Friday, November 30, 2012

Truly Scrumptious - Quince and clove sour

I've decided that my regular blog post of my favorite taste each week should now be entitled "truly scrumptious".  As I was browsing in a children's toy shop in the UK last week, they played the song "Truly Scrumptious" as background music and I realized that I knew all the words!

Truly Scrumptious, if you didn't know, is a fictional character in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.  Here's the song:

Isn't it so sweet!  It seems appropriate that tickety-boo should have a truly scrumptious regular blog post, don't you think!

I ate quite differently in England from how I normally do at home, but one flavor combination really sticks out for me from that visit. My most truly scrumptious taste in England was actually a cocktail - a quince and clove sour!  It was made with quince puree (you know how I've been looking at ways to use up all our quince!) plus a clove liquor and gin.  I think it is the nicest cocktail I have ever tasted.

I actually had two - one with gin and one without the gin!  Both were wonderful and it was definitely the cloves that made it.  They were so warming and the combination of flavors seemed so wintery and spicy.

I had to buy a bottle of Pink Cloves to bring home with me.....In fact, I think I'll have to start experimenting with it tonight.... I can imagine using it in desserts too...

What was your most truly scrumptious taste this past couple of weeks?

Update: Just poured out my pink cloves and it is really pink!  A little like mouth wash or something, and a tad off putting.....but it does taste delicious.   It wasn't that pink in the version I had.....!!!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Just wanted to wish you a Happy, Healthy (and plant-focused) Thanksgiving.

I am currently in England have a wonderful time with family.  Hope you are sharing this special time with special people in your life too.
R x

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Handwritten love letters

Remember those movies when you see people uncover precious bundles of hand written love letters?  The thought of curling up in your favorite chair and taking letters out of envelopes, reading the memories of their pages and then tucking them away back in their envelopes, is so appealing.  The tactile part of it is integrative.  Yet it is a thing of the many of today's younger generations have handwritten love letters?  Very few, I'm sure.

One person is changing this. Hannah Brencher started writing love letters and leaving them for strangers to find when she was suffering from depression.  This act has now become a global initiative - The World Needs More Love Letters - where handwritten letters are sent to those who need a boost in their lives.

The power of the pen and paper is still there  - let's use it and write love letters.

From TED

Put pen to paper and show you care.
Thursday, November 15, 2012

Good Advice

Have you given any good advice lately?
Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Travel Snacks - Ginger cashews

Following on from yesterday's Sweetsalt crunch recipe for my airplane snack - today I finished dehydrating some ginger cashews.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups of whole cashews - soaked in water for 1 hour then rinsed and drained
1/4 cup powdered and ground coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon grated ginger root
1/2 tablespoon vanilla essence/extract
1 teaspoon salt

Mix the ingredients together then dehydrate at 118 degrees F for 6-8 hours.

I actually soaked my cashew for about 4 hours and then it took ages to dehydrate them to a crunchy texture again, so I'd recommend a brief soak and then the dehydrating doesn't take so long. The idea of the soak is so that the moisture in the nuts enables the other ingredients to stick to the cashew.

I love everything ginger, so couldn't help but enjoy these.  But it is interesting to have the vanilla flavor along with the ginger and like the sweetsalt crunch - a combination of sweet and savory.  The vanilla is actually a more predominant flavor than the ginger, so I may add more ginger next time.

You can picture me on the plane, flying for hours, nibbling away at my snacks!!!!  I won't be able to sleep for my perky taste buds!
Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Travel snacks - Sweetsalt Crunch

I leave for England on Wednesday - two weeks, visiting family - and lots to catch up on.  We have three new homes that family members have moved into since we were last there in February, so will enjoy seeing happy people in happy new homes....then there is my sister's 50th birthday to celebrate.....and then there are two adorable grandchildren to see and be amazed at how much they have changed since June!  Never mind catching up with a few friends too......

Here is Evelina learning the difference between penguins and ducks, and Max dressed in his tuxedo ready for a party:

To prepare for the flight, I'm making a few yummy snacks.  After bad experiences with airplane food when I'd ordered gluten free and they forgot it, I always take all my own food with me.

The first yummy snack I made today was a sweet and salty mix - my "Sweetsalt Crunch". However, at this rate, I may need to make another batch before Wednesday, as it is going down rather rapidly!

It's a lovely balance of sweetness and salty. Not too much of either. And gluten free, sugar free and dairy free. Here's the recipe:

Sweet Salt Crunch

1/2 cup raw cacao nibs
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons of coarse sea salt
Drizzle of olive oil (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together and enjoy!

Obviously you can use substitutes very easily....and I know I'll never make it the same way more than once!

Another travel snack is in the dehydrator I'll show you that tomorrow.
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembrance Day/Veterans Day

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe;
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If we break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders field
By John McCrae

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
for your tomorrow
we gave our today.
Kohima Epitaph

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.

from "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon

Tastiest food of the week - Chai fudge

I've never had anything "chai" before.....mainly because Chai normally has something to do with  tea and dairy milk - neither of which I like!!! But when I read a recipe for chai fudge it sounded so good with all those spices in it, that I had to give it a try.  It was a friend's birthday so it seemed like a good reason to make a treat for her.

The fudge is gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free - and raw, so keeps those wonderful nutrients of the raw cacao bean.  There is homemade almond milk in it, plus cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  It really is the spices that make it, oh, and the chocolate!!!

It was a little bit squishier than you would normally think of for fudge and in fact it turned out to be a lovely thick dipping fudge for some dried apples I had...but for my friend's birthday, I rolled it in crushed pecans so you could eat it without getting your fingers dirty!

The texture is divine!  So smooth and creamy yet light and kind of fluffy in a way.... I wish you could try some!

Then when I had a friend over for dinner this week, I used the same fudge inside some gluten free profiteroles I made!

I will have to experiment more with this combination of chocolate and spices.  Definitely my tastiest food of the week!...maybe month.....maybe.....
Saturday, November 10, 2012

Being Better

Source: thatkindofwoman

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rainbow of Roasted Vegetables

Look at my lovely colorful dinner! Roasted veggies.

The cool pink and white stripes are chioggia beets.  If you roast them whole, they maintain their wonderful stripes inside. If you cut them before cooking, they lose their stripes.

Along with the beets are carrots, broccolini, mushrooms, roast parsnips (can't get enough of those) and then at the front of the picture are wonderful purple potatoes!

Nearly a rainbow of food in one meal. Do you eat a rainbow a day?  See the PCRM chart below which shows the cancer-fighting and immune boosting power of different colored foods.

The more naturally colorful your meal is, the more likely it is to have an abundance of carotenoids as well as other health nutrients.  Carotenoids are the pigments that give fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes, their bright colors.  Beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein are all different varieties of carotenoids that act as antioxidants with strong anti-cancer properties.
Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crunchy chickpeas

I made crunchy turmeric chickpeas today.  I'd tried crunchy chickpeas bought from the store and didn't like them, but they seem popular so I thought I'd try making my own and see if they were tastier.

They are!

I used organic chickpeas, rinsed them well and then blotted them dry using kitchen paper.  I took the skins off the chickpeas. I think is probably optional, if you can't be bothered, but it didn't take too long.

Then I sprinkled them with some ginger lemon salt and turmeric.  Mixed them up to coat them, and then put them in the top of the aga for about 35 minutes.  This is equivalent to 400 degrees F/200 degrees C.

They came out nice and crunchy and next time I'll be a little more generous with the seasoning - so you can liberally season!

Have you tried them?  They are nice as an easy snack, or sprinkle them on your salad....
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The power of a smile

Have you smiled at someone today?  A smile from a stranger (or dog) can make a real difference. :-D
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Getting the most benefit from your cruciferous vegetables

The cruciferous family of vegetables are unique among vegetables because of their glucosinolate content.  Glucosinolates give cruciferous vegetables their characteristic spicy or bitter tastes.

When the plant cell walls of the cruciferous vegetables are broken by blending, chopping, or chewing, an enzyme called myrosinase converts glucosinolates to isothiocyanates (ITCs) - which are the compounds in cruciferous vegetables with potent anti-cancer and other healing effects.  Such effects include anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic, detoxification, preventions of DNA damage, promotion of programmed cell death, anti-etrogenic activity, etc.

What this means is that cruciferous vegetables must be chopped, crushed or chewed well for maximum benefit so that the myrosinase enzyme can cause the chemical reaction. The myrosinase enzyme is physically separated from the glucosinolates in the intact vegetables, but when the plant cell walls are broken, the chemical reaction can occur and ITCs can be formed.  The more you chop or chew, the better.

However, these enzymes heat sensitive.  This doesn't mean that we should only eat cruciferous vegetables raw, but that when we are cooking these vegetables, we should chop them up in advance, and leave them for 5 - 10 minutes before cooking them, to allow the enzymes to act before they are destroyed by the heat.

So when you cook with cruciferous vegetables, chop them well, and then leave them for at least 5 minutes - go and set the table or something - and only then, start cooking them, so the enzyme has time to work before being denatured by the heat.

Cruciferous vegetables include:

  • arugula
  • bok choy
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • chinese cabbage
  • collard greens
  • cress
  • daikon radish
  • horseradish
  • kale
  • kohlrabi
  • mustard greens
  • radish
  • rutabaga
  • homegrown sprouts
  • turnip
  • watercress

Remember: When eating raw - chew well to release the myrosinase.  When cooking, chop, wait, then cook.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

New food of the week - fresh turmeric

I've posted about turmeric before and all it's wonderful health benefits. However, I've always used just the ground turmeric you buy in little spice bottles.

Our local Whole Foods now has fresh turmeric, so I thought I'd try that for my new food of the week this week.

It's a rhizome, like ginger but it looks a little grub-like when you see it - and not terribly appetizing....Anyhow, I scraped off the outer layer with a spoon (also the best way to remove the "skin" from ginger) and grated some on my salad, using a microplane.

I often sprinkle the dried ground spice on salads as it has so many health benefits so thought this would be a good test, without cooking it.

A couple of points to note. The smell as you grate it is divine.  So pungent. Makes you just want to eat it right away.

The vibrant orange color is gorgeous - but also quite persistent...says she typing with orange finger tips and a microplane that is now stained orange in the center!!!

But the taste is wonderful.  As a spice used in many curries, it doesn't remind me of curry flavors in it's fresh form.  Just interesting flavors that change the longer it is in your mouth.  It opens up many more uses to me - I can see myself adding it to cookies, creating a buzz like the little pink peppercorn cookies did.....

It is such a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-metastatic agent - especially if eaten with pepper.  Interestingly enough, I was recently reading about a curcumin supplement (which is a compound in turmeric)  that had higher absorption rates than regular curcumin supplements which as normally very low. I wanted to find out what they had done to increase it's absorption.  The secret was that they included more of the other compounds in turmeric in the formulation i.e. they made it more like the whole food instead of an isolate!  Seems a perfect result that suggests that you eat the whole food and forget the supplement!

But don't go overboard with your consumption.  Your maximum intake should be 1 tsp a day because turmeric has high levels of oxalates in it, which can increase your risk of painful kidney stones.

Did you try a new food this week?
Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tastiest food of the week - sun warmed fresh figs

Picking a fresh fig from our tree, when it is gently warmed by the sun is just heaven!  The figs are soft, with such jammy red sweet interiors.

I could - and do eat them all day! I'm not a fan of dried figs so when the fruit is ripe, we need to eat it up!

I've made fig and ginger jam, fig chutney and other preserves in the past and think I'll have to start on some soon with this years crop, but for now we are just enjoying them - and giving plenty away for friends.

My morning cereal- yes there is a little cereal under those figs!
What was the tastiest thing you ate this week?
Friday, November 2, 2012

Critical Factors in Cancer Care - Chemo-sensitivity Testing

If chemotherapy is being considered as a treatment, it is desirable to know which of the chemotherapy drugs will have a high probability of being effective against YOUR particular cancer, before any toxic agents are administered to your body.  It is equally important to know if your particular cancer cells exhibit extreme drug resistance (EDR) to specific chemotherapy drugs.

Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with CLL

At present, most cancer chemotherapies are prescribed by medical oncologists, according to fixed schedules.  These standard protocols and schedules are developed following lengthy and expensive Phase II and Phase III clinical trials. After so much time and money has been dedicated to this research, many patients and physicians believe that the recommended protocols are the best treatment. Regrettably, average treatments provide average outcomes, with the majority of patients failing to show improvement from these protocols.

Cancer is an individual disease, as unique as the person fighting it.

However, there is another option.  There are several companies that perform chemo-sensitivity and resistance tests on specimens of your cancer to determine the optimal chemotherapy drugs for YOU.  Chemo-sensitivity testing provides custom-tailored assay-directed therapy based on YOUR own tumor response in the laboratory. This eliminates much of the guess work prior to you undergoing the potentially toxic side effects of chemotherapy that could prove to be of little use to YOU.

Part of Sample report from Diatech for a patient with Pancreatic cancer

At the time of biopsy or surgery, a sample of tumor tissue (or blood sample in the case of non-solid tumors) is sent to a laboratory and they test a number of chemotherapy drugs on the sample, including combinations of drugs.  If your oncologist wants to suggest a drug, that is fine and they will include it.

Typically in 3 - 5 days, you will get results of which drugs your cancer cells show most sensitivity to, and which drugs they show resistance to. This kind of testing can be useful at the time of initial therapy, and in the case of severe drug hypersensitivity, failed therapy, recurrent disease and metastatic disease, by providing assistance in selecting optimal chemotherapy regimens.

Today chemosensitivity testing has progressed to the point where it is 85 - 90% effective.
So why isn't chemo-sensitivity testing used routinely?  How come it is so rarely mentioned?  One reason relates to an older methodology to test sensitivity that was used in the 80's where tumor cells were cloned. This method did not yield useful results and was unreliable.  As a result of several influential editorials and articles in the 80's, all such testing was shunned because of this one unreliable technique.  This method subsequently disappeared but seems to have tarnished the very idea of sensitivity testing, despite the current methods using totally different techniques.  Physicians and oncologists are not aware of the current reliable methods and when they hear about sensitivity testing, assume it is the old unreliable methods.

If you want to know more, read Ralph Moss' book "Customized Cancer Treatment" which is all about chemo-sensitivity testing - and better yet - buy a copy for your oncologist!

Labs performing the test in the US:

The best known of these are Rational, Weisenthal and DiaTech.  Currently, most insurance companies will not cover the cost of this testing. Check out the websites for published research and more information.

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