I am not a dietitian, I am a Research and Development Chef with a Nutritional Concentration. This site is based on opinions I've formed through my research and experience working for manufactured food processors.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sahakari Spice Farms, Goa India

Vanilla Plant
OMG this place is SO up my alley. Sahakari Spice Farms is located in Goa, India. The farm is a place that tourists can visit to learn about the different varieties of spices and their medicinal value. Visitors are given both theoretical as well as practical information about the different uses of spices both in normal diet as well as in the treatment of common diseases.

Macadamia Nuts
The land that the farm sits on has been developed using modern techniques in conjunction with the age-old concepts of mixed crop farming like the use of sprinklers for irrigation. These methods coupled with older water harvesting methods help in water conservation. Additionally, the grounds of the plantation are covered with Cashewnut trees, economically profitable fruit bearing trees and plants, spices, and medicinal herbs. Planting trees help prevent the erosion of the land and is also used a method of generating green foliage used in preparing compost. For their efforts, the Sahakari Spice Farm was nominated for the prestigious Annual DRV International Environmental award in 2005.

Later this month I will be traveling to Mumbai to research South Indian diet and cuisine. I will be sure to make a stop here and report back. I am very excited to see the spices in their vegetative state, and hope to discover some "new to me" produce. Check back around the beginning of May for photos.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's almost time...mmm asparagus

"Asparagus group from Miss Gatchell's pageant. Lee Co." Date: April 16, 1925.
Apparently, I'm not the only one excited about the upcoming asparagus season. Up until now I mistakenly thought that asparagus queens and parades were a "Michigan thing". All over the US from Alabama to California, and internationally in Europe, people celebrate one of the first vegetables to kick off spring.

My fork is anxiously awaiting in anticipation of this tender, herbaceous perennial. I usually like to keep the preparation simple by blanching or steaming the spears and rolling them around in butter. When I'm feeling all fancy-pants I may grill or saute them, wrap them in prosciutto, and drizzle them with a thick reduced balsamic vinaigrette topped with a little shaved Parmesan. Come to think of it, drowning the spears French style with a delectable Hollandaise sauce is pretty wicked good too.

Mill your own flour

Have you ever considered milling your own flour? It has recently come to my attention that many commercially produced whole wheat flours are so heavily processed that they loose much of their nutrient density. In many cases when wheat is ground, the bran and the germ are separated from the endosperm. After further processing (and heating), the bran is reintroduced. The kernel is manipulated so heavily that the final product tends to be unrecognizable from it's original state. Interestingly enough, the manipulation of grain doesn't stop with just flour. Click here for a list of other commonly bastardized wheat products.  

The scarcity of stone ground, low temperature milling has moved me to consider grinding my own whole wheat. Here are several different home Flour Millls I found on Amazon.com. I can't wait to try making my own pasta wheat!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fresh Whole Wheat Pasta Dough

1 1/2 cups finely ground whole wheat flour
1 egg
dash of salt

Mix the flour and salt together than shape it into a mound on your counter top. Make well in the center, drop in the egg, and stir with a fork in a circular motion. The edges of the egg will grab and incorporate the flour gradually. Once combined, knead the dough for at least 5 minutes and shape it into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic or a damp towel, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

Run the dough through a pasta machine or roll out and cut. This dough is also great for my personal favorite...ravioli!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Miracle worker in the school cafeteria

Click here to read about miracle worker Paul Boundas. Paul found way to make healthy, delicious, cheap food that school kids love! If there was a purple heart award for nutritional hero's, he would have surely earned it!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Livestock and Antibiotics

Rest Assured, someone is finally doing something about this.

Speaking of this...Did you know that the FDA estimates US livestock get 29 million pounds of non-therapeutic antibiotics per year! Not a very appetizing number is it. This devastating statistic accounts for over 70% of all antibiotics used in the U.S. (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2011).  Congress woman Louise Slaughter (no pun intended) of NY is reintroducing H.R. 965 the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act. Her legislation would limit the use of seven classes of antibiotics currently used to treat animals, most of which are already healthy, and preserve their use for humans. 

What said reputable farmer might look like
If you wish to show your support call your member of Congress at (202) 224-3121 and encourage them to support H.R. 965 and don't forget...sometimes actions speak louder than words. Send a message by doing your own part to combat antibiotic tainted food. Buy your meat from a local, reputable farmer. 



Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food for thought: What's up with antioxidants anyway?

        We all know that many foods like vegetables, fruits, grain cereals, eggs, meat, legumes and nuts contain antioxidants. We've been told to consume as many antioxidants as we can because of their ability to tame scary free radicals.  Free radicals contribute to cell damage, which in turn, can lead to cancer.  
            Over 200 studies have been conducted and show overwhelming evidence that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables benefit from a lower risk of cancer. (Block G, Patterson B, Subar A., 1992) However, it is not clear that the antioxidants in the fruits and vegetables alone are responsible for staving off cancer. Furthermore, there is not enough conclusive evidence that antioxidant supplements are as effective as a diet rich in fruits and vegetables at preventing cancer. This leads one to believe there’s more to the story of fruits and vegetables cancer hindering abilities than merely their antioxidants.
            One of the major misconceptions regarding antioxidants and free radicals is that all antioxidants are good, and the latter bad. Many pharmaceutical companies have marketed vitamins containing antioxidants as cancer preventatives. This major marketing campaign coupled with the fear of cancer, has led laymen reason to believe that ingesting lots of antioxidants will rid our bodies of harmful free radicals and therefore reduce our risk of cancer. In actuality, not all antioxidants are good, and not all free radicals are harmful. Antioxidants regulate the amount of free radicals in the body, through a careful balancing act. (Halliwell, Barry, 2006).          


To learn more about antioxidants and free radicals click here.