Farro is a new grain I have discovered. I made this delicious dish with snap peas today.
“What once was old is new again” is so true with all the ancient grains which are tasty and nutritious additions to our meals.
Some say Farro is the original ancestor of all wheat species.
In ancient Rome, farro was a staple food. Today it is still widely used in Italy and has been grown for generations by Tuscan farmers.
Farro can be used in stews, salads and casseroles.
One picture shows the cooked grain before I made the dish.
Eating seasonally and locally is possible during the winter. Cold weather crops, the use of hoop houses and other methods that extend the natural growing season ensure that there are plenty of winter fruits and vegetables available.
During winter, the body does need more vitamins and minerals to withstand the cold, and there are plenty of vegetables to choose from.
Look for them at farmers markets and in produce departments for the best flavor and greatest value in season. There are a variety of cold-weather favorites like cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens and all the wonderful root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes and of course the all-time favorite, potato.
Turnips are nutritious root vegetables sought after in a variety of cuisines across Europe, Asia, and Eastern American regions.
Rutabaga, another root vegetable, is closely related to turnips. Rutabagas are larger, more round, mostly feature yellow color flesh, and sweeter than turnips.
The roots and the greens are very rich in vitamins and anti oxidants.
Eating a pomegranate can be a messy task. The juice can stain your clothes and even your countertops! The seeds of the pomegranate fruit are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavor.
It is an anti-aging fruit that can prevent hardening of the arteries. It is rich in anthocyanins making it a powerful antioxidant and packs a strong, tangy flavor, but how in the world do you open them without making a mess?
I have always stayed away from buying pomegranates because they are so hard to peel and so messy. The crimson red color is like a dye. If you get it on your clothes, it’s hard to get rid of the stain. I am sure you know what I mean.
I have found an easy way of releasing the beautiful gem-like seeds from the leathery skin and bitter pith.
First cut off the flower or pointed end of the whole pomegranate.
Then cut the fruit into quarters, cutting through the skin. Now the seeds are exposed.
Place the quarters in a large bowl of water and start to wiggle to free the seeds from the white skin. Doing this underwater allows the bits of skin to come to the top. This also prevents the juice from going everywhere. Remove the skin and pith with a strainer.
Drain the seeds and enjoy the goodness of the fruit.
Eat Cauliflower in the winter-it’s a good nutritious cruciferous vegetable. It is a low- calorie, low-carb, high fiber vegetable and can be a great substitute for potatoes, rice or even pasta.
Besides looking cool, colored cauliflower is actually more nutritious because the pigments are powerful antioxidants and anti-cancer agents,
Cauliflower actually comes in four colors: white, orange, purple, and green. White cauliflower, of course, is the original version. Purple, orange, and green cauliflowers haven’t been genetically engineered but they are natural mutants of white cauliflower. Orange cauliflower contains high levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Purple cauliflower contains anthocyanin, a healthful antioxidant responsible for the purple color of cabbage and red onions, among other foods. Green cauliflower, also called broccoflower, apparently comes in several varieties, some of which could be mutants of cauliflower that produce chlorophyll or a hybrid between cauliflower and broccoli (they’re both members of the same species).
Cauliflower cooks fast and is a very versatile vegetable which can be used in soups, salads and main dishes. It can be steamed, sautéed or roasted.
I make a delicious béchamel sauce with pureed white cauliflower which has a beautiful creamy texture.
Garbanzo beans and Chickpeas are the same.
Garbanzo beans and chickpeas are the same plant, or specifically, the same legume. The botanical name is’ Cicer arietinum’.
The word“chickpea” is the common name used by English-speaking people while “garbanzo” is used by Spanish-speaking people. In a nation with both languages present, the names might be used interchangeably.
Two types of garbanzo beans or chickpeas are known, the Kabuli and the Desi. The Kabuli means from Kabul. It has a light color with large seeds as well as a smooth coat.
The second type, the Desi (means local or native) is almost the opposite of the Kabuli. It is small, dark with a rough coat.
As a versatile legume, it is a staple ingredient in many Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. It is also an excellent source of zinc, folate, protein, and dietary fiber. It also has a good measure of minerals like phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc.
It is a good source of carbohydrates for diabetes and can contribute to better control of blood sugar.
Quinoa chickpea pulao(pilaf)
Quinoa is a healthy gluten-free whole grain from South America. Quinoa is rightly named “mother grain” because of its high protein, vitamin, fiber, iron and magnesium content. Quinoa has become increasingly popular all over the world as a ‘super food’. It is easy to cook and can be made into salads, soups and a main dish like the one I am describing.
11/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 small onion, diced
½ teaspoon garlic paste
½ teaspoon ginger paste
3 cups water
2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or 1 15 oz can drained and rinsed)
1 medium tomato, chopped
2 teaspoons cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
Juice and zest of 1 lemon/lime
½ cup green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt/pepper to taste
1. Take a heated non stick pan and sauté the onion till translucent, about 5 minutes. Add water if the onion sticks to the pan.
2. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
3. Now add the quinoa and the water and let it come to a boil.
4. Reduce the heat and add the cumin, turmeric, chili powders.
5. Cover and let the quinoa cook for 15-20 minutes.
6. Stir in the chickpeas, tomato, lemon zest and juice and cook for another 5 minutes.
7. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with green onions and cilantro.
Instead of quinoa you can substitute bulgur or couscous.
There are many types of quinoa-red, white, brown. To know more about this fascinating, ancient grain, check out this website-http://wholegrainscouncil.org/whole-grains-101/types-of-quinoa
Kale is King!
Kale, broccoli’s leafier cousin, is no longer relegated to being a side dish at dinner. This versatile cruciferous vegetable can also be worked into your breakfast or lunch for a nutrition boost.
Health benefits of kale cannot be undermined.
Though greens in general are nutritious foods, kale stands a head above the rest. Not only is it one of your best sources of beta-carotene, one of the antioxidants believed by many nutrition experts to be a major player in the battle against cancer, heart disease, and certain age-related chronic diseases, it also provides other important nutrients.
Two types are popular: curly, which is bright green and tastes a little tart, and dinosaur (also known as black, lacinato or Tuscan), which is darker, with flat leaves and a nutty taste. All types of kale can be eaten raw.
“We buy more kale than any of the other related greens combined,” says James Parker, a buyer for Whole Foods Market. As further proof of its popularity, Web searches for kale recipes have nearly quadrupled in the past two years, according to Google Trends.
To know more about why kale is called a superfood, see the links below:
The Magic of Fiber
When we think of fiber we think of bran or Metamucil, something that prevents constipation.
We have to change that thinking.
Fiber is actually a vital nutrient which is present in natural plant foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Its deficiency can lead to major health problems like hemorrhoids, varicose veins, diabetes and cancer.
Fiber fills you up mechanically so you feel full when you consume it. It is very low in calories so it is an ideal nutrient- dense food.
To know more about the benefits of a fiber rich diet, see the following link:
Today we are bombarded by a variety of ‘low fat’ food products and we easily fall prey to it. In spite of knowing that fat is bad for health we do not try hard to avoid it. Too much fat makes the body produce more cholesterol. This extra cholesterol leads to plaque
Turmeric ( haldi)is a cornerstone of traditional Ayurvedic health practices.Turmeric is widely used as a spice in South Asian recipes. It contains Curcumin as a main constituent which has anti- inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.Turmeric is yellow and looks like ginger. The powder form is used in cooking.
Cumin ( jeera)is another spice used in Asian and middle eastern cooking. It can be used as seeds or as a powder.Cumin seeds contain numerous phyto-chemicals that are known to have antioxidant properties , and are an excellent source of dietary fiber.