I have learned through my business as a Newport Beach Personal Trainer that dieting is the number one obstacle most people have trouble overcoming while trying to get fit. Even people who are diligent exercisers, who hit the gym with full intensity and always make sure to get enough rest to recover, somehow usually find themselves a bit confused as to want constitutes a good diet. Even in cases when people feel confident that they know how to eat right, most have difficultly actually following a good diet. Continue reading
Want to know some interesting facts about culinary arts? Well, as most people know, the culinary arts revolve around culinary arts and food, and they include everything from restaurant management and hospitality management to food science and food safety. Someone who works in any of these areas is called a “culinarian,” and that includes everyone from food service workers to creators of the fantastic pastry arts. Continue reading
Freshly picked culinary herbs add flavour to food and many are delicious additions to salads. Edible herb flowers such as pot marigold, nasturtium and rosemary can also be added to the salad bowl. Many culinary herbs are rich in vitamins and minerals and when freshly picked and eaten raw they can form part of a well-balanced diet. Raw herbs can also be used to add flavour to oils and vinegars for cooking and for salads.
Parsley leaves gives a fresh flavour to sauces and salads, when added just before serving. The stems and leaves of parsley can also be used in bouquet garni. Parsley tastes particularly good with pasta dishes, omelettes, vegetables, fish and any meat or poultry.
Parsley is one of the most widely known and used of the culinary herbs. There are two main types of parsley – curly leaf and flat leaf – and both are excellent for culinary purposes. Both of these herbs are a rich source of vitamins and minerals and they can be used to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes and green salads.
Basil goes with almost any dish but it has a special affinity with tomatoes and is a favourite in Italian cooking.
Sweet basil with its soft green leaves and creamy white or purple tinted flowers is the most popular type of basil. This culinary herb can be used in sauces and salads and to enhance the flavour of cooked dishes such as soups and stews. Perhaps the greatest basil dish is pesto sauce, eaten with spaghetti. This combination makes a wonderfully delicious meal.
There are many other types of basil. Purple ruffle, dark opal and Greek basil are three of the other more unusual varieties, all with differing flavours.
Spearmint and peppermint are two members of the mint family most widely known and used as culinary herbs. There are many varieties of mint, some with distinct scents and flavours and some can be used for a variety of culinary purposes, such as in sweet and savoury dishes, in salads and for herb tea.
Spearmint is a favourite for mint sauce to accompany lamb and tastes particularly good with dishes such as soups, stews, plain meats, fish and lemon-based deserts.
Peppermint is also popular as a culinary herb flavouring. This herb is most commonly used as flavouring for sweets and chocolates etc. and is also used to flavour cordials. Fresh peppermint leaves can be used to make peppermint tea and the leaves can be added to fresh green salads.
Thyme can be used to improve the flavour of most dishes. Both the fresh and dried leaves of this herb are used for cooking. Fresh thyme leaves are useful in many savoury dishes.
Thyme has a rich flavour which makes it an ideal accompaniment to roast meats and tastes good in slowly cooked dishes such as stews and soups. The finely chopped fresh leaves may be added to new potatoes or salad.
Thyme is regarded as one of the great culinary herbs and is widely used in European cooking. This herb is an evergreen perennial it is recognisable by its mauve flowers and small leaves.
Warning: Avoid using Thyme if you are pregnant.
This lovely culinary herb has a strong but pleasant flavour. It enhances the flavour of many dishes such as strong tasting fish and some meat dishes but goes especially well with lamb and also tastes good with strong flavoured vegetables.
A raw food diet is simple. It consists of eating food in their natural state. The food is neither cooked nor adulterated in any way. By eating the bulk of your food in its natural state, you will enjoy a huge improvement in your health and vitality.
The Raw Food Philosophy
More than just a weight loss plan or a fitness diet, this diet is a philosophy based on a lifestyle choice. It demands awareness of the live nutritional value of unprocessed food and provides numerous health benefits. They are low in saturated fats and sodium and high in antioxidants and magnesium, and low in sodium. They are almost free of harmful trans-fats. A raw food diet will detoxify your system. It will lead to natural weight loss.
Switching to a raw food diet will be much easier if you are vegan, or at least vegetarian. Those who choose this diet are referred to as raw foodists. This diet is popular with those seeking to be disease-free and full of energy. There are no useless calories, hence no weight gain. The diet also optimizes the nutrition in your food because cooking often kills essential vitamins and minerals in food. By not eating animal flesh or animal byproducts, there are no steroids and hormones to absorb. In addition, the body will quickly begin to flush out toxins with this diet.
Since the diet consists of nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits, sometimes it is necessary to take dietary supplements like protein shakes. However, supplements are not necessary if the diet has been precisely calculated for the various macro and micronutrients the body needs to be healthy and strong.
Variety is added to the diet by making food combinations, using food dehydrators, processors, and blenders. For instance, you can make crackers by blending various raw foods into dehydrator. Chopping or blending it can alter the texture and taste of food. The general idea is that the higher the amount of uncooked food, the better the health results. It is not the same as a vegan diet because although no animal flesh or byproducts are eaten with that diet, most of the food is still cooked. In addition, this type of diet may, depending on the philosophy of the dieter, include animal products that are eaten in their raw state. Besides seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, the diet may also have eggs, sashimi fish, carpaccio, and unpasteurized milk, cheese, and yogurt.
The general idea is that the higher the amount of uncooked food, the better the health results. It is not the same as a vegan diet because although no animal flesh or byproducts are eaten with that diet, most of the food is still cooked. In addition, this type of diet may, depending on the philosophy of the dieter, include animal products that are eaten in their raw state. Besides seeds, nuts, vegetables, and fruits, the diet may also have eggs, sashimi fish, carpaccio, and unpasteurized milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Potatoes, squash, or fruit that is round will be difficult to cut. Because the fruit is not very stable when attached to a cutting board. If you slip, you can cut your hands.
To keep your fingers are not cut when cutting vegetables uneven, use the following techniques, as reviewed by FoxNews:
Step 1: Use a sharp knife, thinly sliced potatoes or other vegetables to make a flat side on the bottom.
Step 2: Cut the potatoes in a downward direction on a cutting board. The way to ensure a stable and potatoes will not roll. Potato slices as desired and then stop when it became wobbly and difficult to handle.
Step 3: Change the position of the potatoes with a wide field and a flat side on the cutting board attached. This makes it easy to cut the last piece the hard cut. Continue slicing as desired.
At health food stores, customers are complaining about food allergies more often now with statements like, “I can’t eat this”, or “I can’t eat that.” Why do so many people, especially those who frequent health food stores, believe they have food allergies? It’s funny, I’ve never heard anyone say, “I’m allergic to coffee, cookies, cakes, popcorn, pizza or candy”, and yet these are things that people ingest regularly without a second thought. So, what’s up with all these health food store shoppers who have food allergies?
Food allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a protein molecule in the offending food. This can happen even with those who stick to food from health food stores. The body is unable to break down that particular protein molecule, so it reacts by trying to “get rid of it”. It produces a chemical called ‘histamine’ and symptoms appear in the form of rashes, hives, itching, wheezing, breathing problems, and lots of mucus being expelled through the mouth, nose, ears, lungs, or sexual organs. More serious reactions from food allergies are: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of consciousness, drop in blood pressure, or even death.
Intolerance to certain foods is different than true food allergies, and this is a more common complaint at health food stores. With food intolerances like lactose intolerance, where a person has difficulty breaking down the sugar in the milk, the symptoms are much milder. One may have some bloating, excess gas, cramping or diarrhea. While food intolerance is unpleasant, it is not life threatening like food allergies can be in some severe cases. The usual distresses are intolerances to wheat, soy, dairy and anything at health food stores that the shopper feels is too expensive.
The question that customers at health food stores ought to ask is not, “What food am I allergic to?” But rather, “Why is my immune system reacting to what should be health food?”
When determining specific food allergies and intolerances, some factors to consider are:
1. What is the trigger food?
2. When am I eating the trigger food?
3. Am I improperly combining fruits and vegetables or grains or meat and dairy?
The list can be quite exhaustive to hunt down the offending trigger food and how it is being consumed. In fact, most food allergy experts will tell you to keep a diary of everything you eat, and when you find the trigger food to just avoid eating it. Well, that sounds simple, but if you react to many things, including those that should be health food, it’s not so simple? Of course, you can eliminate the most common triggers to food allergies like: corn, wheat, eggs, dairy, and peanuts, but if that doesn’t work, then what? The truth is, your immune system can overreact to many substances. The best way to address food allergies is to strengthen your immune system and get in balance with all the systems of the body. Shop health food stores for specific foods to feed your 5 main systems equally: immune, endocrine, digestive, circulatory and respiratory systems. This may be difficult at typical health food stores, but searching online will produce results.
When you feed all your body parts with healthy, whole food nutrients, and eliminate the fake, processed foods in your life, your 5 systems can come into a perfectly natural balance. Then you can eat what you know you should be eating. It is better to strengthen the body’s systems with properly combined health food and ward off illness and disease the natural way. When you consume the right nutrients, the body operates at optimum levels for a more relaxed, healthy life. You have access to so much good nutrition at health food stores and plenty of options for avoiding food allergies or intolerances that it’s a shame to limit your choices unnecessarily.
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When considering the best coffees in the world, I went to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) for research. They are the organization that sets the quality standards for specialty coffee, which the public calls “gourmet” coffee. All specialty coffees use arabica beans. The other category of is the robusta bean, which is of inferior taste quality to arabica. Within these categories, there are several varieties of bean. Arabica beans are grown at a higher altitude than robusta.
Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world and is graded in a similar manner as wine. This event is called a “cupping” and has a set of strict standards. Winning a cupping is very prestigious and has a direct effect on the prices a coffee grower can get for his crop.
History of these “cupping” winners has shown that three areas of the world produce the most winners. Interestingly, these regions have a very similar latitude when looking at the world map. The three regions are Ethiopia, Sumatra and Panama.
Ethiopian/Kenyan Coffee (Africa)
Ethiopian coffee is aromatic, highly flavorful, and also known to be some of the best coffees in the world. It is also the origin of all coffee. The Ethiopian people have a legend that says that a goat herder discovered Ethiopian coffee around 850 AD. This legend claims that the goat herder noticed that his sheep were very excited and nearly dancing after eating red berries from a tree. The legend of the founder goes on to say that the herder sampled the red berries for himself and took some of the berries home to his wife who insisted that he take them to the monks. The monks supposedly threw the berries into a fire and noticed the delicious smell that the berries produced. The monks are said to have removed the berries from the fire and boiled the berries in water to create the beverage that we now know as Ethiopian coffee.
Whether this legend is true, or in fact just a legend is forever a mystery. Regardless, Ethiopian coffee has been used for religious ceremonies. These ceremonies are still held today and if a guest is invited to participate in the ceremony, it is well known to be a very beautiful experience.
Locally, Ethiopian coffee is served with either sugar, or in some parts of Ethiopia, salt. Milk or any type of creamer is never used in traditionally brewing. The process of making the coffee varies by region. In some regions it is dry processed and in some other regions it is washed. The Ethiopian coffee found in stores today is dry processed.
The process is often grueling and coupled with with importing adds to the reason of why Ethiopian coffee can be expensive.
When consumers purchase Ethiopian coffee to be brewed at home, it is wise to consider fair trade Ethiopian coffee. The obvious reason to consider fair trade is so that the producers of this wonderful product can reap the benefits of their hard work. Ethiopian coffee has a rich, bold, and exciting history and a taste that has been favored by many people for a long time.
Sumatran Coffee (Indonesia)
Sumatran coffee comes from the island in Indonesia called Sumatra. The taste of Sumatran coffee is spicy, herbal, and very distinct. It is considered to be one of the best coffees in the world and was first introduced by the Dutch around 1699 when the Dutch wanted to keep up with the demand of coffee to Europe. The Dutch traders knew the difference between Sumatran coffee beans and other coffee beans by the appearance, which are irregularly shaped and bright green.
Sumatran coffee is one of the best coffees in the world and has a low acidity which makes it highly favored among other types of coffee. The beans are usually grown in full sunlight and with no chemicals. A highly popular type of Sumatran coffee, yet thoroughly disgusting in many peoples opinion, is the kopi luwak Sumatran coffee. The kopi luwak coffee is coffee beans that have been eaten by the small animal known as a luwak. After the luwak digests and excretes the coffee beans, local villagers collect the excreted beans and roast them. These excreted and roasted beans are said to cost about $300 a pound. Of course, not all of Sumatran coffee comes from the excrement of the luwak. There are many other varieties of Sumatran coffee as well.
Most of the Sumatran coffee beans are processed using the wet and dry processing method. This processing method is another reason why Sumatran coffee is so popular. Most other types of coffee beans are processed by using either a wet method or a dry method, hardly ever both.
When purchasing Sumatran coffee for use at home, a person should try to purchase fair trade Sumatran coffee. Fair trade beans can be found at various online retailers and also at gourmet coffee retailers. This insures that the growers benefit from all of the hard work that they put into growing this delicious coffee.
Sumatran coffee has a taste unlike any other and once you try it for yourself, you may find that it will quickly replace your current brand or at least be a coffee that becomes one of your favorites.
Panamanian Coffee (Central America)
Although Panama is the smallest of all coffee producing countries, they grow most of the best rated coffees every year. The coffee region surrounds the town of Boquete in the western province of Chiriqui close to the Costa Rican border. Some say Panama has the ideal micro climate to grow coffee receiving winds from the north along with a light mist and cool breeze. Most of the coffee is grown on farms and is called an Estate coffee which signifies the farm it is from.
The process includes hand picking, washing and sun drying. The farms work closely with the indigenous people enhancing the community with social, medical and educational services. Because of this, fair trade is not a concern. It is a harmonious relationship between farm and worker.
For years, coffee from Panama was not well known amongst the public but the quality was apparent to the traders. So much so, that one trader was caught selling the lower cost Panamanian coffee beans as Hawaiian Kona beans, a much well known high end arabica bean.
Currently, Panamanian coffee has come of age winning numerous cuppings to the point in 2003 when the competition was changed. Previously, each entry was individual and Panamanian entrants would win up to five of ten awards. Now, they have groupings and each group can produce up to two winners that move up to the next level.
It should be noted that although Panamanian coffee has been established as the best in the region, wonderful coffees do come from Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Columbia.
Even though most of the world favors the western coffees, a true coffee lover should be adventurous and taste the best coffees of the world. Try Ethiopian and Sumatran coffees along with those that are in close proximity to those regions. You may be surprised at what you have been missing.
If you want to taste coffee in a whole new way, try making it with a French Press coffee pot. Most people are used to their coffee being brewed in an electric, drip coffee maker a la Mr. Coffee. This method has one flaw in the brewing process that takes away from the true essence of coffee: the paper filter. The paper retains some of the coffee essence, and deprives you of coffee’s true potential. Granted, we cannot simply dump ground coffee into a cup, pour in hot water and start drinking; the grounds must be separated from the liquid that is consumed. Coffee grounds are bitter, gritty, and stick to your teeth. The French Press method removes the grounds, but lets all of the flavor of the coffee come to life.
Although French Presses come in various shapes, sizes, materials and manufacturers, the Chambord model by Bodum is a good example of a ubiquitous style found throughout the industry . The handle attaches to the holder for the glass carafe. The carafe holds the coffee and hot water. The carafe looks like a beaker from a chemistry lab, with a spout for easy pouring. The “pressing” apparatus of the French Press sits atop the beaker. It consists of a dome which covers the coffee as it brews. The plunger is a skinny metal post with a plastic ball at the top that slides through a small hole in the middle of the dome. At the bottom of the post is the filter, a wire mesh disk.
A quick note about ingredients. A cup of coffee is made of coffee beans and water. Therefore, start with freshly roasted whole beans ground just before brewing. Whole beans maintain their freshness twice as long as ground coffee. The water is just as critical: make sure it is cold, fresh, and filtered.
Let’s assume a 12 oz. cup is being prepared. Using 1-1 ½ tablespoons of whole beans, set your grinder to coarse. This produces the largest grounds possible, and allows water to extract the maximum flavor from the coffee. It also reduces the amount of smaller grounds that will end up in the bottom of the cup.
Dump the ground coffee into the carafe. Before adding hot water, take a moment to inhale the aroma of the dry coffee. The aroma of freshly ground coffee will take you to a better place.
Next, heat your water (12 ounces). The optimal brewing temperature is 195-205 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, simply bring your water to a boil and wait thirty seconds.
Pour the water into the beaker and stir for a couple of seconds. This will agitate the mixture and allow the coffee to brew more completely. Place the plunger apparatus on the carafe, but do not depress. Set a timer for four minutes. This amount of time allows all of the flavor and oils to be extracted perfectly from the coffee.
At four minutes press down the plunger completely, then pour the freshly brewed coffee into your mug.
Look at the coffee before adding any condiments. The coffee will appear more complex (richer) than if it were brewed in a drip coffee maker. There will even be a thin layer of crema (light brown froth) resting on top of the liquid. Put your nose close to the cup and breathe in the aroma. The smell is stronger, more pure than if the coffee passed through a paper filter. Taste the coffee before adding sugar etc. When you reach the end of the cup you will notice some residue. These are simply micro-grounds that made it through the mesh filter.
You can purchase French Presses that double as travel mugs. There are also double-walled glass, and stainless steel thermal units as well. Some are beautifully crafted and look like museum pieces. The reason for this is that coffee made in this manner is the height of the coffee brewing experience. So, if you love coffee, you owe it to yourself to purchase a French Press and make the best-tasting coffee in the easiest possible way. Prices start at around 13 dollars for a two cup (12 oz.) unit.