The Secrets of Sage

Salvis Officinalis, comes from the Latin salvare, meaning to 'save' or 'cure'.

There is a proverb in an old Italian manuscript that states: 'Why should he die who has sage in his garden?'

We have the English to thank for the idea of smothering sage in onions and adding it to breads and sausage for stuffing! Who knew.

The English also drank sage tea long before black tea became the choice for this afternoon tradition. I found it very tasty.

The Secret?

Several scientific studies show that Sage brightens your mood, rejuvenates your concentration, and sharpens your memory.  Perhaps that's why a sage is thus named?

Sage extract has also been valuable in alleviating or preventing:

  • Age-related Memory Loss
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cancer
  • Diabetes and
  • Ulcers

Sage is native to the Mediterranean.  This aromatic plant is easy to grow in many temperate climates, and will attract bees with its lavender flowers.

Clary Sage is the sweet and milder variety, Greek is stronger.  Dried Sage is usually Dalmatian Sage native to Croatia, and is sold rubbed, crushed or powdered.

In Cooking:

Sage goes well in gravies, butters, stuffing, meatloaf, scones, polenta, on pizza, and with fatty fish.. like Salmon.

Sage Tea.jpg

As a Tea:

Place 6 - 7 leaves in 9 oz of water and simmer for 15 minutes.

Storage:

Sage will keep for up to a year kept in an airtight container, and stored in a dark, dry place.

Super Duper Dill 'n' Veggie Omelet

We had a little plumbing crisis last night. J did a couple of loads of laundry, his little girl took a shower and we used bathrooms all within the same hour or so.... Yikes!  Our 35-year-old pipes couldn't handle it. While waiting for the plumber this morning, I had time to make a leisurely breakfast.

One of the classic breakfasts that is served in Lebanon is a Dill Omelet. Mom made an oven baked version that includes some flour, and was rich with dill and onions.

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The King of Vegetables and My Eggplant Caponata

As a child, eggplants were my least favorite vegetable, much to my mother's disappointment.  The only exception was Baba Ghannouj, a must at every Lebanese appetizer table.
You see, in the Middle East, the Eggplant is referred to as the King of Stuffed Vegetables due to its versatility and the large number recipes that feature this violet beauty.
When I was in my preteen years, I decided that every couple of weeks or so I would force my self to eat one food item that I did not like. When the eggplant's turn came around, it took a while, but slowly I grew to love that little bit of creamy bitterness it offers.  Soon my favorite recipes included 4 eggplant dishes... 1) Eggplant rounds pan-fried in olive oil and topped with a Spicy Tomato-Onion medley; 2) Eggplant stuffed with Rice, Lamb, Onions, Tomatoes and Spices; 3) Eggplant-Beef boats with Pine Nuts; and 4) Baba Ghannouj.
The recipe below calls for the Caponata to be served cold as an appetizer.  Since it is versatile, I have heated it up and spooned it over hot whole wheat couscous that has been cooked in chicken or vegetable broth, for a wonderful meal!

Recipe

Serves @ 10 as an appetizer
  • 2 lbs. organic Eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 c. organic White Onion, small diced
  • ½ c. organic Bell Pepper, small diced
  • 2 Tbs. Garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 c. organic Tomatoes (peeled, seeded, and small diced)
  • ¼ c. organic Basil, fresh chopped
  • 2 Tbs. Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. organic Lemon, squeezed
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 1 small Green Chili, minced (opt.)
  • ¼ c. Green Olives, chopped
  • 2 tsp. Black pepper, coarsely ground
  • 1 Head of Green leaf Lettuce
Sauté diced eggplant in olive oil until lightly browned; removed from pan. In the same pan, sauté onions, bell peppers, tomatoes and garlic for 2 minutes (vegetables should still have some texture, and garlic should not brown). Mix everything else together in a large bowl with the cooked vegetables.
Refrigerate overnight.
Serve a large scoop of pate over a bed of lettuce and surround with toasted whole wheat pita bread triangles, or scoop onto whole wheat Tuscan bread that has a light smear of Vegenaise.

~ Buon Apetito!

Kale Medley Wraps

Kale and Greens

medley bags from Trader Joe (baby kale, baby chard, baby spinach)  and decided to create an Asian Style wrap filling using that and a few other ingredients.

I had a cup of soaked and sprouted mung beans in the fridge, and about a cup of sprouted lentils that I cooked with green tea, onion, cumin, salt and pepper. So here's what was born from this starter.

Kale seasoning
Kale seasoning

Kale, Greens and Bean Filling

  • 5-6 cups mixed organic Greens (Kale, Chard, Spinach, Collards, Watercress, etc..)
  • 2 tsp.organic  extra virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 organic White onion, sliced thin
  • 1 c. organic Carrots, shredded
  • 1 c. cooked sprouted Lentils (cook in broth or green tea and spices to give it flavor)
  • 1 c. Mung Beans, soaked overnight till sprouted
  • 1/4 c. Water or Vegetable broth
  • 2 Tbs. organic Ginger, chopped
  • 3 Tbs. Tamari Sauce (Gluten Free)
  • 3 Tbs. Sweet Chili Sauce
  • 1 packet Stevia
  • 1 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

Pour olive oil into a large sauté pan over medium heat, for 1 minute. Tilt pan to spread oil a little. Add onions and saute for 2 minutes, then add greens and carrots.

Stir for 5 -6 minutes or until greens turn bright.

carrot onion kale saute
carrot onion kale saute

Add Mung beans, lentils and water. Stir to mix.  When it starts to simmer, turn heat to Low, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Kale burrito filling 3
Kale burrito filling 3

Add ginger, and all seasonings.

kale saute _ginger
kale saute _ginger

Stir well, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is tender. Add a little more water if necessary.

Taste and adjust seasoning.

Kale burrito filling 4
Kale burrito filling 4

Serve wrapped in wilted Chard leaf, whole grain Tortilla, or open face on whole wheat Pita bread. May also be served on top of wild rice or mixed in with buckwheat noodles!

 Bon Apetit!

Dreaming of Minty Kabobs

On June 6th I had surgery to complete a cosmetic need after my surgery in May 2011. This to me is the culmination, the period at the end of the two-year cancer experience process I have lived. With God's grace, I can mark that day as the end of a transformation and the beginning of living what I learned in those two years...of giving back in any way I am able.

And so I am confined to the house, and mostly my room, for a week.  No bending, lifting, driving, jumping on the bed or doing the Macarena! Also, as a test of my willpower, no cooking!

Today is my son's last day of school, and so I have solicited the aid of J and my daughter to stock our dining room table with a whole wheat pizza, fresh veggies, and some type of dessert.  He's bringing a few friends over, but I will be hiding in my room with my apple slices, cinnamon and almond cheese snack!

I can type however!  At least for a few minutes...

And so of course, since thinking of food and reading and watching videos are all I can do (oh, and I colored a cartoon scene I drew a few months ago), I figure why not contemplate what I want to make the instant I have the ok to resume my activities!

Well, these Kabobs came to mind. Lamb seemed the right protein, and middle eastern spices the right compliment.

Minty Lamb Kabobs

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

  • 1 Tbs. whole wheat Bulgur, rinsed (use bran flakes or quinoa for Gluten Free version)
  • 2 tsp. Coriander
  • 2 tsp. Cumin seeds
  • 3 whole Cloves
  • 3 green Cardamom pods
  • 6 black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger
  • 2 Garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh Mint
  • 1 small organic Onion, chopped
  • 14 oz. ground organic grass-fed Lamb
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt

Dip

  • 1/2 c. plain Soy or Coconut Yogurt
  • 1 tsp. Lemon juice
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh Mint
  • 3-inch piece of organic Cucumber, grated
  • 1 tsp. Mango Chutney

Soak bulgur wheat in 1/4 c. of warm water for 5 minutes. Drain.

Preheat oven on Broil.

Heat skillet over medium heat, and dry-fry the coriander, cumin, cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns, until they turn a shade darker and release a roasted aroma. Watch and stir often to avoid burning.

Grind the spices in coffee grinder, spice mill or with mortar and pestle.

Put ginger and garlic in food processor or blender and process to a puree.  Add the spices, bulgur, mint, onion, lamb, and salt and process until finely chopped. You may alternately do this by hand, chopping garlic and ginger.

Mold kabobs into small sausage shapes or  4 metal or pre-soaked wood skewers. Cook under broiler for 10 - 15 minutes, turning skewers occasionally.

To make dip, mix all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Serve kabobs with lime slices and the cucumber - yogurt dip. Garnish with mint leaves.

~ To Your Health!

Are You a Bean? or ... the Lentil Love Affair

Da Facts

The lentil (Lens ensculenta) is a legume that grows in pods containing one or two lentil seeds.  They are believed to have originated in central Asia.

Lentils have been eaten by humans since Neolithic times and were one of the first domesticated crops.  In the Middle East, lentil seeds have been found dating back more than 8000 years.

In the Old Testament, Esau gives up his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of lentil soup. The Greek playwright Aristophanes called lentil soup the "sweetest of delicacies." Lentils have been found in Egyptian tombs dating as far back as 2400 BC.

In India, the lentil is known as dal or daal. For many centuries, lentils were considered to be "the poor man's meat." In Catholic countries, those who couldn't afford fish would eat lentils during Lent instead.

There are many varieties and colors of lentils, including brown, yellow, black, orange, red and green.  Beluga lentils are black and one of the smallest varieties of lentils, having an appearance similar to caviar.

French green lentils are small, delicate, and flavorful and hold their shape after cooking better than many other types of lentil. The most common lentils used in the United States are green and brown, since these varieties are best at retaining their shape after cooking.

The optical lens is named after the Latin word for lentil, lens. Unlike most other beans, lentils don't need to be soaked before cooking.

More Facts

With about 30% of their calories from protein, lentils have the third-highest level of protein, by weight, of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp. Proteins include the essential amino acids isoleucine and lysine , and lentils are an essential source of inexpensive protein in many parts of the world which have large vegetarian populations.

Lentils are deficient in two essential amino acids, methionine and cysteine. However, sprouted lentils contain sufficient levels of all essential amino acids, including methionine and cysteine.

Lentils also contain dietary fiber, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fiber than green lentils (11% rather than 31%). Health magazine has selected lentils as one of the five healthiest foods. Lentils are often mixed with grains, such as rice, which results in a complete protein dish.

   References:

Randy Sell. "Lentil". North Dakota State University Department of Agricultural Economics. Archived from the original on 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2011-12-14.

Raymond, Joan (March 2006). "World's Healthiest Foods: Lentils (India)". Health Magazine.

Da Story

As a child and up to now, lentils have been one of my favorite beany legumes! There are two traditional Lebanese lentil dishes that Mom made quite often, and that I devoured... 1) Mjaddara : a lentil and rice mash that is better than chocolate fudge; and 2) Shawrabit Adas: 'Lentil Soup' with Swiss Chard and Cumin.

Both dishes were on the Top of my Comfort Foods list.  On wintry days when I visited my Uncle Yusef's house where Tehta (Grandma) lived, we'd huddle around their kerosene stove in the 'winter room', sitting on long cushions that bordered the wall, and eat bowls of Mjaddara with pita bread, pickles and shredded cabbage salad. My 3 cousins and I would listen to the adult conversations, poking fun at whoever was featured in each story, or play silly word games.

Lentils are versatile.  You can add them to salads, to chilies, and soups.

Click on the Recipe Names to go to the recipes.

~ Sahtein!

Hoda's Lentil Salad

Lentils have been a staple, like rice, in the Middle East, for many centuries.  Eaten together, they offer a low-fat, nutritious source of complete protein, fiber, iron and other essential minerals. This is one of my favorite lentil salads. It's based on a lentil and bulgur salad the my mother used to make back in the old country.

Glycemic Values

The glycemic index gives us the impact of carbohydrates on our blood sugar levels; the higher a food's number, the more it increases blood sugar. On a scale where 100 is pure sugar (glucose), white rice has a glycemic index of 64, while lentils are low on the index with a rating of 29.

I omit the bulgur now to lower the carb content, but you certainly may add 1/4 c. whole wheat bulgur that has been soaked in warm water until softened.

Adjust the seasoning if you add bulgur.

This salad is full of fiber and flavor. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Hoda's Lentil Salad

  • 2 c. boiled organic Brown Lentils
  • 3 organic Scallions, chopped
  • 1/2 c. organic Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. Cinnamon
  • dash of Black pepper
  • Splash of lemon juice (opt.)

Mix all together.  Let sit 15 minutes to blend flavors.  Stir and enjoy served in romaine lettuce leaf boats.

~ Sahtein (double health)!

The Antioxidant Capacity of Veggies, Fruits n' Spices

This table shows the anti-oxidant potency, ORAC (Oxygen radical absorbant-capacity) value of the listed foods.

An  intake of at least 8,500 ORAC is recommended, and yet most of us only get around 1,800 units per day.

>>  People with high oxidation levels (athletes, runners..) may need 10,000 units or more to maintain a healthy immune system.

Diet is the preferred way to increase your levels, as opposed to supplements, but most people don't seem able to fit 7 -8 servings of these fruits and vegetables a day.  That's why taking pharmaceutical-quality antioxidants is critical.  I can guide you in selecting trusted brands, and the top hitters.

Organic foods with deeper, darker colors have higher anti-oxidant levels.  Commercially raised, sprayed produce offers much less, and actually taxes your immune system.

 

The Antioxidant Capacity of Fruits and Vegetables

 

Blueberries 1 cup 3240
Cinnamon, ground ¼ tsp 2675
Pomegranate juice 5 ozs 2450
Pomegranate juice 5 ozs 2450
Blackberries 1 cup 2932
Strawberries 1 cup 2288
Figs ½ c. 2124
Oregano leaf, dried ¼ tsp. 2001
Prunes 4 pitted 1848
Pomegranate ½ pomegranate 1654
Turmeric ¼ tsp 1592
Raspberries 1 cup 1510
Brussels Sprouts 6 1236
Green Tea 1 teabag, steeped 5   mins 1200
Raisins ¼ cup 1019
Spinach, steamed ½ cup, cooked 1089
Kale ½ cup, cooked 1150
Oatbran 1/2 cup 992
Orange 1 982
Plum, dark purple 1 949
Cabbage, purple ½ cup 924
Cranberries ½ cup 831
Broccoli Florets ½ c. cooked 817
Parsley, dried ¼ tsp. 743
Beets ½ cup, cooked 715
Spinach, Raw 1 cup 678
Basil leaf, dried ¼ tsp 675
Cantaloupe ½ melon 670
Beans, baked ½ cup 640
Plum, red 1 626
Grapefruit, pink ½ 580
Pepper, Red 1 med. Pepper 540
Watermelon 1/16th,   10” diameter 501
Kiwi 1 458
Cherries 10 455
Asparagus 8 spears 900
Beans, Kidney ½ cup, cooked 400
Eggplant, with skin ½ cup, cooked 386
Onion ½ cup chopped 360
Corn ½ cup cooked 330
Yam or sweet potato ½ cup cooked 301
Pumpkin ½ cup mashed 301
Apple 1 medium 300
Peas, frozen ½ c. cooked 291
Ginger, ground ¼ tsp. 288
Banana 1 252
Applesauce ½ cup 250
Mango 1/2 cup 246
Potatoes ½ cup cooked 244
Cauliflower ½ cup cooked 234
Tomato 1 medium 233
Zucchini ½ cup, cooked 230
Pear 1 medium 222
Leaf Lettuce 10 leaves 200
Tofu ½ cup 195
Squash, yellow ½ cup, cooked 183
Grapes, red 10 177
Apricots 3 175
Carrots, cooked ½ cup 160
Tomato sauce ¼ cup 149
Avocado, Florida ½ 149
Peach 1 medium 137
Green beans ½ cup cooked 125
Melon, honeydew 1/10th 125
Lettuce, iceberg 5 large leaves 116
Carrots, raw ½ cup 115
Grapes, white 10 107
Cabbage, white ½ cup 105
Celery ½ cup, diced 60
Cucumber ½ cup, sliced 28

The Reasoning for Seasoning*!

Abstract: The activation of nuclear transcription factor κB has now been linked with a variety of inflammatory diseases, including cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, diabetes, allergy, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis, septic shock, and AIDS.

Extensive research in the last few years has shown that the pathway that activates this transcription factor can be interrupted by phytochemicals derived from spices such as turmeric (curcumin), red pepper, cloves , ginger, cumin, anise, and fennel, basil and rosemary, garlic, and pomegranate (ellagic acid).

For the first time, therefore, research provides “reasoning for seasoning.”*

Suppression of the Nuclear Factor-κB Activation Pathway by Spice-Derived Phytochemicals: BHARAT B. AGGARWAL*, SHISHIR SHISHODIA.

Article first published online: 12 JAN 2006 - DOI: 10.1196/annals.1329.054

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

By now you're sure to know that Curry is a food we are encouraged to eat frequently. The ingredient that gives it its lovely yellow-ish color is Turmeric, containing the powerful Antioxidant, Curcumin. Read about this amazing, healing spice here.

Thai Yellow Curry Paste

  • 1-2 red or Green chilies, or 1/2 to 1 tsp. Cayenne pepper
  • 2 organic Shallots (or 1 small onion)
  • 1 thumb-size piece Galangal root or Ginger, sliced
  • 3-4 large cloves Garlic
  • 1 tsp. ground Coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. whole Cumin seed
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh Nutmeg, or substitute cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp. Fish sauce (available at Asian stores)
  • 3/4- 1 tsp. Turmeric
  • 1 Tbs. Xylitol or 2 tsp. Stevia
  • 1-2 fresh or frozen Kaffir Lme leaves, snipped into small pieces with scissors (discard central stem), or substitute bay leaf
  • 1 -14 oz. can Coconut Milk
  • 1 Tbs. fresh Lime juice
  • 1 Tbs. organic Ketchup

Toss all in food processor and blend. Refrigerate.

~ Easy peasy! ♥

Lower Blood Sugar with These Foods

Elevated blood sugar levels are associated with inflammation, tumor proliferation, decrease in immune function, and angiogenesis.

Angiogenesis plays a critical role in the growth and spread of cancer. A blood supply is necessary for tumors to grow beyond a few millimeters in size. Tumors can cause this blood supply to form by giving off chemical signals that stimulate angiogenesis.

Thankfully, there are many foods that help lower our blood sugar.  There are also tactics you can use to keep your blood sugar in check:

1. Avoid refined, low fiber carbs and sweets

2. Choose whole grain foods that offer more than 1-gram of fiber for every 10-grams of Carbs (the Good Carb Formula.)

3. Avoid eating carbs alone especially on an empty stomach! Add a protein or healthy fat to balance blood sugar (almond butter, coconut oil, sardines, light meat tuna, almond cream cheese,etc.)

Eat more of these. . .

  • Apples, Red with Peel
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • avocadoAvocados
  • Barley
  • Black Beans
  • Blueberries
  • Chamomile tea
  • Chard
  • Cherries
  • Cinnamoncinnamon
  • Flax-seed Meal
  • Garlic
  • Goji Berries
  • Green tea
  • Leeks
  • Lemon
  • Parsley
  • Nuts
  • Oat Bran
  • Olive oilraspberry
  • Onions
  • Raspberries
  • Seeds
  • Sweet potato
  • Yams

~ Cheers!

Black Pepper

Black pepper can be a vital anti-cancer component in your diet. Piperine is the active component in pepper that is believed to prevent the harm that free radicals can cause your body. Piperine also has the ability to enhance the absorption of other beneficial anti-cancer compounds in other foods.

When black pepper is ingested alongside green tea, the absorption of the anti-cancer compound EGCG present in green tea is highly increased.  Also, the body’s absorption of  curcumin (the compound in turmeric) increases by 2000% when you add black pepper!

Read more about curcumin here.

Turmeric (Curcumin)

  Turmeric:  is a bright yellow spice that has an anti-inflammatory effect and demonstrates anticancer as well as antioxidant properties.

 Its primary active ingredient, curcumin, may be useful in the prevention and treatment of stomach, intestinal, colon, skin, and liver cancers. It has been found in studies, that curcumin blocks the growth of human tumors and prevents tumor angiogenesis which basically deprives the tumor of a nutrient source.

Turmeric may be quite useful in colon cancer because of its ability to reduce the levels of COX-2, the enzyme responsible for production of inflammatory molecules.

A teaspoon of turmeric added to soup, salad, or oatmeal is a quick and easy way to increase your curcumin intake. I will also post some dessert recipes (yes, ones that are in harmony with this diet) that use turmeric.

It should be noted that the body’s absorption of the curcumin increases by 2000% when you add black pepper!

The best Curcumin and the one used at M.D. Anderson is: Super Curcumin C-3 formula with bioperene.

On the Internet you can find 120 x 1,000 mg caplets sell for about $30.00, which is pro rated to 25¢ apiece. If you took six of these per day (3 doses of 2 caplets apiece) this would cost $1.50 per day.

~The new Mellow Yellow!