Learn All About Kombucha and Its Amazing Health Benefits

Kombucha is Set to Become the Hottest Drink Trend

Kombucha

If 2017 was the year of fermented foods, 2018 is turning out to be the year of kombucha. While fermented foods, such as kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh and kefir, are considered gut-friendly and healthful, kombucha can be viewed as the ultimate fermented drink. Read on to discover everything you always wanted to know about kombucha – even if you never heard of it before.

Kom What?

Kombucha is an ancient fermented drink, sometimes referred to as mushroom tea. It has a mushroom color, tan and cloudy, with bits of something… well, weird, floating in it. That’s the “scoby,” and if anything will turn you off to kombucha before you even try it, it’s that. Once you get past the unattractive look of the scoby, you’ll find that kombucha is a sweet and tangy drink with a bit of fizz – a drink that is worth your while getting to know.

Kombucha, kimchi, and other fermented foods have long been part of diets in various parts of the world, but only now are they appearing in the West as the food of the hour. Kombucha is tea that has been fermented from 1 to 3 weeks; it consists of black tea and sugar (from various sources, including cane sugar, fruit or honey) and it is considered to be one of the most effective probiotic drinks out there. It contains an army of bacteria and yeast that are responsible for initiating the fermentation process once it is combined with sugar. The word “kombucha” means “kelp tea” in Japanese, though in Japan itself kombucha is a mild tea (rather than a fizzy, fermented beverage.) Some people call kombucha “booch,” and that’s the term that’s been catching on with those in the know.

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Enjoy Nutrient-Packed Avocados in Many Shapes and Forms

Avocados: Versatile and Healthful Superfood

All About Avocados

Let’s clear something up right away – contrary to popular belief, the avocado is a fruit. The green color of avocados, and their lack of sweetness, can trick you into thinking they’re vegetables; however, not only is an avocado a fruit, it’s a berry. Call it what you may, however, avocados are incredibly healthy and wonderfully versatile and, if you’re unfamiliar with this amazing fruit, it’s time to be introduced.

History of Avocados

Archaeologists have found evidence of wild-avocado consumption in central Mexico going back almost 10,000 years in central Mexico, and it is believed that people began cultivating avocados about 5,000 years ago. Fifteenth-century Spanish navigator Martin Fernandez De Encisco set out on his quest to discover the “New World,” and came upon a fruit in the port town of Yaharo, Mexico, that, he wrote, “looks like an orange but turns yellowish when it is ready to be eaten.” He went on to explain the wonderful flavor of the fruit, which tastes “like butter” and is “so good and pleasing to the palate.” Later, Spanish historian Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo discovered the fruit in the northern part of South America. He identified the avocado tree as a variation of a pear tree in Spain and said that the fruit, “is the color and shape of pears, and the rind somewhat thicker, but softer, and in the center of the fruit is a seed like a peeled chestnut.” He goes on to say that between the peel and the pit “is the part which is eaten, and is a paste very similar to butter and … of good taste.”

Neither Encisco nor Oviedo named the fruit, leaving that to explorer Pedro de Cieza de Leon who referred to it as “aguacate” in his mid-16th century writings and said that the fruit was widely used by the people from the Inca civilization. The Spanish conquistadors eventually brought avocados to Europe and sold them to other countries including England. However, the name avocado appeared for the first time in naturalist Sir Hans Sloane’s catalog of Jamaican plants, which was published in 1696. He described the tree and called it, “the avocado or alligator pear-tree, which grows in gardens and fields throughout Jamaica.”

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Discover the Health Values and History of Chocolate

Fill Your Senses with Fabulous Chocolate

Wonderful, Delicious, Healthy Chocolate

Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food: we reach for it in times of stress, it improves our mood when the going gets rough, and it is downright delicious under any circumstances. Amazingly, after years of getting a bad rap, as unhealthy and high in sugar, chocolate is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and research now shows that high-quality chocolate, in moderation, is actually good for us. That’s a win-win situation for the chocoholics among us – which is pretty much everyone, right?

The History of Chocolate

In “A Brief History of Chocolate,” the Smithsonian Institute Magazine interviews Alexander Leaf, who runs Chocolate Tours of New York. As Leaf says, chocolate is “the best-known food that nobody knows anything about.” Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which was a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. Today, the term “cacao” is usually used to refer to the plant or its beans before processing, while the term “chocolate” refers to anything that is made from the beans.

Chocolate has been around for about 2,000 years, though some experts claim that it may be even older. Recently, anthropologists discovered cacao residue on pottery excavated in Honduras that could date back as far as 1400 B.C.! In pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered so valuable that they were used as currency. And the ancient Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical properties, using it in many rituals related to birth, marriage and death.

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So Many Uses for Strawberries: Nature’s Candy

Strawberries: The Widely Loved Spring and Summer Offering

The Wondrous Strawberry

As winter morphs into spring, it’s time for everyone’s favorite fruit to hit the marketplace: strawberries. Although strawberries are available in most places all year ‘round, their peak seasons – when they’re at their reddest, juiciest, and most delectable – are spring and summer. Their sweetness and juiciness have earned them a reputation of being nature’s candy, loved by children and adults alike. Whether you like your strawbs straight up, dipped in sugar, or smothered in whipped cream, now is the time to put them on your produce list and bring them home to enjoy.

A Few Strawberry Facts

Strawberries are members of the Rosaceae family, and they are known botanically as Fragaria ananassa. Technically and botanically speaking, strawberries, like raspberries, aren’t really berries. While true berries stem from one flower with one ovary and typically have several seeds, strawberries are derived from a single flower with more than one ovary, making them what is known as an “aggregate” fruit, fruits that develop from multiple ovaries of a single fruit.

Real berries have seeds on the inside of the fruit, while a strawberry wears its seeds on its exterior. (The definition of a berry as something produced from one flower with one ovary containing seeds on the inside means that some of the lesser known berries are bananas, pumpkins, avocadoes, tomatoes, watermelons, and kiwis… strange but true.)

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Discover the Health Values and Uses of Dates

Dates: Healthful and Sweet Fruit

Dates: Sweet and Luscious Fruit

Dates – the dried yet succulent morsels of amber-brown deliciousness that, at the same time, are healthy and satisfy our craving for sweetness – are the fruit of a tree known as the date palm. Dates are among the oldest cultivated fruits in the world, first thriving in the Middle East and now grown all over the globe. There are over 2,000 varieties of dates, but the medjool date is the most common type of dates grown in the United States.

Dates: Background

The name “date” is derived from the Greek word daktylos, which means finger, probably because dates are more or less shaped like the fingers of the hand. In the Middle East and Northern Africa, dates have been grown for thousands of years as a profitable agricultural product. (The date palm is the national symbol of both Israel and Saudi Arabia.) Date palms are found in abundance in the desert (one of the few crops that grow in such arid, hot, and challenging conditions) and many parts of the Middle East would be uninhabitable were it not for this type of tree.

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The Revival of the Nutrition-Packed Root Vegetable

Root Vegetables are Making a Comeback

The Root Vegetable Revival

Several factors are taking root vegetables out of the culinary (and metaphorical) cellar and onto plates everywhere. The trend among restaurants and caterers to use locally grown ingredients has spread to the home cook, as well, and many people are shopping in farmers’ markets for the freshest produce possible. And, as people make the shift from a supermarket state of mind to a local-market mentality, the root vegetable is making a comeback.

Nutritious, Delicious Root Vegetables

Root vegetables, particularly potatoes, carrots, and sweet potatoes, have long been considered staples, albeit neither glamorous nor exciting. Now, however, retro is in and the lowly root vegetable has gone from staid and boring to hip and trendy. Root vegetables are literally the roots of a plant. Some root vegetables — carrots, radishes, beets and sweet potatoes — are familiar to just about everyone, while others, such as parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, kohlrabi, celery root, Jerusalem artichokes, and ginger, are a bit more esoteric.

Strictly speaking, a root vegetable is the underground, edible portion of a plant. Botanists make distinctions between “true roots” and “tuberous roots” and other non-roots that grow below ground such as “tubers” and “rhizomes” and “bulbs.” The root is one of six parts of a plant: the root, the stem, the leaves, the flowers, the fruits and the seeds. Plants anchor themselves into the ground with their roots, drawing moisture and nutrients through the roots into the above-ground stems and leaves. Many of these roots are inedible; however, root vegetables are the roots of certain plants that swell up to form an edible root.

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Pulled Beef: A Slow-Cooked and Delicious Dinner Option

Pulled Beef Makes Any Meal a Party

Pulled Beef is the Current “Thing”

In restaurants and barbecue joints everywhere, pulled beef is having its moment. Also known as shredded beef, pulled beef is essentially slow-cooked meat, prepared over time in a mouth-watering sauce, which is then shredded into stringy deliciousness. Having pulled beef on hand means never having to wonder about tonight’s menu or how to feed a hungry crowd.

About Pulled Beef

Commonly referred to as shredded beef or pulled beef, this method of preparation involves slow and lengthy cooking of beef cuts to create individual strands of tender meat for various food dishes. A traditional way to prepare shredded beef is to cook the chuck or brisket cut of beef for a long period of time in a slow cooker or an oven in order to tenderize the meat and allow it to fall apart into narrow pieces of meat. After being cooked, the meat is then often mixed with seasoned sauces to be served on sandwich buns, in tacos or in burritos, over hummus, on a slider, or alone, as a main dish of tenderized beef.

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Endless Uses for the Zesty Lemons in Summer Recipes

Lemons: The Refreshing Addition to Summer Dishes

Lemons are the Perfect Addition to a Summer Menu

As temperatures rise and the novelty of the summer heat starts to wear off, the search for lighter foods becomes all consuming. Cold soups and salads are summer staples but, for me, if a dish isn’t lemony, it isn’t summery. From lemonade to lemon meringue pie, from lemon-based salad dressing to lemon-flavored Italian ices, the tart, unique, refreshing taste of lemons is synonymous with summer, and a cooking prerequisite for the hot summer months.

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A Beginners Primer to Different Types of Raw Fish

A Raw Fish Primer: From Ceviche and Beyond

Different Types of Raw Fish

Raw fish is all the rage right now, but in order to find a method in the madness we need to set things straight. What we’re talking about is raw or marinated fish dishes, with a variety of names that only the most dedicated foodie will easily differentiate between. Whereas raw fish dishes have been popular for a while on the West Coast, they are now creeping inland due to the never-ending search for new and unusual foods and because of the many plusses of eating raw fish, primarily the unique taste.

Raw Fish Should Come with Precautions

Before you eat raw fish – and certainly before you prepare it on your own – check out the guidelines for whether raw fish is safe to eat set forth by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Opting for high quality should be the number-one rule. (…Read More…)

Never Underestimate the Power of the Chickpea

Chickpeas: Versatile and Multi-Purpose Legume

The Amazing Chickpea

You may not realize it – certainly not just by looking at it – but the little chickpea (also known as the garbanzo bean) is pretty amazing. This legume has been around for hundreds of years, devoured through the ages for its health benefits and high nutrition level. Chickpeas are a mighty source of protein, favored in particular by vegans and eaten in great quantities around the world. The chickpea is loaded with dietary fiber – your colon will thank you; the equivalent of one cup of cooked chickpeas offers half the recommended amount of daily fiber.

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