Reasons You Should Cook With This Cancer-Fighting, Pain-Reducing, Immune-Boosting Spice (plus recipe!)

Spices should not be neglected from your cooking, because most spices have health benefits and add amazing flavor or color to foods.  Today I want to talk about the brightly-colored spice, turmeric, which you may have tried before, especially if you’ve eaten Indian food.  Turmeric is argued to be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence, and speaking from personal experience, holy shit! This stuff works.

I started taking turmeric, or curcumin (the main active ingredient in turmeric), in supplement form last year to treat chronic wrist and hip pain. Curcumin fights inflammation and contains lots of cancer-fighting antioxidants.  Within days my pain dissipated.  Here are some other uses for the spice:

Arthritis, heartburn, irritable bowel syndrome, stomach pain, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, gall bladder disorders, headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, menstrual cramps, depression, Alzheimer’s, water retention, worms, kidney problems, and cancer.

Sound too good to be true?  There’s a reason this spice has been used to treat illnesses for centuries. It works! Cooking with turmeric alone may not be a high enough dosage to make a huge impact with helping any of the above issues, but you can also find turmeric in supplement form to get the full effects.

Turmeric goes very well with black pepper, especially because the black pepper enhances the effects of the curcumin. Turmeric also goes great with other spices like cumin, coriander, curry, etc.

Crispy Turmeric Tofu Tacos

Ingredients:

For the tofu…

-extra firm tofu, drained, cut into cubes (to drain, place tofu block in a colander over a bowl and place a plate with something heavy on top of the tofu for anywhere from 20 minutes- hour).

-spices: turmeric, black pepper, salt, cumin, any additional favorite spices  *turmeric stains bright yellow, so clean immediately if you spill!*

-EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

Extras for the tacos…

-favorite beans, soaked, rinsed and cooked

-taco shells

-avocado

-raw red onion, diced

-fresh corn off the cob

-optional: cheese

Instructions:

1. Turn over to 400 degrees F.

2. After tofu has drained and is cut into cubes, toss the cubes in a bowl. Add spices (I eyeball it out, but probably about 1/4 teaspoon of each spice) and oil and coat evenly.

3. Place tofu on lined baking sheet.  Put in the oven on the bottom rack for five minutes. Flip tofu and place in oven for another five minutes, then repeat once more for a total of 15 minute cook time.

4. Put tacos together- cooked beans, raw onion, corn, tofu, and avocado on shells. Serve up and enjoy!

If you have leftover tofu, I like to do another easy dish of sushi rice, veggies, and tofu.

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For the original crispy tofu recipe, sans tacos, click here.

Other Sources: Whole Foods

Red Cabbage Sauerkraut

If you are new to fermenting just like me, then red cabbage sauerkraut is a great place to start.

unnamed-6Why eat red cabbage?  Flavanoids, which give the cabbage its awesome color, and sulfur compounds, which give the vegetable it’s sharp taste, are both cancer-preventatives. Cabbage is also packed with fiber and a variety of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C and Vitamin K. When eaten as raw sauerkraut, the cabbage becomes a fantastic source of probiotics, which aid in gut health and contribute to a healthy immune system.

Making the sauerkraut was simple.  All you need is the head of red cabbage, sea salt, a bowl, and a mason jar or some container with a tight-fitting lid.  If you don’t have a lid then use Saran Wrap with a rubber band.

Ingredients:

1. red cabbage

2. sea salt – 1 tablespoon

Instructions:

1. Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, but save one or two leaves for later use.

2. Cut the cabbage in quarters.  Thinly slice the cabbage or grate with a food processor or box grater.  You can include the core, if you’d prefer.

unnamed-73. Place the shredded cabbage in a bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon salt over it.  Massage the salt into the cabbage using your (clean) hands.  It will begin to soften and release juices creating its own brine.

IMG_48834.  Pour the cabbage with its juices into your jar.  Press the cabbage down with your fist or a “kraut pounder” until it’s submerged in its own juices.  I used a wooden spoon because my fist couldn’t fit in the jar.

5. Take the reserved outer leaf and use it to cover the kraut in the jar.  The leaf should be slightly submerged in the juices, but should form a lid of the kraut.

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6. Cover your jar tightly and let it sit in and ferment at room temperature for 3 days, or until it smells ready.

Enjoy on top of tacos, brisket, sandwiches, or with chopped apples for a delicious salad.

Sources: SFGate.com, RealFoodKosher.com

Get Fat Now!

Fat has been a diet no-no for quite some time, but luckily the fat-free era is finally over.  Research shows that fat is essential for our bodies.  Saturated fat is no longer the problem, but is actually the solution for our bodies to repair cells and for proper hormone function. It’s time to enjoy our egg yolks, our whole fat yogurt, or our chicken breasts, skin on. Think about our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers.  Could they have survived harsh conditions and the time between meals if it wasn’t for fat consumption? Hell no!  Our bodies NEED fat, but fat from the right sources.

The body is made up of 97% saturated and monounsaturated fat, and the remaining 3%  is polyunsaturated fat. That 3% polyunsaturated fat is half omega-3 fats and half omega-6 fats.  It’s important for our bodies to have balanced levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, 1:1.  Without this equal balance, too much omega-6 causes inflammation, while omega-3 is neutral.  A diet high in omega-3 fat and low in omega-6 fat is ok thought, because the omega-3 fats will reduce inflammation.

Vegetable oils are a main source of omega-6 in the modern diet.  Some of these oils high in omega-6 include: safflower oil, corn oil, sunflower, soybean, cotton oil.

Fatty fish oil, quality extra-virgin olive oils, coconut oil, or quality butter are all examples of omega-3 fats (yay, butter!).  Omega-3 fats are also vital for the following health benefits:

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease and causes of death associated with heart disease
  • Reducing severity of symptoms associated with diabetes
  • Reducing pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Reducing risk of osteoporosis and bone loss
  • Improving health and reducing symptoms for those with autoimmune disease
  • Helping those with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder
  • Reducing risk of various types of cancers
  • Improving cognitive function

(Sources: Wellness Mama)

My favorite ways to incorporate healthy fats into my diet:

1.  Eat fat for breakfast, especially before and after a workout.  Below is a favorite, quick breakfast of mine full of omega-3s.  2% Greek yogurt, berries and bananas, topped with protein-packed hemp seeds, and omega-3 sources, flax seeds and chia seeds.

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2. Invest in quality extra virgin olive oil (preferably pressed somewhere local to you), organic coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.  These products can be a little more expensive, but you’ll use them all the time and you won’t need to feel guilty about using the butter.  You can even save money by switching your beauty and home care products to olive oil and coconut oil.

4. If you’re a coffee drinker, add a tablespoon of organic coconut butter to your morning coffee or try Bulletproof coffee.

5. Some of my favorite sources of omega-3s: avocado, salmon, almond butter, eggs, grass-fed meats, extra virgin olive oil, butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, Brussel sprouts, and shrimp.

If you’re having trouble losing weight, suffering from exhaustion or stress, try adding more healthy fats to your diet.

What to do with Beans (plus recipe!)

Beans are a fantastic, nutrient-dense, protein-packed plant food that offer tons of fiber, B vitamins,iron, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. They are low in calories and have been found to lower the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by cooking beans, possibly because they don’t know how.  Up until recently, actually, I had been using canned beans.  It wasn’t until I started soaking (non-canned) beans properly, which was quite simple to do, that I noticed my body could easily digest beans, where as normally I feel like crap after eating beans.

Cooking Beans

-Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.

-Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking).

-After soaking, rinse, fill pot with fresh water (about 4-6 cups), bring to a boil, then skim off the foam.  To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or fennel to the water.

-Cover and simmer for the suggested time.

-Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.

Quick tips: For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours. Or use canned beans instead (some people find them even easier to digest!).  Be sure to avoid canned beans with added salt or preservatives and rinse thoroughly once removed from the can.

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Kombu is a type of dried seaweed. Add a small piece while cooking your beans to improve digestibility.

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Cooking with Beans

Need ideas of how to use beans?  Try any of the following:

-Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.

-Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup.

-Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean.

-Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.

-Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.

-Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans.

Here’s what I made…

After soaking black beans overnight, I decided to use the beans for a Mexican shrimp bowl.  At least that’s what I’m calling it.  Feel free to pick and choose your favorite ingredients, but here’s what I used to cook for two people:

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-avocado (1/2)

-shrimp (about 12)

-4 garlic gloves, minced

-1/2 onion, diced

-fresh, dried chilies, minced (if you like your food spicy)

-salt, pepper

-2 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed

-optional: rice or polenta cubes, red cabbage

unnamed-3To prepare this dish I soaked the black beans over night and then cooked them in 6 cups water with a strip of kombu for an hour.

-Heat large pan with olive oil.  When hot, add onions and garlic and cook for two minutes.  Lightly salt.

-Add shrimp, chilis, salt, and pepper.   If cooking pre-made polenta, toss in polenta cubes.  Cook for about five minutes or until shrimp are cooked.

-Layer red cabbage and beans on the bottom of a bowl.  Add the shrimp, onions, and polenta on top.  Slice up some avocado and serve!