Once again, my friend and author Heidi Bright (“Thriver Soup”) has offered such a simply written and informative piece that I am compelled to copy:
“Fresh, fragrant mandarins are precious, full of flavor, and full of power. The magic lies in their peels—which are quite edible and contain potent anti-cancer properties (see links below). Also called clementines and tangerines, these citrus fruits are fresh and sitting in grocery stores now.
If you have a high-speed blender, mix two whole mandarins (peel on) with a quarter cup cranberries (at this time of year, try frozen, not the packaged sugary snacks), a little raw honey and/or stevia, a quarter cup raw/soaked-in-salt-water pecans, and coconut butter. Blend. Mmmm! Add chia seeds if desired. Taste the fragrance, ingest the power.”
I would like to add my two cents worth: Wash your fruit with a scrubbing sponge and some dishwashing liquid if you intend to eat the skins – even organic can be sprayed with color – which doesn’t taste as good!
I had the pleasure of attending a tasting last week at My Artisano Cheese and boy was I delighted. Two cheesemakers were there, Ed-Mar Dairy as well as My Artisano, and Britt Hedges of Martin & Company Wines was there to pour lovely pairing wines.
I’m so incredibly excited that our region is getting cheesy! You can get a private tour or visit on Saturdays at Ed-Mar located in Walton KY, where you can watch the milking robot work and enjoy the healthy free range cows. I was especially impressed with their Banklick Cream and Maddie’s Gold varieties, and Lula’s for Lunch, and More! Catering will be picking up some of their special Queso very soon for a Mexican themed event. You can pick up Ed Mar Cheeses at these retail outlets.
Eduardo Rodriguez, the cheesemaker at My Artisano, is so obviously passionate about his varieties as he lovingly explains his process. He likes to name his cheese after place – a Blue Ash Airport Runway for his MOST important tasting Grisardo – a washed rind cheese – and Sharon Creek – his brie style cheese that will knock your socks off. Click here to see where these cheeses can be bought or enjoyed at local restaurants.
I tasted all 3 wine varieties offered with the suggested cheeses, but I kept coming back to a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero (a region in Spain) called Tamaral Crianza 2011. I discovered that this gem can be picked up at Country Fresh Farmer’s Market in Anderson! Yay! So “Let’s Get Cheezy Wid It”!!
…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it! Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound). But hard? No. First, let’s talk about the benefits:
Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol, increase probiotic bacteria in the gut, and help maintain a healthy liver.
Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY. Need I tell you the health benefits?
Now, let’s talk facts:
The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers. See? (this one has flowered obviously)
A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom. It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.
You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them. Do this: choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe. Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes. Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side). If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred. Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like. If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping. Truly, you don’t really need anything. Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth. Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky. The heart will be your final reward. The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure. Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know! There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!
Celery does more than serve as a swizzle stick for your glass of tomato juice. The stalks are packed with a plant compound called luteolin, which calms a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord that works to keep the brain in good working order. Luteolin is linked to lower rates of age-related memory loss, according to a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Because the study was carried out in mice, more research needs to be done to see if the results can be replicated in humans.
Celery also takes more calories to chew and swallow than it contains – which makes it a GREAT diet food. Unless, if you’re like Lula, you drown it in bleu cheese. 🙂 Celery is a chief component in flavor bases used in several world cuisines – the Latin community calls it Sofrito, the French call it Mire Poix, and southerners call it the Holy Trinity! Believe it or not it is an ingredient in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s beauty before you : our Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits!
Raisins are among the top food sources of boron, a brain-boosting mineral. “Among its other benefits, boron improves mental alertness, short-term memory and focus, and even affects eye-hand coordination and dexterity,” says Forrest Nielsen, retired research nutritionist at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in North Dakota. You probably won’t learn to juggle four balls at once just by eating a handful of raisins, but this fruit (and a lot of practice) will set you on the right path. If you like raisins, Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering can put them in any dish you want!!
Other foods rich in boron: chickpeas, almonds, walnuts, avocados.
As you smell a fresh pine tree, cookies baking, bayberry or orange, do flashes of past Christmas holidays come flooding through your mind? This very aromatic season is an easy way to describe the phenomenon of scent and memory.
The process of smelling is a thing of beauty. Smell is a chemical sense detected by sensory cells called chemoreceptors in the nose that detect smell and pass on electrical impulses to the brain. The brain then interprets patterns in electrical activity as specific odors and olfactory sensation becomes perception – we recognize this as smell. The only other chemical system that can quickly identify, make sense of and memorize new molecules is the immune system (Sarah Dowdy, How Stuff Works).
Gratefully reprinted with permission from my good friend Pat Faust, Gerontologist – and her blog “My Boomer Brain”
These gemlike spuds are about as big as a Ping-Pong ball, but don’t let their size fool you. Purple potatoes have many times the antioxidant power of their cousins, white and yellow potatoes. Studies have found that the plant pigments that give them their lovely color, called anthocyanins, may improve memory and prevent age-related muddled thinking. Also, their high levels of folate help lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can damage brain cells. Pretty good for such a tiny tater.
Did you know all potatoes originated in the Andes? Yup – that’s where they come from! Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering LUVS potatoes and uses them in many different dishes in EVERY color!
Celery Root, that is!! Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks. It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)
Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel. Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you. The end product will be sweeter. The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes. It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews. Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!
Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke. Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!
Did you know that cucumbers are BRAIN FOOD?!? And the fresher they are (as in you’re growing them right now aren’t you?!? are they coming out of your ears?!?) the more brain boost they pack?
Cucumbers are high in potassium which helps brain cells talk to each other. When they talk to each other they maintain healthy connections and stay lubricated. Potassium also helps you with that sunny disposition, and lack of it contributes to depression
Cukes also contain an anti-inflammatory plant compound called fisetin, which researchers are discovering helps to delay age related nerve cell decline in the brain. You can’t get more brainy than Lula’s for Lunch,,,and More! Catering ‘s Lomi a’la Lula – Salmon and Cucumber in one genius WALLOP!!
In Lula's Kitchen, Love is ALWAYS our First Ingredient!