I’m pretty sure the first human to try eating a durian was either clinically insane, starving to death, or my buddy from college (seriously — that guy would eat ANYTHING). After all, a durian is a massive fruit (weighing up to ten pounds) that has an outside shell completely covered in unfriendly spikes — spikes which kill several unlucky people a year…after a piece of the fruit falls on their head.
The inside of a durian isn’t much more inviting either, containing a collection of slimy pulpy pillows that look a lot like gelatinous scrambled eggs. And then, of course, there’s the durian smell that’s so outrageously in-your-face strong (resembling a mixture of tropical perfume and rotting garbage) that the fruit is banned — by law — from many indoor public spaces in the durian’s native Southeast Asia.
Remember when the term “supermodel” meant something? Namely, Linda, Christy, Naomi, Claudia, Cindy and Kate? Now the word is so overused, there must hundreds of so-called “supermodels” in the skies, on the runways and at the end of cigarettes. Well, the same thing is happening with “superfoods”. Suddenly, there seems to be a lot of them out there. Like mushrooms. But are they really a “superfood”? Let’s see…
Before we embark on their health giving properties, here’s a bit of interesting background on the ‘shroom, kindly sent to us by Mushroom Matrix. Did you know that mushrooms are neither a plant nor an animal, but in fact have their own kingdom? In the 1960s, they were given special classification as the “Kingdom of Fungi”. With an estimated 1.5-2 million species on earth, fungi could theoretically outnumber plants 6 to 1. And just like animals, they inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide.
Spring has arrived. The season of new life in the plant and animal kingdom. In the human kingdom, spring symbolizes growth, renewal and possibly a new handbag. And with pie season officially over, it’s the perfect time to detox. Now, without getting all master-cleansy or juice-fasty on you, here’s a simple way you can benefit from a wonderful seasonal detoxifier — dandelion.
The word dandelion comes from the French for “lion’s tooth”, a reference to its coarsely shaped leaves. In modern day French, the plant is called “pissenlit” which means “urinate in bed” because of it’s diuretic properties. But more on that later…
Chia seed is an ancient superfood that’s currently experiencing a glorious renaissance. It’s a member of the sage family (Salvia Hispanica), and its little black and white seeds were once a staple of the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures, along with the Native Americans of the southwest.
“Chia” is actually the Mayan word for strength. The seeds were used by these ancient cultures as mega-energy food, especially for their running messengers, who would carry a small pouch of it with them. Chia has been called “Indian Running Food” and gives an incredibly sustaining surge of energy. I’ve definitely noticed for myself the “running energy” that chia seems to impart. If I eat chia and then run later that day, my endurance and ability to run further is greatly enhanced…pretty impressive stuff!
The chia available at Raw Reform is imported from Mexico and certified organic. In Mexico, they say that one tablespoon of chia seeds can sustain a person for 24 hours. Chia also happens to TASTE great, looks cute (like tiny dinosaur eggs) and is ready to eat really quickly. It also has an off-the-scale nutritional profile.
Why would you want to eat chia?
Chia seeds are said to have two times the protein of any other seed or grain; five times the calcium of milk — plus boron, which is a trace mineral that helps transfer calcium into your bones; twice the potassium of bananas; three times the reported antioxidant strength of blueberries; three times more iron than spinach and copious amounts of omega 3 and omega 6, which are essential fatty acids.
I’ve eaten flax before and thought it tasted like the sawdust that covers the floor at the circus. But as it is a superfood, I’m determined to unearth all of its amazing health-giving properties and attempt to talk my palate into trying it again. Because, filled as it is with unique nutritious qualities, flaxseed certainly deserves its superstar status.
Flaxseeds are full of lignans — “up to 800 times the amount as in any tested plant food” — which is a promising cancer fighting agent (especially breast and colon cancer). Flax consumption can help reduce total cholesterol, including the bad kind and triglycerides. Which makes it good news for the heart as well. As flax is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, it can help diabetics reduce their blood sugar levels and ease the painful inflammation associated with arthritis.
Creamy and sweet, rich and fatty. A food item described by these four adjectives surely can’t be good for you. Or can it? In the case coconut milk, that’s an affirmative. Whereas most foods high in saturated fats are bad for your waistline and your heart, when it comes to coconut milk the (albeit not super slim) but definitely heart-healthy South Pacific islanders are living testaments to its good all round health properties.
While coconut milk, which is derived from the flesh of the coconut, is high in saturated fat, it’s a “good saturated fat”, one which can be easily metabolized by the body. It doesn’t transform into “bad cholesterol” that can clog up the arteries. That’s because the principle ingredient in coconut milk is the lauric acid — the same stuff found in breast milk — which promotes brain development and healthy bones. What’s more, “it’s anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral”, and can strengthen your immune system and protect you from illnesses like hepatitis C, herpes and HIV.
The infamous Garlic and Shots restaurant in Soho, London offers more garlic-laden dishes than you could shake at a coven of vampires. During my time as a resident of London, the restaurant was dismissed as tourist trap by us locals. But with the benefit of hindsight, I’ve got to concede that G and S is onto something.
Blueberries tart red cousin, the cranberry (also called bounceberries because they bounce), still grow wild as a shrub. Now they are cultivated in low trailing vines in bogs of sand, pean and clay – Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos
Preserved lemons are my new ‘it’ ingredient. I made a few batches and gave them away as gifts around Christmas time and lately I’ve been inspired to find new and creative uses for them. Traditionally, they are used in Moroccan cuisine, as a condiment and in tagines and couscous. I think they lend themselves particularly well with all of the Spring ‘greens’, like artichokes, asparagus, peas, etc, etc. My favorite restaurant in Chicago- Green Zebra- has a salad on the menu made with shaved artichokes, preserved lemon, parmesan and red pepper foam that I just had to try last time I was there.
Searching online, you’ll find tons of ideas. Alice Waters of Chez Panisse makes a relish out of preserved lemons, olives, shallots and herbs- great for the summer BBQ season. People are using them as toppings for pizza, in martinis, and even in lemony desserts. So get creative! And if you come up with something good, let me know! Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos