Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Powerful Organic Insight...New MacDonald

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bountiful Barley

This issue’s featured grain is the often pidgeon-holed barley. Usually, we think of barley as belonging in soups or stews. Even though it can be excellent used this way, it is much more versatile than those two uses. Let us learn more about this diversified grain.

With a history dating back to Asia thousands of years ago, barley was also known for its medicinal purposes in Egypt and Greece. It is believed to have been brought to the United States during Christopher Columbus’s journey to the New World. Currently barley is the one of the top five grains produced in our country with uses ranging from feed for animals to malt beverages for human consumption. 

 

And, according to various reputable sources, about 1% of its production is used for food consumption by us humans. A very small percentage, indeed, for the powerhouse of nutrients it provides us with. The Pacific Northwest proudly is one of the two largest producers of this grain cereal, along with the Northern Plains states.

Nutritionally, barley contains several vitamins and minerals including niacin (vitamin B3), thiamine (vitamin B1), selenium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper. It also is high in antioxidants which are shown to be important for good health. Another added benefit is the fact that barley contains phytoestrogens, a plant based estrogen.

Studies have recently revealed the fact that phytochemicals may decrease the risk for certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. More research, however, is needed before anything about phytochemicals can be finalized. In addition, barley is known to be cholesterol free and low in fat.

Barley is a unique high fiber grain when compared to other grains. When most grains are processed, the outer layer (or bran) is removed thereby removing the majority of the fiber content. Barley, on the other hand, has fiber throughout the kernel. This means that even with processing, barley will have at least 50% more fiber than its counterparts. As with any grain, fiber fills us up and helps us to lose weight since we are not as hungry as when eating ‘empty calories’.
To cook barley, use three parts liquid to one part grain. (Three cups water to one cup pearl barley, i.e.)

Start enjoying the wonders of barley today!

Find interesting? Kindly share...Thanks!


Marie Buckner, owner of My Unique Cookery, has over 20 years experience in natural foods education and is a published author, speaker, and instructor. She has a series of cookbooks involving grains, fruit sweeteners, soyfoods, baby foods, and organic cooking. She currently teaches cooking classes at the Port Townsend Co-Op. Sign up for a class today!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Butter Versus Margarine Debate

Greetings everyone! Apparently there is a heated debate over which is healthier - butter or margarine. At least, that's what the "health-oriented" emails are telling me. Anyways...I find that this is also a common topic in real life. So, I thought it would be fun to discuss it here....

I find it very interesting that when one is diagnosed with heart disease, or high levels of harmful cholesterol levels, that margarine is designated as being the preferred topping when compared to butter. Have you read the ingredients in margarine? I don't care how "healthy" this product is supposed to be...it's not. It contains so many additives, preservatives, chemicals and other nonsense that there is no way someone is going to convince me of its "health benefits". Also...trans fat is a huge NO NO for those afflicted with high LDL levels. Read the fine print on any of these "healthy" foods and notice that the ingredients usually contain the wording "partially hydrogenated vegetable oils". In other words....TRANS FATS.

Also, the FDA does not require a food manufacturer to label TRANS FATS as being a component of a product that contains less than .5mg per serving of this fat. Did you know that? Probably not...it's a well-hidden fact that I found out only upon doing an extensive research article for a notable publication. I'm certain other health-conscious individuals who are attuned to the food industry also know about this. And, yet....heart patients are told that margarine is "healthier" than butter. Spare me....

I firmly believe that the food manufacturers of margarine are funded by Conagra..or large food conglomerates functioning with profits as their main concern...not human health. Once again, read the label and find out who the food manufacturer is.

Read the ingredients of butter, in comparison. It contains cream, maybe salt. Unsalted varieties strictly contain cream. That is it. Yes, cream is high in saturated fat and calories. However, butter - like any food - is to be eaten in moderation. There is ZERO trans fat in butter.

So, as far as the butter versus margarine debate....there is none, in my opinion. I don't trust margarine. Never have, never will. I don't care how much the food industry promotes it as being healthy and good for me.

Find interesting? Kindly share...
 
 


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

It's that time of year when we need to stop and give thanks for everything we have. It's a great idea to do it on a daily basis, but if you do not want to do that, Thanksgiving is the perfect time.

I am thankful for my love of food, exploring what's available, playing with it in the kitchen (developing recipes and tasty combinations) and being able to share with others.

I also am thankful for the opportunity to operate this blog and keep in touch with everyone who visits it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have writing it.

With such a bounty of tasty foods to choose from, take some time to put conventions aside. You never know what works until you try it. :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Do You Trust Supermarket Organic Claims?

Call me skeptical, but there is something downright fishy about a national supermarket chain claiming to sell organic foods. How do we know? Do we know their farming practices? Do we know what they mean by organic? The word is continually being contested, with all types of interpretation existing. It is easy to slap a label on packages, put on department signage, and use other marketing tactics. All are intent to show how concerned the company is about consumer health.

Bull...the only thing a supermarket chain is concerned about is the bottom line or profits. They can market their foods any way they want, but that is the fact. They would be out of business if they were not profitable.

Supermarket chains also claim to deal with local farmers. How do we know the farmers are treated well? How do we know what type of deal they enter into? Do we know how much control the supermarket has over the farming practices? We don't.

After seeing so much deception involved in the food industry, I am highly skeptical of these organic, local farmer claims. It is easy to take a farmer's picture, post it near the produce, and claim the food is local. We could call the farmer or farm management, but would any response received be a deciding factor?

Farmers may receive remuneration in the form of “hush money” to speak positively about the chain. After experiencing so many false testimonials both in real-life and online, I do not trust testimonial quotes at all. I know from first-hand experience that many testimonials are paid for. Some others are simply false statements used as promotional tools. How do we know the farmer testimonials aren't really produced by the supermarket's marketing department?

I have had a love affair with farmers and their passion for fresh foods since I was a kid. My family all took part in our backyard garden where we grew corn, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, onions, radishes, chives, beets, lettuce, and other delights. Our fences were covered with raspberries and blackberries.

There is nothing comparable to growing your own food or having a working relationship with a treasured farmer. There is a true passion and love for good, organically-grown food involved.

When the food industry (which supermarkets are a part of) gets involved in the organic area, that love vanishes.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Butter

I have received numerous requests for my autumn abundance article, so here it is...Enjoy!

It's autumn and with that comes the abundance of squashes. Squashes grow like wildfire and provide so much taste. Doesn't pumpkin butter sound delicious? You can make your own for much less than the cost of buying it in the store. Plus, you control the ingredients. What more could you want? You can make your own nutritious blend for dirt cheap. Read on....

Every year I like to steam up pumpkin, let it cool and peel it. Then, I freeze it for later use throughout the remaining year. It's a great beginning for any pumpkin recipe, including my pumpkin butter. You could probably used canned pumpkin, but I cannot guarantee the final result. I can attest to FRESH pumpkin as providing superb taste, though.

You can make pumpkin butter either on the stovetop or in a crockpot. I started making my recipe on the stovetop. Then I noticed I needed to stir it too frequently, even while cooking it on low heat. So, I transferred everything to a crockpot and let it cook. How easy is that?

This recipe relies on the natural taste of spices and the sweetness of pumpkin instead of heavy refined sugars. Most recipes, you will notice, use an inordinate amount of sugar. Not mine. You will receive the pure, natural taste of ingredients. My tasty recipe only uses minimal refined sugar. And, you could easily substitute unsweetened apple or white grape juice for the white and brown sugars. Of course, you can add more sugar as you like.

So....

You will need:

3 cups pumpkin, cooked and peeled
1 T. cinnamon
¼ t. nutmeg
½ t. ginger
2 t. white sugar
2 T brown sugar

Place all ingredients into a crockpot and stir thoroughly. Turn on high heat. Cook for 3-4 hours. Stir as needed. 

Store in airtight container in fridge. You can also can this and give as a holiday gift. 
 
Find interesting? Kindly share...Thanks! 


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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Colorful & Nutritious Beet Soup

Beets are the way to go if you want naturally colorful food that supplies a powerhouse of nutrients. In addition to making the greens into a salad, you can use the bulb in a variety of creative ways. Roasted, steamed, baked, boiled, or freshly grated, all provide excellent ways to enjoy this sweet and succulent veggie.

If you are looking for a quick, easy, and tasty way to enjoy these delectable root vegetables, consider making a batch of some homemade soup. While being short on time in the kitchen the other day, I conveniently and quickly put a variety of fresh veggies into a pot and came out with this welcoming dish....Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

8 cups water
1 large beet root, peeled and cut
1 small onion, cut
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1-2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small stalk broccoli, peeled and sliced
1 cup cabbage, sliced
1 garlic clove, diced or 1 T minced garlic
1 T Italian seasoning

Add water to large dutch oven or stock pot. Add remaining ingredients. Put pan onto stovetop burner. Cook at medium temperature until all veggies are poked done with a fork or knive. Stir to evenly distribute ingredients throughout cooking span. Reduce heat if ingredients begin to boil over. 

Serve with wholegrain crackers or bread. 

Store leftovers in airtight container in refrigerator. 

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