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Bold Flavor Recipes Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

Ancient Treasure of Spices

Throughout this blog we will be using a variety of spices to generate the unique flavors and aromas of each dish.  These spices are comprised of various seed, fruit, root, bark, or other plant substances that have been sight after for thousands of years for the purpose of flavoring or coloring one’s food. Thought history, wars have been fought, entire populations massacred just to secure a source of these delicious substances to satisfy the demands of cultural elites.  In today’s era one can skip waging war to secure their spice needs and can simply stop by the grocery store.  Somehow, in this age of convenience we have even less of an understanding of these culinary treasures and how they act as a bridge connecting the cultures of the world through flavor.  For example, Cumin is a seed that is ground into a powder and is responsible for the signature flavor of American style chili beans.  Cumin is also the main spice your taste buds will experience when eating a plate of morning Ful Medamas, Egypt’s official breakfast food.  In fact, most of the flavors we enjoy today were once reserved for the wealthiest and most elite of society.  To top it off, many of these spices are known to have healing qualities and are good for you too.  I am lucky to have a store with an incredible bulk spice section where I stock up for much less than pre-bottled varieties and typically and even better quality.  Below is a list to use as a guide when starting your collection.

A Priceless Collection

Suggested Spices to Start Your Collection:

Black Peppercorns      Fennel                         Allspice                        Marjoram

Cardamom                  Fenugreek (Methi)      Onion Powder             Oregano

Cayenne Pepper         Nutmeg                       Garlic Powder             Thyme

Cloves                         Turmeric                     Sumac                         Rosemary

Cinnamon                   White Pepper              Sesame                        Szechuan Peppercorn

Coriander                    Star Anise                    Sage

Cumin                          Smoked Paprika          Sweet Paprika

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Home Self Care Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

Meat Alternatives: Green Revolution or Just Complete Abomination?

Today our food industry is attempting to drive long-term behavior change, pushing consumers to switch from real meat to highly processed plant-based meat products like never in history.  These newly rolled out plant-based products are engineered by scientists in a laboratory and have been created fur the purpose of mimicking the actual taste and texture of their real meat counterparts.  Both raising meat and growing the ingredients included in these plant-based raise environmental concerns.   GMO soy and rapeseed (Canola), which are predominant in these products are accompanied by the negative results from mono-crop agriculture, overuse of pesticides, and unintentional spread of genetically modified plants.

The nation’s top psychologists are being engaged to find ways to manipulate and change the perception of meat eaters, to convince them to adopt plant-based alternatives in lieu of high quality sustainable meat.  Though a diet rich in vegetables and fruits is known to benefit most people, are these plant-based food products really a healthier alternative to consuming high quality sustainable meat?  Short answer, not really.  Generally, the less processed our food the better it is for us.  If the site of these alternative meat products is nauseating to you, fear not, you are not alone.  As humans we are blessed with an evolutionary developed protective mechanism to avoid disease called food disgust sensitivity. Our bodies are hardwired to recognize foods that are toxic and should be avoided.  Many people experience this protective mechanism when confronted with alternative meats and this may be a sign that our bodies are inherently repulsed by these potentially toxic products for reasons we are yet to discover. The intensive processes that are required to turn plant-based material into a substance resembling meat may turn these relatively healthy foods into products that are quite toxic to the human body.  These products often rely on genetically modified organisms (GMO) ingredients that have been shown to correlate with the onset of reproductive issues in humans.  Meat has been a part of the human diet throughout history.

In more recent times, the same forces within the food industry that are now pushing for alternative meat products has deeply compromised the meat industry in order to reduce production costs and increase company profits.  This economic centric strategy has created a market where consumers must actively seek out and pay a premium for high quality meats that are raised with respect and on their natural diets.  We are being nudged as a culture to replace the highly nutritious food source that is meat with a lesser potentially toxic alternative which is intended to mimic the very meats they are intended to replace.  Vote with your purchases by seeking out the highest quality meat from your trusted local producers, supporting the sustainable future of the earth and human race.

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Bold Flavor Recipes Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

Fantastic Flavors of Oil Infusions and Garlic Chili Oil Recipe

Infusing oil is easy and can result in some fantastically delicious flavors.  Adding a bit of infused oil can turn a simple dish extraordinary and can pair delectably with a fine balsamic vinegar as dipping sauce to serve with sourdough bread.  Infusing oil is as simple as warming it gently over the stove for 30-40 minutes with whatever flavor you want to be present in the oil.  Garlic, basil, thyme, and red chilies is a classic combination.   One of my favorite infusions is the Five Spice Garlic Chili Oil featured below, which not only keeps for weeks in the cupboard, but packs a ton of flavor bringing a rich base to Asian inspired dishes, and is also the quintessential dumping dipping sauce when combined with a bit of black vinegar and julienned fresh ginger.

Five Spice Garlic Chili Oil

Ingredients:

3 Cups Cooking Oil (Avocado Preferred)

6 Garlic Cloves (Peeled and Halved)

3 Fresh Green Onion (Coarsely Chopped)

2 Inch Piece Fresh Ginger (Coarsely Chopped)

2 Cinnamon Sticks

1/2 Cup Coriander Seeds (Whole)

1/4 Cup Szechuan Peppercorns (Whole)

2 Tbsp. Szechuan Peppercorns (Ground)

2 Dried Red Chilies (Whole)

2 Tbsp. Dried Red Chilies (Crushed)

2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil

1/4 Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds

1 Tbsp. Onion Powder

1/2 Tbsp. Five Spice Blend

1 tsp. Ground White Pepper

In a large heat safe bowl combine the crushed red chilies, ground Szechuan peppercorn, toasted sesame seeds, onion powder, and white pepper.  Make sure the bowl is very large in relation to the quantity of spice at this point.  This is so everything has lots of extra room to bubble up once the hot oil is added later.

In a medium saucepan, combine oil, garlic, green onion, ginger, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, Szechuan peppercorns, whole red chilies, and warm gently over a low heat for 30-40 minutes or until fragrant.

Remove infused oil from the heat and immediately stain though a fine metal strainer directly into the heat safe bowl and over the spice mixture.  Be careful here as the hot oil will bubble up profusely once added to the spices.

Mix and let cool.

Add a bit to develop the flavor of any Asian inspired stir fry and soup or serve over dumplings.

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Bold Flavor Recipes Instant Pot Recipes Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

Cooking with an Eritrean Grandmother and Tsebhi Dorho Recipe

We were recently blessed with an opportunity to get into the kitchen of an authentic Eritrean grandmother, to learn one of her favorite recipe preparations, Tsebhi Dorho, aka (Spicy Eritrean Chicken Stew).  The wisdom of ancient cultures is often found within the dishes that have been passed down for in some cases centuries.  The reason these recipes have survived the test of time, is that they are not only always delicious, but often times also demonstrate an ancient food wisdom, incorporating synergistic ingredient combinations that are proven to benefit our health.  We need to look no further than our past to re-discover the ancient food wisdom passed down by generations to correct many of the common ailments suffered in modern times.

As Hippocrates once said, “Let thy medicine be thy food, and thy food be thy medicine.” Though Hippocrates lives some 2400 years ago, one can still benefit from his wise words, which still ring true today.  The prevalence of the Standard American Diet (SAD diet), is a root cause of many of our health issues, especially a variety of autoimmune diseases, which cause the body’s immune system to go haywire and essentially attack its own cells as if they were a foreign invader.  Autoimmune issues are more common amongst the young that the average person may realize. According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2017, up to 23.5 million Americans suffer from an autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising, and in especially alarming rates among young women.  One of the best things to combat these autoimmune ailments is to take control over your diet and to prepare your meals at home.  A endless variety of flavor culture is easily within your reach, and by preparing your dishes at home you can ensure only the highest quality ingredients are used but the flavors created are exactly to your liking.

Tsebhi Dorho (Spicy Eritrean Chicken Stew)

4 Chicken Legs (Skinned, Legs and Thighs Separated)

8 Eggs (Hardboiled)

2 Cups Chicken Stock

2 Cups Canned Tomatoes (Diced)

1 Large Onion (Diced)

2 Serrano Peppers (Minced)

1 Birds Eye Pepper (Minced)

1/2 Cup Berbere Seasoning Blend

1 Tbsp. Ground Turmeric Powder

1/2 Tbsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper

2 Tbsp. Ground Coriander

2 Tbsp. Ground Cardamom

1 Tbsp. Honey

1 tsp. ground mustard

1 tsp. Cinnamon Power

1 Tbsp. Sea Salt or to taste

In a cast iron large frying pan sear each side of the chicken, until they develop a bit of color.  Set chicken Aside.

Hard-boil eggs and set aside.

Add the onions into the frying pan and sauté until they start to turn translucent.  Add the turmeric, black pepper, and half of the berbere seasoning.  Make sure to get all the chicken bits off the pan and into the onions.  Remove the seeds of the peppers to reduce the heat.  Add a bit of cayenne if you want even more spice.

In a large pressure cooker or soup pot, combine the seared chicken, sauteed onions, tomatoes, chicken stock, serrano peppers, birds eye pepper, coriander, mustard, cinnamon, and remaining berbere seasoning.

Cook in your pressure cooker on high pressure for 30 minutes, or if using a soup pot simmer covered for 3-4 hours.  If using a pressure cooker, after the 30 minutes under pressure, the stew will need to slow cook while for an hour or so to reduce to the proper thickness.

Peel and cut hard-boiled egg longitudinally in half and add one egg to each serving.

Serve hot over injera and accompanied by sautéed greens.

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Home Self Care Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

Tabata HIIT Training, More Testosterone for 4 Minutes of Pain

Have you ever heard the saying, “in some cases less is more?” We know this to be true in some aspects of our lives, but the average person does not often attribute this old adage to exercise.  The assumption being the longer your workout the more productive your workout must be.  However, four minutes of high intensity Tabata training can be significantly more productive than an hour of moderate exercise.  Tabata training is a form a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was first identified by Japanese scientist Dr. Izumi Tabata along with his team of researchers at the National Institute of Fitness and Sports located in Tokyo, Japan.  Dr. Tabata’s research compared two groups of athletes. Group1 who trained at moderate intensity for an hour, and Group 2 who trained using the Tabata HIIT method for only four minutes per day.  Group 2 showed much more increase in their aerobic system , and increased their anaerobic system by 28 percent more than Group 1.  This shows that just four minutes of high intensity Tabata training has greater impact on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems than an entire hour of moderate exercise.  Now that what I call getting it done quick.  There are also indications that consistent practice of the Tabata HIIT may result in an increase in naturally occurring testosterone levels.

The Tabata Interval Cycle

Each exercise in a given Tabata workout may last only four minutes, but it’s sure to bring the pain. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Perform chosen exercise at maximum capacity for 20 seconds;
  • Rest for 10 seconds;
  • Complete 8 rounds in a total of 4 minutes.

Recommended exercises are ones that work your large muscle groups such as air-squats, push-ups, burpees, and kettle bells.

An example of a Tabata workout looks like this:

  1. Push-ups (4 minutes)
  2. Air Squats (4 minutes)
  3. Burpees (4 minutes)
  4. Double Arm Swing with a Kettle Bell (4 minutes)
Categories
Bold Flavor Recipes Self Healing and Wellness Lifestyle

The Exquisite Luxury of Spices: Blooming Spice & Masala Chai Recipe

Spice blooming is the practice of releasing the essential colors, flavors, and aromas from spices prior to adding them to your food.  This practice can significantly improve the flavors you will be able to achieve with your spice blends.  An easy way to bloom your spice is by adding a bit of hot water or even warm oil to your spice blend and letting the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes prior combining them to the food. Some recipes, such as the Masala Chai Tea recipe below, will begin with toasting your spices.  Toasting you spices in this way is akin to “blooming” your spices, and is an essential step in many recipes, needed to release the potential flavors within the spice so they will be translated to and present in the final dish.

Masala Chai Tea

Ingredients:

4 Cup Water

1 Cup Cream Milk

2 Inches Fresh Ginger (Sliced Thin)

7 Cloves (Whole)

4 Cardamom Pods (Crushed)

2 Cinnamon Sticks

2 Star Anise (Whole)

3 Tbsp. Loose Leaf Black Tea

2 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

1/2 Fresh Ground Black Pepper

1/4 Cup Maple Syrup or Honey

2 tsp. Ground Turmeric

2 tsp. Fennel (Whole)

Instructions

In a medium sized pot, warm the star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, turmeric, and fennel, and stir frequently until fragrant.

Add water, bring to a rolling boil, and simmer covered for 20-40 minutes, or until water has turned dark and the spices have permeated throughout the liquid.

Add black tea and boil for 15 minutes.

Carefully strain hot tea to remove the spices.

Add milk and maple syrup or honey and stir to combine.

Serve hot in the morning with breakfast or as an afternoon pick me up.