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Rhubarb Beef Tagine

When I went to bed on Sunday, a couple of weeks ago, I was not prepared for the sickness that would rack my body the next morning. Come 6am I had the most severe case of stomach flu I’ve ever had, but that’s not saying much since I rarely get sick. I posted a status on FB saying, “stomach flus suck!” while several friends responded with, “I agree, I’m there right now” or roughly some sort of the same thing. Well I’m pretty sure it wasn’t unless they too were on the floor outside the bathroom wrapped up in a blanket rolling around because you’re body was one big ache and nothing felt comfortable. Also, if you’ve ever puked through your nose I feel your pain.

angus-beef-chunks-with-spices

Suffice to say my “output” was greater than my input, so I had to be raced off to the ER where I shivered and ached for five hours while I had three litres of IV fluids pumped into my severely dehydrated body. I was so out of it for the week that even walking upstairs made me wish I could crash into bed for a nap. Oh and did I mention that during that time Melissa from FBC put out a 411 for rhubarb posts. Somehow in my tired slightly delusional state I thought it would be a good idea to crank out a rhubarb beef tagine post for you to enjoy. Would I recommend ever doing that? No, but I certainly would recommend trying putting rhubarb in your next spicy beef stew.

rhubarb-prepping

Let’s be honest, when we think of rhubarb, desserts like pies, tarts, and crumbles come to mind. It’s a “fruit” (technically a vegetable) that gets a reputation for adding tartness to sweets, but how about adding that tartness to something savoury? Rhubarb itself was used as a medicinal herb in Chinese medicine, a cure for stomach ailments, years before the English decided it was best used in tart. For more health benefits check out my seasonal post.

sprouted-brown-rice

This stew is perfect for those leftover stalks that just didn’t make it to the upside down cake or you decided to keep a few out from the rhubarb shrub cocktail syrup, but then they’ve started to wilt and get like a limp floppy carrot. The tartness adds a nice balance to the richness of beef (or lamb if you choose) while adding an extra dimension to the spices. Plus the fibre acts like a thickener for the sauce while giving you extra calcium and vitamin K. I think rhubarb can act in savoury dishes with a little imaginary thinking.

rhubarb-beef-tagine

Rhubarb Beef Tagine
Add some rhubarb to give your next beef stew a nice added zing to it
Ingredients
  • SPICE RUB
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  •  
  • 450g stewing beef, cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 400-500ml can of diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups rhubarb, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup of stock (any kind)
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained
  • ¼ cup golden raisins
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tbsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp ground ginger
Instructions
  1. Place your stewing beef and spice rub mixture in a mixing bowl and toss/rub to coat. Cover and place into the fridge for several hours.
  2. When ready bring out your beef and let it come to room temperature. Heat up a pot to medium and melt some ghee. Sear your meat in batches to get a nice golden crust. You can skip this part, but I find it adds a nice flavour dimension to the end product.
  3. Add a little more ghee if needed, sauté your onions till lightly translucent. Add in the cinnamon stick, ½ tbsp cumin and ginger. Cook for a minute. Add in your beef, diced tomatoes, rhubarb, and stock. Increase temperature to a medium high and when you see it come to a low boil, cover and lower to low. Leave it for 60 minutes.
  4. Add in your chickpeas and raisins. Cover again and let cook for another 45 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. You can serve it now over a bed of brown rice or like any good stew let it be overnight for the flavours to mingle and meld before reheating and serving.

 

rhubarb-tops

Rhubarb

Heralding spring, nearly every foodie out there waits with some apprehension, looking for red stalks to appear at the food markets; I’m talking rhubarb. Typically we think of rhubarb as a fruit that’s delicious in desserts, like strawberry and rhubarb pie, poached over ice cream, or even used as syrup for flashy drinks. That wasn’t always the case. Traditionally it was used in Chinese medicine to soothe stomach ailments and relieve constipation. It was being exported by the 1st century to places like Greece and Rome and by the 10th century, it had become a major Chinese export. It wasn’t until the 19th century an English cookery book used rhubarb in a tart. So how did something so medicinal get turned into something so fruity and desserty? Those crazy Englishmen.

Rhubarb is an interesting plant – the leaves are toxic due to the high amounts of oxalic acid and the stalks can be a mouth puckering tart if you aren’t careful. It was never big in my household; you see it contains concentrations of anthraquinones and tannins that have antiparasidic effects aka what I like to call, “The Laxative Effect.” So if you’re like my Mum (sorry Mum!) eating rhubarb wasn’t very enjoyable the next day. Yet it if you dig a little deeper, this delicious vegetable, that’s right it’s technically not a fruit, has some health benefits that may make you just pick up a few extra stalks this spring.

rhubarb-stalks

Vitamin K
One serving, roughly 100 grams has the 30 mcg of vitamin K, that’s about 37 percent of your daily value needed. Extremely helpful in supporting bone growth and preventing osteoporosis, vitamin K helps improve your bone density by working alongside calcium, which is amazing since guess what else rhubarb is high in?

Calcium
It’s reported that one cup of rhubarb has the equivalent amount of calcium as milk and even spinach, without the added steroids, hormones, and antibiotics found in dairy products. I wouldn’t recommend eating a cup of rhubarb a day for your calcium needs (hello toilet!), but think about switching out a dairy product with some rhubarb a week and see the difference.

Other vitamins and minerals found in higher quantity are vitamin A and C, along with manganese and potassium.

I’ve mentioned this before, but nature reflects itself and combines materials together in vegetables and fruits that work cohesively in our body. Rhubarb working to support our bones and our bowels is an excellent example. So next time you take a bite out of a rhubarb tart or a sip out of a rhubarb sour, remember you’re not just eating something that’s delicious and pretty, but something that has a huge medicinal history.

energizing-carrot-orange-juice-with-turmeric

Energizing Carrot Orange Juice with Turmeric Powder

“You’re Spanish and despise pork?”
“You’re a Nutritionist, yet you despise carrots?”

Touche, old friend.

It’s true, I really do dislike carrots. Growing up I was that weird child who would eat smoked oysters, sardines, and Brussels sprouts, but if you made soup with carrots I would refuse to eat it; claiming, “It tastes like carrots!!” (Insert whiny 5 year old voice). Now days, I can just pick out the carrots from things and I force myself to eat them shredded on a salad. I feel like I’m my own parent sneaking carrots into things just so I can trick my child self into getting the health benefits. Is it working?

Sort of …

Juicing them is my favourite way so far and this juice is my absolute favourite. It combines the sweetness of carrots with the tang of lemon and ginger with a spicy after kick of turmeric that ways me up and motivates me to get on with the rest of my day. Get that 2 o’clock slump where you need to step away and get energized? This will do the trick!

Note – I find it hard to find fresh turmeric, which is why I use the powdered version. If you can find the fresh rhizome, great, juice a hunk of that instead.

orange-carrot-juice-ingredients

Turmeric

Is it just me or does anyone else usually pronounce this as toom-eric? Oops! Thanks spell check!

Let me introduce you to your new best friend – Turmeric, probably the most effective nutritional supplement out there. This little rhizome was talked about repeatedly at IHN with good reasons, it’s full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and it has carminative and alterative benefits. Meaning it helps boost the health and vitality of your body. This is great for people who suffer from bowel inflammation like IBS or IBD.

Its main constituent that you’ve probably heard of before is curcumin, you may have seen this in supplement format.

turmeric-powder-for-juice

Top Four Ways Curcumin Kicks Ass

  • Arthritis Be-Gone, not completely, but it’s strongly anti-inflammatory and can match the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs. It can help with rheumatoidand osteoarthritis, tendonitis, and pain in general.
  • Modulates Blood Sugar Stability, by improving insulin receptor function and activating nuclear proteings, curcumin can modulate sugar uptake in the bloodstream. This also has a function with liver enzymes and storing glycogen.
  • Cancer Fighter. Studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of new blood cells to tumours (can’t get their food) and the actual spread of cancer cells. So far these have only been proven in a lab.
  • Anti-inflammatory boost for Alzheimers. Inflammation plays a huge role in Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that curcumin can cross the blood brain barrier, potentially reducing oxidative damage being done.

Interactions – tumeric does have the possibility to slow blood clotting, ski or be careful if you are regularly taking medication that also slows blood clotting like Aspirin, Voltaren, Advil, etc.

Energizing Carrot Orange Juice with Turmeric
Hit the afternoon slump? Boost your energy with this anti-inflammatory and antioxidant juice.
Ingredients
  • 10 carrots
  • 3 naval oranges, peeled
  • 3" hunk of ginger
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
Instructions
  1. This recipe yields 2 x 500ml servings.
  2. Juice your carrots, oranges, ginger, and lemon in your juicer.
  3. In two large glasses, mix ½ tsp of turmeric powder (1/2 tsp of turmeric in each glass) with a little bit of the juice you just made until it makes a little slurry. Add more juice and keep stirring until everything is incorporated. I highly recommend keeping a spoon or a straw so you can stir occasionally while you drink. Feel free to mix the turmeric powder all at once with the juice if you want to get clumpy bits of spice that isn't pleasant.
  4. Enjoy!

teas-for-stress-traditional-medicinals

My Five Top Herbal Teas for Stress

Disclaimer – I am in no way affiliated with Traditional Medicinals, nor is this a sponsored post. Out of the herbal tea brands my local health food store stocks, they are my preferred choice.

It’s been a week since we received a call stating my Grandpa was unconscious and Mum raced up to see how he was. I later got a call stating he in fact had passed away. As my Grandmother tells it, they had just come back from a walk, he was tired and went to lay on the bed, finding him, she curled up beside him, he put his hand on her knee and they lay there gently having a nap.

My Grandparents and I have never been close, my Grandpa least of all. I look at them as blood; because of their genetics I am here, but I don’t see a close bond full of laughter. My Father’s parents passed away when he was young and the only other “close” relative passed when I was quite young, almost too young to grasp the terms. It’s been an interesting experience; understanding that I have a different conception of death, the fact that people want to coddle me and discuss the issue drives me crazy. I find people try to label death, put meaning behind it; death is just another stage. There is nothing people can say to change it or make any type of wound caused by it go away, which is why with the friends around me who’ve suffered a loss I simple say – hugs.

We all grieve in our own way some people bawl, others get angry, some get into a depressed like state, but it all causes stress on the body. I’m sure most of us have heard of the fight or flight response. Back in the cave man days we would have faced saber tooth tigers, yet today we face modern versions of the same stress, but yet we don’t know how to deal with it effectively in these modern times. I’m talking about – your high paying client left, your boss unjustly demoted you, or even getting stuck in traffic while you’re heading to a meeting. These things and more put stress on the body.

When tea was first discovered in China it was used largely for medicinal purposes, something I think we actually forget. The following teas are actually herbal tisanes though, but the premise of healing with active constituents still applies. I don’t think there’s anything more relaxing or nurturing like a warm cup of herbal brew in your hand. So next time you find yourself getting uptight, take a little Zen moment for yourself and wrap your hands around one of my top five herbal teas for stress.

chamomile-tea Chamomile – A very gentle sedative, my absolute favourite to use and a staple in the house. Its volatile oil, isadol, affects the entire nervous system helping the entire body to relax and sooth the mind. As soon as I feel myself get uptight I know it’s time I need to step away and pour myself a cup. I usually combine this herb with dried ginger and lemongrass for a very good calming tea.

lemon-balm-teaLemon Balm – This little plant is a nervous system tonic and relaxant used to lift depression and negativity from the mind; usually used for people with anxiety and/or a depressive mood. Unlike chamomile that calms, lemon balm strengthens the brain and it’s resistance to stress and delivers a sense of wellbeing. *

passion-flower-teaPassionflower – This tea is harder to come by, probably due to its strength; you can usually find it in sleep aid teas or a herbal store. The active constituent here is chystin, great for anxiety and stress. In twin studies, passionflower was compared to Xanax and came up par with anti-anxiety medications. Due to its strong benefits I would recommend taking this in the even before bed. *

licorice-ginseng-teaLicorice & Ginseng – Unlike the top three, licorice and ginseng are adaptogens, as such they help support the body and bring everything back into equilibrium. As adrenal tonics, they support the adrenal glands that are in charge of our endocrine system, this is where our body’s hormonal response to stress comes from; think of the fight or flight response. If the adrenals are overworked, by constant stress your body will exhibit chronic fatigue, weakened immune system, and therefore an inability to handle stress. Adaptogens taken on a regular basis help boost and strengthen this very important hormonal area.

*Note – Do not take if you are on anti-depressants. If you are incredibly stressed or anxious on a day to day basis, please examine your symptoms and get help from a licensed naturopathic doctor.

References
The Naturopathic Herbalist

Belight Tea – 6 Best Teas for Herbal Relief

Book – Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
green-tea-smoothie-featured

Matcha Smoothie with a Healthy Twist

I came across a recipe the other day while doing a rough search for, “What goes into a Starbucks Green Tea Frap?” with the ingredients, “ice cream and low fat milk” and I had to stop and laugh. Both those ingredients are so full of sugar, antibiotics, hormones, and chemicals. Not to mention that the ice cream is laden with so much cream makes me laugh that the person had to make it with low-fat milk. If you’re going to be bad you might as well just go all the way.

Which brings me to this recipe.

I adore the idea of a green tea shake with the delicious creaminess, the vibrant almost unnatural green colour, with the grassy yet oddly sweet floral flavour of matcha powder. What I abhor is the lack of nutrients that goes into a green tea frap. There’s nothing good you’re putting into your body except for the water in the ice cubes and the antioxidants in the matcha powder. It’s just milk, ice cubes, matcha powder, topped with disgusting fluffed up fatty air. (I despise whipped cream with a passion, seriously why do people think it’s so delicious?!) So the goal was to come up with a green tea shake that I felt good recommending to people, a shake that gave you that feeling of having a dessert in a cup, but also giving you a healthy boost.

matcha-green-tea-powder

Let’s talk about matcha powder, the key star to this shake.

What exactly is it? Simply put matcha is a green tea that has been pulverized into a powder form. The tea harvesters cover the bush in complete shade forcing the plant to produce an increase in nutrients such as chlorophyll (that bright green colour), L-Theanine (an amino acid), and other antioxidants and push it to the very tips of the plant. They then pick these nutrient dense tips, flash steam it very quickly to remove the moisture thus keeping the antioxidants and nutrients in place before they can oxidize. The dried leaves are then ground into a very fine powder what we know as matcha.

Chlorophyll; The Super Antioxidant

For everyone who needs a refresher on science 8, chlorophyll is a biomolecule found in plants critical in photosynthesis. This little guy allows plants to absorb energy from light. I read somewhere people attribute this to “plants blood” which makes me feel a little vampire-ish BUT it’s a good way of seeing how nature mimics our body. Chlorophyll has been shown to increase the oxygen uptake in our blood increasing our energy. Crazy cool right?! Ok, I admit I was the Bio Chem nerd at school …. But for those people who want to know more, some other benefits of chlorophyll are :

  1. Enhances immune function by increasing the number of B cells, T cells, and macrophages.
  2. supports healthy blood cells by increasing the uptake of oxygen.
  3. Aids in detoxification by having a cleansing and protecting effect on the blood.
  4. Reduces the risk of kidney stones by protecting against calcium oxalate build up.

If at the end of this post all you can think of is your drinking Vulcan blood while having this smoothie I’ll be ok with that. Now go out and drink a bright green smoothie for St. Paddy’s day and know you’re drinking something that not only tastes good but is healthy to boot.

healthy-matcha-smoothie

Random Tip aka the Healthy Twist

Ever had a huge bag of kale/spinach in the fridge thinking good intentions and realize after even a week the bag has turned into slime? That happens more often than I would like to admit until I started making “green” ice cubes at home. I essentially take 3-6 large handfuls of the mix with a bit of water; blenderize it until roughly smooth than spoon into ice cube trays. Freeze. Feeling the urge to be good with a green smoothie? Making a chickpea stew and want to add some greens? These things are so versatile and always easy to have on hand without worry of slime. You won’t even taste the greens in this recipe which makes it perfect for those children, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, dog, cat etc who think veggies are rabbit food and make you sneak them into anything you can.

making-veggie-ice-cubes

Matcha Smoothie with a Healthy Twist
Take that decadent green tea smoothie and elevate it with a healthy twist you'll feel good about drinking.
Ingredients
  • 1 banana, frozen
  • ¾ - 1 cup sweetened almond or coconut milk (I prefer a vanilla almond milk)
  • 2-3 "green" cubes
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts/seeds
  • ½-1 tbsp matcha powder
Instructions
  1. Place everything into a blender and blend till smooth. Makes one serving.
  2. I just want to make a note - if you're used to drinking regular milk, this smoothie will probably taste "different/off" for you if you use almond milk and you'll probably best off to make it with coconut.

 

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