Sometimes I wonder how the first person discovered the greatest food gems. Who would have thought underneath a prickly artichoke you would find the heart? Or stuffed in a ruby pomegranate you would find sweet, juicy seeds (called arils)?
While opening and de-seeding a pomegranate might seem a bit daunting, the reward is worth it. I prefer this method for opening a pomegrante over the water trick.
What you need: a small pairing knife, cutting board, bowl, strainer, spoon
Place the pomegranate on the cutting board, using a small pairing knife slice the crown off the end.
Now that the end if off, you should be able to see small quadrants that separate the seeds.
Cut each section out and set aside. Use the white spaces between the arils as your guide on where to cut.
Remove the sections
Place the strainer over a bowl. Flip the section upside down so arils are facing down towards the strainer and skin is up towards you. Use the back of a spoon and tap over the entire skin. The arils will fall out into the strainer. Continue until all arils are out. Repeat with remaining sections.
Rinse in cold water.
It might seem like a lot of steps, but it takes no time once you know what you are doing. Full of fiber, antioxidants, pomegranates are the perfect winter treat! I love using the seeds in this salad, perfect for fall. Spinach in a dijon vinaigrette,topped with sliced pears and pomegranate arils.
What’s your favorite way to use pomegranates?
I was sick for most of last week, a bug that seemed to only go away after lots of rest, movies, and soup. The good news? Well, besides an excuse to catch up on Homeland, lots and lots of soup. The downside? More sodium than my body can handle. I never thought of myself as salt-sensitive but then again, I rarely eat a lot of processed foods and try to keep my sodium intake pretty low. After three days of eating more soup than my body could handle, I was puffier than a blow fish. I’m serious- my eyes were puffy, my fingers were puffy, gross. My sodium intake had skyrocketed and the effects were not pretty.
The problem from a health standpoint isn’t that diets high in sodium are bad, it’s diets high sodium AND low in minerals like potassium, magnesium, & and calcium. The balance of 1:2 sodium to potassium is best for blood pressure. No coincidence, we find potassium in “healthy” foods like Swiss chard, potatoes, bananas, spinach, lentils, and the like.
If your potassium intake is significantly lower than your sodium intake, flip the ratio. Adding potassium containing foods is easy- this blog of healthy recipes is a great place to start!
If your diet is higher in sodium, there are lots of easy ways to cut back. Start by looking on the labels of your favorite foods, you might be surprised at which items contain a lot of sodium: cereals, breads, seasoning packets. Find alternatives that are lower in sodium. I know for me, I rarely eat bread without something on it, usually avocado, hummus, or nut butter. Those items tend to be salty enough that I don’t miss the salt in my low-sodium bread.What works for you?
When you gradually cut down the salt, your taste buds adjust! Start off by slowly reducing the amount you use to cook with and see if you notice a difference. Other tips include:
- Choose foods that are low in sodium. Less than 140mg of sodium per serving is considered a “low-sodium” product
- TASTE food before salting it. Get used to the taste of natural flavors
- Use spices and herbs as flavoring! Avoid mixed seasonings and spice blends that include salt, such as garlic salt
- Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables! You’ll get more potassium, which is beneficial in high sodium diets
- Many drinks like sports drinks, juice, and smoothies can be very high in sodium. Try water instead!
- Prepared meats, like bacon, ham, hot dogs, and deli meats are very high in sodium. If you need another reason to limit them, here’s you are.
- If you still use a saltshaker, take it off the table!
What do you do to reduce sodium in your diet?
Prop 37 didn’t pass, now what?
Whether you’re a political junky like me or not, you have probably heard of “Prop 37” that was on the ballot this last Tuesday in California. Prop 37 would have required the labeling of food products made with GMO’s, genetically modified ingredients.
After a slew of million dollars a day negative ads, support for Prop 37 quickly declined and did not pass in California. Yes, a win for companies like Monsanto and other Big Ag corporations who want to keep producing GMOs but it doesn’t mean the fight is over.
Whether you like it or not, you have probably consumed more GMO’s than you realize, more than 70% of supermarket food contains GM foods, increasing every year since they were introduced in 1996. If you are interested about reading more on GMOs, you can read my previous post here.
Just because Prop 37 didn’t pass doesn’t mean we are all SOL. There are plenty of ways you can still eat GMO free.
- Certified Organic Products do not contain and GM ingredients.
- More and more companies are labeling their items non-GMO. Check for this label to assure that you are getting a GMO-free product
- The biggest culprits in GM produce are soy (91% is GM), Corn (85%), Canola (88%), and Sugar Beets (90%).
- Download the Non-GMO shopping guide (also available as an App) to help you navigate through the store aisles.
- If you have the free Fooducate App, use the GMO feature
“Several animal studies reveal a long list of disorders, including: infertility, immune dysregulation, accelerated aging, dysregulation of genes associated with cholesterol synthesis, [faulty] insulin regulation, cell signaling, and protein formation, and changes in the liver, kidney, spleen and gastrointestinal system.” The American Academy of Environmental Medicine on Genetically Modified Ingredients.
What are your thoughts on GMO food? If you live in California, did you vote for or against Prop 37?
If you follow this blog, you know what a big fan I am of tofu. Perfect in appetizers, desserts, fancy dinners, sandwiches and more, tofu is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. Most people I work with, don’t get tofu. They either don’t know what to do with it or are unsure how to work with the flavor, or lack of flavor. Don’t fear. The beauty of tofu is that it can be pretty much anything you would like it to be: pudding, sauces, ricotta, steaks, think of tofu as the new “chicken”. Besides being less expensive than meat protein, tofu is also lower in calories, cholesterol and saturated fat free.
Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, I think it’s appropriate to address the discussion on soy foods and breast cancer. Soyfoods contain large amounts of isoflavones, also referred to as plant estrogens or phytoestrogens. You can find them in a variety of foods, but soy is a very rich source. It’s important to note that isoflavones are not estrogen, though their chemical structure is similar to the hormone estrogen. Both isoflavones in soy and estrogen bind and activate estrogen receptors on cells. Estrogen, the hormone, will bind to any receptor in the body, while isoflavones are more particular and tend to bind to only one type of receptor. The difference in receptors demonstrates how isflavones and estrogen behave differently in the body. This is also why isoflavones are called SERMs, selective estrogen receptor modulators.
There a a multitude of studies that demonstrate the safety of soyfoods, in particular their benefit for those who have breast cancer. A recently published study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that among Chinese breast cancer patients, those who consumed the most soyfoods were about 30% less likely to die from breast cancer or to experience breast cancer recurrence over a four year period compared to patients with the lowest intake of soy. Personally, I favor natural soy foods, those that have been minimally processed: tofu, tempeh, soymilk, edamame, over textured soy protein and the like.
This milkshake is super creamy, thanks to the addition of silken tofu and a frozen banana. I call it a milkshake, but I tend to drink this as a after-run morning smoothie. I usually dislike the chalky taste of protein powder, this milkshake tastes delicious and has the same protein as those other “shakes”.
Chocolate Tofu Milkshake
Ingredients: (makes two milkshakes)
1 cup silken tofu (I like mori-nu brand)
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp. liquid sweetener of choice
1 frozen banana
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup ice
Place all ingredients in blender. Blend baby blend until you get a silky, creamy milkshake. About 90 seconds using a high powered blender. Feel free to adjust liquid to make it thicker/thinner to your liking.
Want to win this awesome cookbook, packed with tofu recipes? To enter: follow DK on facebook/twitter. In the comment section below, what is your favorite tofu dish? If you have never tried it before, what dish would you like to try? Contest ends October 20th!
By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by The Soyfoods Council and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.