How to Cut Kale

Many clients ask me how to cook kale, and what I love about not just kale, but all greens, is that they are so simple!  Really.  Just a quick sauté and done!  One of my favorite ways to cut kale is a quick chiffonade.  You get these thin beautiful ribbons, and they add a little sophistication to a quick meal!  But enough!  Watch the video and try this at home! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YgXElamAc4

Eat This: Tomatoes

In every session with my clients, we always have a Food of the Day that is based on what specifically the client is working on, and the season.  Before summer ends, I want to make SURE I talk about tomatoes.   YES!  Tomato plants love hot days and the hot days give us nice, big, plump tomatoes.  They are found in cuisines all over the world, but they are originally native to Western South America. Tomatoes are known for their high vitamin C and high antioxidant content.  Specifically they get a lot of buzz for an antioxidant called lycopene. Lycopene is in the carotenoid family and is shown to  be cancer protective for at least prostrate and breast cancer, excellent for heart health, and helpful for keeping blood vessels strong and healthy.  Lycopene has also been shown to be more absorbable after it's heated.  (Which is a great reason to make tomato sauce!)

I always, however, recommend clients to have a mix of raw and cooked tomatoes.  Raw tomatoes have an excellent vitamin C content, especially in that jelly around the seeds, so don’t throw that away!

Another wonder about tomatoes is that they contain glutamates, which are natural flavor enhancers.  You might have heard of glutamates because of MSG, or Mono Sodium Glutamate.  MSG is a flavor enhancer that fits my definition of a processed food:  you can't make it in your own kitchen.  So, I prefer to add naturally occurring glutamates to my dishes.  Tomatoes!  Excellent!  In they go.  Other foods that include natural glutamates are mushrooms, anchovies, parmesan cheese, and of course, bacon!

Tomatoes are also part of the nightshade family, which includes peppers, potatoes, eggplant, and cayenne to name a few.  Some find they are sensitive to nightshades, and for those with arthritis, it is advised to cut them out to see if symptoms improve.

Choose firm tomatoes with bright green stems, and buying them straight from the farmers market ensures freshness and taste.  Store tomatoes at room temperature, for putting them in the refrigerator will make them mealy.  If buying them canned, which is a fine choice when they aren't in season, make sure your cans say BPA free (BPA is a chemical added to can linings that can disrupt hormones), or buy them in glass jars.

My Most Recent Tomato Obsession: Gazpacho

Gazpacho originated from the Andalusia region of Spain, and is a soup, usually with a tomato base, that is served cold.   It has now evolved to take on many different forms, and it’s my recent summertime obsession. It is extremely refreshing to have on hot summer days.

Gazpacho

Serves 2

2 cups tomatoes

1 large cucumber

1 large red pepper

1 cup loosely packed basil

2 cloves raw garlic

1 T balsamic or wine vinegar

2 T extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

 

1)   Throw all ingredients into a blender, or place in a deep bowl and use an immersion blender.  Blend.

2)   Salt and pepper to taste!

3)   Serve with toast or crackers, or hard boiled eggs!

Juicing....Worth the Hype?

Join me January 12th for the 3 Week Regeneration Diet!  Save money and learn how to cook AMAZINGNESS at home.  Find out more here!

So many people ask me about juicing, and whether or not it’s the end all be all of nutrition.  Many people have watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, and have started on a juice craze.   I’ve decided to just put in my two cents about what a holistic nutrition and weight loss coach thinks about juicing.  

1)  Vegetable juicing can be a great ADDITION to an already healthy diet.   An example of when juicing is appropriate is sipping on juice while you are at your desk at work between meals, or after you’ve had a workout.  More than once, I’ve talked to people who have done long juice fasts and have dropped weight dramatically.  But when they start to eat again, the weight comes back on quickly, because learning how and what to eat is first and foremost.

2) Stick to mostly vegetables.  People tend to throw in too many fruits. Instead, focus on cucumbers, leafy greens (you can juice leftover kale and collard stalks!) and celery.  Juicing too many fruits can upset your blood sugar balance.  

3)  Is it the right time of year?  The right time of year can be important.  Juicing is something that is more aligned with the summer months.  In winter, our bodies tend to crave warm soups and stews.  Remember, your body is intelligent, so listen to it.

4)  Balance Thermal Properties:  Many common vegetable used for juicing are cooling in nature, which is fine for summer months, but in winter remember we want to eat more warming foods.  If you INSIST on juicing, add some warming foods in to balance out your juice.

 

Cool Foods

Warming Foods

Cucumbers

Spinach

orange

lemon

bananas

apples

pears

Chard

Romaine Lettuce

Ginger

Cayenne

Cinnamon

Garlic

Coconut milk/meat

 From http://www.acupuncture.com/nutrition/chinut1.htm

5)  Your body needs protein and fats! Juicing alone is not a good source of protein or fats.  It’s mainly carbohydrates and nutrients.  Which, by the way, many of the nutrients in juices are more absorbable with a healthy amount of fat, so if you are hell bent on juicing, add some healthy fat to it.  An avocado, pastured egg yolk, chia seeds, and olive or coconut oils can be helpful for absorption.

 

In summary:

  • Juice in addition to a healthy diet, not in place of a healthy diet.

  • Focus on organic vegetables instead of fruits.

  • Think about time of year

  • Blend in warming foods

  • Add some fats!

So there are my two cents!  Don't forget to check out my Regeneration Diet, starting January 12th, where focus on learning how to make and eat nourishing and seasonally correct soups and stews at home.

Happy Nourishing Everyone!

Tammy

 

*LEGAL DISCLAIMER – This website (including any/all site pages, blog posts, blog comments, forum, etc.) is not intended to replace the services of a physician, nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information is provided for informational  purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating a medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have an urgent medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Any application of the recommendations in this website is at the reader’s discretion. Tammy Chang and The Nourished Belly are not liable for any direct or indirect claim, loss or damage resulting from use of this website and/or any web site(s) linked to/from it. Readers should consult their own physicians concerning the recommendations in this website.

 

Eat This Series: Nettles

Hello! First post back after the sugar challenge. I am so extremely thrilled how the challenge went for myself and for everyone involved! I have received such amazing feedback… It really shows that just a little bit of effort can make a huge difference.

Now on to Nettles! I’m excited about this post for a few different reasons. It’s the first one in my Eat This Series, although I would probably include my post about coconut oil and ghee in the Eat This category. The purpose of the Eat This postings is to show you simple and powerful foods to add into your diet for maximum nutritional benefit. The biggest bang for your buck so to speak. I’m also excited because nettles are an example of a seasonal super food. We have all become accustomed to eating foods whenever we feel like it, but when we really start tapping into what foods are available seasonally, we are increasing our awareness of nutrient density as well as tapping into the harmony of the harvest. It’s a beautiful, delicious, and healthy way to eat and live. Nettles have only recently become available in the last couple of weeks and the season usually goes through the end of April. Nettles are actually a weed, and are found all over the United States. They are also called stinging nettles, because they have stiff, bristly hairs that are found on the leaves and stems which inject a stinging fluid into the skin. An interesting note is that the sting can be used therapeutically as a treatment for increasing circulation and arthritic conditions. However, the sting isn’t pleasant, so if you find a patch to harvest, handle with care! Heat and drying destroys the sting.

Benefits

  •  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, they are considered a blood tonic and support the bladder, kidney, spleen and liver.
  • Detoxifying
  • Helpful for allergies and hay fever
  • Good for hypoglycemia because they help reduce blood sugar levels
  • Helpful for high blood pressure
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Nutrient Dense

Nettles are extremely high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, Vitamin K, Carotenes and Iron. The other day, I let the fresh nettles steep all day, and the tea turned into this amazing dark green potion! It was so thick and felt heavy and rich in my mouth. I was just simply amazed by the color! It’s SO green…. The chlorophyll just pours out of it! Chlorophyll is an excellent source of magnesium, and for maximum absorption, drink the tea while eating a bit of fat. My fellow nutrition friend Corinne Steel uses a bit of flax seed oil that she pours into her carrot juice to better absorb the carotenes. Same idea with chlorophyll; it has both fat and water soluble components. Fresh nettles can be sautéed like spinach, and are delicious! Don’t forget to add some butter for better absorption!

You can buy nettles dried as tea, and I often brew these overnight to get all the goodness out of them. Nettle and mint are a good combination. Although dried nettles are great to use, definitely take advantage of using fresh nettles if you can find them at the Farmers Market. If you are in the Bay Area, Happy Boy Farms is already selling them. Check out the market schedule here.

Have fun exploring with the amazing super food! Eat them. Send us some comments if you gave them a try…. Enjoy!

References:

McGee, Harold (2004) On Food and Cooking: the Science and Lore of the Kitchen.  New York; Scribner.

Wood, Rebecca. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  New York.  Penguin Books.  

More Amazing Uses for Bone Broth

My posting last week was all about the benefits and the how-to of making bone broth, but how do you use it in your kitchen?  Well…these ideas are mainly what I do in my kitchen, but I would love other comments and suggestions. Bone broth really is one of the most versatile foods, and will instantly add flavor and a LOAD of nutrients to whatever you are eating.  Oh!  What about the fat the settles at the top of the broth?  Save it!  Use it for cooking….remember saturated fats are the best for cooking.  Use it to cook eggs or vegetables. When I worked at Three Stone Hearth, the awesome worker owned cooperative kitchen in Berkeley, they would always add a layer of fat to seal the bone broth in the jar.  This helped to keep the broth longer.  Which, by the way, can be kept in the fridge up to about 5 days, after which you can re-simmer and keep for a bit longer.  You can also freeze broth in small pint or quart size jars*, remember to leave room for expansion.  My friend Jessica, who specializes in yoga therapy for the spine and is awesome, found out that if you freeze broth in half gallon jars, that’s too much liquid to freeze and her jars would crack!  And Oh!  You can also freeze broth in ice cube trays, and whenever you are cooking veggies, you can add a cube for flavor.

You can also create a demi-glaze, which really just means simmering some broth until you have released most of the moisture…and you have a nice thick consistency.  This is great for gravies and sauces…  pour it over chicken, beef, vegetables…anything!

Here are some common ways I use broth in my kitchen:

1)        As a base for soups and stews.

2)       When you feel a cold coming on.  Thomas Cowan recommends that at the first sign of illness, we drink chicken broth with coconut milk.  The broth provides much needed fluids and nutrients, while the coconut milk provides some nice antimicrobial action. I also like to add a little lemon or lime….yum.

3)       Use it to cook grains, beans, lentils:  An immediate flavor booster and nutrient bang for your buck.

4)       Simple Soups!  Check down below for two recipes that are inspired by the food my awesome Taiwanese mom makes :)

Corn Soup

(3-4 servings)

1 quart chicken broth

1 can corn or 1-2 ears of fresh corn (summer only...I Know!)

¼ cup coconut milk (Native Forest brand)

1 egg

Salt to taste

Heat chicken broth in a medium saucepan and add corn.  If using fresh corn, shave corn off the ears in a medium mixing bowl first, add and then let simmer for a few minutes.  If you are using organic canned corn, drain first and then add to the soup.  Add coconut milk.  Take soup off heat and drop in egg.  Stir immediately, egg should wisp into thin strips.  Salt until desired taste!  Serve and enjoy!

 

Daikon and Seaweed Soup

(3-4 servings)

1 quart chicken or pork broth

1 medium daikon

1 handful of wakame

1 T miso paste (optional)

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Chop daikon into ¼ inch pieces.  Heat bone broth in medium saucepan and simmer daikon until a fork can be easily pushed through, roughly 20 minutes. Take soup off heat and in a small bowl, place miso paste and add a little bit of soup.  Mix until paste has dissolved and mix into the rest of the soup.  Add a handful of wakame, salt and pepper to taste, and serve!

Resources:

Cowan, Thomas.  (2004) The Fourfold Path to Healing. United States; New Trends Publishing

*I recommend using Mason Jars in your kitchen.  They come in all different sizes, are really good quality, can replace the use of plastic containers in your kitchen, and are made in the USA!  You never have to look for the right top to go with the right container, because the tops are all interchangeable.  They also are super decorative and just LOOK COOL.  You can find them at your local hardware store or check out the link below.

Mason Jars

How to Make Bone Broth

If you want ONE thing you can do to improve your health….this might be it.   Save your chicken bones.  Make your own stock.  Bone broth is one of the most amazing foods you can add to your diet.  Truly. Traditionally, bone broth has been used throughout cultures as an ailment for the weak and the sick, and throughout culinary traditions as a way of adding flavor and depth to a dish.  It’s a win/win!  In ancient cultures, bones and organ meats were prized more than meat itself.  They are the most nutrient dense parts of an animal, and therefore, the most nutritious for us.

Benefits of Bone Broth

  • High in Minerals:  Due to the current food supply and the American state of health, most people are deficient in minerals.  Minerals are just as important as vitamins to our daily bodily functions.  Bones are a power house of minerals, and through prolonged simmering, we are able to extract all of these precious nutrients.  Thomas Cowan, author of A Fourfold Path to Healing, suggests that adding bone broth to our diet is the fastest way to rebuild our mineral deposits.
  • An Important Source of Gelatin: Gelatin is extracted collagen and an extremely soothing and nourishing food.  It is an excellent digestive aid and it’s extremely healing to our gut, our nervous system and for our entire body.  This is the original reason that jello is served in hospitals.  Patients were served a gelatin based food, but in the words of Jessica Prentice, worker owner at Three Stone Hearth, the jello served nowadays to patients is a “toxic mimic” of tradition.
  • High in Protein:  Included in the large amino acid profile of bone broth are glycine and proline.
    • Glycine is necessary in creating glucose when we are in need of more energy and is vital in supporting our detoxification pathways (thus, cleansing with only bone broth is a great idea.)
    • Proline is essential for the production of collagen, which helps us maintain healthy skin, bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage.

 

Making Your Own Bone Broth

Making your own broth is less time consuming than you might think, and if you have the proper tools (i.e. a crock pot!) it is extremely simple.  First off, save your bones in the freezer.  Of course, quality always matters, so at the very least you should be buying organic meats with the bone.  You can also go to the butcher and ask for bones, they are pretty inexpensive for the amount of nutrition that they provide.

Once you have a nice bag of bones, you are welcome to mix them, but I usually separate chicken from other meats due to flavor.  Place them in a large stock pot and cover with water (preferably filtered) and add a splash of apple cider vinegar.  The vinegar helps to pull the minerals out of the bones.

Temperature and simmering length are important.  The broth should be kept at a simmer, too high of heat will destroy the gelatin.   I personally leave the pot covered on a low flame over night and when I am out of the house.  The only incident I’ve run into is when I left a window open and the flame went out.  Another option is to leave the stock pot in the oven on 200.  However, if you have a crock pot, you don’t need to worry about any of this!  A crock pot has literally changed the way I cook in the kitchen, so I highly recommend you get one.  They are inexpensive and for busy people, they are invaluable.

The length of time that you simmer the bones depends on the size, basically you want to simmer them until they break apart easily.

  • Fish (don’t use oily fish and fish heads are great!): no more than 6 hours
  • Chicken: 12-24 hours
  • Lamb/Goat: 36 hours
  • Pork and Beef: 36-48 hours

This seems like a long time, but really the only attention you need to give it is in the very beginning when you put the bones in.  If you don’t have time to simmer the bones for this long, you can keep the bones and use them again until they are soft.  When I worked at Three Stone Hearth, they would simmer their chicken bones twice.  The first batch they used as chicken broth to sell and the second batch they used as a base for their soups.

If the bones you are using have a nice amount of collagen and you've kept it at a nice low temperature, the broth should gel nicely when cooled.  This is a sign that it is gelatin rich.  Great job!

So get started!  Start saving your bones!  Or get a whole chicken and use the carcass.  I just used the turkey carcass to make an amazing stock….the holidays are a great time to try it out!

References:

Cowan, Thomas.  (2004) The Fourfold Path to Healing. United States; New Trends Publishing
Fallon, Sally.  (2000, Jan 1)  Broth is Beautiful.  Wise Traditions. Retrieved from http://www.westonaprice.org/food-features/broth-is-beautiful
Prentice, Jessica. (2006) Full Moon Feast; Food and the Hunger for Connection. Vermont; Chelsea Green.

 

Benefits of Ghee

Last week I posted all of the many amazing qualities of coconut oil.  Have you used it yet?  I used it this week making baked sliced sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon.  They were delicious. Home made Ghee

Ghee is used widely in Indian cooking, and is used in various religious ceremonies.  It’s made by simmering butter, which evaporates the moisture (butter can be 18% water) and causes the milk solids to sink to the bottom.  Therefore,  some people who are lactose intolerant, are able to tolerate ghee as opposed to butter.  Clarified butter is made in a similar manner, but not simmered as long.  In ghee, the milk solids are browned which give it a nuttier taste.

Ghee is regarded as anti-inflammatory and is said to boost memory.  In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to cure a whole host of ailments, from treating burns to aiding in digestion.

Ghee is ideal for frying since the smoke point (when molecules start to break down) is 482 degrees F.  It is probably the only oil that I would feel comfortable using in deep frying.  It does not need to be refrigerated, and can last about 6 months in a cool dark place.  With refrigeration, it can last up to a year.  Be careful not to add any moisture as this will cause spoilage.

Since it is so simple and relatively quick to make, I don't make large batches at once.  I use it pretty frequently, so I keep it in my pantry, which keeps it soft and easy to scoop out.  Note: I have noticed that after a few months, it loses its nutty aroma and starts to smell stale, so I try to use it regularly.

Making Ghee

Making ghee yourself is very economical.  A jar of ghee at the store can cost anywhere from $8-12 dollars.  Start with organic unsalted butter (conventional butter has other chemicals and a whole HOST of other problems.)  I usually use 2-3 sticks at a time, which will give you about 3/4 of a cup. In a saucepan, heat butter on low until it starts to simmer.  A white foam will rise to the top and it should start to bubble.  Check every few minutes and stir occasionally.  You will start to see white milk solids cling to the bottom of the pan.  When they turn nice, golden brown the ghee is done!   Some say the aroma is like popcorn, but to me it smells like a buttery croissant.  Careful not to burn the solids on the bottom as this will affect the flavor.  You can also simmer with different herbs to add flavor:  thyme, rosemary, basil and garlic are good options.  Strain and place in a glass jar, opaque if possible, but otherwise store in a cool dark place.  Some people sprinkle the browned milk solids on toast or over potatoes.  Use frequently and feel proud that you make it yourself!

Relish using ghee, it has a long history, and is extremely nourishing.  It will add a beautiful flavor to your meals and add a foundation of clean wholesome nutrition to your diet.

References
Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Ph.D. (2001) Nourishing Traditions. Washington D.C.: New Trends Publishing
Murray, M. (2005). The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York: ATRIA Books.
Wood, Rebecca. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  New York.  Penguin Books.