Real Food Rehab

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When most people think about eating healthy, they immediately jump to the conclusion that it is going to be boring and unsustainable; that they will have to settle for little food and plain salads, but that is not true if you add spices and bold flavors to your food.

With every meal we are presented an opportunity for change, sometimes it’s a simple starting over, or perhaps eating more greens, either way, we have to forget all the garbage that we’ve heard all these years and focus on what truly makes us feel good and give us the most energy.

 I want to share with you my five personal all-time favorite spices and herbs, which I have incorporated into my life.  No matter what I eat; it increases the nutrients and brightens the dish with mouthwatering flavors and satisfying results.

 Here is the list:

Turmeric: it’s a native South Asia spice but also very popular, grown, and consumed as one of the primary spices all over Brazil, where people cook them with rice, soups, poultry and as a natural remedy because of its strong anti-inflammatory agent .

The main nutrient in turmeric is cur cumin and it has received attention in the media because researchers are interested in its potential in fighting many diseases. It is loaded with iron and manganese and moderate levels of vitamin B6 and potassium.

Ever since I was a little girl, whenever I had a sore throat, my mom would make me a paste of turmeric and honey.  I had to eat a spoonful 3 times a day, it always worked like a charm, and in matter of days I was completely better. The paste is very easy; just mix 1/4cup of honey with a teaspoon of turmeric.  I also eat this mixture as a salad dressing, here is the recipe:

                                     Turmeric Salad Dressing   


The paste mentioned above

 2 Tablespoon of Extra virgin olive oil

Juice of one lemon

¼ cup spicy brown mustard 

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

Sea salt to taste


Directions: Mix everything well and pour over your leafy green salad with oranges and sunflowerseeds on top.

Garlic: in Latin Allium sativum, it is a “wonder drug” it not only has a delicious taste but it is also extremely healthy and there are many advantages in preparing your food with it.
It promotes the well-being of the heart and immune systems with antioxidant properties and helps maintain healthy blood circulation. It is one of the most valuable and versatile foods out there, the possibilities are endless and it takes no extra time to add it to your favorite food.
In Brazil, as part of my culture, we are exposed to it a lot in rice, beans and meats that are loaded with garlic and other spices, as well as steamed veggies with layers of flavors, garlic being the predominant one. So, today I decided to show you what I have learned from my mom’s to minimize my time in the kitchen.  She taught me how to make a fresh garlic paste that can be refrigerated / frozen and you can have the benefits and the flavor of garlic whenever you want.

                                                 Garlic Paste 

In a mini food processor: 

3 Bulbs of garlic (peel the skin off and chop in chunks) 

1-2 tablespoon of sea salt

1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Blend well and store it in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

I use the paste as a base for many of the dishes I make, including salad dressings, soups and many more.

 

Fresh Ginger

Aromatic, pungent and spicy classifies the distinct flavor of ginger.  It has the power to kick up many dishes; the health benefit of this simple root goes from relieving nausea, refreshing bad breath, to preventing diseases like ovarian cancer. It’s a very potent anti-inflammatory. I often use it to make juices, sautéed vegetables, and baked chicken and herbal teas.

 

                                                  Citrus ginger tea

                                            Make 2 cups of hot water in a teakettle

as you prepare the following ingredients:

 

1 inch of fresh ginger (To remove the skin from fresh mature ginger, peel with a paring knife, and in this case zest the ginger using a micro plane grater).

Juice of lemon

Juice of an orange

2 tablespoons of honey

5 raspberries

 

Place all the ingredients in a teapot and when the water boils, transfer it to the teapot and let it steep for 5-10 minutes. Before drinking, make sure to strain all the remaining pieces.

For iced tea, just place it in the refrigerator and it will be chilled and ready to serve after 1-2 hours.


 

Fresh Mint: When I think of mint, the first thing that comes to mind is something refreshing, aromatic and sweet. It is known for its abilities to sooth the digestive track and reduces stomach aches. Mint leaves eliminate toxins from the body and when included in the diet on a regular basis, it eliminates bacteria and fungus too. Fresh mint contains a number of vitamins and minerals which are vital to maintain a healthy body. It is rich in Vitamins A and C and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2.

My favorite way to consume this amazing herb is by brewing as a tea, but I have fallen in love with it in this summer drink that will blow your mind! It is so simple to make and will make you want more!

 

                                             Watermelon Mint Juice 

Better made with a juicer, but a blender can work if you strain all the pulp out.

Ingredients: 

3 cups chopped watermelon

5 string mint

Run through the juicer and serve it over ice. The same goes for a blender, mix everything together and add ¼ cup to ½ cup water to help the blades blend and serve it.

 

Fresh Cilantro: there are many people who don’t necessary like fresh cilantro, to tell you the truth, it took me some time to acquire a taste for it, but over the years I have managed to add it to many dishes and even drink it as part of a green juice.
It has a very pungent odor and is widely used in Brazilian, Mexican, Caribbean and Asian cooking, it is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fiber ,and it had plenty of vitamins and minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are all essential for optimum health, these are just a few of the benefits of this power herb and the best part of it, is that it is very low in calories and gives a bold twist in your everyday meal.
The recipe I am going to share with all of you today is called Tabbouleh which is actually a Lebanese salad that I was introduced to not long ago by a dear friend.  I have changed it up to suit my taste and made it a little healthier, shall we say.
The traditional dish calls for bulgur, tomato, cucumber, finely chopped parsley and mint.
But my spin to this refreshing and lovely salad is quinoa and the main ingredient being cilantro instead of parsley. I hope you like it.

                                 Cilantro Tabbouleh with Quinoa

Prepare your quinoa as directed (which is a seed packed with protein with a nutty taste and chewy texture, it can be found in your health food store and in most grocery stores) the prefect replacement for bulgur which is wheat.

Ingredients: 

In a bowl

1 whole bunch of cilantro finely chopped

3 strings of fresh mint finely chopped

1 medium cucumber chopped

¼ cup chopped red onion

2 medium tomatoes chopped

1 chopped jalapeno (optional)

¼ of avocado( optional)

1 cup of cooked quinoa

 

 Dressing:

Half a cup of lemon plus the zest all one lemon

1 tablespoon of my garlic paste or 2 cloves of minced fresh garlic

2/3 cup olive oil

2 teaspoons sea salt

Mix it all together and serve cold with hummus and pita bread, but for a healthier option you can wrap it in lettuce leaves.


I hope you enjoyed today’s journey of my favorite spices and herbs and I also hope that you can add these ingredients into your life or find the spices that make you more vibrant and healthy.


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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Comment by Wendi Grant on September 15, 2011 at 2:25pm
Are tumeric and turmeric the same?  I have tumeric in the cabinet....."just" a yellowish/golden spice????  Is that it??
Comment by Ayn on September 15, 2011 at 2:16pm
I love this post! I use a lot of these spices on a daily basis as well.. I love them. Thanks for the added bonus recipes too! I am going to try the turmeric paste. Is it just for a sore throat or does it work well for a cold in general? In my parts, we take a clove of garlic and eat that three times a day when you have a cold. Some people will smash it on a slice of toast or something, sometimes its just eaten as is..
Comment by Vegan♥for♥Life on September 14, 2011 at 3:05pm
I add spices to my juices all the time! Gr 8 post!
Comment by djd on September 14, 2011 at 2:53pm

All sounds good.

I think you could use sprouted quinoa instead of cooked.

Comment by Alice on September 14, 2011 at 1:33pm
Thanks for the information.  My throat has been a bit sore so I'm going to mix up some tumeric and honey as soon as I get home.

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