January 21, 2015
It’s flu season, and we all know that garlic is nature’s answer to almost everything that ails us.
The most active ingredient in garlic, allicin, can perform miracles. Three cloves of garlic has enough allicin to provide the body with the same antibacterial activity as the standard penicillin dose (without the side effects of taking an antibiotic). It is therefore not a surprise that garlic is known to be “nature’s penicillin” (actually, it’s was apparently also referred to as “Russian penicillin,” as Russian medics used it so widely during the second World War).
However, I was surprised to discover that the way we typically prep and cook garlic might actually be destroying it’s medicinal value, and here is why: garlic contains two proteins called alliin and alliinase, and when garlic is crushed and chopped, they are brought together to react and create allicin. Unfortunately, alliinase is heat-sensitive, so if you throw your garlic into a hot pan right after chopping it up, alliinase is destroyed and the two proteins do not have enough time to “mingle” and react to create allicin. Without allicin, much of garlic’s medicinal properties are absent.
Thankfully, there is a very easy way to address this issue: prep your garlic and set it aside before cooking for ten minutes. This is plenty of time to allow alliin and alliinase to react. I try to remind myself to chop up the garlic first as I am preparing my ingredients for a meal, which will allow it plenty of time for it to rest before I dump it into a hot pan.
If you are eating garlic raw (in a salad, dip, etc.), you do not have to worry about this, as alliinase is only sensitive to heat.
January 19, 2015
I got a massage last summer where the masseuse ended the session by spraying homemade rosewater on my face – the smell and freshness was instantly uplifting, and I made a mental note to myself to get some of that goodness to use on a daily basis. Months later, when scanning through my pantry, I came across a bag of organic dried rose petals which reminded me of that massage session, and on a whim, I decided that my pathophysiology case study and diabetes project would have to wait – it was now the time to make rose water (there are infinite ways to procrastinate, it seems).
The past few months have been overwhelming. Between work, grad school, and settling into our new place (which has been quite the process – the movers damaged half our stuff), I have been craving some downtime – a quiet space, unplugged, with simple luxuries to help me rebalance. Being so close to the mountains has been a blessing, and spending time in nature almost every weekend has kept me sane. But for the days that I am not able to make it more than a few feet away from my computer (alas, there are too many of those), simple projects like making this homemade rosewater have been a good way to recharge and spoil myself in the simplest of ways.
I’ll be honest, I had never made rose water before, and I totally improvised. However, the results were wonderful (and my kitchen never smelled so lovely). I ended up with a little under 2 small jars (this size) of beautifully-scented, ruby-colored liquid that I have since used as a face toner, a room spray, and even added a few drops to my morning oats. You can add some to your bath, homemade cosmetic products, and baked goods. If you are a fan of rosewater, I urge you to give this project a go – it’s an uplifting and easy DIY project.
A few notes before I share the recipe: I used dried red petals, which is what gave the water this glorious color. However, please note that this can and will stain your clothes and furniture if you are not careful where you spray (it may also give your face a bit of a “rosy” hue – pun intended!). Pick up light/white colored petals if you want to avoid this issue. Also, please do buy organic roses – conventional ones have been sprayed with all sorts of chemicals that you don’t want anywhere near your face or food (these chemicals are not even food-grade, so not safe to eat). A good source for organic rose petals and other goodies is Mountain Rose Herbs (love them!).
- 1 cup dried, organic rose petals. For a more intense smell use up to 1.5 cups.
- 2.5 cups filtered water
Add the water and petals to a small saucepan. Bring the liquid to a very low simmer. Cover the saucepan, and let “cook” for about 20-25 minutes (let your nose be your guide). Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit for another 20 minutes to further infuse.
Strain the petals from the liquid into a jar or other storage container. There you have it, fresh, homemade rosewater.
Since this is a fresh product with no preservatives, store in the fridge once it has been brought down to room temperature if you do not plan on using it right away. I have stored them in mason jars, and also in this spray bottle.
NOTE: I have found other, more “advanced” methods of making rose hydrosols such as this one which you might want to explore if you are feeling more adventurous.
November 11, 2014
Yes, I am writing a post on salt…
Here’s why: many of us do our best to avoid refined foods. We minimize our consumption of white sugar, seek out whole grains, and keep our fast food binges to a minimum. However, we often add salt to practically every single savory dish we make without a second thought (I mean, it’s salt, what is there to think about?). Unfortunately, in the world of food manufacturing nothing is simple, not even salt.
Salt (or sodium chloride as you might remember from chemistry class), is an essential nutrient. We can’t function without it. Sodium and chloride are the body’s principal electrolytes, and they are essential for maintaining fluid balance. Sodium is required for nerve function and muscle contraction, while chloride is needed for the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, the elimination of carbon dioxide in the lungs, and the proper functioning of our immune system (amongst other things).
Unfortunately, table salt, the salt many of us use on a daily basis, is heavily processed.
In its natural form, salt contains almost sixty trace minerals that are a healthy part of our diet (such as potassium, zinc and magnesium – the exact makeup of the minerals will vary depending on the source).
Refined table salt on the other hand, has been heavily manufactured: this industrial processes strips the product (usually sourced from underground mines) of most all of these minerals while adding in “anti-caking chemicals” to ensure the smooth flow of the finely-ground crystals as you pour them into your cooking pot. In fact, the FDA allows up to two percent of a salt package’s contents to contain anti-caking agents (!). Anyone who has any experience with natural salt knows that it is completely natural for it to clump together, and so this addition is completely aesthetic.
I personally enjoy either sea salt (I like this brand) or Himalayan salt, not for the health benefits, but mostly for the taste. After a few years of cooking with them exclusively, I find the taste of table salt to be quite metallic (and I know of many people who feel the same way). And also, while I do not worry about the lack of trace minerals in table salt (the amounts are minute, and can be compensated for with a well-balanced diet), I do worry about ingesting anti-caking chemicals in almost every meal. Why should I consume a completely unnecessary manmade chemical every single day when I don’t have to?
Finally, a note for those of you watching your salt intake…
I won’t go into the topic of the salt and heart disease in this post (although there is much to say), but I do want to share an eye-opening statistic, since many people I know are trying to minimize their salt intake: did you know that in the United States, 75 percent of the salt we ingest is added during food processing and manufacturing, and NOT while cooking or at the table (Higdon et. al, 2012). In other words, three quarters of the salt we ingest comes from restaurants, canned food, chips and other snacks, microwave dinners, store-bought BREAD (that’s a big one), and even cereal (up to 700 mg of salt in 1 cup of many cereals – can you believe it?). So, if you are concerned about your sodium levels, the best thing you can do is enjoy yummy homemade meals. There is no point in carefully measuring out each teaspoon of salt we are using in our own kitchens if we are going to be eating out for lunch everyday while at the office… food for thought.
And also, read labels – salt is quite literally everywhere (and like I mentioned, bread is a HUGE source of salt).
Higdon, J., & Drake, V. J. (2012). Evidence-Based Approach to Vitamins and Minerals: Health Benefits and Intake Recommendations. Thieme.
August 6, 2014
While things have been quiet here at Nourished Living “online”, the past few months have been anything but. We have recently relocated to the incredibly beautiful Charlottesville, VA and are slowly but surely settling in to our new home. Please check back in soon, as I have a lot lined up to share.
For those whom I have been previously working with in the IL area (or anywhere else in the world), I am available for consultations via Skype/phone starting late August/September. I am also excited to now offer in-person consultations to those in the Charlottesville area as well. You can get in touch via my contact form above.