficult one. Though there are many different aspects to the Dairy industry, and many things that can be said for each, this post will primarily be dealing with the health risks and consequences of consuming dairy products. More and more through my contact and conversations with people, I’ve come to realize just how important addressing these issues is. Most of us don’t understand that consuming dairy is a problem, let alone why it’s a problem or just how big a problem it is. We can understand things like trans fat, saturated fat, and chemical additives even if we choose to ignore them, but few of us deem to dig deeper into the biochemistry of our food. Rather then discern the truth for ourselves we’ve blindly and willingly let our minds become flooded and confused by the cleverly worded ‘information’ of the billion dollar marketing and add campaigns funded by the very same people who have the most to gain off of our laziness and ignorance.

The number of people who unquestioningly believe and repeat the lies generated by the dairy industry astounds me. Especially considering these myths have been debunked time and time again, by various scientists, doctors, educators, authors and activists. What shocks me even more is those same people’s disbelief, and doubt when faced with the cold hard facts presented by these doctors, researchers and scientists on the subject. I’d like to point out here that The Dairy Industry is a business - like any business - it’s a rich and powerful industry, with large lobbies in Washington D.C. and huge influence on the government. The dairy industry has everything to gain when they encourage you to drink more milk, or eat more cheese. Every penny of that carton of milk you buy or that block of cheddar you purchase goes right into The Dairy Industry’s pocket. It is in their best interest to keep you buying, and to encourage you to buy more, even when you don’t need or want it, even at the risk of your own health. However when your doctor, a scientist or a researcher tells you that eating too much cheese, or drinking too much milk has negative and even fatal consequences on your health, they gain nothing. Subsequently I gain nothing from presenting this post for you. I’m not being paid for it, I’m not generating income for it, none of your hard earned pennies are going into my pocket. I’m writing this post simply because it saddens me to see people dying and becoming ill from preventable disease. It also saddens me to see people so mislead, so disastrously duped and lied to, and cheated. Particularly when those who are doing the lying are the very people who are meant to be keeping us safe. As a compassionate person I want to do everything I can to limit the suffering of others. So if these words help you in any minuscule way, then I am grateful.

We as a culture have been indoctrinated from birth to believe that milk is everything from "Natures most natural food" to "A Miracle Health Food" to "A Vital necessity of everyday life" Think back to the commercials of your childhood where happy families sat around a breakfast table drinking full perspiring glasses of glossy white liquid, as they pour more from a bulging jug onto their breakfast cereal. Think of the 1950's aproned mom with curlers in her hair and her "Leave it to Beaver" attitude, chortling to her children that milk will make them strong and healthy. Think of the Got Milk? Adds of the 90's, with beautiful half clothed celebrities wearing foamy frothy milk mustaches, over their enticing smiles. All of these different adds and marketing ploys have two things in common. The first is that they’re bought and paid for by the tremendously rich dairy industry, and second, each one of these adds is selling you a lie. So what, you may ask, exactly is the problem with dairy? Let me tell you.

First we should start at the beginning, with Milk. What is milk? Milk is simply the mammary secretion produced during and after the pregnancy of all lactating female human and non human animals. Most people don’t think of milk in such terms, but that’s the honest truth. Any female mammal capable of reproduction, can and does produce milk. Whether that female is a human female, a Bison female, a Rabbit Female, a Rat Female, a Panda Female or a Gorilla Female, all female mammals produce lactation fluid (milk). However, considering that this post is primarily about the dairy industry, and the dairy industry consists mainly of cows, (Though goats, and now sheep are certainly becoming a bit more common here in the west) I will be using the term ‘milk’ to specifically relate to cow’s milk.

So now that we know what milk is, what is the problem? There are many, but I think I’d be doing you a great disservice if I didn’t start with the most serious and most troubling.

Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. rBGH is a powerful genetically engineered drug produced by Monsanto. (A company entirely deserving of it’s own post, perhaps in the near future.) This drug when injected into dairy cows forces them to produce up to 25% more milk then they would naturally. Unfortunately not only does rBGH provoke this reaction in cows, but several studies have shown accelerated tumor and cancer growth in lab animals that were fed diets high in rBGH milk and other dairy products. In fact in 1998 Canadian Government Scientists revealed that Monsanto’s own research and data (Carefully concealed by both the company and the FDA) on feeding rBGH to rats indicated cancer danger to humans. Since 1994 every industrialized country in the World, except for the U.S. has banned the use of rBGH. In addition to this researchers from the Cancer Prevention Coalition have found that milk from rBGH cows contains substantially higher amounts of a powerful cancer tumor promoter IGI-1 (more about this hormone below) It was also discovered that rBGH milk contained higher levels of pus, bacteria, and antibiotics. If that weren’t enough it’s also been shown that neither rBGH or IGI-1 are destroyed during the pasteurization process. Yet despite the vast warnings and overwhelming disapproval expressed by the health community the FDA voted not only to approve the drug without any further testing but vetoed any bill that would force companies to include rBGH on their product labels. You may be asking yourselves how could, or why would the FDA approve a drug that was found to have such negative consequences? The simple answer is corruption and an extreme conflict of interest. As several key FDA decision makers had either previously worked for or currently worked for Monsanto at the time.

As if that weren’t enough, right? A survey conducted in 1998 by Family Farm Defenders found that rBGH injected cows living on factory dairy farms in Wisconsin had a life span of only two and a half years, when A cows natural life span can be as much as 25 years. Personally I feel that this in itself is enough proof of the negative consequences of the drug. I mean think about it, if rBGH can shorten a cows natural life span by 22 and a half years, what’s it doing to us?

Currently more then a quarter of U.S. Factory Farmed dairy cows are routinely injected with rBGH. Unfortunately rBGH contamination is more widespread then that because most of the nations 1500 dairy companies are allowing the co-mingling of rBGH milk with non-rBGH milk. Thereby contaminating up to 80-90% of the nations dairy supply with rBGH. (Including all major infant formula brands) Meanwhile cows treated with rBGH have a 25% increase in painful Udder infections (Mastitis) and a 50% increase in Lameness. To counter these health problems the cows are routinely injected with more and more antibiotics, at higher and higher doses. Which means 80-90% of the milk on the market is contaminated with a combination of rBGH, higher levels of IGI-1, higher levels of various antibiotics, bacteria, pus, blood, and feces. It sure sounds delicious, nutritious and natural to me!

So that’s rBGH, and there are tons of studies you can look up for yourself, if you’re interested in more information. Numerous research has been conducted, and I highly recommend that you consult the data compiled specifically by those countries that have banned the use of rBGH. (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, All countries belonging to the European Union etc..) As much of the research compiled in the United States was bought and paid for by Monsanto (the company that developed the drug, also known as the people with the most to gain off of your ignorance.)

Now you may read all that about rBGH and think, okay well it doesn’t apply to me because I live in one of the countries that has banned rBGH. Or if you are in the U.S. you’ll think to yourself, okay I’ll just buy Organic milk from now on. It’s true that Organic Milk (as of this moment) does not contain rBGH, and some companies have even gone to great lengths to label their products rBGH free. (Despite being handed heavy lawsuits from Monsanto) but even organic milk, as well as non-rBGH milk in other countries contains IGI-1. In fact all milk, everywhere, from every lactating female mammal contains IGI-1. Including the breast milk ofhuman females. So now a little bit about it.

IGI-1 stands for Insulin-Like Growth Factor, and as the name suggests it stimulates growth. It’s sole purpose is to stimulate the growth in an infants (human or non human) body. The amount of IGI-1 produced by any lactating female depends entirely on what stage of pregnancy or breast feeding she is in. How much is produced is also determined by the species that female belongs to. Human breast milk contains significantly less IGI-1 then cows milk. Some studies have shown that Cow’s milk (those not injected with rBGH) can produce more then 4 times the amount of IGI-1 then that of a human females milk. While rBGH cows can produce more then 10 times the amount of IGI-1 then non rBGH injected cows. (To put things into a little bit of perspective) So again, a rBGH cow can produce 10x as much IGI-1 then a human female, while a non rBGH cow can produce as much as 4x the amount of IGI-1 then a human female.

The problem with IGI-1 is that not only does it encourage the growth of normal cell tissue which is necessary in infants consuming their mothers breast milk, but with prolonged consumption, especially at those high quantities found in cows milk it also stimulates the growth of many cancers. Particularly breast cancer. Researchers have found that mixing IGI-1 with cancer cells in a test tube, caused the cancer cells to multiply. Studies have also shown that men with the highest levels of IGI-1 in their bodies had more then 4 times the risk of prostate cancer then men with the lowest levels of IGI-1. As stated above IGI-1 is not destroyed by pasteurization. It’s also not broken down by the digestion process as it was once thought. Research suggests that IGI-1 may be carried intact, passing from the digestive tract into the blood stream and even directly into the breast tissue of woman.

Human exposure to IGI-1 through human breast milk is at a smaller dosage and further limited by the fact that most humans are weaned from their mothers breast milk anywhere between the age of 1and 4. If after being weaned from your own mothers milk, you continue to supplement your diet with cow’s milk you are not only prolonging your consumption of IGI-1 but you’re also consuming more of it then you would from naturally drinking human milk. As stated above, non rBGH cows produce more then 4 times the amount of IGI-1 that human females produce, and rBGH injected cows can produce more then 10 times the amount of IGI-1 than non rBGH cows.

Humans, in fact all creatures are not designed by nature to continue consuming their species or any other species milk after weaning. Our own physiology supports this as fact. By the age of five our bodies stop producing the enzyme lactase, which is responsible for breaking down the lactose. (Milk sugar) found in milk. It’s because of this that the majority of the world is lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is more common then most people think, effecting 95% of Asians, 74% of Native Americans/First Nations (Canada), 70% of Africans, 53% of Hispanics, and 15% of Caucasians (Although many people don’t even realize they are lactose intolerant so this number may actually be higher) Such widespread lactose intolerance in my opinion is just another poignant example of nature telling us we shouldn’t continue to drink milk after weaning. Humans in fact are the only species on the planet that continue to consume milk into adulthood. Humans are also the only species on the planet who seek out the milk of other species. There isn’t another species of animal alive or dead that continues to seek out it’s mothers milk once being weaned, or for that matter the milk of any other creature. Think about it, have you ever seen an adult cow sucking on the teat of another cow? Have you ever seen an adult cat sucking on the teat of a dog? No! It doesn’t happen, because after an infant is weaned, lactation fluid (milk) becomes an un-necessary, un-important substance for every creature on earth.

Now that we’ve covered both rBGH and IGI-1 lets move onto Casein. Casein is a protein found in all milk and milk products regardless of weather or not they are conventional or Organic. It’s a naturally occurring substance in cow’s milk, the problem is that this animal protein has been extensively linked with cancer. Casein makes up 80-85% of the protein found in cows milk, (Whey makes up the other 15-20%) and has been shown to promote cancer growth in all stages of it’s development. The link between casein and cancer is well documented, particularly in the book "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell. It’s so profound in fact that scientists can literally turn cancer growth on and off like a light switch in laboratory animals by altering the levels of casein in their diet. It was also found that feeding laboratory animals the same levels of gluten and soy did not promote any cancer growth at all.

Casein has been labeled a carcinogen, and is the number 1 carcinogen that people come into contact with on a daily or semi-daily basis. Every time you ingest milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, milk based chocolate, butter, or any other foods containing milk, or milk protein you are ingesting casein. Again it makes no difference if you are eating or drinking organic or non organic dairy products, casein is in both. Also just as an FYI here, cheese holds the highest concentration of casein then any other dairy product. This has a lot to do with how cheese is produced. To understand this better I’ll give a brief explanation. Cheese is made by curdling milk. Once the milk is curdled you have two separate substances solid and liquid. The solid is the curd, or rather the casein. The liquid is the whey. Cheese is made by using the curd. Therefore cheese no matter how you slice it, is made up of about 90% casein. That delicious cheddar you’re munching on right now is 90% carcinogenic. That combined with the fact that cheese is high in fat and is known to raise cholesterol, blood pressure, contribute to heart disease and clogged arteries, as well as be a contributing factor in obesity, you’d probably be better off sucking back on your car’s exhaust pipe.

Estrogen is yet another concern, especially for woman. Particularly those who have had breast cancer in the past, currently have it or who have a family history of it. As Cows have to be pregnant in order to produce milk. -Contrary to the popular belief that cows continually produce milk year round for no apparent reason. Cows like humans, and indeed any female mammal need to be pregnant in order to produce milk. A cow who is not pregnant, as a human who is not pregnant will not produce milk. Also contrary to popular belief cows never need to be milked, just as a human female does not need to be milked. - Pregnancy in any human or non-human animal produces more estrogen. High levels of estrogen are then found in the milk, and this is problematic for woman because it’s been well documented that excess estrogen causes breast cancer cells to multiply. This is why doctors avoid prescribing estrogen supplements to cancer patients while drugs that counter estrogen’s actions such as tamoxifen remain hugely important in breast cancer treatment. Another FYI here but fat in milk, just like the fat in any food rapidly causes excess estrogen to be produced in a woman’s body.

I consider these factors to be the most severe when considering dairy, but there are many other health risks associated with high consumption of dairy and other animal based fats and proteins. Type 1 Diabetes, obesity and Cardiovascular Disease being chief amongst them. Dairy products also contain significant amounts of saturated fat, and cholesterol, both of which are major factors in development of cardiovascular disease. Limiting or excluding intake of dairy products can not only prevent cardiovascular disease but may actually reverse it, as some studies have suggested. Milk is also surprisingly rather high in sugar, whether that is natural, or it’s added in afterwards I’m not 100% sure on. But if you read the labels on milk products vs. non-dairy milk products you’ll see a massive difference between them. For example there are 12g of sugar per one cup of my mother-in-law’s 2% milk compared to the 1g of sugar per one cup of my unsweetened almond milk, or 7g of sugar per one cup of my ‘original’ flavored soy milk.

Milk is also touted as preventing osteoporosis, but recent research shows otherwise. The Harvard Nurses health Study which fallowed 75 000 woman for 12 years showed no protective effect of increased milk consumption on fracture risk. In fact higher consumption of calcium from dairy products was associated with higher fracture risk. A separate Australian study also came to the same conclusion. The reason for this is because all animal protein leaches calcium away from our bones. Milk, like all animal proteins acidifies the bodies PH level, and this rise in acidity triggers the body to correct the problem. Calcium interestingly is an excellent acid neutralizer, and the biggest storage of calcium of course can be found in the bones, so when we eat animal based products, including consuming cow’s milk, the calcium is pulled out of our bones to counter the acidity that, that consumption brings to our bodies. Once the acidity has been neutralized, the calcium that’s been sucked out of our bones to do the job is then excreted through our urine. Leaving us with a calcium deficit, rather then a calcium storage. That’s why you see statistics showing that the countries with the lowest amount of dairy milk consumption have the lowest risk of osteoporosis, and bone fracture, while countries with the highest consumption of dairy milk, have the highest levels of osteoporosis and bone fracture.

Now I know a lot of people who say they could never give up dairy, they could never give up cheese. I know how that feels, because I felt like that once myself, and I’d like to point out that there’s a very real and valid reason for that. Recent research shows that there is indeed such a thing as cheese or dairy addiction. The reason why people find cheese so addictive, or the reason why people have difficulty letting go of milk, is because of the casomorphins that are found in dairy products. Casomorphins are opiates found in cows milk (or rather the milk of any lactating human or non human female, in differing degrees) Speaking in evolutionary terms these opiates present in milk, are there to provide a positive association between the calf and it’s mother. (Or the human baby and it’s human mother) this positive association strengthens the mother/child bond, and also these opiates make the calf or the child in question docile while feeding. Another aspect of the opiates is that the calf or child becomes slightly addicted to it’s mothers milk. This is very important because one of the largest growth spurts any human or non human animal goes through is during the time of breast feeding. You may start with a 6 pound baby, who by the time they’re weaned can be up to 25-40 pounds. The same goes for the growth spurt of a calf during it’s breast feeding. You start with a 100 pound calf and by the time it’s weaned it can have grown to 8 times that size. This is important historically not only in animal evolution but human evolution as well. As a larger, stronger, more sturdy child or mammal has a better chance of survival, particularly before the advent of modern medicine. Unfortunately what this also means for humans who continue to consume milk, cheese and other dairy products after weaning is that we can very seriously become addict to these foods. The opiates present in cheese may not be as strong as those present in a shot of heroine, or a line of cocaine, and the side effects might not be as severe, but if you’ve ever been or known a cheese addict then you know what I’m talking about. Addiction to cheese, as funny as it sounds, is real, and scientifically founded. Subsequently as already noted here as well as many, many other places, high intake of dairy can be just as devastating to one’s health as any other addictive substance.

Those are the facts about dairy, and I strongly encourage you to do your own research. Dairy is not a health food, it’s a commodity that’s been marketed and sold by the dairy industry for decades. The dairy industry is rich and powerful, and it’s arms spread far and wide. Their influence on us (The consumer) starts at a very early age, we’re indoctrinated from birth to believe in the goodness of dairy. To the point where the dairy industry even provides ‘educational material’ on diary products to public schools. We are taught very early on that we’re ‘suppose’ to consume cow’s milk, and despite everything in nature that points to the contrary, this has become a very powerfully ingrained habit, but habits can be broken, and bad ones most certainly should be. This idea that dairy is good for us is so powerful that most of us don’t ever question it or give it a second thought, but I urge you to do so. Consider for a moment all that is gained by the industry when you buy that carton of milk or that block of cheese, and consider also all that you have to loose by purchasing that same item.

After reading all of this, you may be wondering, So what do I do? Where do I get my nutrients? Where do I get my calcium? How do I protect my bones? Etc.... Because the dairy industry has been so successful in it’s use of propaganda, that many people have little to no idea where their nutrients really come from, or how they can attain them without the aid of cows milk.

So to help you, let’s break it down simply. What is Calcium? It’s a mineral, and all minerals are found in the ground. Historically cows milk was found to have such high calcium content because cows eat grass, and grass has tons of calcium. Therefore because of the cow’s diet, the cow’s milk was rich in this mineral. However due to the introduction of factory farming, (both meat and dairy factory farming) 3 out of 4 cows don’t even graze on grass. The majority of cows kept as dairy cows are kept in barns or dirt lots and never see a blade of grass in their lives. These cows are fed grain, and because that grain is lacking in essential nutrients and minerals their feed has to be supplemented and fortified with calcium and other important nutrients. Personally I find the idea of supplementing a cow’s diet with calcium so that we can get that calcium through drinking milk is beyond ridiculous. What’s the point of this? I can easily supplement my own diet with calcium by eating calcium rich foods like leafy greens or drinking soy milk that’s high in calcium. We don’t need the middle man. Of course Grass-Fed Dairy will contain calcium that isn’t supplemented, but then I’ve already mentioned the dangers of dairy products above.

If you want to give up dairy but are worried about calcium, your absolute best source of it is sesame seeds and leafy greens. Think spinach, think kale, chard, collards, broccoli, Brussel’s Sprouts. You can also find calcium in white beans, and almonds. You can even buy calcium fortified tofu and soy, rice, almond, hemp, hazelnut, and oat milks that have been fortified with calcium if you’re really worried and these same non-dairy milks have the added bonus of usually coming fortified with vitamin D. Or you can simply take a daily multi-vitamin. However I strongly recommend you get your calcium from whole plant foods like leafy greens, as we were meant to do, but a daily multi-vitamin is certainly good insurance in addition to that.

Something else I find fascinating that I thought relevant to add here is that our culture considers things like Soy, Rice and Nut milks to be the ‘alternatives’ to cow’s milk, when in fact cow’s milk is actually the alternative to these non-dairy milks. Though cattle were domesticated sometime between 8000-10 000 years ago, milk production was not a common practice. (Due to cost, access, ability, and quick spoilage) Where as Soy milk was discovered in China in 164 B.C. and then transplanted to Japan. Almond milk was used extensively and almost exclusively throughout the Mediterranean, the Middle East, North Africa and West Asia for thousands of years. Mainly because almond trees grow in abundance in that region but also because almond milk keeps for much longer then cow’s milk, and it’s entirely plant composition made it suitable for consumption during lent and other fasting days. Almond milk was a staple in every kitchen in the middle ages. While Rice Milk, or more accurately Horchata (Rice milk blended with vanilla and cinnamon) was developed in Spain in the 13th century, and was then transplanted to Mexico through colonization. Cow’s milk really did not increase in popularity until the early 1900's, and it’s use did not become widespread until the age of household refrigeration in the 30's and 40's.

In addition to non-dairy milks being delicious it should be noted that they’re packed full of healthful benefits and have no saturated fat or cholesterol. (Except coconut milk which is high in both, but that’s another story) they also contain fiber which dairy milk does not, and as already stated they can be fortified with calcium, if that’s a concern for you.

So in closing I would like to remind you that Cow’s milk as well as other dairy products are not a necessary part of a healthy human diet. It’s historically, biologically, and scientifically proven. Dairy is a business, a big business that means a lot of money for corporations and conglomerates. They have everything to loose if you stop buying into their hype, and everything to gain if you continue to blindly digest their propaganda. For you on the other hand it’s the opposite, you have everything to loose if you continue to believe in them, and everything to gain if you decide to open your eyes to the truth. Keep in mind that companies care about profits not people, and the dairy industry is no different. So for your own health as well as the health of your children I urge you to do what you can to limit or eliminate dairy from your diets. Your lives will be the better for it I promise you, and there’s nothing like expanding the horizons of your palate, or the possibilities of your plate.

PS: There are many other reasons why not to support the dairy industry, mainly those related to the cruelty dairy cows face on a day to day basis. However that is a subject for another post, one I hope to write in the coming months so if that topic interests you stay tuned.

P.P.S: For more information on this topic I highly suggest checking out the books "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell, "The Food Revolution" by John Robbins, "Vegan Freak"by Bob and Jenna Torres, "Skinny Bitch" by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (Ignore the ridiculous title because this book is full of good information) "Whitewash: The Truth About Cow’s Milk and Your Health" Joseph Keon PH.D Also check out the websites connected with these authors for further information, as well as vegetarian podcasts such as "Vegan Freak Podcast" by Bob and Jenna Torres, and "The Vegetarian Food for Thought Podcast" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. Any Vegan cookbook generally contains a section on this topic as well such as Alicia Silverstone’s "The Kind Diet"
***Disclaimer - I realize that cancer may not be 100% preventable no matter what you do, but my philosophy is that we should do as much as possible to prevent it. Therefore if you know for a fact that something causes cancer, eliminate it from your life.***

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Lemon Herb Sauce....


















It sure is hot today, the heat advisory says it could reach anywhere from 105'F (40.5'C) to 110'F (43.3'C), right now it’s about 101'F (38.3'C). If it were to reach 110'F that would be record breaking for the Midwest! And yet there are still people out there who deny the existence of climate change, and the rise in extreme weather patterns. It boggles the mind! But that’s another post altogether, today I wanted to share a simple yet delicious recipe. Yesterday was slightly cooler with a high of 100'F (37.7'C) and the kind of balmy humidity that could suffocate a person. Heat I can do, but humidity kills me. Having grown up in a relatively temperate climate I just can’t get used to the stagnant, sizzling summers of the Midwest. During these extreme heat waves even though I live in a house where I’m privileged enough to have air-conditioning I just can’t justify using the stove top or the oven, not at least for very long. In this kind of blistering heat I don’t even want to eat cooked food most of the time, or if I do want to, I don’t want it to be piping hot. This is the kind of weather that brings a lot of fresh fruit to my plate, and a lot of salads, sandwiches, living foods, lightly steamed foods, and grilled foods.

Yesterday I found myself craving a grilled vegetable sandwich, and some potato salad, and so I whipped this sandwich up to go alongside the Spicy Blue Potato and Corn salad from Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s fantastic book "Appetite for Reduction" Seriously if you do not yet own this book, it is a must have, and if you ever see blue potatoes they too are a must have! Delicious, but the sandwich. At first I wasn’t sure, but after my husband and I messily devoured our overstuffed sandwiches, juice and sauce dripping down our arms I can happily and confidently declare this sandwich a roaring success! The Lemon Herb Sauce was pretty damn delicious as well!


















Grilled Vegetable Sandwich with Lemon Herb Sauce

2 Red Peppers Sliced in half and seeded
1 Zucchini ends removed and cut in half width wise. Then each slice, sliced into four lengthwise pieces (You can peel them if you like, but if you’re using organic there is no need)
1 Medium sized Yellow Onion sliced into thick rings
6 Medium sized Cremini Mushrooms, rinsed, dried and stems removed
1 Tomato sliced
Lettuce (Iceberg, Romaine or whatever you have)
Pickles (optional)
2 Long Whole Wheat rolls

2 tbsp Olive oil
1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp Oregano
½ ish tsp crushed Rosemary

1 Batch Lemon Herb Sauce (recipe follows)

- Place your prepared Peppers, Zucchini, and Mushrooms in a sealable container, and drizzle overtop the olive oil, vinegar, oregano and rosemary. Seal container and shake well for about 1 minute until all vegetables are coated. Then leave to rest and soak up the flavor for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. (During that time you can slice the rest of your ingredients, pre-heat your grill, slice your buns, set the table, and make the Lemon Herb Sauce.)

- Take your marinated vegetables along with your un-marinated onions out to your grill. Place your vegetables on the hot grill, peppers skin side down, the rest it doesn’t matter. Grill for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat, flipping once. You know the vegetables are done when you start to see those nice grill marks appearing. The onions and the peppers may take 2-3 minutes longer. Peppers are done when skins are black.

- Remove your vegetables from the grill, and place on a serving platter along with tomato and lettuce. Remove red peppers to a separate bowl and place in the freezer for a couple of minutes until they are cool enough to handle. Once able to handle them remove the charred blackened skins, then slice each pepper half in half again and place onto the serving plate.

- To assemble sandwich spread a layer of lemon herb sauce over one half of your bun, then layer on the red pepper, zucchini, onion, tomato, lettuce, and mushrooms. Drizzle with additional sauce if desired, or spread sauce over other side of bun. (If not using sauce feel free to use any combination of condiments from non-dairy mayo, to mustard, to bbq sauce. Or use the lemon herb sauce with a combination of those as well)

Enjoy, paired with a nice green salad, a potato salad, or some baked sweet potato fries or my sweet Cajun Plantains. The sandwiches are a bit messy I’ll admit, but they are sooo worth it. My husband and I were extremely blissful as we munched away.


















Lemon Herb Sauce

1/4 cup packed dill
1/4 cup packed basil
juice of 2 lemons
2-3 tbsp white miso (to taste)
2-4 tbsp olive oil (to taste)
1-2 tsp agave (to taste)
water as needed (to dilute, to taste)
1-2 garlic cloves
sea salt and black pepper to taste

- Place lemon juice, 1 tbsp white miso, 1 tsp agave, garlic cloves, 2 tbsp olive oil, and fresh herbs in highspeed blender and blend on high until everything is well combined. Taste for seasoning, add black pepper and sea salt.

*** Note - The lemon flavor might be very strong at this point, which is why most of the seasonings are to taste. If you’re looking for a less tart flavor add in remaining olive oil, miso, agave, and a several tbsp of water to dilute and mellow out the sauce. Even with the additional ingredients you might think it a bit tart, but it really does pair beautifully with the grilled vegetables, so give it a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.***

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Iced Green Tea with a Ginger Lime Twist...


















I am without a doubt an extreme tea enthusiast. In my collection I must have at least 50 different kinds of tea, from all sorts of places. I usually prefer herbal infusions as I try and stay away from consuming too much caffeine, but I do love myself a good cup of white tea, and the occasional green or black tea too.

Growing up I loved Iced Tea, it was in fact the only way I ever drank tea. Something interesting a lot of people don’t know, (Something I certainly didn’t know before I first visited the United States, and something people I know here are still confused by and don’t understand) is that iced tea in Canada, is vastly different from iced tea in the United States (and probably most countries) In Canada Iced Tea is always sweetened, and flavored with lemon, unsweetened iced tea is virtually unheard of (except for maybe in a handful of restaurants) It doesn’t matter if you buy the iced at a fast food restaurant, you buy it bottled or canned in the store, or you get it somewhere else it will almost always be sweetened and lemon flavored unless you’re specifically buying say a peached iced tea or something like that. The most common way iced tea is made in Canada, is by mixing a powder into a glass of water. The powder contains a lot of sugar, lemon flavor, and I’m assuming either powdered tea or tea extract. This is how iced tea is made and bought and sold in Canada, people for the most part don’t brew tea as you would traditionally and then pour it over ice with a bit of sugar and a squeeze of lemon mixed in. They buy the iced tea powder that is marketed by various companies. Lipton, Nestea etc... I would say in everyone of these powdered mixes, the amount of sugar, lemon flavor, and other flavorings greatly exceed the actual amount of tea in the drink, but that’s how it’s done. So imagine my surprise when I ordered my first iced tea in America and got asked "Sweetened or unsweetened?" Huh?

We’ll I’ve certainly come a long way since then. I love all kinds of teas, lightly sweetened and unsweetened, and these days I definitely do prefer fresh brewed iced tea to the Canadian kind I grew up with, even if I may have the occasional taste for it, I generally find it much too sweet for me now. So what has this got to do with anything you ask? Well it’s a fun fact, but also it gives a little background on my latest recipe.

A couple of weeks ago I was in my favorite local tea shop, Argo Tea. I ordered a drink there that I’d never had before, some kind of iced green tea with ginger and lemon. I loved it, absolutely went bonkers for it. However since there is no Argo Tea that is close enough to frequent regularly I had to use my own creativity and brainpower to re-create this drink at home. I think it turned out rather well, a bit less sweet then the tea house version, with slightly less bite but it went down smooth and delicious, and it was very, very refreshing to drink a huge thermos of it after a long hike in this hot humid weather.


















Iced Green Tea with a Ginger Lime Twist,

4 bags Green Tea
4 C water

Juice of 3 limes
2-3 Tbsp sliced ginger (or to taste)
2-3 tbsp agave nectar (optional)
1/2C filtered water
3 packets stevia (optional)

- Boil enough water for 4 cups, and brew your green tea as directed on the package. Place in a teapot preferably one that contains a tea infuser basket.

- Place a thin metal sieve over a bowl, slice limes in half and squeeze juice out into the bowl. The sieve protects from any unwanted seeds or flesh getting into your juice. If you have an easier way to juice limes by all means use it.

- Slice 2-3 Tbsp’s worth of ginger, it doesn’t have to be super fine as you’re going to blend it anyway.

- Place lime juice, sliced ginger, and agave nectar into a high speed blender and blend for 30 seconds until everything is combined. Then pour into the teapot, making sure infuser basket is in place to catch any ginger filaments. You want your drink to be smooth and clear not milky and chunky.

- Add in your half cup of filtered water to dilute if necessary.

- Taste for sweetness and add Stevia or more agave nectar to taste.

Enjoy iced, with a nice lunch or dinner, or enjoy just by itself while outside in the yard reading a book. It’s also a very nice beverage to have after a long workout, run, bike ride or hike. Trust me on that.


















*** Note - This recipe is best when left to sit for at least a few hours, but for best results let it sit overnight, that way the flavors really mingle and mellow ***








Monday, July 18, 2011

Toasted Tomato Cucumber Sandwich with Dill Mayo and Sweet Cajun Plantains


















Today’s recipe(s) is super simple but also super delicious. It’s the perfect thing to whip up for a quick filling lunch or a light dinner. The best part is that it doesn’t have you slaving over a hot stove or grill in this agonizing heat. The sandwich is simple I know, using few ingredients, but it packs a flavorful punch. It’s very reminiscent of the toasted tomato mayo sandwiches I ate and loved during the summers of my childhood. Though grown this is still a meal I find myself craving at least a few times each summer season. Something about the texture, the toasted bread, the creamy mayo, and the cool refreshing tomato.... the sweet juicy taste of fresh vine-ripened tomato paired with black pepper... mmm... This version of course is slightly different then the Toasted tomato sandwich of my childhood, but no less delicious, more so in fact. Also back then my sandwich was usually paired with chips, fresh fruit or raw veggies. I highly recommend the fresh fruit and raw veggies but on this particular day I was feeling something slightly more decadent... sweet, fried plantains!

Revamped Toasted Tomato Cucumber Sandwich

2 Slices Whole Wheat Bread (lightly toasted)
4 Slices tomato
8 Thin slices cucumber
Fresh ground Black Pepper to taste (3-4 grinds of a pepper mill usually does the trick)
Pinch of White Pepper (Optional)
Dijon Mustard (Optional)
1 Batch Dill Mayo (Recipe Follows)

- Toast your bread till lightly golden. You don’t want it to be soft but you don’t want it to be super crunch either.

- Spread a thin layer of Dijon mustard over one slice if desired. Spread the Dill Mayo on the other slice of bread. Add cucumbers in an even layer over Dijon side of bread. Evenly layer over tomatoes, add your ground pepper and then place mayo slice of bread on top and cut in half if desired. Serve with fresh fruit, raw vegetables or Sweet Cajun Plantains (recipe Follows) like I did.

Dill Mayo

1 ½ Tbsp Vegan Mayo (My new Favorite is Earth Balance’s ‘Mindful Mayo’ original, SO GOOD!)
1-2 Tbsp fresh chopped Dill (or to taste) (I used 2 heaping tbsp)

- Place mayo and dill in a small bowl and whisk until well combined. May be a bit chunky depending on how much dill you use but that’s okay.


















Fried Sweet Cajun Plantains

*** Note - Now normally I don’t eat fried foods, but every once and a while I don’t think it hurts to indulge a little, and in all honestly frying plantains is my all-time favorite way to eat them. If you prefer you can bake the plantains in the oven as you would any type of potato fries, but it will take a lot longer then the frying method, making this dish slightly less ‘quick’ so keep that in mind.***

2 Ripe Plantains (The yellow kind with black spots)
½ - 1 Tsp your favorite Cajun Seasoning (or to taste)
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar (or less if desired)

- To Peel plantains cut the a tiny bit off each end and use your knife to score down the side of the skin. Deep enough to get through the peel but not deep enough to cut into the flesh of the plantaine. Remove the peel carefully like you would a banana peel.

- Pre-heat your deep fryer. (If you don’t have a deep fryer you can fry your plantains in a pan on the stove using any kind of vegetable oil. Enough to cover the pan and the plantains. Set burner to medium-high heat) Slice each plantains into rounds on the diagonal. When deep fryer is ready, (or oil in pan is hot enough) add your plantains to the oil and fry for about 5 minutes, or until plantains are a light to medium golden brown.

- Remove plantains from oil and place in a paper towel. You want to remove some but not all of the oil otherwise the seasoning mix won’t stick as good.

- Place plantains in a container that has a fitted or locking lid. Add to the plantains the sugar and Cajun seasoning. Then close the lid and shake well for roughly a minute until all plantains are well coated with seasoning.

- Dump out onto a plate alongside your sandwich and enjoy!


















PS: I thought since I was absent on both Saturday and Sunday it was only fair to give you more then one recipe today

Friday, July 15, 2011

Guest Post #2 - Vegetarianism: How Peter Parker Really Got His Powers?

7/16/11

Vegetarianism: How Peter Parker Really Got His Powers?

Hello, all! Once again, I thought I’d bring my perspectives as a new-ish vegetarian to you. As you can tell from my wife’s recipes, I have been eating very, very well. The vegan meals she comes up with have been incredibly delicious and I highly recommend everything she’s shared with you all. That goes double for the smoothies she’s written about. DELICIOUS!

Today, I thought I’d mention an interesting little thing I’ve noticed of late. Now, I can’t be 100% sure that what I’m about to share is due entirely to becoming a vegetarian/almost vegan but it’s the only real thing that I can think of that could explain this development, since nothing else in my life has changed. What I’ve noticed is that my reflexes (mainly my hand-eye coordination) have improved significantly over the past few months. That might not sound huge to you all, but to a klutz like myself, it’s pretty big.

I’ve noticed that if I knock something off of a shelf or a desk, I can almost always catch the item before it hits the ground.. Even if I can’t reach the knocked over product with my hands in time, I can usually place my foot under it in time to soften the landing. Pens, bottles, glasses, cups, keys, you name it, if it’s just laying around on a counter and I knock it off, I am now, almost always able to grab it out of the air. An ability I’ve never really had.

Another amazing example of this new found ‘power’ is the other day while I was at work, a manager of mine was standing roughly 10-15 feet away, and he tossed a penny into the air in my direction. Despite not really seeing the penny’s trajectory as it traveled through the air towards me, I threw my arm out, swiping in a downward arch, catching the penny in mid air. I’d only seen the penny for a fraction of a second before catching it! A year ago I probably would’ve missed it by a mile or I would’ve grazed it and had it roll away under some cabinet.

My wife has shared many stories with me of the enhancing, and healing properties of various fruits and veggies and I find it hard to believe that my improved reflexes aren’t linked in some way to the massive increase of fruits and veggies in my diet. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still drop things from time to time, but it’s less often. Now every time my newly improved reflexes allow me to do something incredible I’m reminded of that scene in ‘Spider-Man’ where Tobey Maguire is in the cafeteria and catches the food that went flying in the air perfectly on a tray. So, if I suddenly start climbing walls or defying gravity, I will let you know.

Good eating, everyone! See you all soon.

- Matthew

Thyme is The Spice of Life...

Thyme is the sort of herb I notice people are a bit finicky about, they either love it or hate it. Well I am one of those who love it. I’ve always loved thyme, not only the smell but the taste. I admit that ground or dried thyme has a tendency to have a rather pungent aroma, and a slightly bitter flavor, but trust me when I tell you there is nothing like fresh thyme. It’s beautiful and delicate, and I love the smell of it wafting in from the garden on a breezy summer day. It’s also one of those few spices that’s either perfect in winter or summer.

Thyme-

History/Cultivation

Thyme (Thymus) is a perennial plant, with an interesting and longstanding history of culinary and medicinal use. The Ancient Egyptians used to use thyme for embalming their deceased Pharaohs. While the Ancient Greeks believed thyme was a symbol of courage and admiration. They used it frequently for it’s aromatic properties in their bathes and as incense to burn in their sacred temples. The spread of thyme throughout Europe is said to be due to the Romans, who once used it to purify rooms and to give certain cheeses and liqueurs an aromatic or pungent flavor. Throughout the Middle Ages Thyme remained a symbol of bravery where it became a common ritual for woman to give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves. Most popular among these gifts were embroidered scarves pinned with thyme sprigs, since the herb was said to give the bearer courage during battle. Also during this time period thyme was placed beneath pillows to be used as a sleep aid and to ward off nightmares. Thyme was also routinely placed atop coffins as it was suppose to assure safe passage into the next life. Since the 16th century thyme oil has been used extensively for it’s antiseptic properties, both as mouthwash and as a topical agent.

Thyme is native to Southern Europe, The Mediterranean region, and Asia, but is also now commonly cultivated in North America.

Health Benefits

Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine. The Essential oil of common thyme is made up of 20-54% thymol, which is an antiseptic and interestingly the main ingredient in Listerine mouthwash. Before the advent of modern antibiotics thyme oil was used to medicate bandages. It’s also used as an active ingredient in natural, alcohol free hand sanitizers. Thyme is also used medicinally for respiratory infections and problems including cough, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Since it’s antiseptic thyme boiled in water and then cooled is very effective against inflamation of the throat when gargled three times daily. The thymol and other volatile components in the leaves are excreted via the lungs, which are highly lipid-soluble, where it reduces the amount and intensity of the mucus and releases it’s antimicrobial activity..

In lab studies conducted on rats, thymol has also been found to protect and significantly increase the percentage of healthy fats found in cell membranes and other cell structures. In particular the amount of DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid) in the brain, kidney and heart cell membranes increased after dietary supplementation with thyme. However other studies conducted have found that thyme was most effective when introduced early in the life cycle as opposed to being introduced later in the aging process as a way of offsetting the problems of the brain that occur with aging.

The volatile oil components of thyme have also shown to have antimicrobial effects against a slew of different bacteria and fungi. Research now shows that both thyme and basil contain components that can both prevent contamination as well as decontaminate previously contaminated food. In these studies published in Food Microbiology researchers found that thyme essential oil was able to decontaminate lettuce inoculated with Shigella. (An infectious organism that triggers diarrhea and can cause significant intestinal damage) In addition washing produce in solutions containing either basil or thyme oil in a very low concentration of just 1% resulted in dropping the number of Shigella bacteria below the point by which they could be detected. Scientists are now using this research to make new natural food preservatives.

If that wasn’t enough thyme also contains a number of important flavonoids which increase thymes antioxidant capacity, combined with its status as a good source of manganese thyme is an antioxidant rich food. With the added bonus of also being a good source of vitamin K, iron, calcium and dietary fiber.

Preparation

There are many wonderful things you can do with thyme, but one of my favorite ways to use it is to mix the fresh leaves in with a salad vinaigrette. I feel like thyme pairs especially well with salads. It’s also good with tomato based dishes, or sprinkled over simple roasted or broiled tomatoes and peppers. It’s wonderful used in Mediterranean style cuisine, fantastic when paired with asparagus. It’s just a really wonderful herb that can be used in so many creative ways. Personally I like it best fresh, but I do tend to use the dried and ground varieties more frequently, especially since I’m not growing thyme this year, the dried varieties are just on hand more often, so go forth and experiment, and enjoy thyme in all it’s wondrous glory.

Happy and Healthy Eating to you!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Spotlight Food - Beets...


















I don’t know what it is about beets, but hating them seems to be universal. I can’t say there are many (if any) people in my life who have a real, true, honest to Goddess love of beets. If people don’t flat out despise them, their attitude generally seems to be "Meh" accompanied by a scrunched up face, and a careless shrug of the shoulders. This is not a criticism mind you, just an observation, people just don’t give much mind to beets. I know, because I was like that once myself. It’s like there’s some ingrained rule in our society that has us automatically disliking them even if we’ve never tried them.

I know that at sometime in my life as an omnivore I must have eaten beets, though I can’t recall for the life of me a time when this might have happened. I don’t remember my mother ever serving beets, and I don’t recall my Oma ever serving (Me at least) beets. Yet I must have eaten them at some point, because when I ate them again as a vegetarian their smell and their flavor were familiar to me. I think the fact that I can’t recall eating them before I began cooking them for myself is somewhat significant. It does go a long way in lending to the theory that a lot of people just don’t know how to cook vegetables properly, which subsequently makes them quite forgettable. Particularly in my opinion, beets.

I am now a firm believer that beets get such a bad wrap because people just don’t know how to cook them. I know they seem a bit intimidating at first, those big bulbous blood red roots that’ll stain your whole kitchen if given half a chance. Combined with that wild tangled mass of greenery shooting out about 2 and a half feet. I get it, they’re strange, and foreign and smell faintly of dirt, better left untouched right? Wrong! Trust me when I tell you that once you get a handle on the infamous beet you will fall in love with their beauty and their magic. At the very least, you’ll no longer be so afraid of them.

Now that I’m Vegan, I have become a total beet convert. I don’t know if I’d go so far as to say they’re my all time favorite vegetable, but I definitely have a passion for them that I never thought I’d experience. They are without a doubt one of my favorite vegetables to look at, they’re so beautiful, particularly their color, and something about them seems to hold so much promise. Of course in the beginning, like most people I didn’t know much about how to cook them properly, but since I’ve started experimenting with them I have found an endless amount of delicious ways to eat them, and I hope that once you’ve finished this article you too will feel a bit more confident and encouraged to try them out yourself. Though a good thing to keep in mind is that if you are planning to play around with beets, not only is it important to cook and season them properly but it’s also important to buy good quality beets. Now when I say good quality, I mean you want to get beets with bulbs that are firm not soft, and small to medium sized not extra-extra large. Smaller bulbs will be more tender and sweet, and softness is a sign of age or possibly spoilage. The skin on the beets should also be smooth not wrinkly, and when it comes to the greens their quality is not indicative of the quality of the root. However if you do plan on eating the greens (which you absolutely can, and should do as they have a much higher concentration of nutrients) you will want to choose leaves that are lush, good in color and tender rather then tough. So without further adieu I strongly urge you to forget everything you think you know about beets, and give them a good honest try because not only are they delicious but they’re also fully loaded with antioxidants and other healthful nutrients.


















History/Cultivation

The Beet (Beta vulgaris) is a plant in the Chenopodiaceae family, that has many cultivated varieties, the most common of which is the purple root vegetable known as the beetroot, or the garden beet. The beet has a long and interesting history of cultivation going as far back as the second millennium BC. Though it is not known exactly where the beet was first cultivated it’s thought to have occurred somewhere along the Mediterranean Basin, from where it was later spread to Babylonia in the 8th century, and then as far east as China. Available evidence provided by Aristotle and Theophrastus suggests it was primarily the leaves of the beet that were grown and consumed at the time, while the roots were not as often used. Interestingly beetroot remains have been excavated in the Third dynasty Saqqara Pyramid at Thebes, Egypt and charred beetroot remains were found in the Neolithic site of Aartswoud in the Netherlands. The earliest known written mention of beets comes from the 8th century BC, Mesopotamia.

It’s thought that the various invasions of Rome are responsible for spreading beets into Northern Europe, where they were originally used as animal feed, and only later for human consumption, eventually growing in popularity around the 16th century. However it wasn’t until the 19th century that the value of beets really increased. Once it was discovered that beets were a concentrated source of sugar, and that, that sucrose could be extracted to use in place of tropical sugarcane the first sugar beet factories opened in Germany and Poland. Later when the British restricted access to sugarcane, Napoleon decreed the beet be used as the primary source of sugar which catapulted it’s popularity. It was also around this time that beets were brought to the United States where they flourish today. Today the sugar beet still remains a widely cultivated commercial crop for producing table sugar. The leading producers of beets today are Russia, France, The United States, Poland and Germany.


















Health Benefits

The leaves and the roots of the beet have been used medicinally to treat a wide variety of ailments for millennia. Ancient Romans used the beetroot as a treatment for constipation and fever. Hippocrates advocated using the beet leaves as a binding for wounds, and in the Middle Ages beetroot was used as a treatment for a variety of diseases related to digestion and the blood.

Today studies have proven beets to be a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains. Betanin and vulgaxanthin are the two best studied betalains from beets and both have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification effects. Recent lab studies on human tumor cells have shown that betanin pigments from beets can lessen tumor growth by inhibiting pro-inflammatory enzymes. The tumor cell types used in the study include tumor cells from colon, stomach, nerve, breast, lung, testicular, and prostate tissue.

The fact that beets are rich in antioxidants comes as no surprise, what is surprising however is the kind of antioxidants they contain. Beta-Carotene is the most commonly occurring antioxidant found in vegetables however beets are rich in two other antioxidant carotenoid that aren’t nearly as concentrated in the vegetable kingdom. These two carotenoids are lutein and zeaxanthin, which help to give beets their glorious color. These carotenoids coupled with beets status as an excellent source of the antioxidant vitamin C, and the antioxidant manganese provide beets with a unique concentration of phytonutrients that offer antioxidant support in a completely different way then most other antioxidant rich vegetables.

While studies of beets antioxidant properties are still in the early stages, a recent study from Italy has shown that beets combination of lutein and zeaxanthin are important health support molecules, especially with respect to eye health. Particularly that of common age related eye problems involving the macula and the retina. With regards to eye health beets may yet prove to be extraordinarily protective, possibly surpassing other vegetables known to provide superior protection against age-related eye degeneration.

The Betalin pigments in beets have repeatedly been shown to support activity in our bodies Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 is the metabolic step that our cells use to hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups. The process effectively neutralizes the toxins and makes them sufficiently water soluble so they can be excreted through the urine. Rather then remain in the body causing unwanted cell damage.

Interestingly beet fiber has also become a nutrient of increasing interest in health research. All food fiber is generally lumped together in one large category labeled "dietary Fiber" and most people think one kind of fiber is as good as another. However there is growing evidence to suggest that not all food fibers are created equal. Some food fibers it seems may be more beneficial then others. Beet fiber as well as carrot fiber are two types that may prove to have special health benefits particularly with respect to the health of our digestive tract (including prevention of colon cancer) and our cardiovascular system.

Many of the unique phytonutrients in beets have been shown to function as anti-inflammatory compounds. In particular betanin, isobetanin and vulgaxanthin. One mechanism allowing these phytonutrients to lessen inflamation is their ability to inhibit the activity of cyclo-oxygenase enzymes. These enzymes are widely used by cells to produce messaging molecules that trigger inflamation. Under circumstances where inflamation is needed the production of pro-inflammatory messaging molecules is a good thing. However under other circumstances such as when the body is undergoing chronic, unwanted inflammation, production of these inflammatory messengers make things worse. Several types of heart disease such as atherosclerosis are characterized by chronic unwanted inflamation. For this reason beets have been studied within the context of heart disease leading to some very promising but preliminary results in animal based studies as well as a few small scale human studies.

So there’s a lot of good that can come from this amazing root vegetable, but there are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to beets. First the consumption of beets can cause ones urine to become red or pink. This condition is called beeturia and it’s not harmful in and of itself. About 5-15% of adults in the U.S. experience beeturia following the consumption of beets. However beeturia may be cause for concern in person with iron deficiency, iron excess or known problems of iron metabolism. So if you are concerned that you may have an iron deficiency, or iron absorption problem please consult with your physician. It’s also possible for beet consumption to bring a red or pink color into your bowel movements. While this again, is not considered to be harmful in and of itself, It is important to be confident that the reddening of your stool is in fact due to the consumption of beets and not to the presence of fresh or dried blood. If you are experiencing redness in your stool and you have not consumed beets within 24-72 hours you should contact your physician.

The second thing to consider is that Beets (Mainly the leafy green tops) are among a select few vegetables that contain a measurable amount of oxidates. When oxidates become too concentrated in the bodies fluids, they can crystalize and cause health problems. For this reason individuals with already existing kidney and gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating Beet Greens. However if you don’t suffer from any kidney or gallbladder problems, and you’re not eating pounds upon pounds of beet greens a day, they are an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants, providing even more nutritional value then the sweeter colorful roots. Beet Greens are definitely worth considering adding into your repertoire.


















Preparation

My hands down favorite way to eat beets is to roast them in the oven at 400, drizzled with a tiny bit of olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, sprinkled with a bit of sea salt, black pepper and maybe a couple of fresh herbs. From there you can do anything with beets. You can eat them hot straight out of the oven like that, or you can slice them up and lightly saute them with some garlic, onions, a dash of cumin and a squeeze of orange juice. You can slice them and eat them either hot or cold in vegetable or grain salads. You can use beets in stews or soups, you can make borscht. You can slice beets thin and grill them in foil as you might potatoes. You can eat beets raw grated onto salads, or rolled into a wrap. You can slice raw beets thinly on a mandolin and eat them in salad, on a sandwich or use them to make raw ravioli or napoleons. You can use a spiral slicer to slice beets into spaghetti like noodle strips to eat as a raw pasta. You can steam beets, you can puree them to use in baking as you might apple sauce. You can put them raw or cooked into a smoothie, you can juice them. You can do just about anything with them. As far as seasonings go, I find they pair best with orange, cumin, garlic, dill, rosemary, oregano, Harissa, Lemon juice, olive oil, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar (not all in the same meal of course!) But honestly don’t be afraid to get creative. Once you give beets a good honest try I’m sure you’ll love them just as much as I do, and remember, just because you might not like something prepared one way doesn’t mean you won’t like it prepared another. Try and try again.

Happy and Healthy eating to you!

*** Note- There are many different types of beets, photographed here I have your average garden variety red beet in the first picture. The second photo is of baby golden beets, the third picture is Chioggia beets, and the fourth picture is of the baby golden beets, the chioggia beets, baby red beets and regular red beets lined up together.***