Blackbelt Gazette: Avocados and Eggplants Add To The Variety Of Foods

Optimum health can be achieved not only by the healthy foods we eat, but also by the variety of foods we incorporate into our diet. Among many of my favorites, foods that stump many people are the avocado and eggplant. 

Some recipes to try:

Avocado Tomato Basil Sandwich (yields 4)

1 avocado
1 large tomato, thinly sliced;
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Basil dried or fresh
8 slices of bread.

Directions: After removing the pit of the avocado, thinly slice the avocado widthwise (10-12 slices) on each side half of the avocado then use a spoon to scoop out the flesh or scoop out the flesh of the avocado and mash in a bowl until almost creamy. On the slices of bread, apply olive oil. Then add avocado, salt, pepper, and basil to taste. Finally add a slice of tomato.

Eggplant bacon
1 Eggplant medium peeled, thinly sliced
½ Tbsp salt
1 ½ Tbsp Agave Nectar or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Soy Sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp Chili Powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin powder (opt)

Directions: In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except the eggplant and whish until thoroughly mixed. Add the eggplant and allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Dehydrate eggplant on 105 degrees until completely dry (12 hours or more)

Baigan Bhartha (Eggplant Curry)
Ingredients:
1 Eggplant medium
1 med tomatoes puree
1 small garlic clove pressed
1 green chili pepper minced
¼ inch piece of ginger minced
3 TBSP oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp red chili
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp garam masala
2 tablespoon chopped cilantro to garnish

Directions: Coat eggplant with oil and broil in oven for 45-60 minutes; When eggplant is done it should be every easy to peel. Scoop out the flesh and chop finely. For sauce, heat oil in wok on medium heat. When oil is hot add garlic, chili pepper, and ginger and sauté for 30 seconds. Add tomato and cook for about 5 minutes or whenever the oil begins to separate and there is less liquid. Add all other spices except garam masala, it is always added toward the end. Cook for a few more minutes then add the eggplant. Mix well then stir in garam masala and cilantro. Serve with rice.

TCIG to Eating Raw: Blueberry-Vanilla Macadamia Nut Grawnola


This recipe was also from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Eating Raw. I am trying to make an oath with myself, not to buy 10 lbs of buckwheat groats next month :) This is so delicious! I was about to give up on buckwheat mixed with fruits, but understanding food combining has really improved my digestion of this grain and fruit combo. If you are trying to incorporate more grains into your gluten-free or raw vegan diet, buckwheat groats are the way to go. They aren't as expensive as raw oats and are truly delicious! I must admit, plain buckwheat groats taste very grainy, but with the right ingredients it is not lonely palatable but delectable! With raw buckwheat groats one can create, parfait sprinkles, sweet breads, pizza crust, grawnola, cereals, savory breads, pancakes, pie crust, and cookies as well. I highly recommended soaking the groats between 30-60 minutes as suggested by the Sprout People; dehydrating them until they are completely dry; and stocking them in a cook dry place until further use.


Sprouts: Learning To Love Them



Sprouted Mung Beans



I truly enjoy a high raw diet. I know that even though it's almost impossible to have a protein deficiency, I still want to make sure that I get all those wonderful aminos daily in my diet. One contributor is sprouting! I must admit, I had to acquire a taste for sprouts like any other new food. Now, I'm loving them. I've learned to marinate sprouts in Braggs Liquid Aminos and other spices to rid them of some of the "beanie" taste. Also dehydrating is a big help. The most important thing I learned about sprouting is DON'T OVER RINSE YOUR SPROUTS. They will definitely mildew if you do. 

The most intriguing part of sprouting is know that you're eating LIVE, organic food that you've grown yourself in your own home. My favorite sprouts and what I recommend for beginners sprouters are broccoli. Mmmmm! Have you tried sprouting? If you haven't your missing out a real treat and additional health benefits.


Sprouted Fenugreek, Very aromatic

Apple-Cinnamon "Toast" Updated 1/29/09



This was a lovely mistake. I was attempting to make apple-cinnamon grawnola. I'm so used to making grawnola with dehydrated buckwheat groats (simply adding fruit and syrup to the dry groats then dehydrating), but this recipe called for soaked b.g. and I misread the recipe and didn't realize that the syrup was to be added to the soaked groats- not processed along with it! If the groats would have been dry it would have been fine. So, the outcome was bread/toast. It's the tastiest mistake I've made this year. :)

Ingredients:
2 Apples cored, chopped
2 Tbsp agave
6-8 dates
1 Tbsp Cinnamon (to taste)
2 tsp Vanilla extract
3/4 cup Water or more

pinch of salt
2 cups Buckwheat soaked and rinsed (only soak 30-60 minutes)
2 Tbsp Flax seeds soaked in 6 Tbsp water (basically an egg replacement)

1/2 cup Almonds ground

Directions:
1. Blend the  apple, agave, dates cinnamon, water and vanilla until everything is well blended and there are no lumps.
2. In a processor, add the blended syrup, buckwheat, and almonds. Process until everything is thoroughly mixed.
3. Using teflex or parchment/wax paper, spread mixture evenly onto trays. The thicker the spread the longer it will take to dehydrate. I dehydrated on 110 degrees but 105 is fine. *Be careful not to make the ends thin, because it will dry faster and even crack.



*Crumbles can be used top yogurt, fruit, or cremes

The Incredible Edible Egg

I am often asked to explain the difference between a vegetarian and vegan diet.  Vegans eliminate all animal products including eggs, milk, and for some honey as well. Lacto-ovo vegetarians include both milk and eggs, but some vegetarians choose to include one and eliminate the other being lacto-vegetarian or ovo-vegetarian .
Vegetarians with lactose intolerance sometimes make the decision to eliminate eggs as well. I personally decided to do the same. One bad, fertilized egg was all that was needed to eliminate all eggs from my diet.
Although I eat a vegan diet, I cannot deny the nutritional value of the Incredible Edible Egg.
Found in just one egg are vitamins and minerals: vitamin A, D, E, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Every part of an egg is edible, even the shell. The yoke contains all the fat, less than half the protein, and the choline.
Choline is especially considered for its aid in neurological development. Expectant mothers are encouraged to eat eggs to promote healthy fetal brain development. Chickens fed diets with quality fats like polyunsaturated fats and seaweed such as kelp produce eggs rich in Omega 3 which also adds in neurological development. 
Besides the delectable taste and many uses in baking, the low calorie egg is a good source of protein. Known to be high in cholesterol, typically 300 mg, a moderate consumption of eggs has not shown an increase the risk of heart disease. However, it is related to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Picking the right egg can be very important to bakers. Grade AA eggs have egg whites that are thick and firm with yolks that are rounded and have virtually no defects. The shell is clean and strong. Similar to Grade AA, Grade A eggs have egg whites that are less firm, but both  are considered the best grades for presentation when frying or poaching. The egg whites of Grade B eggs appear thinner with wider yolks, and obvious stains.
The nutritional value as well as the color of the egg yolk is determined by the hens’ diet. It is beneficial to select not only eggs from cage-free hens, but those feed an organic, vegetarian, and quality fat diet rich in Omega 3.

Homestyle Chocolate Chip Pancakes (Gluten-Free & Vegan)



Yield 6-8 medium pancakes

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp demerara sugar (unbleached cane sugar)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Wet Ingredients:
2 tsp oil
1 1/3 cup chocolate soy or rice milk*
1 tsp vanilla extract

Enough oil to coat skillet

Opt: 1/8 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1.Thoroughly mix the dry ingredients together. 
2. Mix the wet ingredients together then add to the dry. Mix well. The consistency should be a batter not to thin (watery) or too thick.
3. Coat skillet with oil, pour desired amount for each cake size, and add a few chocolate chips to each cake (the batter should rise almost completely over the chips while it cooks). Cook for about 90 seconds.
4. Flip cakes over and cook on other side until done, about 30 seconds 


*Add milk according to desired consistency, you may need 1 3/4 cup milk.

These pancakes will not fall apart, and have an almost identical texture to whole wheat pancakes. The taste is excellent! For a buttermilk flavor Add 1/2 the juice of a fresh lemon.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Tofu Burgers

Tofu Burgers
I've been missing burgers! I can't tolerate all the fat in living/raw burgers (flax and seeds) even though they are delicious! So, since gluten has not been my friend, I've learned (with the the help of a few inspirational sites) to make my own gluten-free, vegan burger. It's flavorful, meaty-textured, quick and easy!
Most importantly I don't have to guess what's in it!



Ingredients:
1 carton of extra-firm tofu (not silken), mashed

1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup oats (ground in a coffee grinder)
1-2 Tbsp garbanzo bean flour (optional: gives great flavor!)

1 Tbsp Worcester sauce
1 Tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos

1 Tbsp oil (olive or peanut)

Directions:
Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl until thoroughly mixed. Add the mashed tofu and liquid ingredients. It is better to mash the tofu with your hands until the mixture is well combined. Shape into 6 medium sized patties (not to thick or thin). Set patties aside on wax or parchment paper.

Heat oil in a skillet on medium heat and fry patties until golden brown on each side (approx 3-5 minutes of each side).

Serve on desired bread with the works! I chose sliced tomato, sliced fennel, lettuce, and mustard (out of ketchp), salt and pepper.

*Be very gentle with these burgers; they tend to be fragile, but will hold together if not made to large.
**For those who are new to vegan cooking tofu/soy doesn't have much flavor, and tastes like whatever you mix with it. If you can determine the right about of ingredients, your tofu/soy dish will create a satisfying familiar taste that is healthier than it's replacement and just as gratifying.
***Feel free to tweak the recipe to fit your personal taste and let me know how it comes out!


Enjoy :)

Ani's Raw Food Dessert


Ani's Raw Food Desserts:


Blueberry Cheesecake!!!



Personally, I'm not a cheesecake fan but this was wonderful! The sweetness of the berries was a great combination for the tartness of the cake. It was simple, easy, and only required a few hours to firm up.

I substituted blueberries for strawberries. Mmmm!  I highly recommend using a spring from pan for presentation. Firmly pressing the crust will insure a secure form for the cake's structure.

In my opinion, this isn't an inexpensive dish. It calls for quite a bit of nuts (cashews and almonds) and some dates as well as lemons, coconut oil (which i stubstituted for flavor and olive oil), etc.

It would definitely find approval  at a gathering of friends/family raw or non-raw.

Sun-Dried Tomato Hummus



This was so yummy that I couldn't wait to take a pic while it was spread onto Ezekiel tortillas and topped with lettuce, tomato, and olives- OH it was delicious! I plan to make a raw version soon.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup dry chickpeas (soaked for 8-24 hrs)
4 cups water
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
3-5 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp fresh parsley
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 paparika

Bring water to a boil then add chickpeas and tomatoes. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until chikpeas are tender (approx 2-3). Drain chickpeas, reserve liquid, and transfer chickpeas to food processor. Add all ingredients and process until smooth. Add liquid if necessary.

A Strong Inside Is Imporant For A Healthy All-around (Published in the Blackbelt Gazette)

Dining at my favorite Indian restaurant was the icing on the cake for my anniversary this past weekend.  However, on my special day, I heard a remark that always ruins a conversation for me,

“I know this is bad for me, but it it’s sooo worth it.” That is what I heard myself saying as I used a soft, fluffy piece of Indian bread called naan to scoop up palak paneer, a creamed spinach with fresh cheese.

I haven’t had milk products in almost two years, and have avoided gluten at all costs. Were there any regrets? No! The gluten only caused a slight queasiness and a mild itching on my chin. I expected way worse, but that experience is proof of the advantages of a strong gut.

How important is the gut? At the end of the digestion process, the blood from the gut and colon complete digestion by carrying nutrients, minerals, toxins, etc to organs that clean the blood.  Organs such as the liver or pancreas work as hard or less as possible to clean blood.

If the digestive system is constantly overloaded with low quality foods such as sugar or gluten, which is used as an adhesive for envelopes and stamps, it will need time to detoxify in order for various organs to function properly.

The malfunctioning of organs leads to diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, etc. So, a healthy strong gut leads not only to better digestion but better health in totality.

 Allowing the body to heal is simple. For seven days or more eliminate foods that trigger poor digestion such as canned foods, foods high in starch/carbohydrates, beer, refined foods, syrups, food thickeners, wheat gluten, dairy, sugar, and yeast.

Eat a diet high in quality foods and as close to their natural state as possible.
 Supplements found beneficial are probiotics and psyllium. When deciding on a probiotic, the best choice is one that contains a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium. While taking a supplement with psyllium drink plenty of water to prevent headaches.

A recipe to try:
Marinated Greens
1 bunch collard greens destemmed and shredded
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 Tbsp garlic
1/8 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos or soy sauce of choice
2 bunches of scallions thinly chopped
1 medium tomato finely chopped

Directions: Mix all ingredients together and allow to marinate overnight or at least 4 hours if you can wait that long

Recipe Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide To Eating Raw & Ani Phyo's Raw Food Desserts




The Complete Idiot's Guide To Eating Raw:

Raw Pancakes
These were pretty good (I prefer flax cakes from Ani Phyo's Raw Food Kitchen). I used dehydrated buckwheat groats for this recipe. I would make two change to this recipe. #1 I would use less agave nectar and more dates and date water. #2 I would add 1/2 tsp cinnamon to the buckwheat when grinding it to a powder or prior to the recipe I would add cinnamon to buckwheat after it has soaked and process it then dehydrate it. The buckwheat taste has a distinct grainy aftertaste that lingers and I believe adding the cinnamon would make it even more pleasant. Note: I dehydrate on 105 degrees as opposed to 110.






Ani's Raw Food Desserts
Banana Nut Biscuits
This simple recipe was almost too simple. I always add 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg while processing the cashews (this tastes great with almonds as well). The ripeness of the banana (and quality of nuts)will determine how sweet the biscuits will be and of course organic ingredients always taste best. I also suggest using a ice cream scooper that has a release button because this is makes a sticky batter. Note: Although the batter is a light color upon going into the dehydrator it will darken quite a bit.

Green Smoothie- Banana. Blueberry, Spinach



Green Smoothie
 (Banana, Blueberry, Spinach)







Ingredients:
2 Bananas
1 1/2 cup Spinach
1/2 cup or more blueberries
1 tsp flax oil
Water as needed
1 medjool date (opt)
ice (opt)

Directions:


Blend all ingredients until smoothie.






Essential Fatty Acids Are Good For You (Published in the Blackbelt Gazette)


Essential. What can we not live without. Yes, some fats we simply can’t live without. The essential fatty acids (EFA), linoleic and linolenic acid, are not made in the body. They must be attained by the foods we eat. They are the` basis for building all other fats in the body as well as cell membranes, hormones, and other chemical messengers. It IS important to replenish the body’s daily need of EFA’s.

Omega -3 fatty acids are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaneoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Along with fish, especially oily fish, flax seeds/oil and nuts are good sources of Omega -3. They are even found in dark leafy greens, seeds, eggs, soybeans, and canola oil. Although these are good sources of Omega -3, ALA is mainly a source for energy and must be converted into EPA, to produce hormones, and DHA, required for brain development, vision, etc. Unfortunately, most studies have shown that only ten to thirty-five percent of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA. So, when choosing flax and walnuts to meet your daily need for Omega -3, remember not all ALA will be converted. The suggested daily amount is one tablespoon flax oil.

Omega -6 fatty acids are in the form of LA (linoleic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and (AA) arachidonic acid. They are found in foods with polyunsaturated fats (best fat): corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds. Herbs and supplements that are rich in Omega -6 and in the form of GLA are borage, black currant, and evening primrose

Popular sources of Omega -3 and -6 in the vegetarian community are chia and salba seeds. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3 in the form of ALA, but salba seeds contain both Omega -3 in the form ALA as well as Omega -6. These seeds are very versatile and can be added to smoothies, in salad dressing, even along with scrambled eggs.

Both Omega -3 and -6 are noted in the prevention of irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, and even prevent atherosclerosis. Although fish is a good source of Omega 3, it is helpful consider the exposure of mercury, toxins, and loss of oils due to poor processing and storage.

Lastly, Omega -9 (oleic acid) is a monosaturated fat that also promotes heart health and cancer. It is found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, and nuts.

Those with diabetes, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease all benefit from diets rich in the Omega’s.

Should You Repress Your Sweat? (Published in the Blackbelt Gazette)



Passing the body care products in a natural health store, I shared with a friend of mine the affects of aluminum based deodorant. She then replied, “I guess it pays to be musty.” We had a good laugh. She had a point, but the wrong idea of avoiding aluminum based deodorant.

Aluminum is an active ingredient in antiperspirant deodorant. The aluminum is what prevents sweating. However, this is working against the natural cleansing system of the body. Sweating cools the body down when it’s overheated, and it is through sweating that we eliminate toxins from our bodies. Ironically for some, using an antiperspirant deodorant can cause the body to sweat more and work harder than it normally would in its attempt to purge toxins. Some even believe that aluminum is a contributing factor to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

While research has not assured aluminum’s direct link to diseases, another ingredient found in most deodorants is believed potentially harmful. Parabens, used to preserve the deodorant, have appeared in breast cancer tumors completely intact. Parabens are not only found in deodorant, but in baby products, shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks, lotions, makeup- just about everything you put on your body. The five most popular: methylparaben, ethylparaben, propylparaben, isobutylparaben, butylparaben and benzylparaben are found typically at the end of the list of ingredients. Further research is needed to prove that it is a direct cause of cancer.

Still, my friend had a point. Going au natural doesn’t mean others should have to add an additional ten feet to their personal space. No, they don’t have to, because there are a variety of deodorants that aren’t antiperspirant. So, which really work?

I was “THE” sweaty girl, but recently commented looking “cooler” and “hardly break a sweat” in the summer. I recommend: Naturally Fresh Deodorant Crystal’s rock, spray, or roll-on during any season for long lasting and effective results. Tom of Maine’s is best in the winter and go for evergreen scents, because nothing sweet smelling lasts long. Hence, they’ve added a new crystal formula because it really works. Crystal deodorants are safe and contain alum which is a large molecule of mineral salt that cannot penetrate the surface of the skin as opposed to aluminum. Burt’s Bees Herbal Deodorant is also very effective and has a very fresh, “green” scent.

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