Mar 4, 2015

Homemade Curtido -- Mexican Lacto-fermented cabbage

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homemade curtido
Curtido is to Central America what sauerkraut is to Germany and kimchi is to Korea. Simply put, it is simply a lacto-fermented and therefore raw and probiotic food that is bursting with good bacteria.

You know why I’m enamored with lacto-fermented foods right now? It’s because they are so simple to make (no cooking required), inexpensive (only 2 to 4 ingredients), raw (which means all antioxidants are intact) and they’re bursting with good bacteria.

And you know why we need good bacteria? The gut microbiome -- the host of good bacteria, good fungi and good viruses in our tummy -- is one subject that have microbiologists in awe. What they have so far found out is nothing short of astounding -- these minute good guys, which may be more in number than our own cells, are performing so many functions, to wit: fighting bad bacteria, fungi and viruses; manufacturing vitamins (Vitamin K for example); killing cancer cells and boosting nutrition and immunity.

Good bacteria however, are under constant attack by the modern diet and lifestyle. Animal meat and dairy are contaminated with antibiotics which kill the good microorganisms in our colon. Food additives, triclosan and toxins from our toiletries and radiation from our gadgets are also said to be possible culprits. Of course, oral antibiotics are especially harmful to both bad and good bacteria.

To repopulate our digestive system with the healthy balance of good microflora, we need to go back to the traditional diet of lacto-fermented foods. Please read this if you want a better understanding of the health benefits of lacto-fermented foods If you don’t want to go back to that, then let me just sum it up like this: when you lacto-ferment foods, you are simply allowing the good bacteria which are naturally present on the surfaces of raw produce to multiply. Good bacteria feed on the sugars of produce and in the process exponentially grow in number. They turn the sugar into lactic acid which preserves the food. When we eat lacto-fermented foods, we are eating along the good bacteria. Regular consumption of lacto-fermented foods ensures that the good guys in our tummy get the upper hand over the bad ones.

Okay, ‘nuff said, let me now show you yet another lacto-fermented recipe -- something that I find very tasty and with a lovely spiciness to it. Curtido is simply sauerkraut jazzed up with carrots and spices. Here’s the recipe I used. (Click on the links if you want to know the health benefits of each highlighted ingredient.)

Curtido
  • Fills one big mason jar
  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 0 minutes

Ingredients:


Procedure:
  1. Wash produce and herbs. Slice the cabbage into thin, 1-inch strips. Grate the carrots. Mince the onion and garlic. Transfer the cabbage strips, shredded carrot and minced herbs into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add in the salt and oregano powder and mix. With your clean bare hands, squeeze and crumple everything until the juices ooze out.
  3. Pack into a mason jar and push the vegetables down as you go in such a way as to keep the vegetables submerged under their juices. Leave one inch of space from the top to allow some room for fermentation gases.
  4. Cover the jar with a lid and leave in a cool, dark place for 7 days.
  5. Every day, in the morning and in the afternoon as well, push the vegetables down under their juices using your clean index finger or a sturdy wooden spoon. As long as the veggies are submerged in the probiotic brine, you will not have any moldy growths. If you do notice a little moldy growth, remove them with a wooden spoon. Experts in lacto-fermentation say the mold is harmless and the brine beneath the moldy growth is still richly probiotic. The key really is to submergea all the veggies in the brine or liquid.
  6. On the 7th day, your curtido is done and ready for eating. Store it in the ref where it will keep for, as my sources say, months.


I do love curtido. I pair it with grilled or fried fish or simply eat it as a side dish or condiment. For weeks now I have been making this or sauerkraut every week. That way I never run out of lacto-fermented food in my ref.
homemade curtido
My husband is beginning to love it too. My kids still turn up their noses at the smell but I know they’ll love it in time. I hope you’ll get around to making your own curtido. Would you give it a try?
homemade curtido

References:

Mar 3, 2015

Flax seed oil benefits

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flaxseed oil capsules
A very close family friend of ours gave us a big bottle of flaxseed oil capsules and so I decided to research about it. Here's what I found.

Flaxseed oil, also called linseed oil, has been around for more than 7 centuries, having been used in many formulations, notably balms to calm down skin inflammation and slurries to treat constipation. Flaxseed oil is known for its rich content of essential fatty acids which our bodies do not manufacture and therefore must be supplied through our diet.

The flax plant originates in Europe and has been used as a source of linen fabric as well as a source of healing oil. About 40% of flaxseed is oil.The primary healing components of flaxseed oil are the essential fatty acids or EFAs which play such vital roles as protecting the cell membranes of all cells, regulating the entrance of good substances into the cells and the barring of harmful ones.

One of the essential fatty acid found in flaxseed oil is also called alpha-linolenic acid, otherwise known as omega-3 fatty acids which protect from heart disease, among others.

Health benefits of flaxseed oil
Helps prevent heart disease and hypertension
Several studies have documented the ability of flaxseed oil and ground flaxseed to lower cholesterol, protect against chest pain or angina and lower blood pressure. Flaxseed tones down the inflammatory reactions which cause formation of arterial plaques which sets the stage for the hardening of the arteries and subsequent hypertension.

Calms down inflammation
EFAs tone down inflammation and thus help with inflammatory conditions such as gout, fibrocystic disease, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus.

Improves skin
Flaxseed oil has skin-healing properties by virtue still of EFAs. By toning down inflammation, flaxseed oil helps inflamed skin heal faster in skin conditions such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. EFAs also thin out facial sebum, preventing clogging of pores which cause pimples and acne.

Improves hair and nails
EFAs are needed for healthy, shiny hair and strong nails.

Heals nerves
The essential fatty acids in flaxseed oil also nourish nerves and as such help with nerve-related symptoms such as numbness and tingling. EFAs facilitate transmission of nerve impulses, thereby improving the status of Parkinsons’s Disease sufferers.

Helps with male problems
Flaxseed oil’s anti-inflammatory EFAs help prevent swelling and inflammation of the prostate. EFAs also keep the sperm cells healthy, improve nerve transmission and circulation and thus help with male reproductive problems.

Helps with female reproductive problems
Flaxseed is anti-estrogenic and can help normalize estrogen-progesterone levels. Flaxseed oil intake can help normalize the menstrual cycle and prevent or relieve hot flashes associated with menopause and perimenopause.

Caution:
Flaxseed may delay blood clotting times.
Flaxseed is not advisable for pregnant and lactating women and kids.
It is not to be used by those with bleeding disorders and those who have undergone surgery.
Flaxseed oil oxidizes easily and should therefore be kept in the ref, away from heat, sunlight and air. (That's why I keep my bottle of flaxseed oil capsules inside the ref.)
The right dose is yet to be determined pending further studies.
Linseed oil sold in hardware stores is still from the flax plant but is not food-grade. Hardware-sold linseed oil is used as varnish.
Flaxseed oil does not contain fiber. Ground flaxseed does.

Conclusion: I think flaxseed oil is good to be taken daily given the many health benefits it offers. Pending studies on exact dosing, I think a capsule a day is safe enough.

What do you think?
Have you been taking flaxseed oil? How has it helped you?


References:


Feb 28, 2015

7 Vegetables For Glowing Skin

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7 vegetables for glowing skin

(This is a guest post submitted by Julie Roy from Manchester, London.)
Your skin is constantly being assaulted with environmental toxins, the sun and weather and dirt and grime. While a great skincare routine is highly beneficial, you also need to treat your skin from the inside out. What you eat plays a major role in the health of your skin and there are seven vegetables for glowing skin that you want to eat on a daily basis.
Beetroot
Beetroot is a vegetable that you do not hear a lot about, but it is full of antioxidants that your skin needs to repair itself and maintain its youthful glow. This vegetables also has a high level of anthocyanins, a compound that works to prevent wrinkles.
Eating beetroot raw makes it hard to digest, so it is best to boil this vegetable and add a little lemon juice. Simply slice it up and add it to things like salads and sandwiches to reap the benefits.
Carrots
Carrots are an anti-aging powerhouse due to their high vitamin A content. This will help to ensure adequate collagen production to prevent skin sagging and wrinkles. It also promotes a radiant glow from the inside out.
You can eat carrots raw or cook them to get the benefits. Use your food processor to easily chop carrots and add them to things like salads, soups and pasta dishes.
Spinach
Spinach is a superfood that is high in antioxidants and it also possess powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This combination helps to flush out toxins so that your skin tissue is strong and your complexion glowing and clear.
As one of the most power seven vegetables for glowing skin, you want to eat at least one serving of spinach several days per week. Add it to your salad greens, steam it to add to pasta dishes or use it to replace lettuce on sandwiches.
Tomatoes
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant with strong anti-aging properties. It is acidic so it helps to prevent breakouts and tighten your pores to reduce oil production. When you eat tomatoes, they also work as an internal sunscreen to help prevent sunburn and sun damage.
You can add tomatoes to just about everything. To make them easier to chop up, use your food processor. This will give you small chunks that are easy to add to your favorite dishes and snacks.
Avocados
Avocados are a very versatile vegetables that are packed full of skin-healthy nutrients, including vitamin E, vitamin B6, fiber, vitamin C and vitamin K. Avocados are also high in antioxidants, a nutrient that is critical for fighting the free radical damage that age you prematurely. This vegetable also contains essential fatty acids to keep your skin hydrated, plump and nourished, to ensure optimal youthfulness and a natural glow.
You can each avocado whole or turn it into a paste. When you eat this vegetable whole, you can add it to your salads or use it as a side dish for your lean proteins. If you make it into a paste, use it to replace mayonnaise on sandwiches for a healthier option.
Cucumber
Most people are aware of how cucumbers benefit your skin when applied topically, but eating cucumbers is just as good. Cucumbers are high in water, ensuring that your skin has the hydration that it needs. It also contains vitamin C to encourage the production of elastin and collagen to prevent sagging and wrinkles. Cucumbers offer natural protection again sun damage due to their caffeic acid content.
You can enjoy cucumbers in many ways. Just chop them up with your food processor and add them to soups, salads and other dishes that call for vegetables.
Peppers
Green, red and yellow peppers contain antioxidants that help to promote youthful skin by combating free radical damage. This colorful vegetable and provides you with sun protection and reduces the skin's sun sensitivity.
Add a few peppers to your salads, sauté them and add them to chicken and seafood dishes or use them to add a little heat to lean beef. You can also add chopped peppers to pastas and soups to spice them up.

When you regularly eat these seven vegetables for glowing skin, you can be confident that your skin is as healthy as possible. Your complexion will be clear, glowing and radiant at all times. Remember that you also need to drink plenty of water to ensure optimal hydration too.
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