Ingredients of the week.

May 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

Hi everyone! Hope your Saturday’s are going swimmingly! Mine certainly will be when I head out for a run a little later – downpour imminent. But i’ve decided the only way i’m ever going to stay fit and motivated during the winter months is to adopt a take-no-prisoners, gung-ho, blind stupidity approach and get out there rain, hail or cyclone (which is what the sensationalist weather reporters tell me is approaching Sydney – eeeek!). Before donning my runners and being sucked into a crazy weather vortex, I thought i’d share some foods/ingredients that have been featuring heavily in my eats for the week. I seem to get on benders of a certain food and refuse to let go!

Exhibit A:

Sweet potato fetish.

Ranga pride! A big beta-carotene smiley face.

My ingredients of choice this week include:

Fresh Ginger:

Why I love it.

Apart from the taste which is divine, I love the calming effect of this herb (yes! ginger is a herb, not a root as commonly believed) and the way it seems to keep my sensitive stomach under control when I drink it throughout the day.

How do you use it?

Lately whilst in hibernation, I’ve been cutting off a hunk (perhaps a couple of cm long), bruising it with the butt of a knife and simply adding to a mug of boiling water to make a warming, refreshing drink for winter. I also add it to rice/quinoa/or noodle dishes, as a ‘flavour base’. Ie, saute some along with onion, garlic & chili in coconut oil, then add chopped veggies & create a winning stir-fry. Ginger can also be eaten as a glacée delight, grated and added to cakes and muffins or pickled and used as a condiment. Versatile, yes!

Nutritional profile and healing properties.

Ginger is rich in antioxidants such as gingerols, shogaols & zingerones – Eastern medicine has traditionally harnessed the powers of the herb to treat digestive complaints, relieve nausea, bloating, diarrhea & morning sickness. It is also said to improve circulation and reduce inflammation. Studies have shown the benefits of ginger for people with osteoarthritis, with randomized studies showing reduced joint pain & inflammation in groups who consumed ginger extract. Other research points to the antioxidant 6-gingerol as helping to prevent, and reduce the size of cancerous tumours, and induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) and autophagy (cells digesting themselves) in some forms of cancer.

Yeah, I think i’ll keep binge-drinking ginger tea.

Coriander:


Why I love it.

I’ve heard the taste described as similar to a dirty dish cloth. This is waaaay outta line – no one talks about coriander like that when i’m around! I happen to love the flavour, and it definitely adds interest to any dish that was previously bland or boring.

How do you use it?

Coriander pairs well with simple, fresh flavours, especially lemon & lime. I just toss a handful over a salad, and it’s instantly more appetising. (This is my packed work dinner last night – buckwheat pasta with a dressing of coriander, lemon, tahini, savoury yeast flakes, olive oil & salt & pepper w/ salad).

It was also born to lie down in bed with quinoa, tomato veggie salsa, seeds & hummus.

Interestingly, i’ve seen it in a lot of green smoothie recipes as well, but i’ve yet to try it out.

Nutritional profile/healing properties.

Coriander’s volatile oil is rich in phytonutrients – it also contains flavonoids and other phenolic acid compounds that have been shown to help fight cancer, diabetes & heart disease. It is also a source of magnesium, iron & manganese.

Woah, slow down coriander! Way to get all superfood on us.

It goes on:

Coriander helps stimulate the secretion of insulin & lowers blood sugar, great for people with diabetes. It has also been proven to lower cholesterol and enhance the digestive abilities of pancreatic enzymes. Lastly, a study concluded that coriander was twice as effective as a commonly used antibiotic in killing salmonella.

Heck yes, get over your dirty dishcloth phobia and embrace the wonder herb!

Tahini:

Why I love it.

Where to start? This is probably my favourite condiment, as you maaaay have guessed in my incessant references to it in the blog. I always think ‘acquired taste’ foods end up being far superior to regular, easily palatable ones, and in the case of Tahini, this is definitely the case. It tastes ‘grown up’ in the sense that it’s not blatantly sweet or salty, but has this creamy nutiness underscored by a subtle bitter tang that is just so damn tantalising!

FYI – Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds. I buy the un-hulled variety which is made from whole sesame seeds & therefore possesses a more ass-kicking nutritional profile. I also think it has a more delectable, nutty flavour, so give it a try!

How do you use it?

Most people would be familiar with Tahini as a core ingredient in Hummus, but it’s applications are far broader in my humble (besotted) opinion.

I often add around a teaspoon to my oats – it makes them taste nutty & smooth, and if you’re careful and don’t add too much there is no bitter flavour, trust me!

Tahini drizzled over vegan pizza is unbelievable.

In dips, dressings & even desserts, this ingredient is indispensable.

Nutritional profile & benefits.

Because the sesame seeds are ground into a paste, this renders Tahini very easily digestible and nutrients are absorbed ASAP. Speaking of, Tahini has been described as a nutrirional powerhouse with vitamins E, F & T (have I ever even heard of these before?!) as well as many B vitamins & vitamin A. It is also high in protein (richer source than soybeans, nuts & milk) and is claimed to be one of the best sources of calcium there is (non muscous-forming like dairy, hurrah!). Who’da thunk it?

Not finished yet.

Tahini also contains an essential amino acid called methionine, as well as lectihin that reduced fat levels in the blood and reportedly protects against environmental toxins. Even though Tahini is high in oil (fat) it is unsaturated and will be absorbed by your happy body with alacrity!

PHEW. Glad I put my love for these foods out there. What are your favourites?

Off to take on the rain – yes, it’s started. Glad i’ve broadcast my intentions to exercise to the world to serve as motivation, because staying inside writing about food is looking pretty appealing right now!

Happy Saturday!



§ 2 Responses to Ingredients of the week.

  • Heather says:

    I’m in love with quinoa, you can pretty much add it to anything, so yummy and my new favorite is brussel sprouts, def not everyones favorite but i love them.. and super green! i might have to jump on the sweet potato train though because they look delicious!

    • bonne_santé says:

      I’ve been eyeing off brussel sprouts in the blogosphere…although i try to keep an open mind, i have vivid memories of being repulsed as a child – this is one veggie i’ve yet to embrace! Will definitely give them a second chance.

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