Tag Archives: recipes

Flower-based recipes not just for pica eaters

pansy_salad

It’s an indescribable urge. 

My mouth waters. I begin to grind my teeth at the thought of chewing the succulent texture. 

I’m not salivating over a fine steak or wishing I could have a bite of a sweet truffle. In fact, I’m not even in a kitchen, restaurant or sidewalk cafe. I’d be more likely to be in a floral shop, field of wild flowers or holding a bouquet. 

It’s because this urge comes from a weird thought of mine. I have the desire to eat flowers. Particularly roses.  

I actually have never eaten a flower. But every time I get flowers sent to me or am in a garden, the sacchariferous smell of the petaled-beauties transcends into a delicious flavor. 

Until now, it has kind of scared me. There is an actual condition termed Pica that is characterized by an appetite for substances largely non-nutritive, such as clay, chalk, dirt, or sand.

But flowers, like vegetables, seem like they might not fit in that category. 

On the constant prowl for unique recipes, these flower-infused bites are most definitely something I need to try.

The recipes include tempura banana flowers, candied rose truffles and more accepted recipes like basil and mushrooms and artichoke bruschetta. 

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Olive oil; Good for you, but don’t cook with it

When you think of the Mediterranean you think of beautiful beaches, rocky coastline, exotic locals with tan skin and healthy appetites. The Mediterranean diet has long been thought to promote a healthy lifestyle and long life. And one of the major components of this diet if olive oil.

Drizzle it over a salad or infuse it with herbs to make a dipping sauce for bread, olive oil is thought to have many heath benefits. In fact, a 2003 study from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that “participants who had the highest consumption of olive oil consumed less cereal and baked goods but more eggs and vegetables, and had a higher vitamin intake than those who consumed the least amount of olive oil.”  The oleic acid found in olive oil has also been the subject of expanding research when it comes to insulin resistance, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. “Oleic acid can directly alter the activity of certain cancer genes and appears to have anti-cancer effects that may be part of the Mediterranean diet’s health benefits. This primary MUFA in extra virgin olive oil may also help to lower a person’s risk of insulin resistance as well as favorably altering some of the blood fat patterns that can be associated with risk of cardiovascular disease,” according to World’s Healthiest Foods. Health and olive oil seem to go hand in hand.

When I first got on the Paleo Diet in January, I noticed that many guides and recipes warned me repeatedly not to cook with olive oil. I blindly followed, always saying I would research it later. As a student of journalism, it is unnatural for me to just blindly follow anything without investigating it further and double checking against different sources, especially since I am no food expert and merely an experimenter. So the thought continued ragging on me until today when I did looked into the matter further.

So why shouldn’t we cook with olive oil?

Each oil has a certain smoke point. A smoke point is the temperature at which visible gaseous vapor from the heating of oil becomes evident. Basically it’s a sign when the decomposition of oil begins to take place. Decomposition changes the  chemical makeup of the oil and can reduced flavor and nutritional value and also cause harmful cancer causing compounds, called oxygen radicals.

So what’s the smoke point of olive oil?

Interestingly enough, there are different smoke points for different types of olive oil. Ever wonder what the difference between extra virgin olive oil and refined oil is? So did I. According to WHF:

  • Extra-virgin: derived from the first pressing of the olives (has the most delicate flavor).
  • Fine virgin: created from the second pressing of the olives.
  • Refined oil: unlike extra-virgin and fine virgin olive oils, which only use mechanical means to press the oil, refined oil is created by using chemicals to extract the oil from the olives.
  • Pure oil: a bit of a misnomer, it indicates oil that is a blend of refined and virgin olive oils.

It’s important to know which kind you are working with because each have different smoke points. Refine oil has a higher smoke point. Unfortunately, companies list different smoke points on their labels, which range from 220F to437F.

I buy the Filippo Berio brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil. They recommend 82F is the perfect temperature to taste. Furthermore, the Extra Virgin Olive Oil is not exposed to any damaging heat or chemicals from refining and it has no artificial preservatives or flavors.

So what are the alternatives?

Instead of cooking with olive oil, try cooking with butter. A spray or just a plain stick will work. Also, coconut oil is another good, natural cooking solution. Still love the taste of olive oil? Try drizzling you sautéed vegetables with olive oil after you’ve prepared them. Or create a salad dressing or sauce with herbs to flavor your food.

And remember the closer you get to virgin, the purer it’ll be 😉

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Vegetable Smoothies

Summertime is fast approaching. Pretty soon thirsts will be out of control from the sweltering heat. But that’s nothing a little smoothie can’t take care of. And it’s not a fruit smoothie I’m talking about. It’s a vegetable smoothie. That’s right, I said vegetable.

In a New York Times article, there are five recipes for the adventurous containing arugula, cabbage and carrots. You might think it sounds disgusting, but carrots are good in cake, right?

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My attempt at Baba-Ghanoush

I’ve been dying to try out this Baba-Ghanoush recipe from paleolifestyle.com, which is where I get a lot of my recipes. BG is an arabic dip similar to hummus.

I didn’t have eggplants last time I wanted to make it, so I made it using cucumbers instead. It was an excellent dip, very good for a veggie tray or a spread on a sandwich.

Baba Ghanoush

Baba-Ghanoush:

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggplants;
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced;
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice;
  • 2 tbsp tahini (optional);
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 1 tsp cumin (optional);
  • Salt and pepper to taste;
  • Fresh parsley, optional, for garnishing.

Technique

  1. To roast the eggplants, either use your grill, the open flame of a gas stove or your oven. If using an open flame, keep the eggplant near the flame and turn them often to darken the skin evenly. If using your stove, prick the skin with a fork and roast for about 35 minutes in a 400 F oven.
  2. Put the roasted eggplants in a bowl of cold water, wait a bit and then peel off the skin.
  3. Place the roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, cumin in a blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Cool in the refrigerator and serve with extra olive oil on top and fresh parsley.

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I am no domestic goddess…or so I thought

I am terrible at cooking. I can mess up the easiest task. I mean, come on, I burn my toast every single time.

No one ever taught me the ways of the kitchen. My parents wouldn’t let me near a stove until I was 17 because they were scared I would burn the house down. And so, my potential with food suffered.

Now that I am on the paleo diet, I can’t have any cereal grains, which includes wheat, rye, brown rice, any kind of beans, etc. which means a lot more cooking with meats and spices and a lot less of throwing pasta on the burner or a pizza in the oven.

At first I was deterred. All I knew how to make was a chicken stir fry, which for the first week was all I had night after night.

But then I grew some balls and decided to try out a new recipe for cinnamon chicken.

SUCCESS!

I was so proud of myself. The meat didn’t dry out, the cinnamon and other spices weren’t too overpowering. It would be something I would serve to my husband, who by the way cooks very well, and would not be embarrassed.

My hope is to live healthier through eating unprocessed foods and of course experience new flavors through becoming a better cook.

My dog, Riley, is begging for my cinnamon chicken

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