It is winter in Florida and my lovely grandmother, who calls the sunshine state her home, has been struggling with the cooler than usual weather this year. She constantly complains of being cold and has in turn been racking up the heating bills to try and stay warm.
So I, being the health nut that I am, suggested that she try drinking some ginger tea which is known to increase circulation and warmth within the body. Surprisingly, she listened to me, and went out and bought some! She was a little shocked by the piquancy of it, but noticed that it did help. This is what led me to today’s blog about ginger.
Ginger is an amazing root that is used for culinary, aromatic, and medicinal purposes. It is an odd looking spice, pale yellow in color with a torso like shape and lots of little nubs poking off into various directions.
The part of the tropical plant, known as Zingibar Officinale, used is its starchy, pungent, aromatic rhizome. Ginger is a tropical, hot spice with flavors of citrus, and floral, woodsy undertones. In the culinary world it can be added to a dish to provide substance and thickness as well as for added aroma.
I read that back in the day the English taverns set out ginger powder on the tables along with salt and pepper for people to sprinkle on their drinks, thus forming ginger beer and ginger ale. Today ginger is still used to make ginger ales and is even added to Yemen coffee.
Ginger can be used in its dried or fresh state, and is available as the whole fresh root, dried root, powdered, preserved, crystallized (excellent in gingersnaps), and pickled. India, China and Jamaica are major producers of dried ginger, while the beautiful US state of Hawaii produces much of the fresh ginger.
Some say that Indian ginger has strong aromas of citrus, Chinese ginger is most pungent, and Jamaican ginger is the finest with a delicate and sweet presence. I am not a connoisseur of ginger though so what ever looks the best at the market is what I purchase.
Fresh ginger root can be found in the produce section and should be stored in the fridge unpeeled. It should look firm, smooth, and healthy, with no spots or mildew. The skin may be removed with a paring knife and then the root sliced, diced or julienned.
Add it to your cooking (beans, soups, stir fry), in the juicer (great with carrot and apple) or in tea. **Fresh Ginger Tea – put a couple of thick slices of fresh peeled ginger root in a cup of hot tea and steep. Add lemon slices if you wish.** Dried or crystallized ginger is a wonderful addition to baked goods, and you can even buy ginger candies to chew on which also may help with nausea.
Medicinally, ginger is a wonderful healing spice and is extremely prevalent in Chinese medicine. Ginger tea, which is what I explained to my grandmother, is a diaphoretic (fancy term for “makes you sweat”). It warms you up and promotes perspiration which is good to alleviate colds, for cold weather, and to detoxify your body.
Overall, ginger promotes warmth and circulation in the body, increases metabolic rate, helps the body detoxify from acidic foods, cleanses and rebuilds the cardiovascular system, alleviates symptoms of gastrointestinal stress, prevents motion sickness and nausea associated with pregnancy, aids in digestion, and reduces flatulence (hallelujah!).
It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and the list goes on. Basically, it’s really darn good for you…who knew this little hot number had all that and more! Ginger is such a versatile spice that you may want to get to know well and have fun experimenting with in your cooking and baking.
Ginger will add to your culinary repertoire as well as your health, and at the least may keep You hot and spicy!
It’s the New Year and you want to make healthy living your new norm. This means developing habits that nourish and fuel your body so that you can wake up every day ready to positively take the world on. You want to live life to its fullest, adventure, be wild, feel energized and exude vitality right?! Yes!
Here are 5 new habits to get you there this year:
Habit #1 – Wake up, fuel up.
Start the day first and foremost in gratitude that you are alive. Deep breath, stretch, smile. This day is gonna be awesome. Ditch the coffee and try a hot lemon water with a pinch of cayenne. Your cells with plump up and say thank you. Make yourself a pot of warm oatmeal with banana, cinnamon, walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.
You just owned this morning.
Habit #2 – Stop the rush, sit down, chew your food.
Yes I said it. Sit down, take another deep breath, and enjoy doing nothing but eating your lunch mindfully. This may seem weird to you (and your co-workers) at first, but you will come to enjoy this once you notice how well your body digests and utilizes nutrients when you are relaxed and actually chew your food.
Take THAT mid-day slump.
Habit #3 – Bypass the office cookies, eat a healthy snack.
Now that you started your day right and ate a healthy lunch you will want to continue the good feeling by powering up the mid-day with energy boosting snacks. Try making your own granola bars, trail mix or other homemade energy snack. These types of snacks will give you the boost you need to get you ready for the after work marathon/indoor climbing/cross training session (insert whatever kick butt activity you like).
Afternoon adventure, here I come.
Habit #4 – Refuel from your kick butt after work activity.
Your body loves protein after a good workout so hydrate with lots of lemon or cucumber water (yes it sounds spa like, but your body will love you if you add cucumber slices to your water bottle), then make a protein packed smoothie. Good choices include banana, peanut butter and almond milk or strawberry, banana, and almond butter with spinach, chia and either hemp/whey added.
Feeling strong, loving life.
Habit #5 – Relax, nourish, love.
You made it through the day full of vitality so now it is time to relax and nourish your body. This may mean something different for everyone. What does it mean for you? Maybe a yoga session, meditation, tea at a local café with friends, drawing, taking a bath, reading, playing music, watching football, cooking…. Whatever it is take time to do it. Wind your body down, nourish it with good food, and express love.
Man this day was awesome.
So there you are. Five simple habits to living this year and every year full of vitality, adventure, love, and life. Now go positively take the world on!
Everything is energy– from the thoughts we think, to the air we breath, to the body we occupy, to the stars in the sky. Our universe is made up of an unimaginable amount of energetic vibrating atoms, arranging themselves into the molecules and cells that make up every living and nonliving entity in existence.
Your body, too, is made up of energy and seven energy centers referred to as ‘chakras’ in Eastern metaphyiscal theories of medicine. When any of your seven energy centers, or chakras, are blocked you experience dis-ease in the body, such as psychological discomfort and/or illness.
The root chakra is located at the base of your spine and is responsible for your feeling rooted, grounded, safe and connected in this world.
Food, whether the growing or the eating, can be used as a medium to enhance your root chakra and it’s corresponding feelings of connectedness and belonging.
Click here to read the six ways to open up your root chakra using the medium of food!
The day I discovered raw food cuisine, my entire body filled up with passion and excitement. The beauty and creativity of utilizing Mother Nature's raw gifts to create elegant, gourmet, unique dishes had me utterly fascinated.
Now, I did not turn into a raw foodist because of this, but rather started viewing raw foods cuisine as an artist would, using fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as her medium. The vibrant colors of oddly shaped heirloom tomatoes, fresh figs, rainbow chard, or dazzling limes are nature's artistic palette designed for me to create exquisite, delicious works of art.
Gently chopping a handful of garden fresh herbs allows their aromas to be released filling my lungs with their potent and intense smells. Parsley, tarragon, basil, rosemary and thyme, oh my! The culmination of this sensory explosion ends in my taste buds screaming for joy at the pleasure of this live food artistic creation.
Vegan food + creativity = my heaven!!!!
My first experimentation with raw foods cuisine was to make a nut cheese. I was inspired to do this for two reasons...for my inquisitive mind to know what a cheese made out of nuts would taste like and because I know many people who are lactose intolerant and would love to indulge in a cheese like food.
I went to the store, bought some almonds and cheesecloth and decided to experiment. In my research of raw cheeses I learned that many of the specialty vegan cheeses are made with a fermented product known as rejuvalac, but my cheese was not. I went the easy route and was quite pleased with the outcome. If you do want to get fancy, try checking out recipes using rejuvalac and you will be amazed at what types of vegan cheeses you can create.
My first try with nut cheese involved a three day process. The first day I let the nuts soak in a bowl of water overnight. The second day I drained the nuts then placed them in a blender with oil and spices. The result was a pureed nut blend which I wrapped up tightly in cheesecloth and let sit in a bowl overnight to drain. The next day the cheese was drier and similar to a goat cheese consistency. It was delish!!!
My taste testers and I ate it like you would a goat cheese with crackers, but also tried it as a baked topping on stuffed tomatoes. It tasted amazing and eerily like cheese! Of course this way is not raw, but it is still a great alternative to dairy cheese.
Here is my recipe, but as I always say... experiment, have fun, and don't worry about messing it up because this is meant to be an enjoyable and delicious experience. You can add more or less herbs to taste.
Italian Spreadable Nut Cheese
1 cup whole blanched (skins removed) almonds
3 Tablespoons cold pressed olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small clove of peeled garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
1 teaspoon fresh basil
1.5 teaspoons fresh thyme
2 teaspoons fresh parsley
1.) Place almonds in a bowl, cover fully with water, and let soak overnight. Drain, rinse, and drain again.
2.) Place almonds, oil, lemon juice, garlic, and spices in a high speed blender and puree until a smooth creamy paste forms (about 5 minutes). Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
3.) You can eat this as is by shaping it into a round or rolling it into a log. You may drizzle more oil and sprinkle more herbs over it, or use it in raw foods creations such as rawsagana or rawvioli's. Or you can forget the raw thing and bake it alone or in dishes. If you want to get more liquid out and make it drier without baking then place mixture into a triple layer of cheesecloth. Tie up into a ball and place over a bowl. Let it sit in the refrigerator overnight to drain. The next day discard remaining liquid, remove from cheesecloth and place on a serving platter either in a round or roll up in wax paper to make it resemble a goat cheese log.
Add different herbs or no herbs at all if you want. You may also add water to the first stage of blending but then you will definitely have to place the puree in a cheesecloth to drain overnight. Experiment to see what consistency you would like and what flavors you enjoy the most.
Have fun with this amazing culinary art of creating dishes with raw foods. Experience the RAWvolution and enjoy!!!
At the wise age of 15 I decided to become a vegetarian. Why? Not because it was healthy, or more sustainable, or because I was spiritual, but because my step-father said I was a hypocrite. So merely to defy him and prove him wrong, I stopped eating meat. But there is more to this story....
At the time I was living in a small town in Central Florida that was consumed by trailer parks, mini malls, and residents whose furthest and most exotic adventure was a trip to Tampa. It was a safe town and of course had great weather, but it was definitely void of culture, different perspectives and environmental awareness. Somehow, though, I was the epicenter of these different perspectives and environmental awareness. I wrote poetry about the destruction of Mother Nature, created art that centered on her beauty, voiced my opinions about how to live sustainably, went to animal rights protests, and gave up eating red meat. But despite all my efforts to “save the world” I still ate chicken and turkey because, well, they tasted good.
One evening after vocalizing how horrible my step father was for eating a rare, bloody steak (while I was ingesting a chicken pot pie) he said to me that I was being a hypocrite. Thus to prove him wrong, because that is what teenagers do, I said I won’t eat ANY meat again. And over 20 years later I am still a strict vegetarian, but for reasons of my own truth and not because I am trying to prove something anymore.
In my teen years I admit, I was more like a Greenpeace environmentalist and less like the EPA. I was a bit over passionate about saving the world in a way that was negative and not the most productive. Although surprisingly my step-father and many others admit that they have made positive changes in living sustainably and eating less meat due to the somewhat nagging voicing of my opinions. But that being said as I attended college and studied Environmental Conservation I realized that I needed to go about making changes in a different way. It wasn’t about nagging people to make changes, it was about me living life in a positive way as an example. So I stopped being so vocal and focused on living my beliefs; and being vegetarian was a way that felt true to me in my personal quest to lessen my impact on the planet, heal the destruction, and sow the seeds of love for all beings.
It was then that my vegetarian ways became the target of ridicule, questioning, and defensive attitudes. People laughed at me because I didn’t eat meat, said that I was a wuss because I cared about animals, constantly (and I mean constantly) questioned as to WHY I chose not to eat meat, and almost always had to defend themselves as soon as I said I was a vegetarian. I was really confused as to why people cared so much about my choice of food.
This confusion soon turned to frustration once I entered the professional culinary world. Let me tell you that it is not easy being incredibly passionate about the culinary arts and being vegetarian. After being rejected for apprenticeships, not able to go to traditional culinary school, and laughed at during a pastry chef/garde manger position at a top restaurant, I wanted to give up on working in this field. It became so tiresome that I started questioning my beliefs and thought it would be so much easier if I just ate and cooked meat. How funny. As something as simple as my choice in food could be the source of so much anguish. And it all started because I was a stubborn teenager with something to prove.
A stubborn teen who turned into a passionate adult that holds true to her beliefs despite the ridicule and challenges. And thus I remembered why I choose this lifestyle…because I love seeing curious cows chewing stalks of grass while staring inquisitively, pigs frolicking in the mud like children on a rainy day in puddles, and deer in open fields peering at me with their beautiful eyes. Knowing that my choice allows these animals the right to a long life, the earth to be impacted less, and my body to be full of vibrant energy, brings me joy and peace internally. I honor being vegetarian in a world of meat eaters and trust that this is the right choice for ME. And I am thankful for the day my step father pointed out, in a loving way, that I was a hypocrite. Choosing to be vegetarian is not about proving anything anymore; it is about what feels right, living my truth, and honoring my beliefs.
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.