Thursday, April 5, 2012

Durian reduces blood plasma fats



From http://naturalstandard.com/index-abstract.asp?create-abstract=durian.asp&title=Durian

Brief Background:
- Durian consists of fruit from the trees of the genus Durio. There are at least 30 recognized Durio species and at least nine edible species native to Southeast Asia. Durian is native to moist equatorial forests in Southeast Asia and is believed to have originated in Borneo and Sumatra. It is also most commonly found in different regions including Southeastern India, Burma, peninsular Malaya, South Philippines, South Vietnam, and Thailand.

- Based on traditional use, durian constituents, such as mustard oils and hydroxytryptamines, are used as antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agents and may have vasoconstrictor properties that may reduce swelling and consequently aid skin diseases. In vitro and animal studies have also shown that durian has antioxidant activities (1;​2;​3). In animal study, durian hindered the rise in plasma lipids when ingesting a high cholesterol diet (2;​3), suggesting that durian may also be used as a hypocholesterolemic agent.

-Traditionally, durian is used as an aphrodisiac and as an anthelmintic. The juice of fresh leaves and roots are used to decrease fever. Leaves and juice from the bark have also been used to treat jaundice and malaria.

-Traditionally, durian may be used to treat skin diseases, sores, swelling, and wounds in humans.

-Theoretically, ingestion of uncooked seeds of durian is considered to be poisonous, because the lipid constituents of uncooked seeds contain cyclopropene fatty acids (sterculic, dihydrosterculic) and malvatic acids, which are considered to be toxic and carcinogenic (4) and may cause shortness of breath (5).

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Cacao Mint Bar


Inspired by the talented cook Averie, I tried making a healthier and more Asian version of her Menthe Bars.




































































Ingredients:

Base:
1/2 cup ground flax
1/2 cup soaked dried longan
1/4 cup soaked goji berries
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tbs spoons raw honey

Minty middle layer:
flesh of 2 young coconuts blended finely
3 tbs raw honey
5 drops of peppermint oil
100g Agar powder/ half pack of agar strips soaked

Chocolate top layer:
1/2 cup of coconut or macadamia nut oil (or cacao butter if preferred)
1/2 cup raw cacao
2 tbs tahini or other nut butter
3 tbs coconut sugar or raw honey


For the base: blitz all ingredients in the food processor and press in flat onto a square tin pan. Place it in the freezer covered in plastic wrap.

For the minty layer: blend all ingredients smoothly in the blender and spread atop the base layer. Place in freezer for 20 min till hardened.

Mix ingredients for top choc layer together and pour over the mint layer.

Chill and viola! Minty delight.


Saturday, March 31, 2012

Perfect Nut Butters

It is GREAT being a part of a multi-cultural society. It makes us cultural amphibians and gives us access to the wisdoms of the different races.

One example is my recent search for the best way to make fine nut butters. My super powered blender does quite well for oily nuts such as macadamia and pine, but for drier nuts like sunflower, almonds and sesame, I would need to use another carrier oil to coax the blade to run smoothly. These nut butters are generally chunkier than store bought versions too. Those of us with blenders without the stirrers might find this work even more difficult. My blenders are a vitamix and a cheap commercial blender with stirrers which are very good for performing this task already...but the result is nowhere near the runny refinement of my stone-mill.

I remember my childhood days when I watched the neighbours in the kampung grind down rice between two giant granite mortars. I searched the net for modern day equivalents and found this thing called the melanger (about $700 USD) which looks suspiciously like the wet-stone grinders that our Indian friends use for grinding down wet rice for thosai and idli. So, I scooted to little India and got one of those motorised wet-grinders and brought it home ($200) with excitement and trepidation. ("Grind nuts? Noooo, we don't use it like that..." the store-keeper at Karthika exclaimed.)

The first nuts I used is the oily macadamia - it jammed the grinder big time. I took out all the nuts, ran them through the food processor and then trickled them into the stone grinder - I had to wait for quite some time, but after twenty minutes or so, the result was a dream ;-).

I tried hulled sesame next - dry at first but with patience, but glistening smoothness at the end. Then the pumpkin seeds...and then mixtures like black sesame and macadamia, pumpkin and hulled sesame etc....all perfect as perfect can be. These are really better than store bought - I can make these with sprouted nuts and seeds that are free from enzyme inhibitors and oxalates....;-)

Woohoo....wonderful to be in potpourri Singapore.



Pumpkin seed butter

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Passion Fruit Superfoods Bar

Superfoods are those wondrous foods that are powerhouses of nutrition. You'd want to incorporate them into your daily diet to get dense goodness out of every bite.

I love the heady fragrance of the passion fruit. It is high in phyto-nutrients, pectin and many amazing benefits that are astounding researchers. Read it here: http://www.fruithealthbenefits.com/passion-fruit-nutrition.shtml


In this recipe, though the passion fruit is not the only ingredient, it beautiful fragrance and tangy taste is most dominant note in this mix of "supers".

Ingredients

3 cups of rolled oats
Pulp of 6 ripe passion fruits
1 cup Goji berries
1 cup cranberries
1 cup of pumpkin and sunflower seeds soaked and dehydrated
Half cup golden flaxseed
quarter cup of chia seeds
1 cup of tahini
2 tbs raw honey


With clean hand of an enthusiastic child, squelch all ingredients together into a sticky gooey mass. Spread into a half inch thickness in a square tin, cover with a plastic sheet and place it into the freeze/chiller.Pat the mixture down with a spatula.



After two hours, take out the tin out if the fridge and cut into the required shape. You can eat it moist and soft like this or put it into the dehydrator to dry for about four hours or more to make a more portable bar.













Tahini Magic

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
William Blake;
- Auguries of Innocence


 







Sometimes the smallest things in the world packs in the greatest punch. The humble sesame seed is one of these. Rich in minerals, antioxidants and vitamins, they are especially nutritious. I put this magic seed into anything and everything mainly through the use of a homemade tahini. Before you hop on to the recipes, take a read of the fact sheet from Nutrition and You website to realise what a powerhouse this little seed is:



1. The seeds are especially rich in mono-unsaturated fatty acid oleic acid, which comprise up to 50% fatty acids in them. Oleic acid helps to lower LDL or "bad cholesterol" and increase HDL or "good cholesterol" in the blood. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet which is rich in mono-unsaturated fats help to prevent coronary artery disease and stroke by favoring healthy lipid profile.

2. The seeds are also very good source of dietary proteins with fine quality amino acids that are essential for growth, especially in children. Just 100 g of seeds provide about 18 g of protein (32% of daily-recommended values).

3. In addition, sesame seeds contain many health benefiting compounds such as sesamol (3, 4-methylene-dioxyphenol), sesaminol, furyl-methanthiol, guajacol (2-methoxyphenol), phenylethanthiol and furaneol, vinylguacol and decadienal. Sesamol and sesaminol are phenolic anti-oxidants. Together, these compounds help stave off harmful free radicals from the body.

4. Sesame is amongst the seeds rich in quality vitamins and minerals. They are very good sources of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, folic acid, thiamin (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and riboflavin.100 g of sesame contains 97 mcg of folic acid, about 25% of recommended daily intake.

5. Folic acid is essential for DNA synthesis. When given in expectant mothers during peri-conception period, it may prevent neural tube defects in the baby.Niacin is another B-complex vitamin found abundantly in sesame. About 4.5 mg or 28% of daily-required levels of niacin is provided by just 100 g of seeds. Niacin help reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in the blood. In addition, it enhances GABA activity inside the brain, which in turn helps reduce anxiety and neurosis.

6. The seeds are incredibly rich sources of many essential minerals. Calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper are especially concentrated in sesame seeds. Many of these minerals have vital role in bone mineralization, red blood cell production, enzyme synthesis, hormone production, as well as regulation of cardiac and skeletal muscle activities.

Just a hand full of sesame a day provides enough recommended levels of phenolic anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and protein.

Basic Tahini Magic Recipe



500g of white hulled sesame, soaked for six hours and dehydrated in the oven or dehydrator
Half cup of olive oil or any cold pressed nut or seed oil (my favourite is macadamia)

Blend till smooth in a power blender and store in a jar in the fridge.

This basic recipe has true mileage. The magic begins:

- A spoonful of tahini with honey and filtered water blended together makes a lovely milk.

- tahini and vinegar and honey makes a creamy salad dressing

- it can form the base of beautiful dips for crackers

- did I mention that it guys into my energy bars as well?

Go in to try it. You'll be so had happy with all the magic you can make.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Okra Wonderfood


Okra, or lady's finger was an acquired taste since young. It was always deliciously soft and flavoursome in an assam curry. I never imagined that I could eat it raw until I chanced upon a salad dish at a Japanese restaurant. Cut fresh and tossed with other vegetables in vinegar, it was surprising crunchy and delectable. 

My second reckoning with the vegetable was before grandma passed on. Grandma was diabetic for a big part of her life and suffered the daily indignity of needles and medication. In the years before she passed on, I don't remember who introduced this - Dad or one of my aunties - but it was a home remedy made popular on the internet that they started to give to her daily: A cut lady's finger is steeped in water overnight and the gelatinous liquid drunk in the morning. Surprisingly, Grandma's blood sugar came down and her medications had to be adjusted accordingly. 

That made me sit up and  view this humble kampong veggie with different eyes. I ferreted through research on it and was richly rewarded with information on why this very alkaline vegetable is a wonderfood:
  1. Okra has superior fiber and mucilage that helps stabilise blood sugar by slowing down intestinal absorption. 
  2. The same slippery fiber make it a protective agent against constipation and colorectal cancer.
  3. The mucilage acts is bind toxins in cholesterol and bile acids and eliminates them through the digestive tract.
  4. It promotes intestinal health, protects the walls of the intestines and the helps the growth of flora in the intestines.
  5. It is anti-inflammatory and a great anioxidant. Hence, a good remedy for sore throats, asthma, gout, beautiful skin, cataract etc.
  6. It promotes joint and capillary health.
  7. It's high calcium and folic acid content build bones and fights against atherosclerosis
  8. It is high in folic acid and counteract against depression.
  9. like coconut water, okra gel is found to be suitable for blood plasma replacements
   see also: 

Do you know too that okra seeds are often used as coffee replacements? The next time to have some too old okra in the garden, dehydrate the seeds and grind them up for a cuppa ;-)

I have a simple recipe for a salad that I love: 

Ingredients

2 okras sliced crosswise thinly
a handful of cherry tomatoes halfed
1 avocado cubed
half Japanese cucumber broken up using a half slice, half prise action or cut into triangular pieces
some enoki mushroom
(add strawberries or mangoes if you like)

Dressing

2 tbs chinese zhejiang vinegar or any apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp raw honey

Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve immediately

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Why Raw?

Some people are thinking that I've gone wonky when I decided to incorporate raw foods into my diet. Why raw? Aren't you going to the extreme? I've extracted excerpts from an article from health 101 to help understand this move. Don't worry, aunts, uncles and friends, that I have become a tree hugger and grass grazer........It is all in keeping with living an engaged, exciting and responsible life. Until a better way ahead is found, I'll be off on this journey....ahoy!

When food is cooked above 118 degrees F for three minutes or longer, its protein has become denatured, its sugar has become caramelized, its natural fibers have been broken down, which means it will take longer to move through the intestinal tract, up to 90% of its vitamins and minerals have been damaged or destroyed, and 100% of its enzymes have been destroyed. Cooked food depletes our body's enzyme potential and needlessly drains the energy we need to maintain and repair our tissues and organ systems, and shortens our lifespan.
Dr. Virginia Vetrano writes, "Heating any food, destroys much of its vitamin, mineral, and protein content, and poisonous inorganic acids are formed. The all uncooked diet is most healthful."

Marilyn Willison, of Hippocrates Health Institute, writes, "We should not cook our food. During this apparently harmless process, vital enzymes are destroyed, proteins are coagulated (making them difficult to assimilate), vitamins are mostly destroyed with the remainder changing into forms that are difficult for the body to utilize, pesticides are restructured into even more toxic compounds, valuable oxygen is lost, and free radicals are produced. According to Viktoras Kulvinskas, nutrient losses can be as high as 80% or more. Other studies suggest that cooked proteins (coagulated) are up to 50% less likely to be utilized by the body."


Dr. Francis M. Pottenger Jr., wrote about his experiments with 900 cats over a period of ten years. Pottenger fed some of the test cats raw meat and other test cats he fed cooked meats. Pottenger wrote, "Cooked meat fed cats were irritable. The females were dangerous to handle, occasionally biting the keeper..." The cooked meat fed cats suffered with "pneumonia, empyema, diarrhea, osteomyelitis, cardiac lesions, hyperopia and myopia (eye diseases), thyroid diseases, nephritis, orchitis, oophoritis (ovarian inflammation), arthritis and many other degenerative diseases." Over the years, the cooked food group gave birth to more unhealthy kittens, and became less able to conceive at all.
No cooked food is benign. Cooked foods act malignantly by exhausting your bodily energies, inhibiting your healing, and decreasing your alertness, efficiency and productivity.

Cooked foods suppress the immune system. The heat of cooking destroys nucleic acids, and damages fats, making them indigestible. The fatty matter becomes a local irritant and an oxidant.

Heat disorganizes protein structures, leading to deficiency of some of the essential amino acids. The fibrous or woody element of food (cellulose) is changed completely from its natural condition by cooking. When this fibrous element is cooked, it loses its broom-like quality to sweep the alimentary canal clean. The fibrous matter is changed from its natural state to an irritant. Raw food has the best balance of water, nutrients, and fiber to meet your body's needs.
Cooking causes the inorganic elements to enter the blood, circulate through the system, settle in the arteries and veins and deaden the nerves. After cooking, the body loses its flexibility, arteries lose their pliability, nerves' ability to conduct electrical signals diminishes, the spinal cord becomes hardened, the tissues throughout the body contract, and the human being ages prematurely. In many cases this matter is deposited in the various joints of the body, causing joint disease. In other cases, it accumulates as concretions in one or more of the internal organs, finally accumulating around the heart valves.

Raw foods are easily digested, requiring only 24-36 hours for transit time through the digestive tract, as compared to 40-100 hours for cooked foods. This unnatural transit time increases the threat of putrefaction and disease. When you eat cooked carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, you are eating numerous mutagenic (carcinogenic) products causes by the cooking process. Dr. Karl Elmer experimented with top athletes in Germany, producing improvement in their performance by changing to a purely raw food diet. Dr. Douglas Graham achieved similar results with athletes he trained. Raw food provides you with more strength, energy and stamina.


On raw foods, the mind (memory and power of concentration) will be clear. You will be more alert, think sharper and more logically.
Raw foods will not leave you with a tired feeling after the meal. There is a tendency toward sleepiness after a cooked meal. Eating a healthy raw food diet allows a more restful sleep and eventually requires less total sleep.
When we treat foods with thermal fire, we lose up to 97% of the water-soluble vitamins (Vitamins B and C) and up to 40% of the lipid soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E and K). We need only one-half the amount of protein in the diet if raw protein foods are eaten rather than protein foods which are cooked. Heating also changes the lipids. These changed fats are incorporated into the cell wall and interfere with the respiration of the cell, causing an increase in cancer and heart disease.


After eating cooked foods, the blood immediately shows an enormous increase of leukocytes of white blood cells - corpuscles. The white blood cells are a first line of defense and are, collectively, popularly called "the immune system". This spontaneous multiplication of white corpuscles always takes place in normal blood immediately after the introduction of any virulent infection or poison into the body since the white corpuscles are the fighting organisms of the blood. There is no multiplication of white corpuscles when uncooked food is eaten. The constant daily fight against the toxic effects of cooked food unnecessarily exhausts the body's strength and vitality, thus causing disease and the modern shortness of life.


Cooked foods quickly ferment and putrefy in the intestinal tract. On a healthy raw food diet you will experience the elimination of body odor and halitosis. Cooked food causes allergies (hypersensitivities)....

Hannah Allen wrote, "Raw foods contain enzymes, which influence digestive efficiency - cooking destroys all enzymes. Moreover, the consumption of raw foods stimulates gastric enzyme secretion, necessary to initiate good digestion. Besides, the more raw foods you eat as your first course, the less cooked foods you will be able to eat. Ideally, we should never cook any foods."


Arthur M. Baker in "Awakening Our Self Healing Body", writes, "Cooked foods literally wreck our body. They deny needed nutrients to the system since heat alters foodstuffs such that they are partially, mostly, or wholly destroyed. Nutrients are coagulated, denatured, caramelized, and rendered inorganic and become toxic and pathogenic in the body."


Baker adds, "Virulent bacteria find soil in dead food substances only and cannot exist on living cells. Cooked food spoils rapidly, both inside and outside our body, whereas uncooked plant foods are slow to lose their vital qualities and do not as readily become soil for bacterial decay."....


Related articles: