Gotta Climb

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You can’t fall if you don’t climb. But there’s no joy in living your whole life on the ground.

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Spice of Life

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So, I love Indian food. I think I can say without hesitation that it is one of my favorite cuisines out there. It is relatively healthy, has a lovely kick, and just so much flavor! Plus, the spectrum of flavors (and colors!) blows my mind.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” – Hippocrates

Spices are an important part of Indian cuisine, and have been used historically for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Ancient Ayurvedic medicine relied on many natural remedies, and the health-boosting ingredients are still used in Indian cooking today to create food that is not only bursting with flavor but good for you as well.

Some of the common spices and herbs used in Indian recipes are as follows:

AMCHUR –Dry mango powder made from unripened, sun dried fruit. Tart flavor and carries all the nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins found in whole mangoes. Rich in iron, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E, and aids digestion.

BAY LEAVES –Very aromatic leaves that come from the cassia tree. They have a rich, woody flavor and light floral scent. It has many antibacterial, digestive, and antifungal properties, and is thought to benefit patients with diabetes and arthritis. In addition, they have been known to help with stress and anxiety.
 
BLACK PEPPER – An old, classic spice. Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, and is thought to aid in digestion, boost metabolism, and help clear congestion.

CARDAMOM –Cardamom pods contain small, black seeds with a strong, versatile flavor. They are used in many Indian dishes, drinks, and desserts. Cardamom has also been used traditionally to treat ailments of the teeth or gums, aid in digestion, and pulmonary congestion as well as a breath freshener.
 
CAYENNE PEPPER – Made from dried and ground hot chili peppers. High in vitamin A, and contains vitamins B6, E, C, and potassium. It also has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties, and can boost your metabolism.
 
CINNAMON – Obtained from the inner bark of a certain tree; used in the production of chocolate and to flavor a variety of desserts and savory dishes. Cinnamon is also thought to help regulate blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and have antibacterial and antioxidant properties.
 
CORIANDER – Comes from same plant as cilantro (but are the fruits)! Used in a variety of world cuisines. The fresh, fragrant leaves have a stronger citrus flavor than the fruits, and are often used in garnishes and chutneys. May be ground and used as a flavoring agent. Coriander is a source of calcium, iron, and magnesium, and is used as a home remedy to treat colds, to help regulate blood sugar, cholesterol, and free-radical production.
 
CUMIN – A member of the parsley family. Its seeds are extracted from the plant’s fruit and used whole or ground. It has a distinct earthy, peppery flavor. Cumin is believed to aid digestion and enhance appetite. It is also a source of iron and antioxidants, and may even boost the immune system and help the liver’s natural detoxification process.

FENUGREEK LEAVES – Native to South Asia and Southeastern Europe, fenugreek leaves resemble clover leaves.  They have been found to slow absorption of sugars in the stomach and stimulate insulin, helping lower blood sugar.  They have also been seen to be beneficial in treating kidney ailments, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, as well as aiding in digestion.
 
GARLIC – Garlic has a characteristic flavor that lends itself to a wide range of cooking. It is rich in sulfurous compounds, manganese, vitamins B6 and C, and selenium. Garlic has also been shown to have many health benefits, including the ability to help regulate blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and several antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to boost cardiovascular health.
 
GINGER – A versatile flavoring agent in many savory dishes, as well as teas and desserts. Also known for its various antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is often used in home remedies for colds, and to relieve certain types of arthritic pain and motion sickness.
 
MINT –Used to flavor a variety of savory dishes, teas and desserts. A distinctive sweetness and cooling aftertaste. Also thought to have medicinal value, and to help to alleviate stomach pain and mild congestion. It can also provide relief from nausea or headaches, and is a natural stimulant that may help ward off fatigue.
 
NUTMEG  A fragrant spice made from the large ground seeds of an evergreen tree. Unique flavor that is both sweet and savory. Nutmeg also has anti-inflammatory properties and may aid in digestion.
 
TAMARIND – The tamarind tree yields fruit pods that are reddish brown when ripe. A sweet and sour taste. It has B vitamins, potassium, calcium, and antioxidants. Also thought to help lower cholesterol, promote heart health, and help fight against common ailments such as colds and fevers.
 
TURMERIC – Typically boiled, dried, and ground into a rich yellow-orange powder, but may also be used fresh. Earthy, lightly peppery flavor and  used to season and color many dishes in Indian cuisine. Turmeric has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties and has been used in ancient medicine to treat stomach and liver ailments, arthritis, and of skin conditions.

Good stuff, right?! If you live in the Rhode Island area and ever have a hankering for delicious Indian cuisine, let me know and I will certainly give you recommendations!

Banana-Strawberry Bread

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I must say, I have had a very productive morning.

I already hit the gym (it was arm day), did some lumosity to keep my brain sharp, and I still had some time to kill before I had to leave for work, so I decided to put the browning bananas on my counter to use and make Banana-Strawberry Bread! I made some changes to this recipe, and it came out scrumptious!

Banana-Strawberry BreadThe problem I usually seem to run into with banana bread is that the outer edges tend to be done much quicker than the inside, so I wind up having to sacrifice some outside bits in order to not have a goopy inside. If anyone has any tips to eradicate this I am all ears and eyes!! However, although in the picture the edges look a bit browned, they didn’t taste burnt at all, which was such a pleasant surprise! Score one for the home team.

What’s Inside??
1 cup all-purpose flour (use whole wheat if you can, I just didn’t have any on hand)
1 cup almond flour (quinoa flour is also a great alternative!)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup fat free greek yogurt
2 room temperature eggs
2  ripe bananas (lightly mash/break up before adding)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup strawberries (hull and slice)

Let’s Bake It!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease loaf pan and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking soda and sea salt, set aside.
3. In separate bowl (stand mixer if you have it), beat butter on low until pale and light (~3 minutes). Add in sugar, beat, then mix in the eggs one at a time. Next, add bananas, yogurt and vanilla. Finally, fold in the flour and then strawberries, mixing until just combined. Some berries can be saved for top as well.
4. Pour into pan and bake 60-70 minutes/until a toothpick poked in the middle comes out clean.
5. Cool for 20 minutes, then remove from pan and cool another 40 minutes before serving.
6. Enjoy!

Aquaculture Tour: Ninigret Pond

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Hey Baby Loves –

It’s pretty rainy in my neck of the woods — apparently there’s a tropical storm somewhere off the coast bringing in all the water. Probably I should be doing work, but I’m really quite cozy in my bed, so I figured as a form of semi-productive procrastination, I would do some blogging!

Back in June, a few days after returning from London, I partook in an amazing and free oyster aquaculture tour at Ninigret pond over in Charlestown. It was beautiful weather and I learned a bunch, so as per usual, I wanted to share that learning with you!

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If you are unaware what aquaculture is, here’s a definition:

The rearing of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food.

Simple enough, right? In theory, yes of course, but like any type of farming, a ton of time and effort goes into aquaculture, and you’re always at the will of Mother Nature.

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Here are some fun facts I learned about the aquaculture industry in Ninigret Pond:

  • Ideal depth is 2-3 feet
  • 45 acres used for aquaculture so far, which is ~2.5%, and the max is 5%
  • 7 farmers use the area
  • Names to know: David Beutel and Nick Poppa from East Beach Blondes
  • Visit seafoodri.com
  • Diploids spawn in summer, whereas triploids don’t
  • Walrus and Carpenter do dinner on the barrier island creek (ducksbury)
  • Natural wildlife refuge: harvest and fosters coves

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Unfortunately I didn’t take as stellar notes as I usually do… sorry about that. I was missing the ocean from my time spent in London and the day was gorgeous, so most of my attention went to taking in the sites, sounds, and smells. One additional fun fact I did pick up is that in Block Island, they offer a paddle tour of Aquaculture sites in the area. The above picture shows essentially an oyster nursery. A really cool guy grows oyster spat (baby oysters) and then sells them to the farmers in the area. Now that’s going local!

A few weekends ago, I attended the second annual ocean state oyster festival with some friends, and it was once again all I could have hoped. It was also pretty cool seeing some of the harvests that I saw on the water back in June. That same day, I also took a free clamming seminar, but more on that later.

That’s it for me for the moment — time to do some leisurely reading on this wet afternoon. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

xx

Garlic: The Onion Gen{i}us

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Bonjour,

It’s been a minute since I’ve posted some juice recipes. Lately, I’ve been on a kick where I am looking out for my skin. I’ve  been purchasing all natural, locally made face washes and skin moisturizers, and it seems only logical to translate this ideal to what I ingest. You are what you eat, right?

Garlic seems to be a crucial ingredient in juices when nourishing the skin is concerned. Below are two that I came across. I know they may not be the most appealing ingredients, but it’s way cheaper and less painful then various other procedures!

(1) GARLIC VEGETABLE JUICE

  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 large tree broccoli
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large bunch kale

Peel the garlic and juice along with the rest of the veggies. I would recommend juicing garlic first, so that the rest of the ingredients clear the garlic scent from your juicer.

(2) GARLIC APPLE JUICE

  • 1 clove fresh garlic
  • 2 apples (Granny Smith)
  • 1 bell pepper (Red)

Peel the garlic and juice along with rest of ingredients. Again, probable best to juice the garlic first.

*NOTE: You may think you can handle more than one clove of garlic, and I 100% bet that you can. However, stick to one. It’s the ideal amount to have in one day.

Now, let’s table about why garlic is so awesome, especially when eaten raw. Better yet, when juiced. I know it may not smell that magnificent, but it really is worth the stink.

Fun Fact: To reduce garlic breath, try wrapping garlic cloves in greens when juicing, such as spinach or cilantro. It would appear that chlorophyll binds to the stinky smell; because science.

~ Garlic has an anti-microbial effect, which also helps the immune system.
~ Garlic is an excellent source of vitamins, including A, B-complex, and C. It also supplies minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, calcium, copper, potassium, and iron.
~ Garlic contains anti-oxidants, which helps neutralize free radicals in the body.
~ Garlic contains amino acids, essential oils, and trace minerals including germanium, selenium, and tellurium.

Additionally, it has been mentioned in literature that garlic helps (but does not cure) the following disorders:

  • Common Cold (helps relieve congestion)
  • Thrombosis (garlic acts as an anti-coagulant)
  • Cholesterol (reduces build-up of plaque in arteries)
  • Diabetes (lowers blood sugar levels)
  • Fungal Infections (ex: athlete’s foot or ear infections)
  • Peptic Ulcer (it’s good against the bacterial stomach parasite that causes the ulcers)
  • “Wind” (small amounts can help relieve gas in stomach