Food & Recipes

Monday, October 2, 2017

Superfood Pomegranate

 

Although I am not a fan of studies, which tend to regularly get refuted, or apply as outdated, I can't imagine that the ones that claimed pomegranates (punica granatum) to be among the healthiest foods on earth, will ever be debunked. Even though there is still relatively limited research data.
Looking like the apple’s eccentric twin, the pomegranate belongs to the family of berries. It’s seeds- called arils- are crunchy, sweet and make the perfect addition in any healthy dessert, or interesting side dish.
Based on excavations of the early Bronze Age, it is believed that the pomegranate was one of the first cultivated fruits. Aside from the great taste and wonderful color, it has inflammatory effects, which is one of the reasons I put this little sweetheart antioxidant on my personal top-list of ‘superfoods‘.
As a long time Psoriasis patient, I couldn’t praise it enough, as a method to reduce the inflammatory activity in my body. It helps to go against my joint pain, especially during the colder, damp months of the year and if I may trust the studies I‘ve read about, the pomegranate is a little fighter against the risk of heart disease, certain types of cancer and fungal infections.
Now, when it comes to the well-known claims that a type of superfood may be actually able to cure diseases, I am the first sceptic that rolls her eyes. Haven’t there been too many people, who followed self-proclaimed health gurus and overstuffed themselves with a single food group, while wondering about sudden blurred vision and other side effects.
Personally, I believe in the regulation of all things, including food intake. Eating in moderation and as unprocessed as possible, has turned out to be the way for me.
As for the skin, pomegranate makes a partner in crime against early signs of aging and in the improvement of our biggest organ.
Even it’s inedible peel contains the precious antioxidants and works as a great moisturizer.
Altogether, my favorite apple-sister (as I called it as a child), will definitely be on my food-shopping list for a long, long time.



I regularly enjoy the seeds with some Greek yoghurt and a spoon of honey. It makes a satisfying dish when the munchies stop by and a piece of chocolate just doesn’t do the trick.

 Saturday, July 15, 2017

Oven-roasted vegetables with rosemary and sesame

 





If there is a simple recipe for a side dish that compliments almost any meal, its oven veggies. Even the most unmotivated cook will find this one extremely easy.
My version of this well-known recipe is a personal favorite, which includes crispy potatoes, soft tomatoes, zucchini and sweet pepper that is firm to the bite.
In order to get the potatoes right, I peel, cut them in pieces and cook them to the point of being not entirely done. After I’ve drained them, I let them vaporize a moment while adding a bit of coconut oil. (Shake the pot a bit, to make sure its all mixed well.)
The next step is to simply put baking paper on a sheet and place the potato slices on it.
The zucchini is parted and the center removed with a spoon, before being put on the sheet as well.
Tomatoes are parted and the sweet pepper cut in the preferred size.
Salt and pepper on top… and some sesame put on the zucchini.
Now the veggies can bake about 20 minutes at mid-height in the oven at 200°, while I’m checking if the potatoes and zucchini get light golden brown. Only within the last 10 minutes, I add the rosemary and a few splashes of olive oil.
When the veggies are served, I like to add some quark as an extra dip. Which makes the dish feel snack-like and light.
Although I often like to make this as a side dish for wild salmon, it is just as well a perfect meal to enjoy solely. As the different flavors and the aroma of rosemary, make it an easy-to-create-taste adventure.

 The soft aromatic coconut oil helps our potatoes to become crispy and golden.


Sesame on the zucchini slices adds a nutty charm to the bitter flavors of the garden veggies.

For the last few minutes in the oven, the rosemary and olive oil is added.

To compliment the lightness of the dish, I've chosen a soft, crisp German Riesling.































As the health benefits of essential oils are undoubtedly even more of a reason to add them to a meal. Rosemary stimulates the taste buds with a softly bitter, woody aroma, and a sharp fragrant that leaves a resinous scent over the vegetables. Just sharp enough to spice up the soft flavor of baked potatoes and the sweetness of red pepper. Bon Appétit!






Thursday, July 6, 2017

Living sugar-free

…or the importance of being earnest


Sugar is sweet. It even sounds cute! It’s innocence is questioned regularly though.
I always knew that since my mom explained to me that refined sugar is not a salutary crystal, and my body not it‘s den. But when it came down to loyalty, I was always there for sugar. How could I ignore a brownie right next to my cup of coffee! Why would I turn down a perfect looking piece of cake at a friend’s birthday party?! It would have been abnormal. Ignorant. Here I was, privileged enough to enjoy the food I love and all I was supposed to do was rejecting the perfect moment of satisfaction and thrill? No way, baby!
Until I came across a few reports here and there. About the impact of sugar on the body. The ugly truth that I managed to swallow down with every piece of chocolate all my life. I started reading about sugar addiction- which I didn’t even know was a thing-  and experiences of people who finally got off the hook.
And as with every seed of truth that is planted, it took me a while to let the understanding grow.
Until my brain couldn’t deny anymore, what my heart already knew: I had to break up with sugar.
Yes, sugar was in my life for such a long time, that I couldn’t even remember why! The thrill was gone after many years. What put me in a state of pure joy as a child, now only lasted for a few seconds until a bad conscience destroyed the bliss.
For someone who deals with severe skin problems like psoriasis since early childhood, facing the sugar addiction came shamefully late in my life. All these years, I was looking for treatments and relief for my skin. Tried every possible method to reduce the red spots and itchiness that reminded me every day of having this problem. And yet, my diet was not even in the focus. Not in mine and not a priority in all the talks I had with doctors. Reducing the intake of milk, avoiding alcohol, or drinking disgusting looking mixtures of herbal drinks were part of trying to force an improvement. Aside from countless ointments and cremes that didn't help.
But I cannot recall that the word SUGAR even came up once. Maybe because there are worse things to keep an eye on when it comes to health issues. Or maybe it is still not enough in our conscience that this pure looking monster is basically everywhere, when that alone should arouse our concern. But the fact is, that my very own experience of reducing the intake of sugar, has taught me to listen to my body before anything else.
What it told me, was clear and logical. Within the first few months of a strict sugar-free diet, my skin started clearing up as if I had found a new balm that finally did it’s job well. But I hadn’t used a different product. I'm far from being cured, but in a much better place than before.
My insomnia was almost gone. As the lightest sleeper the world had ever seen, I could sleep next to a marching band now and wouldn’t even blink. The dark circles under my eyes that used to make me look like a sad panda at times, lightened up. 
The weight loss I’ve experienced wasn’t turning me into a skinny model, but I lost a few pounds with a surprising lightness and ease. Without any extreme diets, workouts or other distressing methods.
It was like magic. Only that I know it was actually common sense that brought me there.
Sugar contains no essential nutrients like vitamins or proteins. It is- as we all know- bad for our teeth, so how could we expect it to not have a negative impact on the rest of your body?

Homemade pastries sweetened with coconut sugar, date sugar, xylotol, or other natural substitutes, have become one of my favorite treats.


Too much sugar overwhelms our liver and can cause an insulin resistance. It can affect hormones and the brain, and is highly addictive. What shocked me most of all, is that it apparently feeds cancer cells which lets the disease thrive on.
All of this information is publicly available and difficult to avoid in times of the internet and many credible sources. So it sure is not my opinion that should worry you, but my shared personal experience that is hopefully an incentive to inform yourself as well.
After almost one year of a sugar-free diet, I am living on a 'reduced-sugar plan'. Once in a while I have a piece of chocolate, some ice cream in summer, or a cookie. The occasional cake at a birthday party is still enjoyed. But the carefree and endless intake of refined sugar daily, is a thing of the past. A piece of fruit tastes sweeter and one piece of chocolate is to me now, what an entire box was before.
I’ve come to peace with sugar. We’re cool now. And one has to be honest; it isn’t possible to avoid it completely. There are sugars everywhere. They look different, they have different names. But they’re there.
Carbohydrates for example. Fructose. The occasional glass of wine...

The bottom line is, to enjoy things moderately. As with everything that can be taken to extremes, we can choose the other way. The intake of sugar can be regulated and the risks reduced. No fancy food trends or diets have to be guidelines to a better understanding of what we all should know: Our body knows best.
'There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.'  - Friedrich Nietzsche




















As a regular treat, I enjoy a bowl of Greek yogurt, either with blue berries, or pomegranate seeds. As a sweetener, I take coconut sugar, or occasionally honey.
Fruit in moderation is the best alternative to me, when the munchies kick in.
























blueberries contain fructose and glucose as well as fiber. It is often said that they have one of the highest antioxidant capacities among fruits. A perfect dessert. 

 

 

 
Friday, June 16, 2017

How I fell in love with chai




Since it has become sort of a ritual, that I enjoy a cup of masala chai while working at the computer, I thought it would be only appropriate to open my blog with a recipe for this tea.
Spicy, yet mild, it tastes, smells and feels like a warm blanket, that unfolds with every sip.
People who have been to India may already know this pearl among spiced drinks, as it is one of the most popular in India and beyond South Asia. But as I have not been to the continent yet, I was completely unaware of the tea’s existence.

A few months ago, I watched the Indian movie “The Lunchbox” by Ritesh Batra, wondering what that interesting looking drink was, that the protagonist played by Nimrat Kaur, prepared so enchantingly calm and beautifully on the stove. Thinking it must be a smaller, Indian version of a café latte, I searched the internet using key words like: “famous Indian drinks”, and “traditional drinks”. I came across pictures showing the masala chai, and immediately felt a bit ignorant, thinking that- as an open minded person, interested in all cultures- I should have known this tea earlier.

Aside from drinking it, the preparation of masala chai, is a sensual experience in itself. I started with a simple, traditional recipe, using cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and a few other spices. The more ingredients I added to the black tea, the more the scents filled my kitchen as if I had brought a colourful piece of India right into my home. Unlike many fragrances that quickly give me a headache, the smell of masala chai was delightful and calming.
For a few weeks, I experimented with different ingredients and amounts of spices, until I found my personal favourite.

Knowing that it’s flavor and texture appeals to me like no coffee drink known to me ever, I wanted to find out more about the health benefits that are often linked to spices, herbs, and ultimately traditional teas in general. Little was I surprised to come across online sources, that praised chai, to be the drink of choice for those who want to give their immune system a boost, as well as their energy, and bonus:
Could use some natural assistance in weight loss.

It is no surprise to me, that many coffee bars on other continents have picked up this delicious trend, and western folks enjoy their chai more and more often as well.

 “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.“ - Henry James

Recipe:
Options of spices / ingredients for your tea: Cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg, saffron, chili, coriander, rose, black cardamom, nutmeg, turmeric and cloves.

Boil water in a pot and add black lose leaf tea. Add the spices you like and lower the heat. Add the milk (or almond / soy milk) and boil for a few seconds. Then give the mixture through a strainer into a tea glass, or cup.



2 comments:

  1. I like to make my own chai as well, although I tend to substitute Rooibos for the black tea. I also put in the Cinnamon, Cardamom, Clove, Star Anise, and Red Peppercorn instead of the Black variety. I have to agree that it is enjoyable to make on your own.

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    1. That sounds like a really tasty mixture as well. I will try that one too!

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